Meng Lee Tang
Design, build, operate!
I know this sounds incredible, but I had the opportunity to be involved in the design of a petrochemical plant as well as build and operate it in the course of my career at ExxonMobil.
The petrochemical plant I helped design is the Singapore Metallocene Elastomer (SME) plant. It manufactures propylene based elastomers, which are in turn used to manufacture a variety of everyday goods, including diapers, water bottles and food packaging.
I joined the elastomers plant design team in 2006. This was an exciting opportunity. Not only did I get to help design the SME plant, I also got to live overseas for the first time, because the development work for the project was done out of Tokyo.
I relocated to Japan for two years. During that time I made new friends from all over the world. I also picked up some basic Japanese. One thing that stood out for me, though, was experiencing the country's four seasons. I know this doesn't sound like a big deal, but I am from tropical Singapore, where it's pretty much hot and humid all year round.
I worked on the elastomer plant for about 10 years. About five of those years were spent designing and then helping oversee its construction and start-up, and another five years - once it went live in 2012 - was spent working in technical and operations.
Sometimes I tell people that the plant is like my eldest child as I have two children and both are younger than the facility.
My work on the SME plant has been the professional high point. Today, I've embarked on a new adventure with our Basic Chemicals company. There I lead a team in sales and operations planning for the fast-growing Asia Pacific region.
It's so rewarding to think that I was there when the expansion site was just a stretch of sand. Today it's home to a state-of-the-art petrochemical plant that provides solutions and products that improve our daily lives.