Engineering Major to Global CIO

jim-green-webCSULB Engineering alumni Jim Green had a pivotal moment after getting out of the Air Force and finding himself working as a mechanic in a McDonnell-Douglas factory. That moment came after Green met a 24-year-old aerospace engineer. “I had an epiphany that I didn’t want to spend my life working in a factory,” he said.

Green’s ticket out of that factory was a computer engineering and electrical engineering degree from CSULB. When he began his studies—first at Long Beach City College, where he spent two years—computers were only beginning to emerge. “I thought computers may be around for a while and I might be able to make a living with them,” he recalled.

As it turned out, he was right.

Green is now CIO for Chevron Upstream, overseeing an operation with 1,500 employees in 20 countries. He also serves as chair of the Alumni Subcommittee of the College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council.

He credits his education at CSULB with creating “an engineering mindset” and an interest in continual learning. “There’s a set of core engineering values and discipline that is instilled in an engineering curriculum that helps the way you think about and do the work,” Green said. “I’m always learning about new technologies and new ways of doing things.”

Green, who had the support of his wife and used the GI Bill, “worked in the tape room” at Boeing’s Seal Beach facility during his sophomore and junior years. His internship at Rockwell Marine Systems Division in Anaheim turned into a full-time job as a software engineer when he graduated from CSULB in 1985. He spent nearly six years at Rockwell Marine, performing sonar system software development for shipboard and submarine applications for the US and Royal Navy.

The practical education he received in his third and fourth years of study have proved invaluable. “That’s really what transfers into real-world discipline,” Green said.

Since he “jumped into the oil and gas industry” in 1990, Green has witnessed four business downturns. He credits his ability to reinvent himself, learn new things, and seize fresh opportunities with his career success.

Before being named CIO of Chevron Upstream, Green held IT leadership roles in Chevron’s Downstream and Chemicals business, the Energy Technology Co. and Global Gas organizations. In these roles, he was responsible for the strategic direction and delivery of applications, information and infrastructure needed for the safe and reliable operation of Chevron’s assets globally. Prior to joining Chevron, Green worked for 15 years in software development and application support before leading the IT Strategy and Architecture team at Unocal in El Segundo, Calif.

Green cannot overemphasize the value of a degree. “If you’re not educated, you’ll definitely have a tougher time making ends meet,” he said.

While doing mentoring, he’s frequently asked the question: “What was your path?” His answer: “You’ve got to put your best foot forward every day and you’ve got to work at it. People will see that and give you opportunities, and when that happens, you’ve got to take them.”