From Family Legacy to Personal Passion

Chevron's Atefeh Taheri shares the story behind her passion for chemistry and offers advice to her younger self
Two small girls doing a science experiment

Tell us about how you moved into a career in chemistry.

My passion for science was sparked at a young age by my parents, who were both involved in teaching sciences; my dad taught physics, and my mom taught chemistry at the high school level. Growing up surrounded by educational environments like public libraries and experimenting with my mom’s molecular models naturally steered me toward a career in chemistry.


You have held roles in R&D, product management, and supply chain. What skills have helped you the most through these career moves?

My curiosity, passion for learning, and openness to acknowledging what I don’t know have been instrumental throughout my career transitions. I approach every role with a mindset of seeing every interaction as a learning opportunity. This attitude has not only expanded my skill set but also enhanced my adaptability across various functions.

Describe your leadership style.

My leadership style is dynamic and continually evolving. It varies depending on the specific needs of the team and the objectives at hand. In the past, I tended to micromanage, driven by a strong desire for perfection. However, over time, I’ve embraced the principle that ‘perfect can be the enemy of good,’ learning to trust my team’s capabilities and allowing for autonomy. This approach not only reduces stress but also encourages innovation and can lead to outcomes that surpass my initial expectations.

How has your involvement with ACS evolved over the years and helped you in your career?

Initially, my engagement with the American Chemical Society (ACS) was pragmatic—mostly to obtain conference discounts. Over time, I discovered the breadth of resources ACS offers, like webinars and career coaching. My role evolved from a participant to a contributor, organizing events and volunteering at both local and national levels. This involvement has not only enriched my professional network but also solidified my commitment to the chemistry community.

How do your personal and professional passions complement each other?

My personal drive to learn and engage with the community seamlessly complements my professional pursuits. My volunteer work with ACS, AWIS, and various employee resource groups has built a robust network, providing me with invaluable resources and connections that enhance my professional capabilities and help me achieve broader business goals.

What career advice would you give your younger self?

I would advise my younger self to prioritize building strong relationships even more. While technical skills are crucial, the social and relational aspects of career development are equally important. Early on, I would focus on networking and recommend resources like Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone to learn about fostering lasting professional relationships.

What does personal growth look like for you in the next 5 years? 10 years?

Over the next five years, as a new mother, I anticipate significant personal growth as I learn to balance my child’s needs with my own. This new phase will enhance my adaptability and improve my collaboration skills, which are valuable in my professional life as well. Over the next decade, I see myself deepening these personal and professional relationships, seeking leadership roles that contribute to societal and scientific advancements, and embracing challenges that foster continuous learning and adaptation.

About the Contributor

Atefeh Taheri, Maintenance and Reliability Team Lead for Integrated Supply Chain, North America West, Chevron America Products
Atefeh Taheri, Maintenance and Reliability Team Lead for Integrated Supply Chain, North America West, Chevron America Products

Atefeh Taheri earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Analytical Chemistry from Sharif University of Technology, Iran, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University, focusing on electron transfer reactions for solar cells. After her postdoctoral research at UC Davis on carbon dioxide conversion and hydrogen gas production, she transitioned to the industry. 

Atefeh joined Clorox as a product developer, then moved to Chevron Oronite as a fundamental scientist, and has since assumed various organizational roles. Atefeh now leads the Reliability and Maintenance Team for Chevron’s Western US lubricant plants and fuel terminals.

Additionally, she served as the diversity and inclusion advisor for Chevron’s global Integrated Supply Chain in 2023. 

Atefeh holds significant roles in professional organizations, such as the 2023 Chair for the California section of the ACS. Last year, she received the AWIS National Meridian Award, which recognizes a mid-career professional whose diversity and inclusion efforts represent a true leader in the pursuit of workplace equity.

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

Atefeh Taheri, Maintenance and Reliability Team Lead for Integrated Supply Chain, North America West, Chevron America Products

Atefeh Taheri is a Maintenance and Reliability Team Lead for Integrated Supply Chain at North America West, Chevron America Products.

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