We took some time out with Paul Carey, Pricing Lead – who walks us through an eclectic 35-year career, advice he would give to his 20-year old self and imminent post-retirement Antipodean adventures…
Talk us through your history with Phillips 66 Limited (and previously Conoco) - and how you first came to work with the company.
I did Business Studies at Leicester and took a sales role at Rank Hovis and then I saw a job advertised for a merchandiser role with Conoco (as was) and it was at a time when we had 250 company-owned sites - and we were one of the first to have proper shops in service stations. We had a retail brand called Jiffy and once they were in situ they needed merchandising - and that was my first job. And my very first site was actually the Refinery station - which has recently been done again - a full-circle moment! I then quickly moved to an Area Manager role looking after 15 company-owned commission operated filling stations in London. Marketing roles followed, first out of the London office and then in Warwick and then in 1998 I became Territory Manager, South. I looked after all the wholesale accounts – pricing, managing, optimising profit and volume, dealing with supply disruptions etc. and liaising between head office and the customer. I guess a big part of the role was being the voice of the customer to head office and the voice of the company to the customer. It took a delicate touch at times but it was a job I really enjoyed. Great customers and a diverse role – always changing always throwing up surprises and challenges.
In 2017 it was decided that a central pricing and demand function role was needed - and that brings me to my current role as Pricing Lead. I had always been interested in that part of the business and when the opportunity came up it felt like the new challenge I was looking for – and it hasn’t disappointed.
I’m responsible for managing spot pricing for the Wholesale customer portfolio including the setting of pricing strategies, and maximising volume and profitability in line with overall business objectives and supply constraints. And it’s from a national perspective - so it includes gathering and assimilating information from multiple sources and make the most informed decisions possible. It’s definitely a ‘nuanced’ role – and I like that. It’s definitely kept me on my toes and has been a great workout for the grey matter!
You’ve enjoyed longevity and success at Phillips 66 Limited- what do you put that down to?
I think a lot has to do with the culture of the company. Yes you are given parameters, but you are trusted to get on with your job - and I have never had people looking over my shoulder and that has really worked for me. I’ve always had quite a lot of autonomy in my roles and I’ve never been micro-managed. I believe people perform better if they are given clear goals and expectations. It’s been a very supportive company to work for - which is probably a big part of why I stayed for so long.
What have been your proudest moment/moments?
That’s a difficult one to answer! I think the two things I feel most proud of are the live pricing portal which I brought to conclusion and when we went into the Thames for the first time. At the time, refineries were closing down and so we went into the Thames and we’ve built it up to be quite significant. Our presence was small but we are now a major player.
What will you miss?
I will definitely miss the people - I think you’re supposed to say that aren’t you?! But joking aside - I really will miss the people - the people make the business. I will miss working in a changing, dynamic role and the buzz of the London office. I think the 3/2 work from home structure works a treat. It’s definitely the best of both worlds.
What advice would you give to your 20 year self?
When I was 20 I didn’t have much self-confidence - and I would probably tell me to be more confident. Without sounding too much like a cliché - follow your dreams, trust your instincts. I was quite shy and easily intimidated, so don’t be afraid to take more risks.
How do you see the industry changing – what will the next 2-3 years look like?
It’s going to change in two ways. AI is coming - I don’t know how it will play out - but the pricing will be more automated, more algorithms coming in. Pricing will definitely change and the second is the impact of emerging energies – although I don’t think it will happen as quickly as people are predicting. Our industry has valuable expertise - and will adapt and it will do it smartly.
What are you looking forward to most in retirement?
Adventures! A week after I finish work, the plan is to travel for a year - kicking off in New Zealand. 6 weeks in NZ, 3 months in Oz and then see where it takes us after that. It feels like a good time to do this. You’ll be surprised to know that our twin daughters have opted to come and see us in Bali! My wife got everything booked before I changed my mind - there’s no going back!