Senior Researcher, Fuel and Lubricants Product Developement — Exxon Mobil Corporation
Explain your career path
Upon graduation 1989, I spent 9 years working for Chemical Waste Management Inc. serving as a Chemist, Laboratory Manager and Facility Technical Manager. In 1998, I made a career change moving from the Environmental Industry to the Petroleum Industry where I started working for Mobil Oil Company in Beaumont Texas. I have been for ExxonMobil for 22 years and have enjoyed positions in Manufacturing Operations, Laboratory Management, Sales and Marketing, Product Technology and currently Product Research and Development.
What was your major at Southeast and how would you characterize the quality of that program to prospective students?
I received my B.S. Degree in Chemistry. I knew by my sophomore year in high school that I would study Chemistry in college and finally make my career in the chemical industry. The more time I invested in learning Chemistry the more I began to realize it would become a sustainable interest leading to a long-term career.
Why did you choose to attend Southeast?
I chose SEMO because I was very familiar with the University already and it felt like home to me. Although not raised in Southeast Missouri, my parents were both from Jackson and Cape Girardeau and I spent much time as a child going to watch the SEMO (Indians at the that time) athletic events while visiting Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. My Dad, along with Two Uncles all three played football for the Indians while two Aunts also attended Southeast Missouri State. I would continue the family legacy.
Who influenced you most during your time at Southeast?
Simply enough it was my parents. I wanted to make them proud, to give something back to them for all of the love and support they had given to me. I couldn't think of a better way to accomplish that than to make something of myself. SEMO gave me that opportunity, I made good on it, and have never looked back. 31 years later, with almost a full career behind me now, I realize how important that acceptance letter from Southeast Missouri State. That opportunity has allowed me to grow personally and professionally and travel the world.
Share your best college memory.
I have a lot of good memories of my 4 years attending Southeast Missouri St. way too many to mention. However, one memory stands out as a real highlight for me. It was September 18, 1988 where 7500 people would arrive to the Show-Me Center to watch President Ronald Reagan speak. Being there in that moment was a huge thrill for me and I was in the front row. I was so into his speech that towards the end of his speech I couldn't contain that excitement and as he finished his sentence I yelled at the top of my voice "GO WIN ONE FOR THE GIPPER!" - a line taken from the movie "Knute Rockne" where Ronald Reagan starred as legendary Notre Dame Football Coach George Gipp. The place went silent, he looked at me and said "You don't know how much that warms my heart" the Show-Me Center erupted and I was famous for 1 week. That event made a lasting impression on me.
If you were in Greek Life, the Honors Program or any other student organization, please tell us about that experience and how it impacted you.
I consider my greatest professional accomplishments being able to take a product concept all the way through development and ultimately commercialization. That is an incredible feeling.
What is the most important thing you learned while you were at Southeast?
I would say I learned that opportunity is a chance at something you place a lot of personal value in. It is not a guarantee. To take an opportunity and convert it to a successful outcome is where the hard work resides. There are times you will take a half step backwards, two steps sideways to go three steps forward. Stay patience, persistence, and dedicated to your cause success will follow. That has proved to be a valuable strategy in my career and personal life.
Describe Southeast in three words.
Opportunity, Breadth, Value
What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
Don't be afraid to take opportunities that may move you in slightly different directions through out your career. The most valued employees will always be those who are willing to step out of their known expertise to learn the other areas of their business such as short term stints in Manufacturing, Sales and Marketing. In my case, this type of career path has proven to be a major differentiator and has helped me to become a highly valued employee.