As part of our on-going initiative to support women in commodities, I had the pleasure this month of speaking with Kelly Murray who is the Manager of Asset Trading at NextEra.
Kelly has worked in the commodity industry since graduating in 2003. She has experience across trading, risk and compliance having worked at Shell and currently NextEra where she has been since 2008. Kelly leads a regional team and actually built the trade compliance program that NextEra uses today. Kelly is an inspirational female leader who has spent her whole career in the commodity industry.
Why did you choose this industry?
“Growing up in South Louisiana, this industry kind of chose me. My father was an operator at a refinery in the area, and most of my family and friends worked at either a refinery or chemical plant. So when I started looking for a job coming out of college, the Energy industry was the first place I looked. “
What challenges and highlights have you faced?
“The commodities industry, especially trading, is full of very intelligent, “type A” personalities. I was challenged early on to learn how to adjust my tactics based on who I was working with and to be confident in my abilities and stand up for myself. One of the highlights of my career is helping others see their full potential. I think as a leader, it is crucial to find the best in people and help guide them to shine. I take great pride in my employees’ accomplishments, and I always push them to be their best.”
What advice do you have for women who are moving into leadership roles?
“Stay true to yourself. I think if you lead as your honest self, people will respect you more as they can see what strengths you bring to the table. If you try to be something you are not, people will see through you and question your integrity, and having integrity is integral to being an effective leader.”
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
“From my own experience, I think one of the biggest challenges is being perceived as weak when leading with emotions. While you have to have a level head when leading and not let your emotions get the best of you, I thinking being emotional at times can assist in many challenges faced in the workplace. So while I think this is a potential issue for women in the workplace because our emotions may get misunderstood, I also think it is a huge advantage since women tend to think more emotionally than men and can sympathize better with others.”
Do you have a female mentor in the business?
“This, I think, is actually an interesting story. I grew up in a small town in Louisiana (around 3500 people), and when I got my first job out of college at Shell, my parents were proud and put an article in the local paper. Low and behold, someone from my small town had been working at Shell as a female executive in Finance; her parents saw the newspaper article and told her about me. She reached out to me in my first few days of working and has provided great advice along the way since we not only had being a woman in the energy industry in common, but also grew up in the same small town.”
How do you see the future of women in commodities?
“I think there is tons of potential for women to make a huge difference in commodities. This is an industry that compared to other industries has not changed much. The future of this industry will look very different from today as we continue to find better ways to produce, store, and deliver energy and as the uses of energy continue to change. Having women be a part of this change is crucial to ensure a diversified view is applied to the decisions to come.”
What are your ambitions for the future?
“As a wife and a mother of a 10 and 11 year old, my current ambitions are to ensure a good work life balance, where I continue to excel at work and also take part in activities with my family. Longer term, I want to be a part of the change in this industry, ensuring we are doing our part to sustain our way of life while being environmentally conscience so that many generations to come can still enjoy this wonderful place called Earth.”
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