Paul Russell is an important part of Viva Energy’s team in Western Australia for two reasons. As a Key Account Manager, Paul provides valuable support for some of Viva Energy’s largest customers in the mining and oil & gas industries. And, as one of the company’s Community Ambassadors, he plays a major role in bringing his team together to support Viva Energy’s community program – in particular the MACA Cancer 200 Challenge.
Paul describes his Key Account Manager role as understanding the needs of Viva Energy’s customers and their businesses, developing relationships and providing beneficial solutions.
“Building a relationship starts with listening,” he says. “If you take the time to listen you can learn, understand, appreciate, and ultimately see things from your customer’s position.”
Paul has built many professional relationships that have grown stronger over time, and this gives him a great sense of pride. “Our role is to be a partner to our customers, not just a supplier. We work with them to help their business move forward and grow, and that builds trust, which is the basis of any strong relationship.”
A problem solver
Paul also loves finding solutions, particularly when he can present a solution that exceeds the customer’s expectations. “Coming back with something that they weren’t expecting, an idea that makes them think about other possibilities or other ways of achieving an outcome that might possibly benefit them to an even greater extent, that’s exciting.”
For Paul, with many years’ experience behind him and a solid knowledge of industry best practice, finding those solutions can be as simple as visiting a site and looking at how it operates.
“Part of my job then becomes education. I don’t ‘sell’ solutions, I try to educate customers about how they might improve an aspect of their operation. We want our customers to succeed, because that’s how we succeed.”
Education for Paul doesn’t end with his customers. During his time at Viva Energy he has learnt a huge amount from the people around him, simply through discussions and listening. “You should never think that you know enough. I’ve always understood that, and tried to have a positive mindset. The ability to listen and learn helps to grow and nourish relationships.”
Focused on the community
When Paul was asked if he wanted to be a Viva Energy Community Ambassador, he leapt at the opportunity to get involved in the company’s community program. He remains grateful for the opportunity, which he believes has led to many personal and career highlights.
Paul’s involvement with charitable causes began years earlier, including the MACA Cancer 200 Challenge, a cycling event established in 2012 to support ground-breaking research initiatives, critical clinical trials and innovative new cancer treatments at Western Australia’s Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, colloquially referred to as ‘The Perkins’.
The reason Paul became involved is extremely personal. “I lost my mum to cancer when I was 26. She battled with it for ten years or more. For me, the MACA ride was a great opportunity to be involved, raise money for cancer research and give back to that community.”
The Harry Perkins Institute particularly targets cancers with poor prognoses in the hope of finding solutions. “Obviously they’re not always going to find a cure,” he says. “But they might discover a treatment to slow it down or prevent it. The ultimate aim is to conquer cancer, but the MACA ride is about raising vital funds to help them on their journey.”
Four members of Paul’s team participated in the 2014 event. It was their first MACA ride. “I had never really cycled before, so I went out and bought a bike. I’ve been riding ever since, so it’s been good for my health as well.”
The MACA Ride is now the biggest community event on his team’s calendar. The most recent ride in 2019 was a return trip to Mandurah that covered two hundred kilometres and took two days. 250 cyclists participated, of which more than 20 were from Viva Energy.
Through the contribution of Paul and his team, along with Viva Energy’s corporate contribution, to date over $365,000 has been raised for the Harry Perkins Institute.
But Paul sees other benefits, too. “I personally believe our participation in the MACA ride has created a bond between the Western Australia offices in Perth and North Fremantle. We have a commonality that’s not just about work, it’s about working together and encouraging each other. Although the ride can be competitive, it creates a fun environment and everyone feels included.
“We’ve had people just turn up on the day and donate their time, helping coordinate car parking or handing out bottles of water. Everyone wants to get involved, even those who don’t want to ride or aren’t physically able. It’s great, and it’s pretty much become part of our DNA.”
A race with a difference
With the impacts of COVID-19, this year’s MACA ride will be a little different. To maintain social distancing, riders have been challenged to determine their own two-day, 200km ride, and Paul’s team has come up with an interesting idea that allows the whole Perth office to participate.
“We’ve figured out a way for all of us to do the ride together,” he explains. “Some of our people like to really push themselves, while others prefer to cruise and stop for breaks along the way. So on the first day we’ll have two versions of the ride. Then, on day two, we’re heading over to Rottnest Island with the support of SeaLink Rottnest Island Ferries, who have donated tickets, to try and complete 100km around the island.”
When Paul speaks about the Viva Energy team in Western Australia, his sense of pride comes through loud and clear. “I think we have a really great attitude and a real inclusiveness in this office. We’re like a family, where everyone always looks out for and supports each other. Everyone here loves a challenge and we love to celebrate our achievements. When we get together to celebrate, it’s a good feeling.”
His pride is equally as obvious when he talks about the company he works for. “Viva Energy provides the opportunity and support to be involved in the community. As employees we feel empowered to give back to the community, and to be able to actually choose how we do that is a great thing. It’s important, too, because it keeps our community work relevant, which in turn keeps us engaged.”
Paul’s personal values and those of Viva Energy seem perfectly aligned. “I am proud that the company I work for is doing so much to make social change happen and have a real impact on our world, all while running a successful business.”
Support our team reach their MACA Cancer 200 fundraising goal here
Learn more about how Viva Energy supports the Mining and Oil & Gas Industries.