Coming to Australia from the UK years ago, Andy Holmes, CEO of British Petroleum’s (BP) ANZ Fuels Value Chain and President of BP Australasia, saw great potential for growth. During his 31 years with BP and the three years he has spent in his current role, running operations across Australia, China and New Zealand, Andy has been evaluating and re-evaluating global opportunities. “Every year, we take good long hard look at energy trends and everything that we have seen supports our view that the long-term supply tomorrow means we have energy demand growth of 34-35 per cent out of 2035,” he says. “Given population growth, we see there is still GDP growth and millions of people rising out of poverty. There is still significant demand to come for energy over the next 20 years or so.”
With his eye on India and Indonesia as the next frontiers for BP’s growing Australasian market, Andy believes Australia is still the Lucky Country. He spoke with The CEO Magazine about his desire to be the leading fuels reseller in Australia and why he’s certain of success.
Australia a unique market
BP Australia has been operating for more than 100 years, producing oil, natural gas and liquefied natural gas, and refining, transporting and marketing petroleum and lubricant products. Australia is a unique market, being so large and sparsely populated. “It’s largely trucking with import terminals,” Andy says. “Australia is still growing, which makes it very, very attractive. There is very intense competition here but that’s true everywhere. To be honest, I love it. That strong sense of really competing to serve our customers well is a great way to work.”
Hard road, tough choices
BP Australia has focused over the past three years on being the country’s leading fuels retailer. “That’s our strong aim,” says Andy, noting that the road has not been easy. “We’ve made some tough choices. We closed our Bulwer Island refinery in Brisbane and sold our bitumen business. We have put our terminals and logistics businesses into joint ventures and that’s allowed us to move a lot more investment to the customer end of our business. We are spending dramatically more on our retail space and shops to make sure that we are set up to be the leading fuels reseller in Australia going forward. We have that track record in other countries and that’s my ambition here.”
Reflecting the local community
Looking to create value for investors and benefit Australian communities, the company’s strategy revolves around setting clear priorities, actively managing a quality portfolio of assets and employing people with distinct capabilities. BP Australia hires professionals from various fields including engineering, information technology, health and safety, transport and logistics, and communications.
The team’s diversity helps drive its success. One in four BP employees in Australia and New Zealand is over the age of 50 and the company has twice been awarded Employer of Choice for Gender Equality status. It has also made a public commitment to a Reconciliation Action Plan which highlights cultural awareness.
BP Australia’s recent partnership with Melbourne Business School via its $100,000 investment in the MURRA Indigenous Business Masterclass program over 2016 and 2017 is another example of its collaboration with people from diverse sectors of the Australian community, bringing together academics, business leaders, entrepreneurs, government, not-for-profit organisations and philanthropists to generate new and inspiring ideas.
“We want to be a valuable member of the society here in Australia,” Andy says. “We think we are progressive and very inclusive and that comes back to our commitment to the customers we want to serve. We want to look like them and that’s why the ambition I have for the BP team is that we are always very diverse and inclusive.”