14 March 2016
How did you come to be in the oil industry?
As a business consultant growing up, I spent time in several different industries before landing in oil – or at least landing in fuels as was the case for me. My first oil industry experience was getting involved with the downstream in fuels marketing and network strategy work for Mobil just before the merger with Exxon. Over time, I have worked deeply in most parts of the oil & gas value chain with a heavy emphasis on upstream and downstream fuels over the past 5 years.
What is your proudest work-related achievement to date? 3 key achievements:
1 – Building up our business and Oliver Wyman office in Houston. We have gone from a ground level start to building up a sizable office and business within the energy space
2 – Helping several clients enter into new markets and services spaces aided by our strategy and M&A work with them
3 – Beginning to see changes in the Mexico energy industry and understanding our small role within parts of that change
What is your role in your job?
I lead Oliver Wyman’s Houston office and am a senior partner within our Oil and Gas/Energy practice. I work with clients mostly in North America on issues of upstream, midstream and downstream fuel strategy, organization and operations. During the past few years, I am spending increasing time working on Mexico energy issues for a range of clients.
What is your or your business' main area of growth?
Our main areas of growth these days are: 1) helping upstream companies adapt their operating models to lower and more flexible cost positions; 2) helping downstream companies take advantage of a good fuels market right now to pursue market growth and secure volume outlets; 3) helping energy and energy services investors sort through the best opportunities to enter markets and acquire platform/growth companies; 4) helping a range of companies consider their entry/growth strategies in Mexico and what their operating models – including partnerships/ventures – should look like.
Where do you see the greatest opportunity in the oil and gas market?
We see opportunities in all segments, especially in Mexico. Clearly there is upstream E&P opportunities in different types of plays/fields. However, there is also great need to build petroleum and infrastructure services businesses in Mexico to provide new services and to increase provider choice/quality and serve the market in a different way. For downstream fuels, that part of the market is opening faster than expected and there is tremendous opportunity for companies across the fuels ecosystem – including refiners, distributors, infrastructure operators, retail – to establish strong and profitable positions.
Where do you see the greatest challenge?
For Mexico, the challenges are staying flexible and anticipating how regulations may shift. I think the biggest winners will be those that best anticipate how changes will occur and position themselves to help restructure the market to their advantage.
What was the wisest advice you received from a mentor?
Don’t rely on past patterns to drive or justify future actions. Yes, some of past patterns and cycles need to be considered but, in recent years, the oil industry is moving much faster and with new business models emerging so we need to anticipate where the industry will move.
What advice would you pass onto a recent graduate wishing to work in your line of business?
Be prepared for continual change and to reinvent yourself every so often to ensure you are relevant to the happening changes.
What are the strategic priorities for your company in the next 12 years and beyond?
Our strategic priorities are related to continuing to deepen how we can serve our clients in North America, Mexico and globally and ensuring that we bring the capabilities of our entire firm and parent firm – MMC – to bear on their critical and complex issues.
If you could wave a magic wand over the global industry, what would you change and why?
I would break-up a few of the larger companies and create more medium sized, but fully scaled, flexible companies with greater focus. I believe that would drive greater industry value and progress.
What’s the one interesting fact about you that no one would suspect?
I am a closet, or maybe living room, jazz guitarist. While I do not have as much time as I would like to play, I enjoy it immensely as I can disconnect from daily pressing issues and let emotions and soul come through.
How do you prefer to spend your spare time?
As many, I like to spend my spare time with my family. This industry frequently causes you to travel given the industry is global and connected. When at home, I do whatever I can to stay involved and close.
What's your favourite holiday destination?
As boring as it can sound for a Texan, we like to vacation in Colorado during the summer. We have extended family there and love to get together in the mountains to connect, eat well and have fun.
All-time favourite book?
“Crime & Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Earlier in life, I spent some time in Russia when it was still the Soviet Union. The theme of bettering oneself through suffering has somehow always stuck with me.
All-time favourite film?
I somehow never tire of watching “The Shawshank Redemption”. Probably something to do with Morgan Freeman’s presence.
What three items would you take with you to a desert island?
Assuming one of them could not be my family:
Solar charged I-pod with 3,000 tunes
Full set of spices to find a way to cook whatever is there and make it more tasty
About Bob Orr
Bob Orr is a partner in Oliver Wyman’s Oil and Gas practice in North America and is based in Houston. Bob specializes in value growth strategy development, organization and process transformation, and change management with extensive experience consulting to clients across oil & gas upstream and downstream segments, energy/petroleum services, fuels/convenience retail, and private equity.
Mr. Orr holds an M.B.A. in strategic management from the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania; a Master of International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University; and a B.A. in political science and economics from the University of Denver.