Alliance Manchester Business School - AMBS

BP Case Study

Managing Projects Programme

BP is one of the world's largest energy companies, providing its customers with fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services, and petrochemical products for everyday items.

The company grew rapidly in the late 1990s through a series of successful mergers and acquisitions to become a global energy group. Integration of its multiple heritages, and the drive for world-leading professionalism and consistency in the way it does business, underpinned BP’s strategy entering the 21st century. It now operates in over 100 countries and employs over 80,000 people.

Organisational issue

The global oil market has changed significantly in recent years – most oil reserves are now owned by national oil companies requiring creative approaches to joint venturing, and those reserves not owned by national oil companies offer enormous technical challenges.

Competitive advantage for companies such as BP is dependent on the technologies they can deploy as well as their financial muscle – and the effective management of major projects is vital to successfully developing and applying those technologies.

Demographic pressures and increasing technological challenges mean there is a growing need for BP to develop new and existing generations of reflective project management professionals and to pass on the collective knowledge accumulated over more than a century of oil and gas discovery and production.

The solution

In 2006, BP and The University of Manchester entered into a partnership to develop and deliver an education programme, Managing Projects, for BP’s experienced senior managers. The programme aimed to make a real and significant contribution to the development of these individuals and their projects whilst minimising disruption to their existing commitments.

University academics worked together with BP to design the programme, with content developed through a series of workshops and subject team input. This collaborative process ensured the best of what a world-class university could offer was grounded in the reality of BP’s business, strategy, and challenges.

The result wasn’t just a programme about the tools and techniques of project management – it was an intellectual and thought-provoking programme about educating for leadership, judgment, and the application of the principles and processes of project management in complex and ambiguous situations. Tailored to BP’s specific needs, it leads to a Postgraduate Certificate in Managing Projects.

The programme is reviewed and enhanced after each intake to ensure it continues to meet BP’s strategic objectives and changing circumstances. 

The continued partnership and joint focus on design, delivery, and quality have been a key factor in the success of the Managing Projects programme. The programme continues to evolve and grow, reflecting changes in BP, the industry, and complex project leadership.


Project Managers completing the programme are exposed to new thinking, insights from third-party organisations, and the rich experience of the delegates themselves from across the BP group. 

The reflective practice approach is a fundamental aspect of the programme, building consultative and practical learning, and driving delegate confidence in their capability.

Managing Projects has contributed significantly to producing a new breed of BP reflective practitioners, able to respond to the challenges and complexity of their roles and the industry.

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