When curiosity meets determination: Keva Powell

keva powell in the freeport, texas plant

Keva Powell works as a Mechanical Integrity Engineer. at BASF's Freeport, Texas site.

Born and raised in the small rural town of Columbia, Louisiana, Keva Powell had a simple, happy upbringing. The “neighborhood child,” as many of the locals called her, spent her time in the outdoors playing, exploring, and letting her curiosity run wild.

From a very early age, she was interested in understanding how everything around her worked and pushing the boundaries. She wanted to become a mechanic, establishing herself within a male-dominated trade and mentoring other women to also consider such a path.

After completing her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Southern University, she joined BASF’s Professional Development Program (PDP) in 2019. Today, she is working in the Freeport, Texas Verbund site.

The power of female influence

From a very early age Keva was surrounded by strong, independent female role models, starting with her mother – her most important guide and supporter. She was the sole provider at home, raising two girls. “There were struggles there. As you get older, you realize that your parents really took on so much. Oftentimes, we reflect and talk about these things, realize what we’ve overcome and how we got to where we are today,” Keva shares.

Her mother was the first in a long line of important female influences, and key to where Keva is today.

But there have been many others: her university “mama,” who provided guidance and much-needed support on campus, and also her BASF supervisors and colleagues who have helped Keva steer her career, find the right opportunities, and continue to grow personally and professionally.

A path of her own

As happens to many college students, Keva struggled to figure out her career path. “I was overworking myself, and I got burnt out, but because it was instilled in me that if I do something, I can do it to the best of my ability and that I can't quit, I kept going.”

After a few years of research and several internships, she finally fell in love. “Four years in, I found my group of like-minded people to whom I could provide direct value, who also pushed me along and kept me level-headed. Everything just clicked,” Keva remembers.

It was at this time that she interned for BASF in a maintenance role, discovering where she “fit in the puzzle” and learning about different areas and responsibilities and how they are connected. This eye-opening experience in a chemical plant showed her the type of work she could be doing, and after graduation, Keva returned to BASF and joined the PDP.

Her assignment manager was key, guiding her personal and professional growth. In Keva’s own words, “She understood and really listened to me. She taught me about networking, my strengths and my weaknesses. I wanted to know how I could develop, and which programs could help me get where I needed to be in my career. She said that I was doing great work, but I needed people to know who I was and what I was doing. So, she told me about FLAME (Female Leaders Advancing Manufacturing Excellence)” which has been very rewarding in terms of learning, networking and personal development.

After completing the PDP, Keva joined the inspection department as a Mechanical Integrity Engineer at BASF’s Freeport, Texas, Verbund site. Her job focuses mainly on inspection activities for the different units, including preparations for audits and ensuring compliance, while also looking for ways to improve and standardize processes. 

Through FLAME I’ve met women who want to see me do great things and be successful. I’ve learned how to build a network, grow professionally and be seen, as well as how to handle different environments and people of diverse backgrounds. And that level of support and advocacy remains extremely valuable to me.


Mechanical Integrity Engineer, BASF.

A single mom in manufacturing

During her first rotation, Keva had a life-changing event that would influence her priorities and work-life balance. Becoming a new mom meant taking a closer look at many aspects of her life, both professionally and personally. “As I was looking for different assignments, I had to be strategic in my selection. I needed to have flexibility and a role that really understood work-life balance. At first, I didn’t want to tell anyone about my personal circumstances. I didn’t want to feel as though I was being judged or using my situation as an excuse, so I kept it to myself,” she recalls.

For Keva, being a single mother and working in the manufacturing industry can be quite challenging. Her days can be intense and can sometimes involve traveling. So, time with family can sometimes be limited.

In her own words, “Being a mother in this industry can be tough: mentally, emotionally, and physically. You have to prove yourself and work twice as hard sometimes. Striking the balance between family and work is the hardest thing. It's a compromise for you as well because you have to be able to be in both places and give it your all. Thankfully, I was surrounded by excellent role models who were willing to share their experiences and learnings in similar circumstances, which made all the difference for me.”

Her support network and involvement in FLAME have been essential to Keva’s success, giving her the tools and knowledge needed to strike an effective balance personally and professionally. Keva also created her own expanded network of support within BASF by joining local Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), including Women in BASF, Parents at BASF, and the African-American Employee Group (AAEG), where she is now site co-chair and national treasurer.

Look at where things are going

Keva’s curiosity and energetic, proactive approach to life and learning have been constant since childhood. Today, that same pull has led her back to school. “My mom has always told me, look at where things are going, not where they are. And I wanted to continue to develop. So, I thought, ‘if I ever did want to step out in a different direction, where would I feel like I could be most successful?’” And the answer is software development.

Keva has accomplished so much, and from the looks of it, her journey is far from over.  



Published on February 7, 2024, by Mariana Licio.

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