A: My experience as a process engineer at BE was initially a lot of project engineering and most recently more technical work at a large refinery client as Regional Projects Start-up Engineer. This role requires me to keep evergreen documents of project design changes or deviations, conduct pre-startup safety reviews out in the field to make sure P&IDs match what’s been installed and capture any changes out in the field that aren’t on the drawings, PSV documentation and correct installation and painting verification, managing MOCs (Management of Change) with our MOC coordinator to make sure all applicable tasks are done before startup with necessary documentation completed and attached, and answering any process-related questions that come along the way before we commission the new equipment.
Q: Why and how did you choose Engineering as a profession?
A: I’ve never picked a path that came easy to me for some reason—I always enjoyed a challenge and find challenge more rewarding. Engineering was just that for me. I’ve always been strong at math and watched science shows with my dad since I was little, but most importantly, my curiosity in engineering and how to build things was strong enough to endure the curriculum throughout school and I’m so glad I did. I love what I do.
“I’ve never picked a path that came easy to me for some reason—I always enjoyed a challenge and find challenge more rewarding. Engineering was just that for me.”
A: Having other women in engineering look up to you is hands down the best part of being a female engineer. I was that student in engineering class who was in awe when we had a female lecturer – I listened and was inspired when this happened. I wanted to be someone that could be looked up to one day to let other females know they could do it too, and that you didn’t have to be from a family of engineers, or scientists, or professors to be an engineer. That’s such a stigma. You just have to be extremely curious and work really hard! Women in engineering are amazing people.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
A: My biggest accomplishment so far is getting a Startup Engineering position at our large refinery client. This is a technical role with a lot of deliverables and responsibilities, so it’s forced me to not only brush up on some subjects I haven’t seen since college, but also develop a very disciplined time management schedule. It’s a role that was a big jump from my previous responsibilities, but I feel like I’m rising to the occasion.
“Leadership chooses you.”
A: I want to be in a leadership position. At the beginning of my career this seemed daunting, however, I’ve learned it’s not always the most technically adept people who are the best to lead. Leadership chooses you. Being a strong communicator is a skill I’ve had since I can remember, so I hope that I can lead a team of new engineers one day and be a relatable leader who can pass down the skills I learn from my mentors.
“It will come to you eventually, so just be patient and don’t compare yourself to anyone but who you were yesterday.”
A: It’s not easy to be an engineer by any stretch of the imagination, but anyone can learn if they want it bad enough. However, a big must is to have a good attitude about failing and more importantly to not be afraid to fail. Being a female in a male-dominated industry like oil and gas can lead you to feel like you’re constantly coming up short and that you have a lot to prove to others because you’re a woman and the microscope is always on you. The best way to avoid the so-called famous “imposter syndrome” of not feeling like you fit in or aren’t good enough is to keep a good attitude and be patient with yourself, because it’s almost impossible not to absorb the knowledge you need for your job if you’re in this environment long enough. It will come to you eventually, so just be patient and don’t compare yourself to anyone but who you were yesterday.
Fun Fact about Courteney:
Courteney played golf at UIC while she was getting her chemical engineering degree. She is a big advocate for women in engineering!