Profession: Public and government affairs manager, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge
Hometown: Baton Rouge
Family: Married to husband, John, with three children: Josh, Caroline and Patrick
Years with company: 18
As a journalism student at LSU, Stephanie Cargile never anticipated she would spend the bulk of her career in petrochemical communications, but today, she looks back on years of personal and professional satisfaction.
Cargile serves as public and government affairs manager for ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge complex, one of global firm’s largest domestic sites and one of the Capital Region’s bedrock employers. She is responsible for myriad high-profile tasks, including crisis management, media relations, community outreach and corporate philanthropy, all while balancing a robust home life with her husband and three children.
Cargile entered the world of petrochemical communications in 1999, a time when public relations was rising in significance in every sector across the country. ExxonMobil was then shaping a larger local community relations program. Cargile says she learned about the importance of authentic outreach and networking under mentors who included Charlie Rowton, Mary Beth Chevalier and Patricia Hayes Smith.
“I was exposed to phenomenal professionals and was lucky enough to have a diverse group of role models who taught me fantastic leadership skills and the importance of grassroots outreach,” says Cargile. “Today, I try to surround myself with diverse, talented people, and I know the more I can do that, the more our strategy benefits.”
Cargile has twice earned the ExxonMobil Responsible Care Award, a global awards program practiced in more than 65 countries. She was also recognized as Most Valuable Player by the Louisiana Chemical Association Communications Committee in 2014 and 2016.
Cargile doesn’t underestimate the deep relationship between ExxonMobil and the Capital Region.
“Here in Baton Rouge, we don’t think of ExxonMobil as a sign over a gas station,” she says. “It’s much more personal. We connect to it as a longtime employer where our friends and family members have worked.”
Thus, Cargile takes seriously the company’s role as a community partner, employer and good neighbor. She’s quick to attend community stakeholder meetings on issues the public wants to discuss, even when they’re contentious.
“There’s a lot of stress, but one thing this job has taught me is how to manage it and convert it into something positive,” she says.
Cargile not only facilitates ExxonMobil’s corporate philanthropy program, but also engineers philanthropic partnerships with stakeholders who can deliver lasting benefits.
“One thing we’ve tried to do is to bring direct value to our community and our neighbors,” says Cargile. “We’re always thinking about what projects we can get behind that make a direct impact.”
Cargile is currently working with community leaders in north Baton Rouge to develop the North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Program, which will provide free training for industry jobs to residents in the northern part of the parish.
In addition, she and her team are at work on a virtual reality program to improve job readiness for not just employees of ExxonMobil, but for other greater Baton Rouge petrochemical and manufacturing facilities. ExxonMobil partnered with LED FastStart and a handful of regional IT firms to create virtual reality training modules that will enable users to experience what it’s like to work in industrial jobs. A forthcoming virtual reality industrial training lab will be housed at Baton Rouge Community College.
“I think it’s our responsibility to use our position to make a sustainable difference in the community,” Cargile says. “It’s the most satisfying part of my job.”
1993: Begins public relations career at Catholic High School
1998: Graduates with a Masters in Mass Communications from LSU Manship School
1999: Began career in public affairs at ExxonMobil
2007: Starts a two-year role as public relations consultant for various local companies while also managing ExxonMobil’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2009
2011: Becomes public and government affairs manager of ExxonMobil Baton Rouge.
2016: Receives Louisiana Chemical Association’s Most Valuable Player award for communications
2017: Earns ExxonMobil’s Responsible Care Award for North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative
2018: Begins role as Secretary of BR North Economic Development District commission
Proudest business achievement
In 2018, I supported ExxonMobil to bring the largest project to Baton Rouge in more than decade. After meeting with hundreds of stakeholders, we were able to collaborate with the project team to create several wraparound community initiatives to bring direct value to Baton Rouge. We created a virtual reality training partnership with local IT vendors and Louisiana Economic Development, and expanded our North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative to provide careers to local residents. We are also working to announce a small business resource initiative with the support of the project team. These type of public-private, innovative partnerships that directly impact Baton Rouge residents and local businesses exemplify truly beneficial economic development and collaboration. To me, bringing greater social benefit to my hometown results in the most personal pride and career satisfaction.
Who inspires you?
My dad made me tough. He taught me to work hard for success, to avoid making excuses for failure and to own my career. Also, Jan Breen, the current St. Joseph’s Academy president, was my manager at Catholic High School during my early career. She was the first female leader to completely believe in and empower me. She taught me grace in leadership, to proof every word I write, and to be a professional role model for my own children.
That I would not achieve a successful management position in my field while being a mother of three children. Glad I proved that person wrong!