Women in shipping - Carol Howle, CEO, BP Shipping

Carol Howe

Carol Howe. Credit: BP Shipping

“Both within and outside the world of work, the words “bossy” and “aggressive” are frequently used to describe women who stand up for themselves or behave assertively,” Carol wrote last year in women’s city network We Are The City.

Yet these words are almost never applied to men who behave with the same characteristics. The challenge for women is to find a balance between “confidence and humility,” she wrote, “a challenge their male peers may not be as familiar with.”

Howle has been frequently vocal in her support for greater diversity in the workplace, encouraging women to build career resilience and confidence, which she sees as key to achieving greater workplace diversity.

In a similar piece she wrote for UK finance-focused newspaper City AM, she cited research from Bain & Company showing that although women and men start their careers equally confident, within two years it decreases among women by 50% yet stays the same for men.

“It is crucial that corporations and women work together to close the confidence gap that is leading to so many talented individuals stalling or opting out of their careers.” 

Career confidence is something that Howle has licence to talk about, having risen to chief executive of BP Shipping in February 2018, an organisation with about 65 vessels in service, IHS Markit data shows.

Preceding this she spent two years as head of the group chief executive’s office, and before that, four and half years as head of supply and trading in Global Oil Europe and Finance, part of BP’s global integrated supply and trading business, where she was responsible for trading activity across oil and chemicals in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and north and west Africa.

During her 17 years at BP she has also been chief operating officer for natural gas liquids North America, based in Houston, and head of office for the chief executive of the global integrated supply and trading business.