- London-based BP stuck with its interim finance chief Kate Thomson, moving to make her permanent CFO on Friday just over four months after she took the temporary role in a reshuffling of the company’s C-suite triggered by the abrupt resignation of then CEO Bernard Looney. The change is effective immediately.
- A qualified chartered accountant, Thomson, 55, joined the company in 2004. She has held numerous senior financial positions at the oil giant over the years, including senior vice president, finance for production and operations as well as group treasurer and group head of tax at the company. Previously, she worked for Ernst & Young.
- With Thomson’s promotion, BP joins the growing but still rarefied ranks of major companies with women in the top finance role. Other women CFOs in the big oil sphere include Kathryn Mikells at ExxonMobil and Sinead Gorman at Shell.
The shakeup of BP’s top leadership came in September after the company announced then-CEO Looney was departing immediately, stating he had not being fully transparent in previous disclosures of his past personal relationships with colleagues.
The company swiftly named Murray Auchincloss, 53, then the company’s CFO, to replace Looney as interim CEO. Within days it named Thomson to effectively backfill the finance chief role, also on an interim basis.
The Thomson news this week comes on the heels of the company’s decision last month to tap Auchincloss as its permanent CEO following a search which included “detailed consideration of a range of candidates, including external to bp,” the firm said.
“Since September, bp’s board has undertaken a thorough and highly competitive process to identify bp’s next CEO, considering a number of high-calibre candidates in detail. The board is in complete agreement that Murray was the outstanding candidate and is the right leader for bp,” Helge Lund, chair of BP said in a statement included in a release at the time.
BP’s latest announcement on Thomson’s appointment to both the permanent CFO role and the board did not mention a search related to the CFO position. In a statement included in the release, Lund cited Thomson’s “detailed understanding of bp and the energy and finance sectors, combined with deep technical expertise,” noting that her record of finance leadership and performance as interim CFO have “clearly demonstrated her suitability to become bp’s top permanent CFO.”
James Gellert, executive chair at the New York City-based financial analytics firm RapidRatings, said the turmoil the company has recently faced was related to its management rather than its financial standing, noting that his firm has a financial health rating on BP of 87, up 38 points from year end 2022. The levels range from 0 being worst and 100 being the best.
“That said, stability in the management ranks is important to the company from cultural, strategic and market perception perspectives,” Gellert wrote in an email to CFO Dive. “Kate Thomson’s confirmation as permanent CFO should have a positive effect on both the company and the market’s perceptions.”
Thomson’s compensation will include an annual salary of £800,000 and a cash allowance in lieu of a pension equal to 20% of base salary. Auchincloss’s compensation will include an annual salary of £1.45 million as well as a cash allowance in accordance with BP’s policy.
Thomson joins a small and slowly growing cohort of female finance leaders at major companies. According to a survey from executive search firm Crist Kolder Associates, women comprised 18.8% of the CFOs at the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies tracked, up from 16.3% in 2022.