My working day normally starts at the crack of dawn as my wife is an early riser and kicks me out of bed. If I have time it gives me an opportunity to get to the gym. With all the things we have to do during the working day, especially sitting down a lot, I think it’s important to get exercise and it helps to clear my thoughts. I like to think I’m reasonably fit but my wife thinks I have too good a social life. My role as commercial manager for the Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA) probably has something to do with this.
After a gym session my day starts with checking emails; we are a small disparate team and it’s important to co-ordinate our efforts and to keep in touch. During the morning I also try to check in with the other members of the team Steve, Phil and Brian as in the fast-changing world of fuel retailing, we are always kept busy and there is always some new development.
Although my role primarily entails the development of ’commercial services’, I also get involved in a number of other projects. In my previous career with BP, it was important to set strategy, translate this into personal performance contacts and measure how well you were doing against it. We are not as rigid as this in the PRA, however it has been some years since we undertook a strategic review. So in January we took some time out to do this, which was great as we now have a clear view on how we can make the PRA even more successful and sustainable. Much of my time this year has been taken up working through the output and implementing this.
By way of an example, I have recently been working on our new website to make it easier to use, be more informative and also be able to be used in mobile format and on tablets. This has entailed a number of meetings with our developers as we were under some time pressure to get it ready for launch at the recent Forecourt Show. Our new url is www.ukpra.co.uk please do have a look at it.
Our office is in Great Portland Street, London, which is where I have most of my meetings.
It is around an hour’s commute from my house in Hertfordshire and recently I have been involved in meeting a number of government bodies including the Home Office, the Bank of England and the new independent Payment Systems Regulator. There is a lot of change at the moment, not least in how we pay for things, especially on cards, and also the introduction of the new polymer bank notes, so it’s important that the PRA members’ views are properly represented.
I also think it’s very important to meet as many of the members as possible so my day could also take me to our new format ’Live and Local’ meetings, where occasionally I have presented our market overview. It has been really great to get out of the office and to learn about the pressures facing fuel retailers. I have also learnt a lot on the technical side, especially from the presentations made by our technical director Phil Monger.
I have spent all my career in the oil industry and the best piece of advice I have been given was "Surround yourself with great people, treat them fairly, set a clear direction and the results will follow". I’m least likely to say ’It can’t be done’, as I always try to find a way round problems.
In terms of my greatest professional achievement, it was while I was at BP where I worked my way up from an admin role to being appointed UK country manager in European Fleet Services this at the same time as studying for my professional qualifications.
Outside work I enjoy relaxing with family and friends and I am a keen gardener (my wife is actually the gardener and I do what I’m told). I try to keep fit and, as well as getting to the gym, I enjoy the countryside and getting out on my mountain bike.
I also enjoy watching sport and watch Saracens or England Rugby as often as I can.
I’m really enjoying working for the PRA and if you can get along to one of our shows, I hope to introduce myself in person.
Name: Gordon Balmer
Job title: Commercial manager
Company: Petrol Retailers’ Association
Responsibility: Developing the PRA membership experience through new services and initiatives
Career history: Spent all my working life in the oil industry, including over 30 years at BP
Greatest achievement: At BP I worked my way up from an admin role to being appointed UK country manager in European Fleet Services
Least likely to say: "It can’t be done"
Tip for business success: Surround yourself with great people, treat them fairly, set a clear direction and the results will follow
Other interests: keeping fit either at the gym or on my mountain bike; gardening