Shawn Simmons is currently the Environmental & Permitting Manager for the Gulf Coast Growth Venture for ExxonMobil Chemicals. Prior to this assignment she was the Water, Waste and State Regulatory Manager for the Central Safety, Security, Health, and Environment (SSH&E) Organization of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Simmons has led global teams as a supervisor, responsible for environmental & regulatory issues in Africa, Asia Pacific, Australia, and Europe. From 2007-2012, Simmons worked and lived in Lagos, Nigeria with her family. Simmons is a 1989 graduate of Booker T. Washington’s High School for the Engineering Professions in Houston, Texas. She has been with ExxonMobil for 15 years, primarily in the Safety, Security, Health, and Environment (SSHE) job family in the Upstream, Chemicals and Downstream sectors. Simmons earned a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Oklahoma, a M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Rice University, and a PhD in Environmental Toxicology from Texas Southern University. She and her husband, Philip have been married for 20 years and have two children, Jonathan and Jacquelyn. Simmons is passionate about volunteer service and leadership development.
HQ: How long have you been a SWE member?
SS: 10 years
HQ: What prompted you to join SWE?
SS: I was a collegiate member. I was one of two females in my upper level petroleum engineering classes and felt like I needed the support and advice of a SWE network. I attended a national conference and from there saw the many resources and opportunities that SWE offered.
HQ: What is your favorite SWE resource? Networking, conferences, etc. – and why?
SS: I love the conferences. It is refreshing to see so many successful women in STEM fields. I always learn so much and get reenergized every year.
HQ: How has SWE helped to shape your career?
SS: SWE had provided a number of examples of women who have been successful in their chosen careers. It’s reassuring when you learn they have gone through some of the same struggles and have persevered.
HQ: What first got you interested in engineering?
SS: My middle school science teacher peaked my interest in STEM careers. I would go on to attend the High School for the Engineering Professions and knew early on that Engineering was for me.
HQ: What prompted you to go into the field of engineering that you did?
SS: I was fortunate to have an internship out of high school with an oil and gas company. After 2 summers, I decided I wanted to be a petroleum engineer.
HQ: What are the challenges and triumphs you’ve experienced, faced and overcome as female engineer?
SS: I was one of two women in my undergraduate petroleum engineering courses so there wasn’t many examples to aspire to. Fortunately, there were many in my life who saw the potential in me and encouraged my interest in engineering. There were also assignments where I felt some were waiting for me not to be successful. I dealt with that by seeking trusted advisors, listening to my team, and delivering stellar performance despite doubts.
HQ: How do you personally advocate for women engineers?
SS: I personally mentor women who come into the company, both formally and informally. I also have a passion to get students excited about the possibilities that a STEM career can offer.
HQ: If you could give yourself one piece of advice to yourself when you first started your career, what would it be?
SS: You deserve to be here! Don’t ever second guess your ability to bring value and make a difference.