The BP Method: Using reverse mentoring as a talent recruiting tool

Posted On July 5, 2019

A year ago, I spoke with Pershing Advisor Solutions CEO Mark Tibergien about reverse mentoring, where older business leaders enlist the help of younger employees to keep up to date on current trends and the issues important to millennials in the workplace.

Now one of the largest energy companies in the world is utilizing the approach as well.

According to a recent Bloomberg article, CEO of British Petroleum’s Upstream, 48-year-old Bernard Looney, is taking mentoring from 26-year-old BP petrophysicist Connor Tann.

Looney’s goals are more than just making sure BP is meeting the needs of its millennial employees, however. He sees it as a talent recruiting strategy.

“If we can keep people like Connor enthused, learning, growing, they’ll all tell their people: ‘Hey, it’s not an oil and gas company. It’s as much a tech company as anything else,’” Looney told Bloomberg.

As BP continues shifting its focus to digitalization, Looney increasingly sees his competition in recruiting talent as glamorous tech firms such as Facebook and Google. As a result, in 2018 it began inviting millennial employees to meet with its senior executives to learn how to make itself a more attractive employer for the newest generation of engineers and data scientists.

Looney told Bloomberg that the arrangement has also helped the company get inside the minds of its millennial employees and what motivates them, such as online competitions for its data scientists or group programming events called “hackathons.”

BP reportedly plans to expand its reverse mentorship program in ongoing efforts to modernize the company. Older leaders can learn new tricks, even at one of the biggest corporations in the world.

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials, Recruiting, Training Industry, Workplace