Paula Guraieb spends her week overseeing her team’s research and development projects at Tomson Technologies and meeting with clients from some of the most prominent oil and gas companies in the world.
“Companies from the energy sector come to us with a problem and our job is to develop new technologies to solve it,” says Guraieb, vice president and chief operating officer of Tomson Technologies. “We have a boutique company which allows me to work on both the business side of our client projects and spend time in the lab to see which direction a project is taking us.”
Guraieb earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and worked as quality assurance coordinator at Exxon in Mexico City upon graduation. She loved her job, but she relocated to Houston for her husband’s residency program at Baylor College of Medicine.
“I was excited to move to Houston because of my previous experience in oil and gas —which is a hub in this city,” Guraieb continues. “I wanted to use this transition as a time to further my education and make better local connections both professionally and personally. A professional master’s at Rice was the perfect fit.”
She earned her professional master’s degree in sustainable environmental engineering and design in 2012. By taking a full load of classes, she was able to complete the program in one year. She was drawn to Rice over other programs in the region because of its small class size and its accessibility to professors. She also liked that the program had a good balance of oil and gas, infrastructure and environmental engineering curriculum.
“I wanted the graduate student experience without the several year commitment of a Ph.D. program,” said Guraieb. “The professional master’s program at Rice allowed a non-thesis option and I was able to solely focus on the coursework.”
Guraieb credits Rice with providing her with the connection to Tomson Technologies, where she is now vice president and chief operating officer. One of the things she liked most about Rice professors was that they were highly engaged in local industry, often serving as advisors and on boards. This allowed the professors to share valuable insight with Guraieb who wanted to continue working in the oil and gas industry.
“One of my professors from the master’s program provided me with a connection to a new research and development firm designed to support oil and gas companies,” said Guraieb. “I landed the job upon completing the professional master’s program and I have been able to grow my career as Tomson Technologies grows.”
Tomson Technologies has an ongoing relationship with Rice and shares research projects with various professors. Tomson has an 8,500 square-foot research lab with a wide range of services including routine analytic testing, advance research, development and commercialization. Its main focus areas are production chemistry, flow assurances, asset integrity, chemical performance, chemical development and software and model development.
“I am very thankful for Rice. I get nostalgic about my time there and am just thankful for the education, connections and opportunities it provided me,” Guraieb concludes.