Alessandro Antonioli is a marketer specialised in crude oil in supply and trading (UK). He spent ten minutes telling us about how the Future Leaders Programme has helped him to develop.
Why did you apply to the FLP?
To be in the field I am passionate about – energy – and to travel around the world. I wanted to shape a business from within, exploring its many parts.
What would be your top application and interview tips to prospective FLs?
You are likely to answer a question on a business or technical cases based your experience. In both case the interviewer expects that you can communicate your thoughts in a liner, concise manner. For this, I would suggest to the candidates to gather some experiences that they feel better reflect the BP values and practice to communicate them well. They can do the same by thinking of typical cases of market entry or risk assessment. Your conclusions should be easily understood – remember the ‘how’ and not just the ‘what’.
What were your first few days and weeks like as an FL?
After the climate shock of moving from Singapore to London, I’ve joined an extraordinary team in Group HR that addresses how we behave as a company. Working in global headquarters, I’ve had the chance to meet many executives and even shared the lift with the CEO: this was one of those times when you think about elevator pitches, but end up saying ‘nice weather today…’ What enthused me the most in that first role outside my comfort zone was that I was feeling instrumental to the company success while deeply connecting with its culture.
What is the value of the role, and what are its demands?
As an FL you are expected to act as a bridge between local businesses and the group’s vision. Therefore while you need to be very good in your daily job, you also need to be an influencer and steer people’s minds. This is made challenging by the natural resistance to change in mature organizations. Evolution requires resilience and focus but this is the type of experience that prepares us to become true leaders.
What have been your key milestones in since joining BP?
In chronological order:
- Succeeding in the roll-out of the company’s values and behaviours across the globe with Organisational Effectiveness
- More than doubling my P&L in Air BP in less than one year
- One of my customers calling to wish me a happy birthday
- Giving regular presentations in my third language at the France’s Ministry of Defence in Paris
- Making a pitch with the IST Crude Oil team for trading rights worth hundreds of millions
- Delivering the marketing plan for Schiehallion, our latest development in the UK North Sea
- Bonus milestone: having a private dinner with Iain Conn, former CEO of Downstream and Helmut Schuster, Group HR, VP, in recognition of my team’s work
Tell us about the function(s) and the career options that were available to you at different points
After a short assignment with Organisational Effectiveness in HR, I was determined to get a sales role in which I could make a tangible contribution. There were plenty of sales roles in BP group, but I applied only for those I thought most challenging. I’ve been lucky enough to be hired for a role that would involve responsibility for large markets such as France and the Benelux and the management of major customers.
For my second big rotation, I wanted to expand my commercial experience either geographically or functionally. Conversations with various hiring managers helped me to see how my experience was perceived from the outset, pointing me to where I could offer the highest contribution. Eventually, I opted for a role in Crude Trading in London that is giving me extraordinary insights on a fascinating global market. In my current role ,I use my commercial skills to maximise the value of BP’s oil production, while giving commercial advice and analytics to trading and origination.
How did you find re-settlement?
My re-settlement from Singapore has been fine as you receive a good support when relocating from abroad. I made immediately many friends in the office and mostly through the FLP network.
How do you pursue your personal as well as your career passions at BP?
BP encourages people to fulfil their lives as this benefits the work environment. The best opportunities have arrived recently, as the company is planning to benefit from the ongoing energy transition into lower carbon. All the internal talent pools are given the chance to propose ideas and have the possibility to pitch for them in front of the BP Venture team. I am now working with other FL’s on rethinking the role of the retail stations in the new technological landscape.
What training and networking opportunities/events have you had? Do you have any more planned?
I’ve attended some excellent courses on very different topics: change management, continuous improvement, oil trading and even French. In terms of networking, BP in the UK is an extremely vibrant community that offers a variety of free arts events, but also the possibility to contribute to the local community by the means of cooperation projects.
How has your mentor helped to support, influence and/or shape you?
My mentor is my gold standard for management. Besides her charisma and valuable career advice, she has made me part of the BP world by introducing me to many excellent people. She even arranged for me a very special on-boarding meeting with Helmut Schuster, Head of HR, after only two weeks I joined the company.
What’s the best bit of advice given by your mentor?
“Focus on your strengths, but even more importantly help the others to find theirs”. Thank you Katie!
Your top application and interview tips for prospective applicants?
For the application stage, I suggest that they highlight all the achievements that are relevant to BP business and fit with its five values of Safety, Respect, Excellence, Courage, One team.
I would also advise thinking deeply about their motivations to join a large complex organisation where you need to bring people on board for most decisions.
During the interview, I encourage the candidates to interact openly with the interviewers and keep simple structures in mind both for the technical and behavioural interviews. Simplicity and spontaneity are in my opinion the best approach.
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