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Ollie James Akel, BSME 1954
Inducted in 2024

Ollie James Akel, BSME 1954

Ollie James Akel has been a stalwart figure in the global oil and chemical industry, providing years of invaluable expertise and leadership. As a seasoned engineer and executive for 40 years, Akel’s prolific career spanned continents and corporations.

Akel, who earned the rank of Second Lieutenant in the United States Army during service from 1956 to 1958, spent the early years of his career in the aviation industry. He took his first job in 1958 in Columbus, Ohio, as a thermodynamic engineer at North American Aviation, a former air and spacecraft manufacturer. This job led him to Beirut, Lebanon, the following year to work as an engineer for Middle East Airlines, where he remained for over five years. 

1967 marked the beginning of Akel’s illustrious career with Exxon Corporation. From this year through 1980, Akel worked as an engineer in New York, London and Saudi Arabia. Between 1981 and 1988, Akel served as president of the Exxon Chemical, Belgium, Africa and Middle East, headquartered in Brussels. In 1988, he was appointed director of corporate communications at Exxon Chemical International. In 1989, Akel was named president of Exxon Saudi Arabia, headquartered in Riyadh. He made his final move within the multinational corporation in 1993, when he became the president at Exxon Mexicana, in Mexico City. In 1996, he retired. In acknowledgement of his industry successes, Akel was listed as a noteworthy oil company executive by Marquis Who’s Who.

Akel, the son of Lebanese immigrants and a Harlan, Kentucky native, earned the first of his engineering degrees, a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, from the University of Kentucky in 1954. Immediately following, he completed his Master of Science in aeronautical engineering from Rensselaer Polytech Institute in 1955. Later, he expanded his academic accruement and earned a Master of Science in international management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967. 

Like his career, Akel’s philanthropic spirit has also spanned the globe. He has served on the board of United Way in Brussels, on the steering committee for the American Businessmen's Group of Riyadh, on the board of directors for Meals-On Wheels in Greenwich, Connecticut, and was the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico from 1995 to 1996. 

In retirement, Akel has published several books, maintains a blog on current affairs, assists in a number of charitable organizations, and enjoys spending time with his wife of 58 years, Mona, and their three children and four grandchildren.