Women executives in retail #7: Bryony Brown, UK marketing manager for Shell Mobility, Shell.
Bryony Brown, UK marketing manager for Shell Mobility, Shell.
Women who have reached senior positions in the retail world are (all too) rare, not to mention invisible, which is why we decided to get to know them better by inviting them to tell us about their career paths, the challenges of the past and those of the future.
Q&A with Bryony Brown, UK marketing manager for Shell Mobility, Shell.
Can you tell us a little about your role?
I sit on the leadership team for Shell’s UK Mobility business and as a team we have responsibility for the health & safety and profitability of Shell’s 1,100 UK service stations as well as our 400-plus fast EV charge posts. Within that team, I am directly accountable for all our marketing and pricing activities. So anything you see at our service stations, hear on the radio, or read or listen to digitally has been produced by my team. In addition I’m responsible for our great Go+ loyalty programme, the ownership of our Shell V-Power fuel brand and Shell Recharge EV brand, and finally our prices and end-to-end cost management. It keeps me busy but I have a great team!
What have been your most exciting, impactful projects at Shell?
So many! Every role I have done at Shell over the past 14 years has had impact. But some highlights for me were starting a new sustainability-related telematics business from scratch as an “intrapreneur”, which we successfully spun out of Shell to enable external VC investment, and for which I sat on the board. Also, my first ever role at Shell was to initiate and negotiate what is now a successful alliance partnership with Waitrose to develop a convenience retail offer. Seeing projects come to life and provide differentiated benefits to customers is what really gets me motivated.
You work in areas related to sustainability, what are the biggest opportunities for Shell and your part in this?
The most obvious opportunity for us in our Mobility business is of course rolling out our EV charging infrastructure. This is a nascent business and coordinating all the parts to make it an eventual seamless customer experience is not easy, from getting high voltage power connected to the sites, to negotiating landlord consents. But we have the benefit of being able to watch what Shell is doing in other markets, like China, and learn from others’ experiences. And we have big ambitions in this space which is so exciting to be influencing the speed and uptake of our customers’ sustainability journey.
The perception of the energy sector is of a male dominated workplace, is that true today?
Not at all! And in fact, I would say in my 14-year career at Shell it has never really felt like a male dominated place. There are very capable women (and of course men!) at every level of the organisation.
What advice would you give a young woman who’s about to enter the world of work?
My advice to a woman is no different than that to a man. The key is that you enjoy what you do and leverage your unique skills. As you start out in your career you’re always seeking out learning opportunities and focusing on what you could do better. Move on from that mindset and over time start to focus on your strengths, recognise your blind spots, and then create the team around you to cover all the right bases.
What business challenges have you faced and what elements have you had to adapt?
I face business challenges every day! I like to keep “peeling the onion” to understand the data and always trying to get to the bottom of the challenge. If at that point you don’t know what to do, then trust your gut and instinct, which is built up over your years of experience to make the final decision.
What excites you most about the future in your role?
I am truly passionate about the energy transition and doing my part to get the world to net zero as quickly as possible. I am in the fortunate position to be able to nudge consumers on their personal energy transition journey by providing opportunities and motivations to switch to EVs, or more energy efficient fuels. That is what motivates me every day.
Do you feel that being a woman boss makes a difference?
You’d need to ask my team! Honestly, not really though. Great leaders are both male and female and I strive to fit into that category every day.