Our People: Ten questions with Chemical Engineer Lisa Bielamowicz

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people, El Paso, Refinery, sustainability, Careers
Lisa Bielamowicz with her husband, Brandon Bielamowicz, a mechanical engineer and the Maintenance Manager at the El Paso refinery.

Our People: Ten questions with Chemical Engineer Lisa Bielamowicz

Marathon Petroleum employee Lisa Bielamowicz is a chemical engineer based at the El Paso refinery who is passionate about her work. As the Regional Planning Manager for the western region of Marathon Petroleum’s refineries, her team spread out in Texas, Utah, California and Washington performs analyses to support optimal commercial and operational decisions for long-term planning. Their work supports feedstock and product decisions in addition to evaluating turnarounds, projects and the business plan.

We asked Bielamowicz ten questions to learn more about her career and life outside of work.

1. Why do you enjoy your career as an engineer in the oil and gas industry?

I have a great appreciation for how refining incorporates many aspects of chemical engineering – thermodynamics, organic chemistry, reactor kinetics, even optimization, which is why I’ve elected to stay in the industry for so long. I enjoy applying aspects of what I’ve learned to tackle real life problems, and I like how I still learn new things every day.

2. What does a chemical engineer do?

I think chemical engineers love to dissect problems at the molecular level and truly understand how transformation occurs, either through distillation, reaction or other processes. We’re tasked with delivering real, practical solutions to meet everyday needs.

3. Would you encourage others to consider a career in engineering?

Engineers tend to be very methodical in solving problems yet versatile enough to apply their thinking to different scenarios. If you enjoy solving complex problems, engineering is for you.

4. Why should women consider a career in engineering?

I continue to see more innovative solutions as the workforce becomes more diverse, not just gender or ethnicity but even people with different work experiences (like a literature teacher deciding to come into oil and gas). I am encouraged by more women entering the engineering field just because I believe women have as much to offer as men. 

"Engineers tend to be very methodical in solving problems yet versatile enough to apply their thinking to different scenarios."

5. How would you describe your leadership style?

I like to think of myself as an active listener that is willing to roll up her sleeves to get the job done in the most efficient, value-added manner. I am driven by the success of my people and thrive on seeing improvements, whether they be physical changes in the refinery or cultural shifts, because of my desire to push continuous improvement.

6. Why do you enjoy working for Marathon Petroleum?

I’ve always been impressed with the company’s steadfast approach to refining, including a commitment to strong safety and environmental performance. I see a bright and exciting future ahead of us!

7. How did you find your way to your current role?

I thought performing a role within the Refining Value Chain Optimization organization at Marathon Petroleum would allow me to further dive into how we merge commercial and operating excellence, and I put this on my career development plan. I was asked to do a temporary assignment while someone was on vacation and expressed interest in taking on a full-time role in the future. I think socializing your interests is vitally important to navigating one’s career.

8. What are some of your professional achievements?

I think integration has been a strength of mine. I helped Texas City (now the Galveston Bay refinery) integrate into Marathon. I supported the integration of the TRD refinery (now Bay Plant) into the Galveston Bay refinery. I drove the integration of corporate product quality (PQ) in how we support all components of refining, logistics and retail that PQ needs and then the integration of teams and processes for PQ. Finally, I went to the El Paso refinery to help integrate the Offsites, Planning and Economics and Lab teams into a Product Control department and created the shift superintendent role to support the refinery. There are plenty of physical projects that I kicked off or led along the way, but I am especially proud of some of these integration efforts as I do believe people are our strongest asset and these initiatives allowed for people to thrive.

9. How do you support your community?

I am proud of establishing and supporting inclusion network chapters at Marathon Petroleum because they help remove barriers to allow people to succeed. I support activities sponsored by the Women’s employee network chapter at the El Paso refinery and the Education and Outreach program. These typically involve engaging young students in STEM and specifically our industry.

I am on the board of the YWCA El Paso Del Norte Region, which is the largest YWCA in the country. We have numerous value-added initiatives, including, but not limited to, providing childcare, wellness programs, supportive housing, educational programs to support our goals of eliminating racism and empowering women, and finally helping victims of domestic violence escape their situation and support them with safe housing, child support and educational or job relocation services.

10. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I am married to a mechanical engineer. My husband Brandon Bielamowicz is the Maintenance Manager at the Marathon Petroleum refinery in El Paso. We have five children, and our family enjoys cooking, hiking and reading.

Bielamowicz (center right) in front of the El Paso refinery sign with the members of the YWCA.
Bielamowicz with her husband, children and daughter-in-law.