He was working as the Process Manager at Esso Italiana’s Augusta Refinery in Sicily when he was told he was going to Melbourne to be ExxonMobil’s Australia and New Zealand Refining Manager.
“This was the last thing I expected at the time,” said Riccardo, who is originally from Naples. “I had never been to Australia.”
Nevertheless, he understands why these moves are made.
“Continuous improvement is fundamental to the way ExxonMobil operates around the world,” he said. “Achieving this is hard, and it gets harder the better you get.
“Technology is rapidly changing and knowledge is constantly growing, in order to maintain operational excellence we need to ensure that we are continuously sharing best practices and exchanging ideas.
“I believe a key reason for my move here is to bring a fresh viewpoint to Altona and for me to learn from the team here so that I can eventually bring new ideas back to Europe.”
Riccardo is a chemical engineer with broad experience in refining who has also gained extensive experience in marketing and procurement. He has worked mainly in Italy, but also spent some time in the UK coordinating crude acquisition for Mediterranean refineries.
Since arriving in Australia earlier this year he has been impressed by the collaborative, consultative nature of the culture here.
“I really like the way we consult across all aspects of our integrated business as we plan our future strategies,” he said.
“I also like the extent to which governments consult the industry on future directions and policy settings. I appreciated the opportunity early this year to provide feedback to the Federal Government on its Better Fuel for Cleaner Air discussion paper.
“We strongly support the orderly transition to cleaner fuel standards where a net community benefit has been clearly demonstrated in terms of environmental and health outcomes, and where the cost impacts on refineries and consumers can be effectively managed.”
As someone who is passionate about details and capturing in-depth knowledge from every event and outcome – good and bad – he is keen understand why the Altona Refinery is able to perform at such a high standard.
“We are a small refinery competing with much-larger, more modern refineries in Asia. We need to learn from what we do in order to get better.
“I encourage people to always challenge themselves. Are we really good at that? And if we are so good, do we know why? Do we know the key processes we have in place that make us so good in those areas?
“Once you say you’re good at something, you need to be able to articulate why, and how you know.”
Since arriving in Melbourne, Riccardo has been enjoying his spare time travelling around and discovering the sights with his wife, Daniela, and their three children. He hasn’t yet chosen a football team to follow, but it will never be Collingwood because they wear Juventus colours.
Hear more from ExxonMobil Australia and New Zealand Refining Manager Riccardo Cavallo below: