Know your company

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Project managers for big oil companies don't spend their days sitting behind big desks, but have to go out on the field and get their hands dirty.

Zandile Mposelwa has been project manager of fuels at BP South Africa for the past 20 months and one of her tasks involves visiting BP's various petrol stations so she can understand the work of the fuel attendants.

She said: "I spend my day with the attendants fuelling cars, talking to the customers and working with them (petrol attendants) to understand their roles. This is the only way for me to do so, by being in their shoes and working together as a team."

BP is one of the largest oil companies with at least 1300 service stations and services more than 50 depots globally. Its products can be found in more than a 100 countries worldwide.

Locally, the organisation is a huge player in the industry.

Having a thorough understanding of the business and the customer is key to the success of anyone interested in working in a similar role.

Mposelwa is heavily involved with clients and businesses.

"I define and execute fuel marketing plans that are aligned with business-to-consumer and business-to-business offering strategies with the intention to accelerate the position on clean fuels while ensuring differentiation and market leadership in this area," she said.

Mposelwa has a bachelor of technology in marketing and in 2007 pursued the Management Advancement Programme at Witswatersrand Business School.

Market research is crucial to enable Mposelwa to get customers' perceptions on BP products .

Because the oil industry faces various challenges, such as price fluctuations, which depend on conflicts in oil-producing regions, having a general knowledge of current affairs is essential for Mposelwa.

The organisation makes an extra effort to encourage motorists to be fuel savvy through implementing awareness campaigns in the country.

"As we are very involved with people in our business, internally and externally, one must understand and be able to work with people of different cultures and societies if you want to reach a certain objective. People are our business and the reason we work," said Mposelwa.

The fuel industry is heavily regulated in South Africa and this may sometimes pose certain challenges to oil companies but according to Mposelwa, every challenge creates an opportunity.

"No matter the challenges, I am very passionate about my job and that is what motivates me to come to work daily."