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Women in Refining: Regina Davis

“I recognize that my diverse perspective is needed, and I recognize that representation is important to continue to evolve and create an inclusive and innovative environment.” 

Regina Davis - ExxonMobil

Regina Davis isn’t so much breaking barriers and setting records as she is shattering and eclipsing them, not only within her industry but in her personal life as well. For starters, the New Orleans native and mother of four is a first-generation college graduate. Her mother went to great lengths to ensure that she and her siblings participated in educational programs throughout their childhood. “My mom recognized education was key in order to break the cycle of poverty,” Regina says. In fact, it was in one of these programs that Regina first encountered engineering, and she knew instantly this was the career track for her. 

In college she pursued engineering, earning a degree in chemical engineering from Louisiana Tech University. After graduating, she began interning at an ExxonMobil facility (no longer part of the fleet) in Chalmette, Louisiana. She loved the challenge of solving complex problems and enjoyed the interactions she had with various team members. And while she is proud to be part of a movement of people who are providing accessible, affordable energy to the world, her true passion lies in mentorship and helping to mold the next generation of engineers– especially women and minorities. “I truly believe that a diverse workforce helps to bring different perspectives and enables innovation, which is necessary as we progress into the energy transition,” she says. 

Regina is the Refinery Manager for the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery, the fifth largest complex in the country and thirteenth in the world with a capacity of 540,000 barrels per day. Leading a team of 3,000, her role as refinery manager is to ensure the safe, reliable, and profitable operation of the facility. She is the first person of color to head the refinery and the second woman to do so. Oh, and she managed to do all of this while raising four children and working full-time (See what we mean about the shattering and eclipsing?) 

After 25 years in the industry, Regina has witnessed many changes, trends, and challenges within refining. She believes the biggest challenge that our industry faces is tackling the energy transition.  “There are many schools of thought,” she says. “But as our chairman says, ‘it’s an AND equation.’ We have to continue to provide the necessary energy products to ensure we progress in modern life but we have to do it in a more sustainable way.” This ultimately leads to lower emissions, she says, but “this will not happen overnight and will take innovation, resolve, resources and commitment.”

She fully embraces the fast-paced advances in technology that are occurring within her company and the industry as a whole.  “Whether that is leveraging machine learning (AI), drones, or remote support, we are evolving at a faster pace than I have previously seen in my career,” she says. 

Regina is no stranger to the challenges of working in a male dominated industry, a challenge further compounded because she is a person of color. People have not always given her the credit she deserves for her extensive career and long list of professional achievements, and this has sometimes caused her to doubt herself. She routinely finds herself the only woman– and sometimes, the only minority– at the table.

“Earlier in my career that was intimidating,” she says. “But at this point in my career I embrace it because I recognize that I have the opportunity to make a difference.  I recognize that my diverse perspective is needed, and I recognize that representation is important to continue to evolve and create an inclusive and innovative environment.”  

Regina playing piano

When she’s not helming the ship at ExxonMobil, Regina spends time with her family and is active in her church. During COVID, Regina learned to play the piano, a notoriously difficult instrument to master. As with everything else she tackles in her professional and personal life, she pursued it with a laser focus and quickly became good enough to play at her church. 

Connect with Regina on LinkedIn

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