Breaking the barrier: Keep digging until you understand the why
For International Women’s Day, we approached several senior women in the commodities industry to discuss some of the barriers to women entering leadership roles and the commodities market.
Below, we speak to Chloe Cromarty, Head of US Power and Gas Compliance at Mercuria Energy Trading, Inc.
Chloe Cromarty is a commodity policy expert with the unique perspective of having worked for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a vertically integrated and investor owned utility, an independent power producer, a bank and an energy trading firm.
Chloe is also involved in fundraising for, as well as participating in, a trek to help build the 112th buildOn school in Haiti.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I think the most significant barrier to female leadership is lack of inclusion. So much networking in our industry takes place outside of the office and women are often not included in those networking events, particularly the informal ones. It is important to note that I am not saying women are excluded — it is that we are not included. And this matters, because it isn’t an intentional act. It is not personal. But the end result is the same as it would be if it were an explicit exclusion: if our male colleagues do not include us in outside networking events, we also may not be included in the discussions regarding who the next leader will be. Women still are not naturally considered for inclusion.
What advice would you give to women entering the commodity market?
I want women entering the commodity market to know that they have the opportunity to play on an almost even playing field because of the fights that strong, smart, capable women who came before them fought; that they should walk through the door at work every day as a another smart, capable person; and to not get caught up in ‘being a woman in a male-dominated industry’. Let your ambition be aggressive, but do not be aggressive with people. Know your stuff inside and out so that you can be confident. Be intellectually curious — don’t just know the what — keep digging until you understand the why. Dig into the why on the phone, or standing at the subject matter expert’s desk; the import of your industry relationships, and knowing who to go to with different questions can never be underestimated and you’ll learn more talking to your colleagues in different job functions than you ever will sitting at your desk. And finally, be good to other women in the industry; competing unnecessarily with other women does all of us a great disservice.
What qualities do you look for in individuals you hire?
The three most important qualities I look for in a new hire are: approachability — to be effective in compliance. People need to be willing to come and talk to you before they execute a trade or deal. After-the-fact compliance discussions are always sub-optimal; enthusiasm — you can never know everything there is to know in this industry. Be excited about coming to work, and always be looking for what you can learn next; and intellectual curiosity — as mentioned above, when you seek to understand not just the what, but also the why, you will be more successful.
Read more about how Proco is supporting the #BalanceforBetter campaign here.
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