Peaches Youman rose from CPChem contractor to become the company’s only Scheduling Champion

Workforce |  4 min. read

“You’re a born leader when you are the oldest. If I did it, my sisters felt like it was the right thing to do.” But for Peaches Youman, she never dreamed that the leadership ingrained in her from childhood would lead to a lifelong career at Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP (CPChem).

Today, Peaches is the Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Champion at CPChem, one of the world’s top producers of chemical products that are essential to manufacturing over 70,000 consumer and industrial products.

As the company’s only Scheduling Champion, Peaches is responsible for helping CPChem standardize the way they look at planning, scheduling and execution. On a daily basis, she is working across the company’s sites and observing and correcting behavior that’s not all based on safety and efficiency.

Ultimately, her goal is to ensure teams across the company’s various locations are aligned and executing work as safely and reliably as possible.

“It’s all about the delivery. We want people to become more efficient, but we don’t want to cut corners or sacrifice safety. Safety and reliability go hand in hand.”

Office Photo

But Peaches didn’t always want to work in the petrochemical industry. She grew up playing basketball and was able to go to college on a basketball scholarship, where she majored in kinesiology and wanted to eventually work in sports medicine. But one summer she got a job with James Construction Group working at Valero in Port Arthur and, once she got a taste of the industry – and the paycheck that came along with it – she was sold.

Peaches started as a contractor for CPChem in 2015 and quickly got noticed.

“I was never coddled because I was a woman and was always held up to the same standard as my male counterparts, which I appreciated. I received some advice when I was first starting out from a colleague who told me to never let anyone outwork me, and I took that to heart. As a student athlete, you’re held to a higher standard and I brought that work ethic to my job every day.”

But she has seen challenges as well.

“Not just being a woman of color but a woman of color named Peaches, I had to prove myself repeatedly at each job. It’s the reason I go above and beyond in everything I do. Being average just doesn’t work.”

At her first pipefitter job she was “on the bench” for three weeks before her foreman finally called her up when they were short a person one day. She put on her harness, jumped on the scaffold and did her job flawlessly. After her foreman saw how hard she worked, he apologized and continued to utilize her on the team.

And one piece of advice she would give to others trying to work their way up in the industry: “someone is always watching, but not to get you in trouble. You never know when someone else sees you as a leader and will give you an opportunity to move up.”

That’s exactly what happened with Peaches. She was moved from a contractor to a full time employee and eventually became the maintenance team lead for a high pressure unit at 1792 LDPE Polyethylene Unit.

“I like to be an example for folks that you can do it. People don’t realize that they are leaders until they’re pushed to say, you know what, I can do more.”

Astros game

“If I could describe my leadership style, it’s being relatable,” she says. “Never forgetting where you come from, sharing personal stories of what I actually did. Evaluating the what ifs and the lessons learned. Leading by example is just the way I was raised.”

And that relatable leadership style has served her well in her current role.

“I was assigned to this role to be a change agent. I’ve developed real relationships with people throughout the company, so they trust me. I’m not just someone showing up at their work sites and telling them what to do. I’ve been where they are so there’s some validity, background and history to it.”

What Peaches enjoys most about her current role at CPChem is that no one else is doing it.

“I like being able to work with and learn from different people. I’m not a leader who forces anything. At CPChem we promote a bottom up leadership approach. Our people on the ground level often have the best insights because they are doing the work every day. And we listen to them.”

What might she tell other women interested in pursuing a career in the fuel and petrochemical industries?

“Definitely give it a shot. I never thought I’d be doing this as my career, but I believe women have the ability to succeed at many things. Women used to get the stereotype of being sensitive or emotional or weak. But I think that stigma is gone. We are here to do the same things men are.”

“Women bring something different to the table, they don’t always just bring that nurturing side of things to an organization, we also bring a different way of thinking and that’s the diversity.”

When she’s not working Peaches enjoys spending time with her wife Rosanny, son Jermaine and two dogs, Bear and Frenchie. And depending on how her knees feel that day can still play basketball with the best of them.

In fact, she recently played in a CPChem basketball tournament where her team came in second out of twenty teams. “I don’t have the stamina I used to but I can still shoot and make it all day long.”

And for those of you wondering how she got the name Peaches? “When I was born my aunt told my mom that I was round and fuzzy just like a Peach and the name just stuck. But I’m working on the not being so round part.”