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Tipping our hard hats to Phillips 66 engineers

Gabi Bergeron's love of engineering was fired up by icy treats.

“I used to go to work with my grandfather at his factory and was allowed to pick out any flavor of snowball syrup,” she said. “I always wanted to be just like him.”

Bergeron eventually fulfilled that wish and became a chemical engineer, too. She is now a Process Engineer at Phillips 66's Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex, and we spoke to her in honor of National Engineers Week.

“The best part of engineering is that you don’t get bored — you’re always learning, always being challenged, always growing and developing,” said Bergeron, who earned her degree from Louisiana State University.

A typical day for Bergeron includes monitoring operating units to look for key process data points that indicate that the unit is operating optimally, then adjusting as needed. She attends morning meetings and talks to operators about what’s happening with the units. She is focused on ensuring reliability and does a lot of planning to support refinery optimization and scheduled outages.

“A big part of my job is taking the variable conditions into consideration and finding the middle space that is supported technically and by the data and meets the goals for the site,” she said.

Bergeron, whose mother and sister are mechanical engineers, was raised in New Orleans and was familiar with Phillips 66 long before graduating from LSU.

“I knew from my own experience within the community that Phillips 66 was a good company to work for,” she said. “I did three internships before joining full time, and it was more fun each time I came back. Now it’s come full circle because I get to work closely with the interns.”

As for the future of her field, Bergeron said she hopes to see more people, especially those in underprivileged areas, study engineering.

“I am passionate about childhood education and exposing underprivileged children to our field,” she said. “I want kids to know what we do and how they can have a successful career. I want them to know they can do this, too.”

Bergeron, who is now coming up on her third anniversary with Phillips 66, said she has found mentors and supporters and is especially grateful that the company is investing in her growth as a person and a leader, not just an engineer.

“I really feel like the people here build each other up,” she says. “We aren’t competing with each other. Everyone is striving to make everyone the best they can be.”

She urges her colleagues and others in the industry to share their positive experiences, too.

“It’s more important than ever for us as employees to speak up and show the world how valuable energy is and break the stigmas around oil and gas,” she said. “We’re making strides every day to be better than previous years, and we have goals for the environment and our communities. It is our responsibility to let people know about the positive impact energy has on our lives.”