As a Senior Chemical Engineer in ExxonMobil’s Upstream Research Company, employee resource group chair, and former NFL cheerleader, Jessica sets a new standard for stepping out of your comfort zone to pursue your passions.
Describe your background and interests.
As a child, I struggled with asthma; it affected my entire life – but I had a terrific pediatric pulmonologist who helped me manage my condition. For some time, I wanted to be just like him – a doctor so I could help people. When I enrolled at Vanderbilt University, my interests changed slightly after studying under one of the nation’s leading chemical engineers, Dr. Clare McCabe. I fell in love with research and decided to pursue engineering. Research empowers people to have significant impacts on society. I simultaneously earned my undergraduate and Master's degree within 4 years. Research captivated me so much that I decided to pursue my PhD in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, focusing on Thermodynamics and Phase Equilibrium of Complex Fluids – that’s basically characterizing and predicting the state of fluids under a given sets of conditions.
What led you to ExxonMobil?
After I received my PhD, I was at a crossroads: do I pursue research, or do I enter into consulting? Ultimately, ExxonMobil won me over. They combined research and consulting opportunities, allowing me to pursue my passions. Today, as a Senior Research Engineer, I conduct research, which no doubt has a profound impact on the lives of countless people, and I also advise customers and other business lines on subjects about which I am passionate.
How did you balance cheering for NFL’s Tennessee Titans while completing your PhD in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?
Let’s just say I’m now quite skilled at time management! Pursuing both was certainly a challenge. But I was excited—no, actually, energized and inspired—by joining a group of women who give back to the community. In many ways, while I was of course exhausted after working in the lab for countless hours, I was motivated by cheering and was even chosen as #3 out of top 100 NFL Cheerleaders. In addition, it didn’t hurt that cheerleading was also an outlet. I laughed and danced my heart out; I forged lifelong friendships, and met so many wonderful people and children in Nashville and across the country. I’m especially mindful of the importance of creating happiness in people, as well as finding space to reset after work. While maintaining my research pursuits alongside my cheering career was challenging logistically, I derived more benefits and sharpened more skills from my experiences.
Describe your involvement in ExxonMobil’s employee resource groups.
I am involved in several affinity networks within ExxonMobil, where people of various identities can come together and develop community. I am involved in our Women’s Interest Network (WIN), as well as the new hire group on campus. I'm also a committee chair on the Black Employee Success Team (BEST). Participation in these groups enables me to (1) proactively meet people who are similar to me across the company; (2) effect change on issues that certain demographics face in the corporate world; and (3) boost my productivity and morale.
What inspires you to come to work every day?
I am most inspired by my family. As a child, I observed how hard my parents worked, just to make sure my brother and I had a good shot at life. I'm also driven by helping people and new challenges. Within 1 year at ExxonMobil, I’ve had the opportunity to make significant contributions on several high profile projects in locations such as the Gulf of Mexico, Guyana, and Papua New Guinea. ExxonMobil is a global industry leader, supplying the world’s energy needs, and I’m inspired every day by the team with whom I work.
ExxonMobil Universum Awards
Some interesting facts about ExxonMobil
ExxonMobil is the world's largest publicly traded international oil and gas company.Share
ExxonMobil employs approximately 73,500 people.Share
Since 2000, ExxonMobil has spent approximately $7 billion on developing energy solutions focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.Share
ExxonMobil and partner FuelCell Energy are collaborating on solving a big problem: how to capture carbon dioxide efficiently and cost effectively on a large scale.Share