skip to main content

people and community

retired VP reflects on storied career

2 min read | may 19, 2023

Jay Johnson, former vice president of upstream, retired earlier this year after an illustrious 42-year career at Chevron.

When Jay Johnson began his career at Chevron 42 years ago, he did not plan to have a career here spanning four decades.

“I didn’t intend to stay more than a couple of years,” he admitted. “I was just going to do the job, have some fun, ride boats, fly around in helicopters, work on these great projects and then move on to something else.”

By the time he retired in 2023, Johnson was responsible for Chevron’s global oil and gas exploration and production activities as executive vice president of the company’s upstream business and had accomplished those initial goals and more.

Johnson’s storied career included serving as managing director of Chevron’s Australasia business unit when the well that discovered the Wheatstone natural gas resource was drilled. He also served as a project manager at the Kutubu project in Papua New Guinea.

“Those opportunities offered me the chance to learn and to go to different parts of the world.”

jay johnson

former executive vice president of upstream

global gig

Johnson, who grew up in the Midwest, was hired by Chevron right out of college in 1981 as a design and construction engineer in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Over the next four decades, he took on more than a dozen positions, such as a senior design and construction engineer in New Orleans, Louisiana. He also held various leadership positions at Chevron’s headquarters in San Ramon, California.

His work also took him around the globe, including managing production operations at the Tengiz oil field in northwestern Kazakhstan, laying the groundwork to initiate one of the world's largest natural gas projects in Gorgon, Australia, and heading production for offshore developments like those in the Jack and St. Malo fields in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

“My wife and I dreamed of exploring the world,” said Johnson. “Chevron let us have that adventure and experience so many cultures and places.”

“I stayed because there was always that next job and next level of challenge.”

jay johnson
former executive vice president of upstream

next-gen leaders

One of the key highlights of his career was empowering Chevron’s next generation of leaders. In fact, it was an objective he prioritized.

“Over the years, I learned a lot about the importance of leadership as opposed to supervision, management or administration,” Johnson said. “At Chevron, our focus is on teamwork, collaboration and competitive performance. We are helping people learn those behaviors and what leadership is much earlier in their careers.”

This pivotal company ethos includes setting clear expectations for performance, removing barriers to success and improving processes for giving and receiving feedback.

“We’re helping people learn these leadership principles earlier in their careers while better defining the role of a leader,” Johnson said.

topics covered

chevron email updates