In this thriving industry, more women are wearing hard hats alongside their male peers. A perpetual need for skilled workers in the fuels and petrochemical industries long ago nixed the notion that these jobs are traditionally for men. But even today, as men and women work side by side to produce the energy and products that power our world, many of our nation’s women might not fully realize these high-paying careers are awaiting them.
One way to spread the word? Share their stories. As part of an ongoing series, join us for a look at some of the women working in today’s fuels and petrochemical plants.
What does a Texas girl who was raised in the country, taking care of horses and rodeoing, do when she grows up?
Well, if she’s Stacie Farrell, she goes off to college, gets an MBA, and winds up as Vice President for Human Resources Operations at Valero, a Fortune 500 company. And she still rodeos too. More on that in a moment.
Farrell is a “lifer” in the fuels industry, but when she got her first job in the business, she was thinking about something else altogether:
“I grew up with a single mom and two siblings, and I watched my mom work three jobs and raise us. I knew I wanted something different. She wanted something different for us, too. So, college was important to me.”
“I went through college working, and after graduation, I knew I needed to get my MBA. But I had a big student loan to pay off, so I wanted to work somewhere close to home and somewhere that had tuition reimbursement. That job turned out to be with Unocal (an American oil company that merged with Chevron in the 2000s).”
Energy also turned out to be a good match, because she’s been working in the business ever since, the last 12 of those years at Valero.
Farrell worked her way up through the ranks, including five years at Valero’s Three Rivers Refinery (and for you Steeler fans out there, that’s Three Rivers, Texas — not Pittsburgh, Penn). And like other women we’ve profiled in this series, once you’ve worked in a refinery, no matter how much you like your next job (and Farrell likes her job now. A lot.), you miss being where the production actually happens.
But with 15 refineries, 14 renewables plants, plus pipeline and terminal operations under her wing, that’s a lot of human resources. So these days, she either travels or works behind a desk, at Valero’s headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. And from behind that desk, her work is mostly helping and supporting her staff, who are almost all out in the field.