Q&A with an oil and gas executive turned EV charging infrastructure champion

Miriam Gozalo is an electrification project development manager at BP, one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world. Her work is squarely focused on the energy transition. Read what she has to say about her role working on ultra-fast electric vehicle charging stations in a company that most people associate with drilling rigs and gasoline.  

How did your early career start? My first jobs were focused in Cloud Computing and Telecommunications and, after completing an MBA at the IE Business School in Madrid, I applied to BP’s Iberia graduate programme in 2012. I wanted to get the end-to-end vision that an employee working in a start-up has, but in a big multinational company, as part of BP’s Iberian Fuels Supply Value Chain. While in the programme, my first role was as a pricing analyst, working with the Supply and Retail teams. I then went on to work in the Fuels Value Chain, as a Retail Territory Manager. It was a 24/7 role, but I leveraged my experience effectively, using my pricing background and a lot of soft skills.

While in the graduate programme, I also got some experience working at one of the refineries during my final rotation – an unusual position for a graduate to find themselves in! I studied hard to understand how the refinery works, fit in quickly as part of the team, and came out with an accelerated refining degree. 

After my graduate programme came to an end, I joined BP’s Advanced Mobility Unit, which is where I am today. I felt that the energy world was facing a big disruption, and knew I wanted to be part of that challenge, where technology would be key. 

Did you always want to move away from a job in oil and gas? While my time as a BP Graduate taught me that oil and gas is neither old-fashioned nor slow-paced, I knew I wanted to be continuously challenged. As someone who has always been passionate about the intersection of the energy sector and the technology world it was crucial that my work focused on both of these sectors. 

My focus day-to-day is the work we are doing to face a dual challenge of meeting the world’s need for more energy, whilst delivering it with fewer emissions.

As a Project Development Manager within BP’s Advanced Mobility Unit, I am part of the Electrification Team. The electrification team’s main role is to use our energy expertise to provide the fastest and most convenient network of home, destination and service station charging and provide ultra-fast charging solutions ahead of the market. Key to this is providing a superior customer experience and unrivalled technological innovation. We work with both large and small companies, investing in existing products as well as supporting development efforts.

There are no routines in my daily job, because no two days are the same. I might be clearing obstacles holding up existing projects early in the morning, meeting companies that will open future energy opportunities in the afternoon, and gathering information for new, green energy focused investments at the end of the day. This variety is part of what I value the most about my job. I want to keep advancing and keep customer needs covered, whatever the future looks like. 

What recent projects have you worked on? Last year, I was able to work closely with the team overseeing BP’s acquisition of Chargemaster, the UK’s largest electric-charging network, for £130 million. The project was an exciting one and means that BP is now able to offer consumers access to the largest network of charging points in the UK. In the long term, it took BP closer to its goal of providing the fastest and most convenient electric vehicle charging network in the market through the roll out of the 150kW chargers, starting in July 2019. It really drives home BP’s desire to cement a low carbon future, aiming for electric vehicle drivers to be able to charge their vehicles up to 100 miles in a less than 10 minutes. 

Batteries are also a focus area of my work and I am currently working with StoreDot, one of BP’s venturing portfolio companies. StoreDot is one of the most promising ultra-fast charging battery start-ups, looking to develop batteries that could eventually see electric vehicle charging fall to six minutes. This is similar to the fuelling experience that customers have today, so to think that this is what StoreDot batteries could be bringing into the market is certainly an exciting possibility. I’m definitely proud that I get to support the growth of electric vehicles and the development of a sustainable e-mobility ecosystem which makes use of new technological opportunities.  

You mentioned BP tackling the dual challenge, how is it looking to achieve this? Projects that I am lucky enough to have been involved in are great examples of the work that BP is doing to make its energy cleaner and better, and evidence of the bold changes being made across the business. But there is still a long way to go. 

BP consumers have new mobility needs and being part of the team who will accompany BP consumers in this new journey by providing them a seamless transition from fuels to the new improved e-mobility world, is a real pleasure.

Every day, there are new technologies to be evaluated, new updates in the market to be tracked and new challenges to be faced. Often times, it’s not about whether or not we should draw up a plan B if plan A is not working, it’s about how fast we can create and implement it. The traditional fuel work and the new electricity work will come together and evolve at different paces in different directions

Although the work that I do now might seem very different from how my career in the Downstream Fuels business started, they share the same goals. I believe they are complimentary roles, both are crucial to meeting the mobility needs of the customers of today, as well as the customers of tomorrow.

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