Photo by Don Kadair

Position: Refinery Manager
Company: ExxonMobil Baton Rouge
Hometown: Philadelphia
Education: Drexel University, bachelor’s of science degree in Chemical Engineering

A native of Philadelphia, Gloria Moncada arrived in Louisiana as an intern during her sophomore year in college. Twenty years later, she has come full circle as she returns to Baton Rouge as the first female manager of the fourth largest refinery in the country.

In March, Moncada was also named the first female chair of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association, Louisiana’s longest standing trade association representing all aspects of the oil and gas industry for the past 97 years.

“Diversity, in all forms, is good for our industry and any business that wants to achieve superior results,” she says about her history-making appointment.

Moncada has led a diverse career with ExxonMobil, holding roles in technical, operations, maintenance, supply and investor relations from California to Singapore. Before returning to Baton Rouge as refinery manager on Jan. 1, she served as manager of ExxonMobil Americas Crude Optimization in Spring, Texas.

The daughter of Italian immigrants, Moncada takes none of her success for granted. She and her family are very involved in the Baton Rouge community, giving back through the Salvation Army and United Way. She touts ExxonMobil’s Growing the Gulf initiative as investing in the local economy and creating jobs as well. “I also believe supporting business development is important to build strong communities,” she says.

Where did your interest in chemical engineering and refining come from?

I enjoyed math and science in school and knew I wanted to pursue those fields. No one in my family had attended college, so I didn’t know what kind of careers were possible. A local refinery invited students from my high school to attend a tour. As soon as I stepped foot in the plant, I knew I wanted to work in a refinery. I asked the tour guide what degree I would need, and that’s when I heard about chemical engineering.

Is it true that you started with ExxonMobil as an intern at the Baton Rouge refinery?

Yes, my first internship with the Baton Rouge Refinery was in 1989 when I was a sophomore at Drexel University. I was living at home while attending college, so I knew I wanted to do an internship somewhere different. I had never traveled further south than Washington, D.C., until then.

How does it feel to return 20 years later as the first female refinery manager there?

It is a tremendous honor to be able to come back and lead the Baton Rouge Refinery. This refinery, the talented people that work here and the entire Baton Rouge community helped shape me as I was getting started in the industry. I also met my future husband on our first day of work, right here at the refinery. Coming back is like coming home. I want to be able to pay forward the care and leadership I benefitted from to the next generation of employees.

You’ve held many different roles with the company, from Singapore to Texas. How have they prepared you for this new position?

Working at different sites across the world and seeing different aspects of the business has broadened my understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the industry. It has also helped me see that no matter what country I’m in or which role I am holding, there is nothing more powerful than human connection. That is the single biggest “aha” moment I’ve had over the years, and I use that in how I communicate and lead here at the site.

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

The greatest satisfaction and purpose in my professional career has been seeing people who I’ve mentored or supervised develop into successful employees and future leaders. Unlocking talent in others provides much greater impact than anything else I’ve worked on.   

What has been the toughest challenge in your career?

There have been times when being a wife, mother and manager at the same time has not been easy. I’m always doubting whether I am doing enough in any of those roles. My blessing is having a supportive husband and wonderful kids, caring family and friends and remarkable coworkers who have supported us through eight relocations. 

How would you characterize the refining industry in today’s economy?

This is an exciting time in our industry, particularly in North America. The Permian Basin in the U.S. and Canadian crude provides domestic energy opportunity and growth. We are able to cost-competitively produce products across our integrated sites, like clean fuels, engine oils, jet fuel and plastics, that go into domestic and global markets. There is tremendous investment, including ExxonMobil’s Growing the Gulf initiative, which is investing more than $20 billion with more than a dozen projects through at least 2022. The huge investment will brings tens of thousands of jobs, helping to fuel the economy.