Leroy Covington, Jr.

image of Leroy Covington

Air Products
Account Manager


University of Michigan, BSE Chemical Engineering, 2003
North Carolina A&T State University, MS Chemical Engineering, 2005
Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

Career Summary

In my current role, I am accountable for all commercial aspects of the account, including customer service, revenue generation, profitability and resource allocation. I am responsible for the strategic direction, creation and submission of customer project proposals.

My previous experience includes serving as the project engineer for largest air separation unit (by capacity) Air Products has supplied in North America. In this role, I was able to develop significant team leadership skills by co-managing a $120M project and to develop substantial technical acumen as a global plant commissioning and start-up engineer. In this role I was fortunate to travel to destinations I never thought I would visit, including China, Japan, UAE, Qatar and Peru.

As a project development engineer in Air Products’ Cryogenic Systems Division, I led engineering bid and proposal teams to help win new business for the company, including various continuous improvement projects to enhance air separation plant performance, maximize productivity, minimize cost, and eliminate waste from our internal work processes.

What excites you about your career?

I am excited to work with a company where I have the flexibility to experience a variety of different roles and opportunities based on my interests. As a grad student, I read the book “It’s Not Luck” by Eliyahu Goldratt. As an engineer, one of the most foundational themes of the book was this fact, “All for-profit companies are in business to do one thing, that is to make a profit”.

With Air Products and Chemicals, I have had the opportunity to hone my technical skills and develop effective leadership traits. I am excited that I currently contribute directly to my company’s bottom line in support of our mission to be “the safest, most profitable, and most diverse industrial gas company in the world, providing excellent service to our customers.” As a commercial account manager and diversity ambassador I can directly measure my impact. I find it exciting to be apart of helping my company reach and exceed our goals.

Honors and Awards

In October 2017, while participating in a leadership development luncheon, I made a suggestion to our CEO that Air Products add “most diverse” to our corporate goal. A couple days later, I received a call directly from the CEO. He stated that he would be announcing the addition of “most diverse” to our company’s goal during the earnings call to be held the very next day. Helping to influence the positive growth of our company’s diversity and inclusion culture is a career highlight I will never forget.

Time spent at U-M

Overall, my time at U-M was the best 5 years of my life. I learned many valuable lessons about perseverance and choosing to be my own hero, rather than being a victim. I can honestly say that I matured over the course of my time at U-M. I went from staying up late, playing video games, missing classes and finding myself on academic probation for one semester to developing good study habits, finding excellent study partners and eventually making the Dean’s List twice. I am grateful for the relationships I made during undergrad. Many of which I still have to this day.

Many people in my circle couldn’t wait to move off-campus. I enjoyed dorm life and loved the opportunity to live on central campus as an RA at West Quad my last 3 years. Susan Montgomery was a great advisor and coach. I thank her immensely for her support, especially during my sophomore year. I recall the “mini-victory” when a couple friends and I secured great football season tickets by writing a letter to the ticket office with our ticket request forms my senior year.

My worst experience while at Michigan came on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I heard about the first plane while on central campus. I will never forget Susan Montgomery informing our lecture room about the second plane and the subsequent cancelation of classes for the rest of the day. #NEVERFORGET!

Favorite Class
In hindsight, I’d have to say that Chem 130 was my favorite class, because that’s where I met my future wife.

Favorite Student Orgs
I continued active participation in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), building on my 4-year participation in high school. I enjoyed the many leadership development opportunities, comradery and diversity of backgrounds of all the students who were dedicated to one day serve their country in the military. I was mainly involved with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) were I was able to develop socially and further refine leadership and team building skills.

Advice to Students
My advice to students is to think of their college academic career like a job, with the primary goal being to graduate with the highest GPA possible, ethically, legally and morally. Working hard, asking questions, going to office hours, and developing good study habits in the first two years is key. Many more opportunities are available to individuals with a strong academic record. It is a lot easier to maintain a good GPA than it is to try to bring up a poor GPA. I want students to enjoy the experience and everything college has to offer, but don’t forget the goal. I would also encourage students not to be afraid to seek help if needed. I struggled mightily while trying to concentrate on exams during my first 3 semesters. I could not understand why I found myself very “wound up” while simultaneously “freezing” when taking exams, even when I was very comfortable with the material. It took the help student services to help me realize that I had severe test anxiety. Working with their team gave me the tools I needed to remain calm and perform better.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like to spend time recharging with family and friends. My wife (Janicca) and I are very involved in our local church. We have two children, Bella (5) and Maxwell (2) and 2 goldfish. I love keeping up with Michigan sports, especially football and basketball. Most family activities in the fall are planned around the Michigan football schedule…although my wife may have a different opinion about that!