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Championing the courage to do better for the environment: John’s Story

3 March 2021

Reflecting on his 30-year career in environmental compliance and protection, John reflects on how at bp, ensuring sustainability and inclusion are part of the job is nothing new, both at work and in the community

30 years ago, John Wigger joined Amoco as a postgraduate environmental engineer, eager to apply his passion for research to real-world environmental protection challenges. 


After graduating from the University of Missouri with a master’s degree in environmental engineering in 1991, John’s brother, who was a geophysicist for Amoco at the time, suggested he look into a team in Tulsa, Oklahoma, doing innovative groundwater remediation work around “how fuel and chemical spills can cause groundwater contamination problems,” John explains.


Thinking back to what drew him to his first role, John recalls the exciting opportunity to use advancements in technology to investigate contamination. “I really enjoyed the opportunity to leverage my research from graduate school and build computer models that helped me better understand how subsurface contaminants migrate,” he shares. 


After 15 years of managing large-scale clean-up projects in environmental remediation, John maintained a core focus on environmental compliance and risk throughout the next phase of his career at bp. He worked with a specialized team to ensure “our refineries and chemical plants in the US were in compliance with environmental laws.”


Two of John’s most notable projects involved negotiating terms for environmental compliance with water, waste, and air, as well as working with trade associations such as the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers to address industry impacts on clean water issues such as surface water quality.


When describing what made him most proud of his time at bp, John lauds the values of collaboration, diversity, and forward thinking that were integrated into bp’s external work and culture. 


One example of that forward-thinking approach came in 2007, in John’s role as a project manager in the establishment of bp’s Energy & Biosciences Institute: a research consortium with the University of California, Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, aimed at helping the world transition to renewable fuel strategies. 


It’s great to see how the Energy Biosciences Institute was quite aligned and even ahead of its time with bp’s current work to reimagine energy and prioritize carbon neutral aspirations.

In addition to an early commitment to advancing sustainability, John also reflects on bp’s commitments to diversity and inclusion. John fondly recalls his participation in bp Pride, noting how fun and important it was for him to march proudly with bp employees at Chicago’s Pride parades over the past few years. Additionally, John praises bp’s ambitions to advance the number of women and BAME employees in senior positions at the company. “bp was clear about publishing its D&I goals, achievements and most importantly where it still had work to do,” he added.


Publishing goals is important, but when a company can admit where they are lacking and say, ‘here's where we are, here's where we’re trying to go and we're not there yet,’ it shows courage.


When thinking about what he will draw on from his career at bp as he moves into a new professional chapter, John notes his excitement to build on the relationships he has built and cites “the tremendous freedom and independence to do my job the best way I could” during his time at bp as a key source of confidence in his next venture.


Currently, John is Principal Engineer and owner at his consulting firm Cadenza Environmental LLC, which provides environmental compliance risk identification and mitigation for petrochemical facilities. 

The name “Cadenza” is inspired by John’s passion for music. It denotes a virtuosic solo at the end of a musical composition, something with which he’s very familiar with as a guitarist. For John, Cadenza is not only a symbol of his continued commitment to advancing sustainability, but also of a bittersweet end to an outstanding career in environmental protection at bp. 

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