Under the theme of Growing Together, over 250 Shell Dealers and site operators met in Brisbane this week for the PMTDR 2024 Conference.  This annual event is an opportunity for delegates to get to business learning from experts and each other with a focus on identifying and delivering tomorrows best practice and recognising todays excellence with the coveted Smiling Stars Awards.

After rousing welcome to country and a casual welcome function the previous evening, the Shell PMTDR (People Make The Difference Real) Dealers kicked the day of by catching up with suppliers in the trade hall before getting to the serious business of learning and growing together.

The Dealers came together to explore the big picture as well as the fine detail of network operations and plans for the coming year.

Stephen Crystal , National Retail Operations Manager for Viva Energy Australia, provided delegates with a Dealer Update that focused on acknowledging the resilience of Viva Dealers (flood, fire and more floods) and the efforts of the whole network to support each other and grow not just in number but in community reach and support…and its working, customer experience numbers are impressive and improving.



While providing the update Stephen took the opportunity to showcase the commitment to community, and particularly the  Careflight program, that Viva Energy Australia is supporting and encouraging all PMTDR Dealers to engage with.


 Jevan Bouzo, CEO of Convenience and Mobility for Viva Energy Australia, was generous with his time and open with his presentation.

Jevan explored the challenges of the coming year with Coles, Liberty and OTR integration, while delivering the Viva Energy Business update, but to the time to really emphasise that the Viva Dealers are a key to the broader success of the business and highlighted the strengths of flexibility, local engagement and exceptional service as hallmarks of the Dealer group.




Lachlan Pfeiffer, Chief Business Development and Sustainability Officer at Viva Energy, gave delegates an insight into the challenges of navigating to a lower carbon economy, and the substantial work that has been done to ensure that the network is engaging with the multiple technologies and innovations that are emerging to facilitate a decarbonisation agenda.






 Yasser Shahin, Executive Chairman of Peregrine Corporation, provided the delegates with an open and often personal insight into the history, philosophy and strategy of Fuel Convenience powerhouse On The Run (OTR).

Yasser had a set of clear message for the Viva Dealers in the room that resonated and reverberated through the conference.

The takeaways for the delegates were that to achieve excellence we need to;

be aware of our competitors but OBSESSED with our customers
Acknowledging that this nifty turn of phrase was lifted wholesale from another successful growth story Yasser emphasised the point that looking at what others are doing is great, but slavishly following what they do is a road to disaster and stifles innovation.  Instead we need to be laser focused on what our customers really want and be fearless in exploring options and approaches to get them that, right now.

understand that what we sell is not product, we sell time
Again acknowledging that this is not a new concept Yasser challenged the room to really lean into the idea that the products we offer are often available at many ‘elsewheres’ and oftentimes at a lower cost to the consumer.  Given this what we sell our customers is their own time, to get on with what they need and want to do.  They value their time, but only to a point so service needs to be exemplary to ensure repeat custom.

internalise that consistency is everything
Excellent, anytime, everytime – it needs to be part of the business dna.

appreciate that systems to back up excellence cost money
Running a small network can cost 4 times more than a larger corporate network, but the value in excellence and customer loyalty will pay dividends.

It was summed up simply as; you have to invest in store, systems and people to get results.

“The customer is at the top of the org chart, that is non-negotiable”

It is understood Mr Shahin moved mountains to get to Brisbane on-time for the presentation, and the reception from the room made it clear that his efforts were appreciated, as were his open and engaging insights.



The learnings for dealers was not all ‘big picture’ there was also a series of presentations on operational matters including;

  • Giulian de Nigris, Risk and Loss Prevention Manager for Viva Energy, who explored the pressures and controls for Site Security and Loss Prevention.



  • Steve Brown, National Retail Development Manager at UCB, provided delegates with a brief outline of the buying group offerings and capabilities.


  • A team of internal and external experts provided dealers with exciting updates on the operation of the award winning Shell Card as well as internal promotional and back office innovations.


  • Theo Foukkare, CEO of AACS, exposed the delegates to the associations activities and outlined international exemplars of great service.


  • Andrew Cardinale, Brand and Category Manager for New Sunrise, provided the delegates with an overview of the buying group offerings and activities.


In the tradition of the event there was also a presentation from left field to get the delegates thinking differently.

This year Jason Fiddes, Special Project Lead for UCB, showed off a new skillset when he capably interviewed CEO of the Brisbane BroncosDave Donaghy.

Dave was a crowd favourite as his presentation and the interview ranged over business, teamwork, coping with setbacks and mentorship, in addition to the expected footy talk.


Hannah Backman, Retail Program Coordinator for Viva Energy Australia, wrapped up with focus on supporting the growth of the dealers through what is going to be a very big year for the Viva Energy Team.

Hannah reiterated the messages from Stephen, Jevan and Yasser – that the dealers are a vital part of the future success of Viva Energy and that there is a firm commitment to Growing Together.




Recognising Excellence

The coveted Australian Smiling Stars Awards for 2023 were also presented at the Gala Dinner.

The Smiling Stars are awarded to the businesses and customer service representatives who have displayed outstanding customer service, commitment to excellence and safety.

The Australian winners earn a trip to the International Smiling Stars event to join with the country Smiling Stars from around the world.  The next Smiling Stars event is in Singapore later this year.

The 2023 Australian Smiling Stars are;

🏆Service Champion of the Year: Karina Degen from Shell Beerwah

🏆 Gold Retailer of the Year: Shell White Hills

🏆Gold Retailer of the Year: Shell Kingston Garage

🏆Gold Retailer of the Year: Shell Morisset

🏆Gold Retailer of the Year: Zieb Rana of AHHTQ Investments

🏆Country Retailer of the Year: Eddy Nader of NPG Retail

🏆Retail Operations Manager of the Year: Jo Brookes

With a big thank you to the VIVA Team and all the work done the delegates got to relaxing and enjoying each other’s company until next year.



Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)