By Beatrice Bowen, Head of New Business and Innovation, Caltex Australia
Beatrice Bowen is the Head of New Business & Innovation at Caltex Australia. Having with been with Caltex for over 10 year, Beatrice leads the development of innovation across their convenience retail business. With the emergence of disruption, Beatrice’s role is to develop strategies around how they can better utilise their national real estate network to better serve customers. Beatrice shares some insights on running the inaugural Spark Accelerator.
Why did Caltex commission the Spark accelerator?
Caltex commissioned the Spark accelerator to deliver on our innovation ambitions; recruiting some of the best entrepreneurial talent across Australia & NZ to deliver new business ideas and customer solutions.
What were your expectations in terms of outcomes before launching the program?
Our expectation for the Spark accelerator program was to help embed a culture of innovation within Caltex and to ensure our customers, shareholders and employees are part of that journey. Caltex Spark was a whole of business initiative and one that we anticipated our people could get behind, get involved in and adopt new ways of working in the future.
How does the accelerator support the broader strategy for innovation at Caltex?
Caltex has a long history of adapting to changing consumer needs from new types of fuel, expansion into overseas markets and the development of an award winning retail concept, The Foodary. Caltex Spark continues this journey to ensure we cast a wide net for ideas and are attracting the best talent to our organisation.
What insights or learnings can you share with other corporates who are looking to innovate?
To be successful in this space, you need to embed a culture of innovation that is sustainable, repeatable and ground up. The best ideas often come from the depths of the organisation or externally – leadership in innovation is providing the catalyst for ideas, not the ideas themselves.
What do you foresee to be the biggest challenge during the program this year?
The biggest challenge was competing priorities in the business and ensuring we had the right balance and the right people fostering the relationships with the cohort – this is something I’m really proud that we achieved.
What do you foresee to be the biggest benefit (expected or unexpected) this year?
The biggest benefit was the level of enthusiasm for Caltex Spark both internally at Caltex and in our networks for clients and customers. It was testament to this enthusiasm that there wasn’t a spare seat on Demo Day!
What are the outcomes delivered (e.g. customer deal, investment, trials, etc) by the program to date?
We had a 75% success rate across our cohort both in customer deals, potential investments and multiple trials achieved and ongoing. We are really proud of the results we generated from Caltex Spark.
What’s next for Caltex Spark?
We’re keen to keep the momentum of Caltex Spark going, ensuring our cohort remains supported by the business and ensuring innovation is something the Caltex Australia brand continues to be synonymous with.