In Profile – with long-standing downstream oil consultant Rod Prowse

Our special monthly feature which gives you the opportunity to ‘meet’ an industry figure and, hopefully, to discover another side to them beyond the well-known facts.

In January’s edition we chat with Rod Prowse, a long- standing member of the downstream oil community and the writer behind our highly valued industry insight features.


Please give your career history in 25 words or fewer.

2 years as economist at one of the large clearing banks. Shortly after the Yom Kippur War, moved to the more ‘exciting’ world of the downstream oil sector with US Major, Conoco, where I stayed for 30 years in positions spanning the full value chain spectrum, from supply & trading through to aviation fuels marketing and retail filling stations’ principally in the UK, with 2 years in Houston, Texas.

Describe yourself in 3 words

Laid back. Open-minded. Focused.

What were your childhood / early ambitions?

No clear recollections, although I went through a phase of wanting to become an electrician, but not sure why!

Describe your dream job (if you weren’t doing this?)

Being a magician.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

“Never lose sight of the end in mind AND listen.”

Share your top tips for business success

Listen and learn from experience; give equal attention to working ‘on’ the business as ‘in’ it; strategy is more important than tactics.

What’s your most recent business achievement of note?

Running a two-day workshop on developing a customer value proposition with EY for middle managers of Gazpromneft in Sochi, Russia ( when we were still talking to them!).

Tell us your greatest fear

Forgetting the login details of my on-line bank account.

Which is most important – ambition or talent?

A bit of a toss-up- but probably ambition, as talent can be developed and nurtured whereas ambition is largely ‘inherent’.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Being 100% master of my own destiny.

Which is the quality that you most admire?

Close one- but probably honesty, with resilience a close second.

What are you most likely to say?

“Go for it.”

What are you least likely to say?

“Get lost.”

Do you have a favourite sports team?


Cheese or chocolate?


Describe your perfect day

When everything goes more or less to plan, with no nasty surprises.

What’s the biggest challenge of our time?

Immediate: energy prices and fuel poverty; near / long term: climate change.

Share your greatest personal achievement

Receiving a Dupont Marketing Excellence Award by the Dupont CEO for developing Conoco’s UK marine bunkering business, presented with much fanfare at the company’s US Head Office in Wilmington, Delaware ( Conoco was a wholly owned subsidiary of Dupont at the time). This was an annual ceremony to recognise the most promising marketing initiatives across the Dupont organisation.

What’s your pet hate or biggest irritant?

Donald Trump.

If you were on ‘Mastermind’ what would your specialist subject be?

No clear candidate, but could make a good stab at Men’s Singles Champions at Wimbledon over 1962-2022.

If you were elected to government what would be the first law you’d press for?

Significant tightening of the regulations that govern ownership and management of ‘public’ utilities.

If your 20-year-old self saw you now what would they think?

What’s happened to me??

What is number 1 on your bucket list?

To experience supersonic air travel again.

What 3 things would you take to a desert island?

My wife, Jeanne
Some sustenance for survival (including a bottle of Barbados rum)
A means of escape

Tell us something about you that people would be very surprised by

I’m a Canadian citizen.

Who would you most like to ask these questions of?

The one former boss in my corporate career who I heartily loathed and for whom I had zero respect (no names!).