Talent Visionaries blog series design asset for Diane Bahu, Head of Talent Sourcing at BP

BP’s Diane Bahu on Building Connections and Embracing Change

SeekOut's Talent Visionaries series features innovative leaders and their extraordinary work in creating and scaling high-performing teams. The personal philosophies and invaluable insights of these workplace champions offer new perspectives in an ever-evolving talent landscape.

Diane Bahu is the Head of Talent Sourcing at BP Americas, leading global hiring teams across dynamic business segments. With over 20 years of experience in talent acquisition, including corporate leadership roles at JPMorgan Chase and Northern Trust Corporation, Diane is passionate about coaching and nurturing high-performance teams and creating inclusive candidate and employee experiences.

On starting your career with an open mind

My best advice is to keep an open mind and build relationships with your professional network. You never know when the right doors may open for you.

“I unknowingly had a breadth of transferrable skills for a new career.”

I started my career as an institutional equity trading assistant for a bank. I got to know my colleagues, and, by chance, I became the person who helped them with HR-related questions and career decisions. I found myself drawn to connecting the dots for people. Years later, a friend recommended me for a role at an executive search agency where she was working. They wanted someone with a specific trading designation who could recruit traders, and I was a match. I unknowingly had a breadth of transferrable skills for a new career and having a connection helped me get my foot in the door.

Agency work was a great stepping stone because I built essential skills as a talent advisor. By networking and listening to people, I learned how to tailor my clients' needs to solutions and match them with the right candidates. One of my clients eventually hired me as an in-house recruiter at their global bank. The opportunity aligned with my desire to understand the ins and outs of a business and evolve with a company. It was the beginning of my extensive career at large global corporations.

On being a better recruiter by knowing the business

The time you spend getting to know your business is invaluable. Understand your company’s strategic goals, its competitors, and how the external labor market influences your business. You’ll differentiate yourself as a recruiter and gain a competitive edge when talking to candidates.

“The time you spend getting to know your business is invaluable.”

Stay on top of industry trends as well. I read energy-related news, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and listen to top industry podcasts. I even have Google alerts notify me of competitor activity or industry-leading conversations.

On building relationships with your candidates and colleagues

Being a candidate coach and staying in touch with those candidates throughout my career has added purpose to my work. I still speak to candidates I helped 15 years ago and have watched their careers grow; nurturing those relationships has only strengthened my network.

I also invest in relationships with my colleagues to foster positive employee experiences. At BP, we have bi-weekly global huddles that serve as psychologically safe spaces to encourage participation and creativity—no idea is shut down. It's an opportunity to have open communication with my teammates, who all live across the world and share unique perspectives. Having face time with your team is a great way to build trust in this remote-first world, and we can learn so much from others with diverse backgrounds.

On embracing change in technology

Generative AI is going to drastically improve efficiency and outcome experiences, but I don’t think it will take away the human element of recruitment. Our industry will always need soft skills, like relationship-building and influencing people. Adding a personal touch, being authentic, and influencing stakeholders are all fundamental areas of recruiting that aren’t going away.

“Recruiting is a human job, and we can’t easily change that.”

We should embrace the ways AI can make our work more effective rather than fearing whether it will replace us. Recruiting is a human job, and we can’t easily change that.

On the must-read book for talent leaders

I recommend “The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins. It’s about how you can prove yourself in a new role in the first 90 days. This period of transition can be stressful, but with the right guidance, you can set benchmarks for yourself and set up easy wins that can help you achieve goals.

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