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A twenty-year procurement journey at bp: Paul's story

24 May 2021

Paul Robertson has enjoyed a fantastic career at bp in procurement and supply chain management since he joined almost 20 years ago on the graduate scheme. We caught up with Paul to find out what's changed since bp’s reinvention

On the Procurement graduate scheme at one of bp’s manufacturing plants over 20 years ago, Paul witnessed first-hand what procurement really means to the business at an operational level. “I got to see the whole procurement journey from end to the end and the positive impact it can have. Two decades on and I still have a real appreciation for what it means when I put a global agreement in place as part of a complex business strategy”, he reflects.


Now Paul works as the global category director for retail assets and advanced mobility at bp, leading on the procurement of maintenance, construction and foodservice equipment. “My role covers everything you can see and touch that we don’t sell on a forecourt”, Paul explains. 


“Much of my time is spent looking at longer-term agreements, incentivising suppliers to deliver value, and developing relationships at different levels within bp and the supplier business”, he says. “The focus is on choosing a strategic supplier to work with that is going to add value to the business, helping to identify and drive supplier innovation and developing advanced category strategies that can be implemented”. 


In recent years, bp has worked to become a strategic, collaborative procurement operation. The focus is on choosing a strategic supplier partner to work with that is going to add value to the business, beyond just providing a good value product.

Procurement at the forefront of bp’s new strategy


“Today, procurement is an exciting place to be”, he says.


bp is clear in its ambition to become a net zero company by 2050, or sooner, and so managing the costs of business have never been so important.

 As bp transitions to become an integrated energy company, there are huge changes happening across the business, and procurement is no different. “Being a part of what I see as the forefront of bp’s new strategy, something that will have an impact on the future success of the company fascinates me”, he says. 


For example, as bp looks to redefine its customer offer, Paul is supporting the rollout of a planned 70,000 new electric vehicle charging points by 2030. “We’re also expanding our operations in areas such as hydrogen, wind and solar energy”, he explains. 


No day is dull or predictable in this job!

And then there’s the pace of change: “The direction of the company and what we’re doing is radically changing”. All of this combined means that Paul is looking for strategic thinkers to join the bp team, who have the technical understanding required to be effective in negotiating contracts and understanding what it is they’re responsible for buying.


Leading the next generation of procurement professionals 


It’s not just the work that Paul enjoys but the people he’s doing it with. He is responsible for global teams of colleagues from all walks of life, and he enjoys watching people grow and progress. 


As for what it takes to develop into a great leader, Paul believes that if you are empathetic and understanding, you can get a lot more from your team. “You need to understand what drives people in order to help them to do their job better”, he says. Ultimately, Paul’s management style has been informed by the culture at bp.


It’s a tremendously caring and positive place. You face the same challenges and pressures and that really pulls everyone together.

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