Tan Geok Meng

Tan Geok Meng

Refinery Coordinator

My company and job

As a Refinery Coordinator at ExxonMobil, I manage the inventories for the intermediates/feedstock used to make lubricants, as well as the finished lubricants that are sold to customers. My team and I are part of the longer refining value-chain, which ensures that our refinery produces and supplies our customers with quality products.

In the event of scheduled maintenances or issues that may lead to production slowdowns, I'm required to diagnose the problem and propose how our units can be optimally reconfigured to meet and deliver customers' orders.

How I got my job

I was fortunate to secure an internship with ExxonMobil in the logistics and coordination department. During the internship, I'd requested to take on additional roles to help me better understand ExxonMobil's business operations. Towards the end of my six-month internship, my manager offered me a full-time role in the same department, and that's how I started my career with the company.

The highs and lows

The dynamic nature of the business – be it reacting quickly once a signal is given to modify output; or implementing longer term improvements for the plant – keeps me engaged and challenged. I feel a sense of achievement when I see how my work adds value to the plant and processes.

As the plants at our manufacturing site operate 24/7, we're on standby and will be activated to respond whenever the need arises; which often means changing plans at the last minute. Depending on the special occasion that I'd have to miss, this can sometimes be a "low" point for me. However, that feeling will be quickly overridden by a tremendous sense of achievement when I succeed in ensuring that the issues are resolved safely and in a timely manner.

My happiest moment at work

I was able to participate in one of the large-scale periodic maintenance works scheduled for our plants in my previous role as a process engineer. During the unit inspection, I got to see what lined the insides of the distillation towers, and also stopped by other units to learn more about how technology helps the plant operate efficiently. It was an eye-opener, witnessing first-hand how the theories I'd learnt in school are applied.

Training and support

During the shadowing period when I am new to a role, a senior will be appointed to guide me along in the first few weeks. In addition, ExxonMobil continues to take care of my personal development and I have been assigned a mentor.

My mentor has many years of experience with the company, and is my go-to person for advice on handling sticky situations, learning people skills, and coping with the corporate culture.

In addition to that, I also attend formal training courses to enhance my skills and knowledge.

Work-life balance

What truly matters is the quality, not quantity, of time we spend with our loved ones. To do this, I've had to make some changes to my lifestyle. For instance, I make the best use of meal times to catch up with family and friends. It's also an incentive for me to be focused during my work hours. I'm fortunate that my supervisors and managers are understanding and are willing to accommodate special requests for flexible work arrangements.

Some advice

Be open to the types of jobs you're offered even if they may not appear to be your "ideal" job. There are always new things that you can learn and skills that you can develop in each role. Be adventurous, dare to try something different!