My Elevator Ride with Bob Dudley, BP CEO

Bob Dudley is Chief Executive Officer of BP and took over before I got there in 2012. I had the chance to work with Bob’s leadership team on safety culture and competency efforts after Deepwater Horizon. It was some of the most meaningful work I did before leaving BP to start Pink Petro.

I often used Saturdays to run up to the office to get work done. The BP Westlake campus in Houston is about 3 miles from my home and a short run on the Terry Hershey Trail. That morning I took a chance, like I always had, that I wouldn’t run into anyone so I laced up my sneakers for a humid jog.

And that was the morning I ran into Bob on the elevator.

I really could have died in that moment wondering if I was smelling up the elevator bay. Did Bob think I was less than because I was up at the office in my gym shorts? Or maybe Bob was wishing he was in gym shorts and not at the office? But I didn’t sweat the conversation too much, perhaps because this was an all-too-familiar scene for me, and really I had sweat enough that morning! It was insanely hot in Houston.

There is something about me and meeting people at the most opportune time.

I once met Jeroen van der Veer, the former CEO of Shell in a London elevator and even had the courage to intervene on him with what could have been an unsafe situation. I didn’t know he was our CEO and my colleagues gave me a real tough time for that.

Nevertheless I’ve never had a problem connecting with people on common topics and values.

So there I was in the elevator speaking with Bob. He asked about my running. I told him it seemed I was always training for something. But that with age, it gets harder to run as fast so I go for longer distances. Our conversation shifted a moment to chat about the energy transition, safety and environment. We agreed that these things are very much like the marathon. They take time.

This week I had a rare moment and had the chance to catch up on some reading and came along a great piece by Bob. A lot of what he says in this piece are things he and I spoke about briefly 5-6 years ago in that elevator.

We’ve known a while that there’s a dual race on: to develop cleaner burning fuels and to bring on renewable sources.

But Bob’s right. It’s going to take time.

And many energy companies are investing in the path forward, and have been. Industry’s most recent move is putting carbon reduction targets into their scorecards and compensation. This is a huge move. Consumers, though, need to understand the complexity of the energy value chain, as Bob’s peer, Darren Woods, CEO of ExxonMobil said just a week ago in his CNBC interview with Squawk Box just after Q4 results were released.

Here is Bob’s recent note and thoughts on LinkedIn. Have a read. And never forget the value of being yourself in gym shorts and sneakers!

Catch BP’s 2019 Energy Outlook

Join Bob and his leadership on Thursday February 14 to hear more about the Energy Outlook he sees for 2040. We’ll also talk about the energy transition at HERWorld19 including Pam Darwin, Vice President, Africa with ExxonMobil, Melody Meyer, Board Director, BP plc, Julie Muns Simms, Principal with KPMG and Ernie Scheyder of Reuters.

Photo source: BP.com website

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