Women in technology: Leaders developing future leaders

A chemical engineer in Bengaluru, Abinaya Srinivasan is supporting energy projects around the world and blazing a path for other women in the sector.
Abinaya Srinivasan

Abinaya Srinivasan

Project design supervisor

Abinaya Srinivasan, a project design supervisor at ExxonMobil’s Global Projects division in Bengaluru, has seen her career take off during her time with the company. She champions women in STEM and leads by example while furthering ExxonMobil’s energy projects around the world.

We support the entire life cycle of a project, from its inception and design to safe delivery: whether it’s a brand-new concept or revamping an existing facility,” Abinaya says of Global Projects’, “diverse work activities supporting projects from Papua New Guinea in the east to Canada in the west and encompassing a wide range of low-carbon initiatives, such as hydrogen, ammonia and advanced recycling.”

From an independent contributor to contributing through others

Abinaya says ExxonMobil’s ability to give their engineers access to different sites across the globe allows them to gain meaningful insights into the operations that they support.

I hadn’t previously travelled to many operating facilities as a chemical engineer, but when I started working at ExxonMobil, I got the opportunity to visit the global sites I supported twice within the first year,” Abinaya explains.

Being face-to-face with the equipment in situ helped to deepen my technical knowledge. It’s really changed my perspective as an engineer, because it’s not just schematics you create on a piece of paper anymore—now you can gauge the impact of your work in reality.”

It’s an enormous sense of accomplishment when you actually experience your design being implemented: you feel as an engineer that I’ve helped create this,” adds Abinaya.

Abinaya Srinivasan site visit
Abinaya on site in Malaysia, seeing her work move from the schematics to reality.

In 2020, Abinaya had her proudest professional moment when she became one of the first national supervisors at ExxonMobil’s Bangalore campus, merely two years after joining the company.

“We’ve got people from many parts of the world working at our campus. So being tasked with the opportunity to lead and assist the cultural assimilation of this large, growing organization with just eight years of industry experience was a huge motivator. It helps me further the company’s long-term vision,” she says.

Multiplying mentorship

Abinaya credits ExxonMobil’s strong mentorship culture for enabling her growth in ways she’d never imagined. “At ExxonMobil, we believe in a basic principle: anybody can ask for—and get—help.”

Mentorship has been critical to shaping my career. When I was leading a project for the first time, I was a bit overwhelmed. But my mentors gave me guidance on how to lead and communicate effectively with my team, as well as handle any conflicts that came up. They encouraged me to trust my abilities and make decisions confidently.”

Abinaya has always stayed in touch with her mentors. “Even today, I sometimes seek their guidance when making important decisions.”

Her positive experience with mentorship inspired her to actively volunteer in mentoring programs, as she strongly believes in its “power to promote professional and personal development.”

Identifying a need for a safe space for women engineers to share their challenges, Abinaya has helped to set up smaller women’s networks within the teams she has been part of at the Bengaluru campus. ExxonMobil’s wider Women’s Interest Network (WIN) not only supports in-house female engineers but also women more broadly in any part of the business.

My motto is: everyone should bring their whole selves to work! I’m grateful for the guidance and mentorship I’ve received over my career, which have been instrumental to me becoming a confident leader. I want to do the same for many others: help them unlock their true potential,” she says.

Abinaya believes that with the right kind of support, any engineer can take their skills to the world and make a real difference. Her own journey at ExxonMobil is evidence of that.

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