Olivia Kelley Owen
In a remarkable career that spanned the globe, Olivia Owen made a lasting contribution in the petroleum industry, along the way becoming a role model, inspirational leader and mentor to others pursuing engineering careers.
During her distinguished 34- year career with the ExxonMobil Corporation, her exemplary work and exceptional engineering prowess earned her great respect within the company, and she rose to leadership roles with diverse assignments and crucial responsibilities. Ultimately, she became a vice president and Officer of the Corporation, a recognition of her performance and leadership, and was instrumental in overseeing four critical areas of the company – safety, security, health and environment.
Owen grew up in Troy, Alabama. After high school, she studied civil engineering at Auburn University, graduating at the top her class in 1977. After college, she joined Exxon in New Orleans.
Her first assignments were as a facilities engineer for oil and gas production in Louisiana and as a reservoir engineer supporting drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. She lived and worked in domestic and overseas locations with oversight of various engineering programs and field operations within the production department. Within the refining and supply department, she managed the purchasing of domestic and international crude oil for Exxon’s U.S. refineries. While living in London, she managed strategic planning and business analysis for Europe and Africa and later moved back to the U.S. to lead the implementation of several major information technology systems.
In 2004, Owen became the global security manager for ExxonMobil in Dallas. She had responsibility for developing and directing ExxonMobil’s security program world-wide. She travelled to over forty countries spanning six continents, and reviewed security initiatives with U.S. State Department regional security officers and with representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.
Owen became an ExxonMobil Corporate Officer and was named the vice president for safety, security, health and environment in 2009. She retired in 2011.
Throughout her life, Owen advocated continuous learning and giving back to her profession. She participated in the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit and attended courses at the Brookings Institution and Columbia Business School. She was a facilitator for Exxon’s Reservoir Engineering School and Exxon’s Leadership Course and a lecturer for MBA students at the London School of Business and Finance.
Owen has maintained a close relationship to her alma mater. Along with philanthropic support, she is a member of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and the Auburn Engineering Keystone Society. She is a founding member of the executive board and is serving as the 2017-18 co-chair for Engineering’s 100+ Women Strong program, an organization dedicated to recruiting, retaining and rewarding Auburn women in engineering. Owen is also a mentor for female engineering undergraduates.
A registered Professional Engineer, she is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers. She also has served on the advisory group for ExxonMobil’s Educating Women and Girls Initiative and Exxon’s Work and Family Task Force.