Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Shell.
I was born and educated in Bulgaria, with a Master’s in International Economic Relations from the World Economy University in Sofia, and an Executive MBA from the London Business School.
My early positions were in local start-ups in Bulgaria before joining Coca Cola, after which I moved on to RJR Reynolds.
I joined Shell in 1996 as a Retail Territory Manager and since then I have held a range of commercial and leadership roles in retail and B2B business. It’s been a wonderful journey and I’ve enjoyed every minute working for this company that people are often surprised to hear is one of the largest single-branded retailers in the world, with 43,000 retail outlets and 30 million customers a day.
What got you into the retail sector in the first place?
Most of my career has been in retail and I enjoy it because it is a “human business” – working with and for people. It is a fast-moving and fast-changing business environment.
I love the fact that retail has a psychological and emotional side to the business, not just a logical one. I work alongside incredibly smart and passionate people who all share the same dedication to our industry and are driven by giving our customers the best experience possible.
How has your previous experience aided your current job?
My previous experience was relevant for this role as commercial fleet is complementary to the retail business of Shell. Two of my previous roles were in sales and marketing, so I understand the challenges and the opportunities.
Most of my other roles have been pure retail roles, arming me with the required knowledge to build synergies with our retail operations while keeping the B2B focus.
At the recent World Retail Congress, you were part of a panel that discussed experiential retailing and looking at beyond just selling ‘stuff’. What were some of the important points raised in that session and why are they important?
The main points covered the various aspects of customer experience in different retail area – how to not confuse perception and experience, the increasing role of digital in customer experience and where the human touch is still vital, and lastly, we talked about the role local community plays in the future of retail.
Although it is primarily a fuel producer and retailer, how has Shell adapted to the challenges that faces retail (as a whole) at the moment?
Our global scale of more than 43,000 Shell branded outlets is giving us the scale to experiment with and adapt our retail offer to fit the changing customers’ needs and expectations.
Everything starts with the customer: we aim to treat every customer like a valued guest – on the forecourt or in the digital world, and to transform the traditional customer experience to fit the connected digital world.
This helps us to give our customers back time to do the things they enjoy most in life. We are very interested in how the mobile device, the car, the store and the user can seamlessly interact to create a convenient retail experience.
One of our principles is that if someone is going to disrupt us, then it should be us. Shell aims to be “digitally open for business”. We are working with a range of technology partners and car manufacturers to enable customers to do more from their cars.
With smarter cars, retailers will interact with these connected vehicles to provide a more convenient customer experience; we have also expanded our convenience store and mobility offerings as we continue to offer more electric car charging, hydro