Member Feature: Traci L. Johnson, PE
As Traci L. Johnson, PE was nearing the end of her freshman year at Tulane University in New Orleans where she was studying chemical engineering, she didn’t know how she was going to spend her summer, but she knew it involved getting a job.
“At a family gathering, I learned that an aunt worked at a company that ‘hired engineers,’” Johnson recalled. “Soon thereafter, I was hired as summer help at International-Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT) answering phones and filing papers in what used to be known as the Engineering and Environmental Department of the company—not exactly technical work, but it beat working as a cashier at the school bookstore!”
Thankfully, Johnson was eventually given the opportunity to do more technical work under the supervision of the Environmental Manager.
“At that point, I was hooked and never looked back.”
Today, as Vice President of Environmental, Health, Safety and Security for IMTT, Johnson loves the daily challenges that come with being in the EHSS department, whether it’s fostering a strong safety culture, rolling out a new regulatory compliance program, or securing a permit for the next big project.
“Thankfully, I am privileged to work with an amazing team of EHSS professionals that are as passionate about their jobs as I am about mine,” Johnson said. “Strong teamwork is essential to our success as a department.”
Johnson—a longtime member of ILTA’s EHSS committee and past Environmental Chair—joined the ILTA Board of Directors in 2019.
“For me, my favorite part of being an ILTA member are the networking opportunities,” Johnson said. “I often reach out to my ILTA colleagues for advice or insight on how to tackle any number of EHSS challenges facing our industry—they are an in incredible source of knowledge and experience.”
Over the course of her career, from an EHSS perspective, Johnson has seen an incredible amount of change.
“Our stakeholders—from our regulators to our employees to our communities—expect more of us and challenge us to do better every day,” Johnson said. “As a result, our industry is safer and greener than it has ever been.”
Safer and greener is a trend Johnson expects to see continue in the industry over the next five, 10 or even 50 years.
“I think we’ll see a continued shift towards storing ‘greener and cleaner’ products, like sustainable fuels, to meet the world’s demand for clean energy,” she said. “I also expect more and more liquid storage companies to strive for carbon neutrality.”
Because bulk liquid storage is a critical component of the world’s supply chain, Johnson encourages more people to consider careers in the industry.
“What we store may evolve over time, but it’s safe to say that as long as there is a need to move liquids, our industry is here to stay,” Johnson said. “There are a variety of long-term careers in the terminal industry—you’d be hard-pressed to not find a suitable choice to match your interests and career goals.”
And for those just getting started, Johnson offered some sage advice.
“It’s easy to become siloed within a given function or department—a problem for any company or industry, not just the liquid terminal industry,” she said. “I would recommend to any newcomer that they learn more about what goes on inside other departments. Don’t be shy to ask questions early and often. Knowing what keeps people outside your department up at night makes you a more informed and thoughtful decision maker.”
It’s also a good idea, Johnson said, to attend the annual ILTA conference and trade show.
“There’s plenty to learn about our industry under one roof,” she said. “Their ‘Terminal 101’ post-conference session is especially informative for anyone new to the industry.”
In addition to her work, Johnson takes pride in her New Orleans roots.
“Being from New Orleans, I’m a die-hard fan of Mardi Gras,” she said. “I belong to two krewes: the Krewe of Muses and the Krewe of Red Beans. Both organizations are committed to charitable causes and community outreach, in addition to having a great time during the carnival season.”
Johnson also enjoys hitting the pavement.
“I’m definitely more of a tortoise than a hare, but I love destination races. It’s a great way to see a city—and not feel guilty about enjoying the local cuisine!” she said. “This spring I’ll be running in the Paris Marathon.”
Courtesy of ILTA.