New scholarships reflect exec’s roots in physics.
AN ALUMNUS WHOSE PHYSICS DEGREE WAS A SPRINGBOARD to prominence in the international oil and gas industry is now lending his support to new generations of science students at the University of Victoria.
Richard Flury, BSc ’70, former chief executive of oil industry giant BP (British Petroleum) has established a $100,000-fund to provide scholarships for university transfer students entering their third year of science studies.
“Richard’s gift is a wonderful vote of confidence in UVic and in the kind of educational experience we’re delivering,” says Dean of Science Tom Pedersen. “We’re deeply grateful.”
Creating scholarships is a fitting reflection of Flury’s own experience as an undergrad when he worked part-time, earned scholarships and relied on student loans on the way to his honours degree. He and his wife Liz also had their first two of three children during that time. Friends say his commitment to hard work and family, firmly founded in education, are his personal trademarks.
His career began in the oil fields of Alberta, as a geophysicist for Amoco. He rose through the ranks, eventually being transferred to the US. In 1996 he was appointed executive vice-president responsible for worldwide exploration and production and more than 15,000 employees in 100 countries. When Amoco merged with BP in 1998 (the largest industrial merger to that point), he moved to London, just one of two Amoco executives retained by BP.
Recipient of the 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement, Flury’s rise to the top of international business circles is something few other Canadians have matched. As head of the largest business segment at BP, Flury had responsibility for worldwide gas marketing, trading and renewable businesses.
On the surface, a background in physics may not seem like the most obvious starting point for an ascent to a seat in the boardrooms of massive corporations. But look again. “The value in a physics degree is that it teaches you to solve complex problems,” Flury says. “It teaches you to look at the variables, bring them together and look for alternate solutions. Business problems aren’t really all that different.”
He retired from BP in 2001 and has returned to his hometown of Victoria. He says that coming home has given him a fresh perspective on his UVic education and a career that took him throughout the world—from Brazil to Egypt, from China to Chile. “I’ve had the international experience, I’ve lived all over North America, and it’s helped me appreciate what I had here. I can’t think of any place better.”
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