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From Castrol, to air bp, to start-ups: David’s story

24 September 2020
David left his role at bp ventures in June of this year. Despite this, he is still closely connected to bp

When bp acquired Castrol in 2000, a number of Castrol employees joined bp. David Gilmour was part of that cohort, he remembers it fondly, “at the time we were all very excited, it was a great opportunity for a mid-size company like Castrol to join one of the industry giants.” 


David stayed in the Castrol business for nine years following the acquisition, “the integration of the two firms was challenging at times, but incredibly interesting – I’m extremely proud of the successful business that we created”, he explains. 


David’s success at Castrol inspired a desire to work within the wider bp group, “I was seeking a new challenge at bp and became the chief operating officer of air bp and then CEO of the division some years later”. Under David’s leadership “air bp expanded, acquiring companies in Brazil and Scandinavia”. Innovation was firmly on the agenda, 

we were looking at how we could drive innovation within the Jet Fuel space, and as a result, I spent a lot of time working with start-ups. Alongside the quick expansion and commitment to safety which endures today, this was one of my favourite times.

David’s exposure to start-ups and drive to innovate inspired him to take his career in a new direction, taking charge of bp ventures in 2016. Looking to “invest in gaming-changing technology companies”, David oversaw investments in businesses which are blossoming today.


David also helped establish bp launchpad, bp’s in house scale-up factory for start-ups. Delighted to have buy-in from the leadership team, David explains  

I think our work led to an explosion of opportunities for bp, one of which was in mobility. Many of our investment frontiers, such as digital and low-carbon feature as a key component of the net zero strategy in place today.

David left his role at bp ventures in June of this year. Despite this, he is still closely connected to bp, occupying senior board positions at various bp ventures portfolio companies. David explains “I am chairing ONYX InSight which exists within bp launchpad and I’m a non-executive director at StoreDot and GreenSteam. It is fascinating to work with the teams and help them scale”. 


David also remains heavily involved in the start-up community through his coaching and mentoring, “I work with a range of businesses, many of which are asking me about the energy transition. I am providing some consultancy and am pleased to continue my work within the industry”, he accounts. 


David has enjoyed the first few months of life outside of full-time work, but explains that it hasn’t quite sunk in yet, “I was working remotely when I left and am still working remotely now! I’ve really enjoyed it, the work is different, but also familiar – providing my expertise on a consultancy basis has been an enjoyable experience”. 


David still keeps a close eye bp’s developments,

the business is going in the right direction under Bernard Looney’s leadership.
Admitting that “the company does face a great challenge, pivoting a business the size of bp is not easy”. But, he remains optimistic about the future,
I know that bp is helping to propel the world through the energy transition, as a former employee, I watch on with immense pride.

As a prominent member of the start-up community, David is in contact with ex-bp employees who have gone into venture capital, or started their own business, “we share knowledge and insight and generally help each other succeed, we all need advice now and again – the shared bp experience is a nice commonality”, he shares. 


Commenting on the alumni network, “it is great to formalise this network, we are at a pivotal moment in the energy transition and technology has a key role to play in shaping the future of the industry. Current and former bp employees will play a key part in reimagining energy – it is important that we connect, sharing ideas and collaborating. On a personal note, I am always open to these conversations and encourage readers to reach-out to me”. 

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