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Impact and legacy on the ground: Oliver’s story

12 November 2021

For Oliver, being part of something bigger is important, and he’s found that by working with people from all over the world

As Chief of Staff of bp’s Iraq business unit, Oliver Grimston is used to people asking questions about his role. “Typically people think of the job at the White House!” he says, but clarifies that it actually means being the eyes and ears of the business. 


He explains that,


bp is the lead contractor in a joint venture with PetroChina, the Basra Oil Company (BOC) and State Organization for Marketing of Oil (SOMO), government owned companies in Iraq. This means that I support the running of what is, depending on production, the second or third biggest oil field in the world, employing 7,000 people.

How does that look day to day? Oliver defines his responsibilities as “feeding back to the general manager on what's going well and what isn’t, business targets, team challenges, work plans and budgets, financial modelling, and facilitating correspondence between the Iraqi Government and the oil field.”


Global teams, local impact


Oliver describes the work he now does in Iraq as a true privilege. 


We generate around about 35% of Iraq's revenue in the field we lead. Supporting the Government to develop the field is a massive part of their economy and has wide-reaching impacts on their financial budget every year as well as for the future.

Oliver explains that it’s not just the Government that he and his team support, but the local people who they’ve been training too. “What I really care about is being able to make a difference here, we want to leave a good legacy for the people who live here.” 


For Oliver, being part of something bigger is important, and he’s found that by working with people from all over the world.


I’ve had the privilege of working with people from across the globe. We have about 70 different nationalities on-site at any one time, and I work closely with many professionals within Iraq, too. You learn about different cultures, how people think differently and what people's priorities are – it’s been an incredible life and learning experience.

Making the most of opportunities


It’s this global, inclusive culture as well as the people that Oliver attributes to his joining bp in the first place.


I attended one of the discovery days and everyone was so warm and welcoming.

Today, he’s a key part of that culture of helping others, both through his day-to-day role and as part of the global bp team. In his first Iraq rotational role in 2018, Oliver was given a large team where he was given the chance to mentor more junior members of the team. Speaking to him now, it’s clear that a mentoring role suits his enthusiastic nature.


I feel motivated by having the chance to work with different people on different projects, whether that’s the government, local people or more junior members of bp.

Building a strong foundation


Oliver’s role might seem like an unconventional journey from his Bachelor’s in physics, but he tells us it’s actually felt like a natural route for him since joining our Challenger graduate programme in 2013.


The Challenger programme was great because it gave me a real grounding in the business as well as lots of training.
I was able to build a strong technical foundation has allowed me to now know how to have the right conversations at the right level, to be able to understand challenges and to increase business performance.

 What would his advice be to those starting out in their careers? 


Build up your experience and take on challenges. When you first come into the company, try not to say no to opportunities. Be open and available. bp and the world are changing quite rapidly all the time and being able to step outside of your comfort zone and do something slightly different is important.

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