Melphine Evans’ 15-year-old daughter calls her mom her hero. That’s probably because with all her work responsibilities, this single mom manages to sing songs with her children first thing in the morning and make it to their games later in the day. On the job, as Controller of Centralized Functions at BP’s corporate offices in London, she manages business costs and impacts from a global perspective.
Adaptability is a trait that comes naturally to Melphine. Prior to BP, she worked in Alaska for 13 years at Telecom and three years at Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., where she became the first woman and person of color to call herself CFO at both companies-even before diversity was a hot topic. Melphine believes that her migratory youth as “an air force brat” provided essential training. It enabled her to quickly evaluate situations and people, understand corporate politics and nuances, and predict behaviors.
“When the environment changes, I’m one of the people who can see the signals before it happens. I thrive on change-I like things that don’t stand still,” she explains. “I think women are more flexible because we have typically been the ones asked to change in order to fit in, not the other way around.”
Melphine’s Tips for Leading:
Relax your attitude about criticism.
“Early in my career I couldn’t come out and say I needed help because I felt it showed that I couldn’t handle it. I thought people would say, ‘See, I knew a woman couldn’t do it.’ I never wanted them to challenge that I was technically competent. Now that I’m more comfortable with myself, I’m able to hear criticism and either fix the situation or not worry about it.”
Broaden your skills.
“Sometimes you don’t get the opportunity to learn in the office, so use boards and community work to broaden your skills. Back when I didn’t understand people management, the hiring/firing process, and compensation, I got on the HR committee of a board. I became much more comfortable speaking, articulating details, and decision-making. I honed a bunch of skills, even though that’s not the reason why I originally joined.”
Help Others understand your lifestyle.
“While technology enables me to work outside of the office, I’ve learned that sending an email at 1 a.m. can be perceived as negative because you should be asleep. So we have to talk to people about our personal lives and how it affects our work. When people get notes sent at 1 a.m., they think that they should be working like that too. I explain to them that I’m a single mother and I work around my children’s schedule and activities, so that’s why I work this way. It takes a lot of pressure off of them. You have to make them understand.”
Article by Melphine Evans Controller, Centralized Functions BP International