More than a Gas Station:
BP Trading Simulation Heightens Interest
24 College of Business students were asked what "BP" brought
to mind, the immediate response for many was "gas station."
Mike Henry, BP ethanol commercial optimization
analyst, and Jason Johnson, BP product scheduler, both 2002 Business graduates
with degrees in finance, hope to change that perception for the future.
Hopefully, more people will think of BP as a major world class
global trading organization in the energy markets, said Henry.
As part of their national recruitment program, BP came to the U of I
on September 20 to introduce some hand-selected University students to
a new trade simulation program that mimicked what traders face on a daily
basis. This simulation is based on BPs own internal global trader
assessment course used to assess potential trading candidates on their
trading acumen. BP is a global energy business operating in more than
100 countires with more than 100,000 employees.
two-hour event kicked off with a brief review of trading concepts and
an introduction to the oil commodity market. Teams of two or three students
were challenged to make the greatest trading profit within a one-hour
time limit while controlling their position limits in the market. Students
received new market intelligence during each of 12 trading periods. They
had to quickly interpret market information, determine the direction of
the market, and formulate the appropriate trading strategy. Each member
of the team that ended up with the highest net gain won an iPod nano.
Henry and Johnson, who went around and answered students' questions about
the trading program during the simulation, said they were impressed by
what they saw. For Henry, it came as a surprise that so many students
were looking at arbitrage opportunities, where they could make money at
"It's a huge part of our business," said Henry, regarding arbitrage
opportunities. "You have to respond well to the news."
At times jumping up in excitement, yelling words of encouragement, or
chastising their fellow team members for perceived negligence, students
ended up showing real enthusiasm for the game.
who has worked for BP for four years, said the simulation mimicked what
the office looks like everyday. "It's really faced-pace," he
said. "(The simulation) gives you a good idea of what students can
do at BP. You can use what you've learned."
For Michelle Kim, a junior in accounting, the task, although fun, put
a lot of pressure on her.
"It was a big challenge," she said. "But I definitely
learned something from it."
Jeff Cheng, another participant and one of the eventual winners in the
simulation, agreed by saying that the game gave students a quick glance
at what their potential job could consist of in the trading world. He
felt that the exercise should come back to campus in the future. "It's
something U of I doesn't offer in any class," Cheng said.
This is the first year that BP and the University have worked together
to bring this opportunity to students. Lamont Wong, lead of BP recruitment
coordination at the University of Illinois, noted that the simulation
exercise, which is part of the company's new recruitment strategy,"bridges
the gap between learning concepts in the classroom and real-world application."
BP Integrated Supply & Trading recruits candidates interested in
the energy trading industry to the Challenge Program, a formal
three-year, three-job rotational program that has been successful in developing
front-line trading talent and well-rounded graduates for BP.
"We want to become the preferred employer on campus," said
Wong regarding the job students look for. "The trading simulation
demonstrates our dedication and commitement to Illinois and the students.
This is exactly how we wanted it to be."