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Helping bp deliver on biofuels: Tom’s story

28 July 2022

As a commercial and technical manager, Tom's role is focused on working for bp’s next generation biofuels business

Tom Parsons

A love for science and jazz music have been a running theme in Tom’s life. “As an avid jazz trumpet player in a big band, jazz is something I’ve always used to give my life an extra bit of colour”, he says.


But when looking at what direction he’d like his career to take, Tom considered his options based on his strongest subjects at school – chemistry and maths. “When I was growing up, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and so I followed what I was good at,” Tom recalls. He studied chemistry at the University of Oxford and stayed on to complete his PhD in inorganic solid-state chemistry.


During his final year, Tom saw a job role advertised with the parliamentary office of science and technology. It sparked his interest in working in the energy sector and Tom applied for a graduate role at bp.  


“I wanted to be part of the energy transition and, even then, bp stood out as an energy company that was looking to lead the way on climate.” 


Bridging the gap between technical and commercial 


Tom joined bp as a research chemist focusing on new technology and process development for bp’s downstream businesses. He soon realised he’d relish a role that was more commercially focused and so seized the chance to become a business development manager for a technology licensing team in bp. 


“It was a fantastic way to bridge from my technical background into something more commercial,” Tom reflects. “It also meant I found myself in front of senior people and CEOs from other companies looking to explore bp technologies pretty early on in my career.”


In 2014, Tom joined bp’s biofuels strategy team, helping the fuels businesses meet their biofuel blending requirements. From there he joined a commercial development team, where he was part of the deal team that helped bp invest in biojet fuel producer Fulcrum BioEnergy, a business developing plans to build waste-to-fuel plants in North America. After a stint focused on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) strategy and commercial development, growing bp’s SAF supply chain at 19 different airports, Tom took on a role as a commercial and technical manager working for bp’s next generation biofuels business.


Tom explains,


The work we are doing in biofuels is helping bp build out its advanced biofuel production capacity. Biofuels are one of bp’s five transition growth engines and we are aiming to build five major biofuels projects in the coming years. My team is tasked with delivering those from a commercial perspective."  


Working for a business filled with capabilities and ambition 


Tom is thankful for opportunities for development at bp, even early on in his career. “It was the annual careers planning session as part of my graduate scheme that made me realise how commercially-minded I wanted my career to be,” he says.


Thanks to this and bp’s collaborative culture, Tom has had the space to work in commercial roles across bp.  


He explains,


There’s a true breadth of skills to learn from and we’re encouraged to take our own strengths and competencies and run with them. This creates more mixing and diversity and brings together a stronger company."


At bp there are opportunities to be part of a huge business, filled with capabilities and ambition. If you put all of these ingredients together you can create solutions that make a difference."

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