At Ergon, we believe purposeful growth starts with the individual desire to learn more, be more and contribute more. Ergon Refining & Marketing (R&M) is dedicated to encouraging, supporting and nurturing this desire, helping employees reach their professional potential. The following are just a few of many who have benefitted from Ergon R&M’s commitment to professional development. Learn about their transitions from entry level to management positions. If you’re interested in a career where you can learn and grow personally and professionally, visit ergoncareers.com today.
Kristie Armstrong, PhD, PMP
Kristie Armstrong, PhD, PMP, is Technical Projects Manager for Ergon’s Refining & Marketing (R&M) segment. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing various technical development projects that support the strategic goals of the business unit. This includes developing methodologies and processes to help manage workflows and communication, ensuring technical development teams’ efforts are aligned with business needs/requests.
Armstrong joined the Ergon family in February 2015 as Senior Project Chemist for Ergon Refining Inc. Since 2015, she has held various managerial positions, including Ergon Refining Lab Manager, R&M Technology Research & Insights Lab Manager and now Technical Projects Manager. Armstrong’s background in analytical method development and prior lab management experience has served her well in her roles with the company.
Armstrong received her Associate Degree from Hinds Community College, her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Mississippi State University and her PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. While she has reached the pinnacle of her academic career, Armstrong continues to embrace learning and has taken advantage of the opportunity to participate in various management courses.
The Path to Advancement
“Since working at Ergon, I have had the opportunity to take industry-related and project management courses,” said Armstrong. “I’ve also taken advantage of LinkedIn Learning courses to add to my project management skillset.” Ergon has provided every employee with the opportunity to take LinkedIn Learning courses about various topics of their choice for free. It’s one of many ways the company encourages personal and professional growth.
Armstrong always knew she wanted to advance in her career as a chemist, and seeking new ways to utilize the knowledge she gained opened doors to opportunities to learn new skills. “I sought to learn skills and take on new responsibilities, which opened my eyes to a world of opportunity in the industry, and particularly, with Ergon.”
In June 2022, Armstrong received her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. “Ergon Leadership has always supported my desire to grow,” said Armstrong. “I’ve had some wonderful managers while working at Ergon, including Jermaine Cooley, who have always supported my career growth.”
Jermaine Cooley is Director of Product Technology for Ergon’s R&M business unit. In this role, Cooley leads two groups that support strategic growth for R&M. This includes the Research & Insights Team whose laboratory skills and product knowledge support Ergon’s specialty oils and product development. The next group Cooley oversees is the Products Services Team. Product Services is the voice of the customer within R&M, representing customer interest while ensuring product quality. This team also serves as a direct contact for customers’ technical support needs.
Mastering His Role
Cooley joined Ergon in 2012 as a Project Chemist. Since that time, he has been promoted to various leadership roles, including Senior Project Chemist, Product Services Manager and now Director of Product Technology. Cooley came to Ergon wanting to be challenged and make an impact on the company.
“Transitioning to Ergon was a career advancement for me,” said Cooley. “I joined wanting to master my role and, in doing so, make a positive contribution.”
Cooley noted he has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience while working for Ergon and feels supported by management in his efforts to enhance his skillset. “Throughout my time here, Ergon has done a great job of keeping me challenged and offering opportunities for growth,” said Cooley.
Cooley attended Mississippi College, where he earned both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in chemistry. In 2021, Cooley completed Cornell University’s Performance Leadership course.
“Developing and implementing a plan to grow the company and employees is the epitome of the Ergon value of Purposeful Growth,” said Cooley. “Part of this strategy includes managers being intentional about providing opportunities and resources for direct reports to grow.” Cooley is paying the support he has received from Ergon management forward by supporting aspirations for advancement among his own direct reports, including Kristie Armstrong.
Dylan Beech is Vice President – Refining for Ergon – West Virginia (EWV). In this role, Beech is responsible for providing guidance, direction and leadership, as well as for overseeing capital and expense budgets for the company’s’ paraffinic refinery in Newell, West Virginia. He refers to himself as the person responsible for the care, well-being, growth, and development of the 200+ people at the facility.
Beech first came to Ergon as a process engineering Co-Op in 2012. He was hired as a full-time Process Engineer in 2015. Since that time, he has held roles as Operations Manager, Assistant Operations Manager/Hydroprocessing Unit Area Manager and Laboratory Manager, his most recent position prior to becoming EWV’s VP – Refining in July 2022.
Positioned to Learn
During his time as a Co-Op, Beech quickly decided a full-time career with Ergon Refining was where he wanted to officially start his career. “As a Co-Op, I was surrounded by amazing people and was empowered to tackle problems and make decisions, even though I was not yet a degreed engineer.”
Beech attended Mississippi State University (MSU) where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. It was through MSU where he learned about and was accepted into Ergon’s Co-Op engineering program.
“Since I started at Ergon, my desire has been to be where I believe I can help people the most,” said Beech. This desire led to career opportunities outside of process engineering, including working in the Operations Department at Ergon Refining. Being where he is most needed also opened the door for his current position. “I have been so blessed by the opportunities I have received at Ergon,” said Beech. He expressed the company has provided opportunities most people with his age and experience level would not be allowed to have at other companies.
“I’m thankful, first, to work for a company that embraces the idea of establishing and maintaining relationships with employees, customers and in communities, and second, to work with people who, from entry level to management, consistently express genuine interest in each other’s well-being and evolution,” said Beech.