Professor at St. Peter’s University; Former Manager at ExxonMobil
Joan Tully was part of the last graduating class to emerge from the University Heights campus, back in 1974, and the graduate program in Operations Research she completed there led to a 33-year career with ExxonMobil. At that company, she managed financial and operations models, secured ExxonMobil’s first telecom network connections to the Internet, and helped recruit talented students to bring their expertise to careers there. Even in Tully’s first year at ExxonMobil, her jobs ranged from designing and coding computer programs, creating and implementing forecasting and optimization models, to researching and recommending techniques for dealing with foreign exchange fluctuations. “Although I hadn’t studied those particular problems in graduate school, I felt that the education I had at NYU gave me the background on successfully implementing these techniques,” she has said. Tully credits her training in theoretical and practical problem-solving at NYU, as well as her courses in business and organizational psychology — encouraged by the school’s interdisciplinary focus — as foundational to her technical and managerial skills.
In a more recent position as the global information technology manager within the research and engineering organization in ExxonMobil’s downstream and chemical business, Tully balanced innovative research into game-changing technology with the day-to-day operations that focused on incremental improvements to production, safety, and environmental impact. “I was charged with ensuring we had the right investments at the right time across the globe. As the world has globalized, we now had research and engineering organizations in North America, Europe, and Asia and we had to make sure that they all worked seamlessly,” she explains.
Now an adjunct faculty member in mathematics at Saint Peter’s University, her undergraduate alma mater, she tells students of the importance of reinvention within their careers and being open to change, noting how she and the industry transformed alongside the rapidly evolving technology. “There’s always a need to look at something new,” Tully asserts. “To be able to continuously learn and apply is very important.”