The Top 25: #2 Meghan Sharp, BP Ventures

In his nomination of Meghan Sharp, David Gilmour, vice-president of business development at BP, said: “Meghan, managing director of our Americas business, has made major investments across a wide range of businesses this year, and her team are managing the vast majority of the BP Ventures portfolio.”

Sharp leads a team of nine people based in the US responsible for a significant portion of the venturing activity at BP. She said: “At the close of 2018, the Americas team will have invested over $300m in the US and Canada out of a total of approximately $500m invested globally by the venture team. The Americas team is expected to have led or supported the global team in over 40 transactions by year end – exits, follow-ons and new deals and funds.”

Sharp has been part of BP Ventures for more than eight years and has seen the team and portfolio grow from six people and $30m of investment a year, to 18 people with an investment pool of about $200m a year.

Of Sharp’s investments, she said she was especially proud of US-based microbiome technology developer Taxon Biosciences, a deal Sharp sourced, executed and managed as a board director to exit. After acquisition by chemicals producer DuPont in 2016, it is now considered BP’s most successful exit to date. She said: “This deal delivered an internal rate of return of over 150% to BP and greater than a five-times return on cash.”

Another landmark achievement has been promoting gender diversity. “I am incredibly proud that of the 10 people in the US, including myself, five of us are women.” She said that only a couple of years ago, she was the only one.

“I inherited two of those women from other groups and for the other two I ran an incredibly challenging external process to hire the two best candidates I could find, who both happened to be women.”

Gilmour said Sharp’s “presence as a leader in our business continues to attract female talent into our team and is a stated reason for many of them to join”.

Sharp said she was proud of the reputation she and her team had cultivated with the venture community over the past eight years. “We are coveted partners and have made sure to steer clear of the pitfalls and reputational hazards that have dogged corporate venture units for so many years.

“Our commitment to follow-ons for performing companies, even if they are no longer strategic, our consistency with our board seats rather than musical chairs, and our constant presence in the market even as our company had its ups and downs convinced the market that we were here to stay and could be depended on for the long haul.”

Sharp said her ambition was to build a multibillion-dollar portfolio for BP and, by extension, the energy industry that helps to solve critical problems. “While a billion dollar or multibillion-dollar fund sounds big, it simply is not relative to the size of the problem. We need 20 such funds. Time is not on our side – we need innovation and we need it fast.”