Having joined BP at its Castellón refinery in Spain in 2001, Ignacio (Nacho) Gimenez couldn’t have imagined that he would progress through three wholly different career paths within the company, all supplemented by supportive learning and development opportunities
Having graduated from the Polytechnic University of Valencia with a chemical engineering degree, he initially began a PhD before opting to draw his studies to a temporary halt and entering the world of work. Nacho recalls, “At some point, I said to myself: researching is interesting and very fun, but I want to have some work experience. “While working at the refinery I was able to extend my engineering skills into the commercial arena. That took me back to studying, undertaking an MBA at the Spanish equivalent of the Open University. “In 2005, I made my first career change to work on the BP trading floor in London, where I ended up in the newly formed Supply and Trading Origination team. My engineering and MBA studies allowed me to develop new trading relationships, however I felt I needed new skills to reach the next level. So, I joined the corporate finance programme at the London Business School with the objective of adding finance to my commercial and technical skills base, while furthering my career path.” In this Origination role, Nacho reflects on some fascinating experiences: “When I was in trading, I managed the relationship with North African countries and I found myself in meetings with Ministers or Government officials in Egypt, Morocco or Algeria on a fairly regular basis. “On one occasion, I remember a meeting with a Minister to discuss how BP could support the country’s efforts to ensure energy supply to the population. The country was facing some huge economic and social challenges and the outcome of the conversation could affect the lives of many people. We talked about what solutions could be implemented and how BP could collaborate with the Government to help them achieve what they needed in a tight timeframe. I always found those high-level meetings fascinating because it was critical we got to a positive outcome that created a good collaboration across the parties.”
After nine years in Origination, an opportunity arose that Nacho couldn’t resist: “I was seconded and then permanently transferred into a role with BP Ventures, the team investing in companies that advance the energy transition, with the aim of moving BP forward in its objective to provide heat, light and mobility to the world.
I look for technologies or business models, in conjunction with the rest of BP, which can help BP with advancing the energy transition, decarbonising the economy and diversifying our business from oil and gas.
“With my MBA and corporate finance training, my current role as a venture capitalist allows me to pull my technical and commercial skills and direct them towards something really big and critical to the whole world: accelerating the energy transition. It’s the question of ‘how do we decarbonise the energy sector to protect the planet and stop climate change?’ I think it’s an incredibly fascinating role.
“The fact that we are working on something with such a positive impact is amazing. What we do has to be good for the planet and has to be good for people. We are trying to move a big company like BP into a completely new space and reinvent the company in a way that is much more sustainable.”
Nacho currently heads the European BP Ventures team and is completely absorbed by the challenge of advancing the energy transition.