Winner of Chevron’s highest employee honor serves up ingredients to career success

Winner of Chevron’s highest employee honor serves up ingredients to career success

Katelyn Maxwell heard about the Chevron Chairman’s Award shortly after joining the company in an entry-level role. The award is the multi-national company’s highest employee honor. She quickly brushed it off as not meant for her.

“I thought, ‘that’s for other people that are much smarter than me,” Maxwell said.

Fast forward 14 years, Maxwell was recently among a pioneering team at Chevron’s Mid-Continent Business Unit (MCBU) to win that very award.

Her team earned the Chairman’s Award for a project that significantly reduced emissions right here in the Permian Basin. It developed and deployed technology called RAO, or Realtime Autonomous Optimizer, which continuously monitors facilities and wells and automatically takes actions to prevent upset conditions. A pilot study of the RAO technology shows it has the potential to reduce flaring volumes and well shutdowns.

“Set your goals, and don’t let anyone derail them.”

The RAO project made such an impact in regional emissions reductions that Maxwell and her colleagues earned Chevron’s highest employee honor.

It should be noted that Maxwell worked on the project shortly after becoming a mother, and also in the wake of the COVID pandemic.

To Maxwell, being willing and ready to take on new challenges has been key to her success. It’s a message she’s sharing with fellow women looking to make their mark, including in professions that are typically male-dominated.

“Set your goals, and don’t let anyone derail them,” she says simply.

Saying yes to opportunities

Maxwell’s willingness to take on the impactful project is not dissimilar from the can-do attitude she brought to Chevron when she first joined the company. Early in her career, Maxwell completed a dual Master’s degree program in civil engineering and business administration at the University of Pittsburgh. When she joined Chevron, she leveraged those degrees and her experience in construction to build tools and consulting engagements for Chevron’s major capital project porfolio.  The job enabled her to travel internationally and to work with experienced colleagues.

Later, she was among only a few engineers willing to take on another overseas project – in this case in Japan for a year. Prior to starting a family, Maxwell said she aimed to be flexible and willing to go out of her way to learn the ropes.

“My goal was to get as much experience as possible and take advantage of opportunities,” she said.

In Yokohama, Japan, Maxwell took on a role supporting the engineering of Kitimat LNG project. She was then sent to the west coast of Australia to help build the Gorgon Project, one of the world’s largest natural gas projects, before heading off to the Gulf of Mexico to help construct the Big Foot offshore deepwater platform.

Maxwell’s career at Chevron took her to many interesting places around the world, including Nigeria, China and Korea.

“That I was willing to live overseas, work different schedules, enabled me to get exposure to a wider range of opportunities that I might not have accessed by staying in one location,” she said.

Best of both worlds

Now, as a married mother to two boys ages 4 and 1, Maxwell is getting the best of both worlds in both her personal and professional lives.

After working six years as a facilities engineer at Chevron’s Midland office, Maxwell recently moved her young family to Carlsbad, where she achieved another career goal of becoming the New Mexico West operations superintendent, overseeing one of Chevron’s two field operating teams in the state.

Maxwell loves experiencing the natural beauty of New Mexico, whether out in the oil field or in the community with her family.

“There’s the Living Desert Zoo, Pecos River, River Beach Park — my kids love all of it,” she said. “And the community has been very welcoming.”

While it is clear Maxwell is the central source of her success, she is quick to credit the “Chevron Way,” a companywide vision and values system that among other things prioritizes workplace safety, diversity and inclusion, for helping her reach her goals.

She also expresses gratitude to the many mentors she’s benefited from at the company.

“The people are my most favorite part about Chevron,” she said. “No matter which group you join, where you work, it’s consistent across the company. People just have really good intent when you meet them and they want to help you right away. I think that’s unique to Chevron.”

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