A Day in the Life of... Bea Amaya

Have you wondered how a College of Technology degree could help one break new ground and make an impact on the global market? Bea Amaya, a graduate of the college's Organizational and Leadership Supervision program in the Department of Information and Logistics Technology, shares her story and answers questions and offers valuable insight into leveraging your strengths, embracing diversity, and risk-taking to build a challenging, profitable career.

Bea began her career as an instrument technician before moving into operations, safety, and training. Backed by more than 20 years of field experience in the petrochemical industry with Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Dow Chemical, she has run a successful business in Houston for the past ten years. Providing technical support to ExxonMobil's Global Real Estate and Facilities (GREF) organization, Bea is relatively new to the trucking industry, but brings valuable skills and insight to the management team, working toward strengthening the processes and systems while dealing with major oil and gas, and other industrial business interests across the globe.

See more about Trans Wonderland Limited at transwonderland.com.

What degree did you earn, and when did you graduate?

I earned an AAS in Instrumentation Technology from Lee College in Baytown in 1981 and a BS in Technical Leadership and Supervision (now Organizational and Leadership Supervision program in the Department of Information and Logistics Technology) at the University of Houston in 2007. Following that, I earned a MS in Technology Commercialization from the University of Texas in 2008. Now, I am working on a PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech.

What was your first job after graduation from UH?

As an "older learner", my pursuit of a degree was not related to my job prospects as much as it was to my personal and professional enhancement. I continued in the same job, running my own company, Amaya Consulting, after graduation.

How did you progress to your current position?

As with many opportunities, it was a series of unplanned events that got me here. My husband, working in Nigeria, called to ask if I could help a co-worker of his, an engineer who was a Papua New Guinea (PNG) national, in the writing of a business plan. That turned into a request for me to come on board with his company, followed by an offer to manage the company, followed by an offer to move over to a related company (while keeping the first one going "on the back burner"). And here I am the Projects and Systems Development Manager for a landowner company (lanco) in the transportation business in Papua New Guinea.

What are the primary responsibilities of your current position?

I am primarily responsible for taking a first look at new business opportunities, for collecting background information on those and arranging early interfaces with those involved (lawyers, accountants, consultants, and company representatives) while the opportunity is being considered. I am also responsible for the development of company documents, processes, procedures, templates, forms, and other tools for use within the company.

What is a typical workday for you?

There is so much about my job that is not "typical". Each week I spend a significant amount of time interfacing with others within the company as we are working to transform the company from a small single-owner trucking business to one of the largest landowner businesses in the country, one representing a large number of shareholders. In a typical week I will interface with everyone from truck drivers, to supervisors and managers, to government officials, to other business representatives. I spend about 80% of my time interacting with PNG nationals, 18% interfacing with Australian expats, and the remaining 2% with a number of other nationalities.

What do you like best about your job?

My being a female in a male-dominated field (trucking) and a male-dominated company and country makes my role(s) here both challenging and a bit ground-breaking. But, I think it is one of the things I like best. PNG is a land of many cultures and my position in the company allows me to see so much of that in my day-to-day work life. Every week as I meet with tribal leaders from remote areas, who are trying to engage in business opportunities and learn about the ways in which we can work together to achieve common business and community goals, I realize that I love where I am and what I do for a living. I suppose the diversity of tasks, interfaces, and cultural experiences have to be what I like best.

What advice would you give to students considering a career in your field?

Being a manager in a trucking company owned by tribal groups in Papua New Guinea was never on my list of "things I want to be when I grow up". And, if someone had tried to give me a "heads up" that this is where I would end up, of course I would have thought them crazy. I suppose my advice would be along these lines: Be open-minded. Watch for unusual opportunities, if that interests you.

If you are in a position to take a risk (my husband was working full-time, which allowed me to go a few months with no pay while trying to build an opportunity), do because those times don't last. Avoid seeking money and power for your own sake. Instead, watch for opportunities that excite and engage you, then work on finding ways to make those opportunities profitable.

The College of Technology offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a variety of majors suited to students wishing to become entrepreneurs in the field of their choice. For information about academic programs, contact the Academic Service Center at 713-743-4100 or visit online at tech.uh.edu/college/academic-services-center. To be featured in a future Day in the Life article, contact Lisa Burns at lcburns@uh.edu and advise your degree and major for consideration