Learn How These Engineers Carved out Successful Careers in Chemical Engineering

From the recovery in the oil and gas sector to the improvements and innovations in the consumer products market, chemists and chemical engineers can expect consistent growth in their industry. As consumer needs grow, so does the production of chemical products, presenting new opportunities for chemical engineers to carve their story in history.
Nader Mowlaee

If you're considering starting a career as a chemist or working as a chemical engineer, then you're going to have to review and analyze these success stories from pioneers and professionals in the field chemistry and chemical engineering. Some of the richest engineers in the world earned chemical engineering degrees and went on to build lucrative careers and global businesses as chemical engineers.

Here are some of the most successful chemical engineers around the world and their journey to business and career success.


What Exactly Do Chemical Engineers Do?

If you plan to be a chemist or chemical engineer, you can expect to take on various scientific projects and engineering courses, such as conducting tests for new ingredients to add into cosmetic or pharmaceutical products, testing the mixing time and proper temperature of ingredients and monitoring the production process. Chemical engineers also complete similar duties as chemists but often on a larger scale with a focus on process engineering.

As a chemical engineer, you can expect to do various tasks, such as estimating the production costs for your management team, designing the layout of equipment and specializing in process improvement, such as making resins or plastics for a manufacturing company.

What is the Daily Routine of a Chemical Engineer?

As a chemical engineer, your tasks may vary based on your position, industry, and company. For instance, the daily routines of a chemist can vary greatly and may involve conducting research to make molecules in a lab for research and development, such as chemist Daniel Ford. But whether you are a chemist or chemical engineer, it's important to have a wide variety of skills to increase your chances of success.

These skills may include problem-solving skills, analytic skills, interpersonal skills and math skills, such as understanding calculus to design and conduct analysis. These skills helped chemical engineers in Australia to use grass to improve latex and even assist engineers in Qatar and Malaysia to enhance the approach for designing ionic liquids for carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Some Successful Chemical Engineers

Most successful engineers often get an education at an ABET-accredited school, but their road to success doesn't stop in a laboratory. Consider the career paths of these successful engineers:

  • Charles and David Koch - The Koch brothers both studied chemical engineering and later became some of the richest engineers in the world through their company, Koch Industries. This chemical and oil-refining company creates a wide selection of products, including smart floor glass, chemicals, and rugged fabric that helped transform the company into a billion-dollar business. Charles Koch started out taking over the family business and worked his way up to the title of CEO. David Koch also helped run the company and turned what was once a medium-sized family business into the conglomerate that it is today. As a result, the brothers became billionaires and some of the richest people in the world.
  • Mukesh Ambani Mukesh Ambani is one of the richest people in India, and it's all thanks to his studies in chemical engineering and tenacity. He began his career in at his father's company Reliance Industries in the 1980s after dropping out of his MBA program, helped build the company from the ground up and even headed the construction of a plant for petrochemicals. Ambani eventually took over its operations and helped expand its product offerings.
  • James Ratcliffe - INEOS Group founder James Ratcliffe started out as a chemical engineer but progressed to a business leader. He helped transform INEOS into one of the largest producers of chemical products in the world. Ratcliffe began his career working at Exxon Chemicals. He eventually worked his way up to lead the acquisition of what is INEOS and creates everyday products that have helped create his billion-dollar empire.
  • Miranda Yap - Miranda Yap’s accomplishments as an engineer earned her a place in Singapore's Women’s Hall of Fame. Yap was a pioneer of biomedical sciences and was responsible for paving the way for Singapore’s biologics industry. She became the first female to earn Singapore’s highest science and technology honor: the President’s Science and Technology Medal (PSTM). Yap set up the Bioprocessing Technology Unit as its founding executive director and helped develop bioprocessing research capabilities. She also helped develop a research and development team that was highly-skilled. As a result, Yapp was able to develop key partnerships and collaborations that helped draw manufacturers in the biologics industry to Singapore and helped bolster Singapore’s economy. She also lectured at her alma mater the National University of Singapore (NUS), where she earned her first degree in applied chemistry.
  • Lilia Abron - Lilia Abron’s career as an engineer led her on a path from working at the Kansas City Water Department to becoming a CEO of her environmental engineering consulting company, PEER Consultants P.C. Abron was the first African American to earn her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Iowa. She also taught as an assistant professor at Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, and Howard University. After teaching college courses, Abron started her company and procured contracts within the private sector and with local and federal government entities, such as the IMS Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Abron also created a design-build organization to help build homes in South Africa that are energy-efficient. Her efforts have helped her win several awards, including the American Academy of Engineers Superior Achievement Award.

Final Thoughts

The field of chemical engineering offers a rewarding career path that can lead to high earnings, whether you work as an individual contributor or leading teams, and even entrepreneurial endeavors. But you don't have to figure out how to be successful on your own.

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Use these success stories as a source of inspiration to help you map out your own path to success. Always keep in mind that your education level lays the foundation to your success, and then it depends on how hard you work, and effective you are in pursuing endeavors. Good luck.

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