Laura Eiklor | Plastics Plant and Resin Finishing Plant Manager | ExxonMobil, Baton Rouge

An embarrassing moment early in her career forced Laura Eiklor to appreciate the importance of what she was doing for ExxonMobil. She was in her first leadership role as an operations supervisor, and her team had to respond to an urgent reliability issue one weekend.

“By the time I arrived, my operations team had already been in the field for a few hours fighting this issue, and I showed up dressed in shorts and sandals,” Eiklor says. “I was extremely embarrassed. There they were working to solve the problem, and I showed up in my weekend gear.”

As the current manager of ExxonMobil’s plastics and resin finishing plants, Eiklor’s shorts and sandals days are over. She’s more likely to be seen wearing FRCs, even when she’s not planning to be in the field.

A chemical engineering graduate from Pennsylvania State University, Eiklor began her career as a contact engineer at the Baton Rouge Chemical Plant. At the time, becoming a plant manager was nowhere near her radar. “My goal was to get a job about three doors down, and that was my aspiration,” she says. “That sounded like a great career to me.”

But in 2010 her manager, John Kovich, came to her with an opportunity: A planning role had opened at ExxonMobil Chemical Headquarters in Houston. “I remember being scared and excited at the same time, but he saw it as an opportunity and believed that I could accomplish something bigger.”

Since then, she’s become more accustomed to change, as she recognizes the opportunities that it often brings. That’s particularly true of her current position. “I’m excited about the things I can do for the company,” Eiklor says. “I care a lot about the people who work for me, and I care a lot about these sites.”

Eiklor’s leadership credo is simple: listen, care and do your job. “Caring means getting to know my employees by name, asking them about their lives and families, and being wherever my employees are so I can relate to what they’re doing,” she says. “That could mean spending an hour walking with operations or mechanical teams to ensure there are no barriers standing in the way of them doing their job safely.”

Eiklor is also an advocate for women in industry.  She sponsors the Women’s Interest Network at ExxonMobil and reaches out to area high schools to introduce female students to STEM careers. “Doing that is a big part of my personal mission,” she says. “We have an awesome opportunity having five female plant managers here in Baton Rouge, and there’s an obligation to a be a strong mentor.”

Her plant manager’s role doesn’t end when she leaves the plant each day. “I carry this place with me no matter where I am. I work hard when I’m here, and while I enjoy my time away from work with my family and children, ultimately my role is 24/7.”

Read more about the next generation driving Louisiana’s industrial future.