If I had to start again ... Lord Browne

I would do many things exactly the same. The reason I went into business was because my father pushed me with a very simple question: 'Why not try it?' I did. And I loved it - I loved the oil industry and the richness of all the experiences I had and the people I met. I would do it all again.

by Hannah Prevett
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

The one thing I would change is the way I handled the situation that ultimately resulted in my departure from BP. I made one fatal error of judgment when I told an untruth in a document given to the high court about how my ex-partner Jeff Chevalier and I met. It was a very bad thing to have done - something I had never done before and I'm confident I would never do again. I corrected the statement and apologised, but by then it was too late.

If I were doing it all again, I would like to be very transparent. But it was unrealistic at that time - it was very difficult to bring my two lives together. Things were quite different when I was growing up from how they are today; unless you were in a highly sophisticated minority, you weren't out. And in corporate life then it was basically unacceptable to be out, and the fact it was the oil industry just made it tougher.

I can't be certain about how my mother would have reacted, had she been alive, but I doubt she would have been surprised about the facts. I think she understood a lot more than she let on.

In retrospect, I may have stayed on too long at BP. It's always difficult to judge when you should go. It's probably the most difficult thing for leaders to do. There's always more to be done - there's always another problem to be solved; but in the end it's a fallacy, because life is continuous for a corporation like BP, as it should be. The best thing you can do is to help develop great people to take over from you.

- Lord Browne was CEO of BP from 1995 to 2007. His memoirs, Beyond Business, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson at £20, are just out.

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