2023 Meet Darlene Harris Puffin, one of the most influential women in business

Darylene Harris Pugh, General Manager, Shell Catalysts & Technologies US LP (Colin Ritchie)

Darlene Harris Pugh likes to joke that chemistry is her first love.

“I was a tomboy who loved chemistry—I was always running around with the kids and playing soccer,” says the New Orleans East native. “My mother encouraged me – she didn’t give me any limits.”

Pugh says it was the logical thinking associated with engineering that drew her to the field. Underneath her work jumpsuit, she wears a T-shirt that says, “Engineers: Because Bad Problem Solver Isn’t a Proper Job Title.”

“I love a good challenge,” she says. “When I first got into the petrochemical field, people said, ‘They’re downsizing—why are you going into engineering?’ They were asking me.”

Pugh refuses to listen to naysayers. “I’ve always had my own mind and followed my own conscience,” she says.

After 32 years at Shell, Pugh has held local, regional and global leadership positions, and is considered by her peers to be the company’s first African-American production division manager at Norco and Deer Park Refineries. . She is often honored for her mentoring efforts inside and outside the company, and has a decade under her belt as a Girl Scout leader.

Read the full story about Pugh’s career in the latest issue Business report. Send comments. editor@businessreport.com.

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