Employee Spotlight: Sergio Villareal
By: Corporate Communications
September 27, 2021
We at CF Industries value the diverse talents and backgrounds that make up our global team and recognize that inclusivity makes us strong. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Sergio Villarreal, instrument and electrical engineering supervisor at the Verdigris Complex, shares insight on his three years at CF Industries and how his Hispanic heritage has influenced his career.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I get to collaborate with people of other crafts, working together to achieve maintenance goals. Through this collaboration, I learn about other roles; we all teach each other so when you see a problem you can recognize it and say, “I’m not the person to fix this but I know what the problem is and can find the person who can.”
When people ask me what I like about working at the Verdigris site, I tell them that it reminds me of the small town in Texas where I grew up. It feels like a small town where everybody knows each other’s names and it’s a friendly atmosphere. Being more than 10-hours away from where I grew up, it reminds me of home.
What brought you to CF Industries?
Control engineers are a rare breed and hard to find, so when you find one, you don’t want to let them go. At my previous workplace, I was being denied management and supervisory positions because it was difficult to find a control systems engineer to replace me. When I spoke to people at CF, they assured me there was plenty of opportunity. Now, I am in a management position and see a future where I can continue to grow and eventually retire.
What excites you about the future of the company?
I feel excited that, being the world’s largest producer of ammonia, we’re leading the way to producing clean energy. CF is taking the necessary steps to meet the clean fuel economy demands by exploring the clean energy opportunity. It’s easy to say we’re the largest producer, but taking this step, we’re showing our leadership in this movement. People will know the CF name, and I like that.
Hispanic Heritage Month is an important opportunity to reflect on the stories, contributions, achievements and lived experiences of this community across the U.S. Can you share a bit about your background and why you became an engineer?
I’m from Northern Mexico and my home state holds 95% of the coal reserves in the country. I’ve actually worked in mining here in the United States, and it made me feel really proud to continue that tradition.
My dad’s side of the family is from Northern Mexico — where a lot of people emigrated from Spain — and were ranchers and musicians. My mom’s side of the family is from Southern Mexico with Mexican-Indian lineage, and they were teachers and engineers. I’m proud to have grown up experiencing both cultures; seeing these different examples influenced my decision to become an engineer.
Would you say your heritage influences the way you approach your role?
Most definitely. My parents moved us to this country for the vast opportunities and access to education, and I strive to make them proud and serve as a good role model to my son. When it comes to decision making, I am very analytical. I talk things out and am good at collaborating. The culture in Mexico is not to do things alone, but as a country, always believing any goal is achievable. Ranching, for example, takes the strength of an army. Encouraging people to work together and strive toward a common goal is something I credit to my Hispanic heritage and family lineage.
What advice would you give to young professionals who are looking to get into the engineering space?
I advise younger professionals to not be shy or count yourself out before you even try. You have to be active in pursuing available opportunities. When you’re in college, join clubs and compete in academic competitions. Don't underestimate the power of networking. I’ve made many connections through past employers and colleagues, which has helped me grow in my career; it’s a small world. My advice is to meet people, don’t be shy and take every opportunity available to you. Always remember “Si se puede” which translates to “yes you can!”