Refining Community Logo

Women in Refining: Marie Wright

“Many people are unaware that the products our industry makes are core to everyday life, which makes me feel proud to be part of such an important industry to the world.”  

Senior Director of Strategic Planning and Coking SME Marie Wright has been in the business of refining for 37 years, making her one of the most experienced and knowledgeable people working in delayed cokers today.

She began her refining career right out of college after earning a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and instantly fell in love with the industry, which offers continuous challenges for engineers. 

“After 37 years in refining, I am still amazed to come across new issues for the first time, which keeps our jobs challenging and fun,” she says. 

Marie Wright, Women in Refining

Marie got into coking while working at the Torrance, CA refinery then owned by Mobil, before it was acquired by ExxonMobil, where she supported the 12-drum, six-heater Cokers in several different capacities. In 2005, she transferred to ExxonMobil Research and Engineering as a global Coking Subject Matter Expert (SME) supporting Delayed Coking, FluidCoking, and FlexiCoking. 

Now she works at PBF Energy, where she has worked in her current role for the last 9 years. Coincidentally, PBF now owns the Paulsboro, Chalmette and Torrance refineries, all of which she had worked at or supported for Mobil Oil.

Like many people in this community, Marie is very passionate about refining, and specifically, the world of coking. “I love that safety is a critical element in everything we do in our refineries, protecting our employees, communities, and the environment,” she says. “Many people are unaware that the products our industry makes are core to everyday life, which makes me feel proud to be part of such an important industry to the world.”  

Coking may have drawn Marie into the industry, but the small, close-knit world of refining is what kept her there. “I have made many friends working in refineries all over our country which makes it very fulfilling to work in this industry,” she says, which is filled with people working hard to safely and reliably provide products to consumers. 

“As an industry, we strive to keep improving the quality of life of all Americans, as well as the environment, by making ever-cleaner products, including renewable fuels,” she says. “Sustainability is also key in our industry.”

But the refining industry is not without its challenges, not least of all the bad rap it gets in the media. “I would like to see more facts being shared and acknowledged about our industry and the value of the products we make, which make modern life possible, rather than hearing endless, baseless opinions being thrown around about our industry and products,” Marie says. 

Marie has also observed some challenges working as a woman in a male-dominated industry.  “When I first started working in the industry in 1987, women had to prove themselves more than men,” she observes, “but today I feel it is less of an issue because women are in all levels of management and technical leadership.”

When Marie was attending college, only a small percentage of women were in engineering, and now that has greatly changed. She is excited that there are many more women graduating college with engineering degrees and working in the refinery industry than ever before.  However, she is quick to make clear that she has never let being a woman affect her work and has always stayed true to herself. 

“I remain confident in all my roles, work hard, and show results.  I show integrity in my work, take initiative, I am a leader, and always ready for any challenge,” she says. “I have always treated everyone with respect and worked as a team member to solve problems, optimize unit operations, and work on projects.”

In her current role, Maries supports Cokers at PBF’s Chalmette, LA; Torrance, CA; Martinez, CA; and Delaware City, DE refineries. As the Coker SME, she supports PBF’s Delayed Coker, FluidCoker, and Flexicoker Technologies, closely collaborating with PBF Coker Process Engineers, Operation Supervisors and Operators by providing guidance and helping to troubleshoot operational issues.  

“I love to mentor Process Engineers who are responsible for the units, guiding them to become knowledgeable about Cokers and general engineering,” she says. “I make myself available when they have questions and always tell them that I love talking about Cokers!”  

Marie also supports large capital projects.  In 2018-19 she led the Technical Group for the Chalmette Coker 1 Restart project and more recently, the Chalmette Renewable Diesel Project that started up in 2023. 

“Working on a large capital project from concept and inception through startup provides an amazing feeling of accomplishment, primarily because they involve many challenges, from design basis through construction and startup,” she says. “Working very closely with a project team is an extremely rewarding experience and leads into making lifetime friends.”

She is proud to be a part of PBF, which has been a leader in safety and best practices. The company has innovative monitoring and training programs in place to ensure safe and reliable operations of its Coker operations.  It has also implemented an internal PBF Coker Best Practice team featuring several disciplines from all of its refineries. This team meets monthly to discuss Coker operations, share experiences, and help one another with troubleshooting.  

“We work together to develop Best Practices for managing our Cokers,” Marie says. “I am our sponsor for this group and l love the relationships that we build while solving problems and making our Cokers better.”

Oakley

Marie grew up  in the small town of Runnemede NJ in South Jersey and currently lives in Round Hill, VA with her husband of 33 years, Phil, and their Siberian Husky, Oakley. Marie and Phil’s romance first blossomed in the Torrance Refinery, where he worked as the Refinery Shift Superintendent and she as a Process Engineer. Together they have two sons and a grandbaby on the way. 

Marie has participated in many RefComm events since RefComm started 24 years ago.  “I think RefComm is the leading Coker conference in the industry and I encourage our Coker folks to participate,” she says. “Over the years, I have met so many wonderful and knowledgeable people at Refcomm, both Refiners and Vendors, and enjoy returning each year to see them.” 

Marie will be at RefComm this year, so be sure to look her up!  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Posted by: The Refining Community

Refining Community