Ed Lapham

Heavy Products Planner

"I had plenty of responsibility early on in my career, which gave me a feeling of really contributing to the refinery . . ."

Job Title: Heavy Products Planner, Refining Coordination, Benelux Refineries

Degree: MEng Chemical Engineering at Nottingham University

When applying for jobs I had several criteria that I wanted my employer to meet: I wanted to use my degree in my work, have responsibility early on, have the opportunity for international moves, and be rewarded with a good remuneration package. I applied to ExxonMobil as they offered all this and more, and I am pleased to say I have not been disappointed.

I had plenty of responsibility early on in my career, which gave me a feeling of really contributing to the refinery. My first role was in the Distillation section, with the main responsibility of ensuring correct operation of the crude distillation and hydrofining units on a daily basis, whilst looking for long-term optimisation opportunities. The work I have done has saved the company real money and some of the improvements I recommended have been implemented. It feels really good to see the work you have done come to fruition and see that you are improving the way the site operates.

Following that position I moved to the Site Optimisation department as the Crude Acquisition Coordinator. This involved defining and managing the refinery's requirements for different types of crude and look for new and profitable future feedstocks in the market. This involved liaising closely with planners, traders (who buy and sell the crude oil in the first place) and shipping schedulers all over the world.

Whilst in this role I have also had the opportunity to return to Distillation for a short assignment as a project coordinator. This gave me great first hand experience of how the refinery is operated on a 24-hour basis, and how projects are brought to life from paper to real equipment on the units.

Now I have been placed on an 18 month European assignment so I am now living in Antwerp working as the Heavy Products Planner for two refineries, one each in Rotterdam and Antwerp. The position is responsible for generating production forecasts for several products, such as jet fuel and diesel, whilst coordinating and analysing optimisation and margin improvement items. This has been a fantastic opportunity to work in a very different environment, both in terms of responsibility and culture, which is both challenging and great fun.  The position has allowed me to be involved in both day-to-day scheduling and long-term strategy on a broad range of products, so there is always something new and interesting coming around the corner. The company even helped out with a bit of Dutch!

What is clear is that the culture of ExxonMobil is easy to fit into wherever I have been as there is always a good balance of professionalism and informality. The doors are always open if you need to ask questions and it is all first name terms too. I am soon finishing my role in Europe, with my next position possibly returning to the UK or perhaps another international move - in such a huge, global company career options are many and varied.