Motivation, networking and mentoring are important aspects of everyone's career. And Camille Duvalle has experienced the benefits of all of those elements. She knows firsthand how networking can help move a career forward. She has had two great mentors in her career and her greatest motivator has always been her mother.
Duvalle develops go-to-market strategies including market engagement plans for polyethylene film applications such as food packaging. She started working in the industry during two different internships while in college. It also was the start of her networking successes.
"Someone who worked at ExxonMobil encouraged me to apply for an internship when I was about 20," Duvalle said. "People often underestimate how much each interaction can impact you and/or the other person. I use the example all the time of how I got started. A long-time family friend who was connected helped connect me. I never saw him as someone that could kickstart a 14-year-plus career, but that's exactly what happened.
"Anyone you meet has the potential to be someone mutually beneficial to your career as a connector—this is powerful!—spending time building and staying in touch with your network will help a lot as you get started in this industry and beyond. Eventually, you get to pay it forward once you become more established, which is really rewarding!"
Motivators and mentors are also important to one's career path. Duvalle's mother Janel has been someone she has looked up to and whose own life practices are part of Camille's motivation.
"My mother has always been such an incredible role model for how to be unapologetically yourself, your true full self, in a variety of different environments," Duvalle said. "A lot of times we have the 'work self' and the 'real self.' She never believed in that. I love to watch her interact with others—she demonstrates that, no matter what, it's possible to treat people—all kinds of people—with respect and kindness.
"I observe people who are task-oriented in high-stress business situations can easily lose sight of how important this is. My mom doesn't, and I admire that so much about her. It motivates me to be more like her!"
Duvalle credits two people, Glenn Williams and Alex Keane, as her mentors.
"They both really encouraged me to 'step into my own' by reminding me there's no need to be shy or sound uncertain when I speak, and I shouldn't doubt that I can take on really hard challenges and problems with confidence. Their support and words of affirmation helped me tremendously!!"
Such support has helped Duvalle achieve great things professionally, including helping others realize the benefits of working in engineering.
"I was on an expatriate assignment in Brazil from 2018 to 2020," Duvalle said. "I thought deeply about how to make an impact on the community and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) network gave me an idea.
"I worked to develop an ExxonMobil presence in the community by organizing and (leading) the first-ever community outreach activity in Sao Paulo. Eight ExxonMobil volunteers and eight Cummins volunteers led an activity with about 150 students who were 10-12 years old to educate young people about common skills needed for engineering. It was sponsored by SWE, so a secondary goal was aimed to place women engineers as role models to the students and open their minds to think about engineering as a possible career for females."
Duvalle also contributes to the community through organizations such as the SWE, which she was president of a local chapter while in college. She said she joined because she wanted to meet new people initially and stayed because it was a fun way to help other people. One of the ways she is helping others is to encourage young girls to explore STEM.
"I do think initiatives such as the one in Sao Paulo are effective ways to help young girls understand what engineering is, and to see females in careers like engineering so that their minds are more open to those careers. I didn't know what chemical engineering was until I chose it as my major in college at 18 years old.
"Introducing a teacher to engineering activities are really neat because, while the teachers may know what engineering is on paper, bringing them into the refinery and talking to them about what engineers do on a day-to-day basis helps them explain it to their students—there is a multiplying effect there."
Duvalle contributes her expertise and skill to company teams.
She was selected as a 2022 Polyethylene Global Business Award winner for her contributions to the Polyethylene Business Unit. It is the highest level of recognition given by the unit for outstanding contributions to the organization. She also received outstanding recognition for her impactful assistance in a successful Performance Polymers Innovation Week in 2022.
What's the future hold? Duvalle would like to take a more active role in the plastics industry.
"In the next phase of my career," Duvalle said, "I'd like to take a more active role in the industry with more speaking roles at conferences and more engagements with the market in general, maybe join one of the organizations like SPE, which is a bit intimidating to me, but I am ready!"
Years with company: 14 years with ExxonMobil and 18 months in current role
Years in rubber industry: 14 years plus 2 internships while still in college