Top 50 Rising Stars 2021 continued (in alphabetical order by CVC unit): Mark Frayman, head, BHP Ventures

Mark Frayman serves as head of BHP Ventures, the newly-formed corporate venture capital (CVC) unit within natural resources group BHP.

Mark re-joined BHP just over a year ago to help design and launch BHP Ventures, which is targeting technologies and teams seeking to solve challenges including decarbonisation and sustainable resource extraction.

Through its portfolio and relationships, BHP Ventures is mandated to help drive innovation within BHP’s business today and to seed and de-risk a portfolio of potential future growth options for the company, including via possible new business platforms. The team sits alongside BHP’s Innovation team, under the auspices of the group’s chief development officer, Johan van Jaarsveld.

This is not Frayman’s first stint at BHP. Having graduated with degrees in commerce and law, he started his career in investment banking before moving to BHP’s internal M&A team, which he left after five years to pursue a venture opportunity with Tiger Global in South America followed by three years in New York as chief investment officer of a family office, the Kin Group.

But, in part motivated by his passion for the sector’s potential to continue to fuel global economic growth while addressing climate change, as well as his admiration for BHP’s talent base and culture, he returned to the company to establish its corporate venturing function.

Frayman said the group is looking to conduct corporate venturing in a much more systematic and professional way.

“Mining as a sector is, to some extent, behind the energy sector [in terms of CVC],” he said. “Following that blueprint we are utilising corporate venture as a vehicle to not only drive innovation in and ensure the ongoing competitiveness of our assets today, but [also] to drive growth.”

That growth will come via increasing BHP’s endowment in what chief executive Mike Henry calls its “future-facing commodities”, which BHP Ventures can help unlock through a portfolio of emerging exploration and mineral extraction technologies, as well as via new business opportunities that align with BHP’s inherent capabilities.

“At the moment, the sky is the limit and the pipeline is almost too deep,” he concluded.