Darren W. Woods, 51, currently president of ExxonMobil Corp., will succeed Rex W. Tillerson as chairman and CEO effective Jan. 1, the board announced Wednesday, one day after Tillerson was nominated by President-elect Trump to become secretary of state.

Woods, whose forte is in refining and chemicals, was considered the front-runner for the job after he became president and was elected to the board in January — the same path Tillerson had taken before he assumed the post. The Wichita native joined Exxon Company International in 1992, and he has held various senior domestic and international positions in ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co., ExxonMobil Chemical Co. and Exxon Company International. He also served as manager of investor relations.

Tillerson, a 41-year employee who became the chief 10 years ago, was congratulated by the board on his selection as the nation’s top diplomat.

“He led the company with integrity and honor, ensuring that safety and environmental protection were at the forefront of everything we do, generating value for shareholders and highlighting the impressive accomplishments of the company’s diverse workforce throughout the world,” board members said. “We know that his service to the nation as secretary of state will be equally successful and distinguished.”

Tillerson was scheduled to retire in March when he reached 65, the company’s mandatory retirement age for his position.

“After consideration, Tillerson concluded, and the board agreed, that given the significant requirements associated with the confirmation process, it was appropriate to move the retirement date,” the board said.

Four years ago Woods became president of the refining arm and was made vice president of the corporation. As the refining chief, Woods primarily was responsible for global operations, including transportation activities. Two years ago he was named a senior vice president of the corporation and a member of the management committee.

The Texas A&M University graduate earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, as well as a master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

With Tillerson’s retirement, the board now is comprised of 12 directors, 11 of whom are not employees.