Dawn Constantin

Breaking Energy recently caught up with Dawn Constantin, Head of Partnerships & Analytics at BP North America Gas & Power, to find out about her role as an oil & gas trading strategist, and her career progression through such a fast-paced, high-intensity operation.    

BE: Can you describe your current role, responsibilities and what you’re currently working on? 

DC: I serve as Head of Partnerships and Analytics at BP Energy Company and am based in Houston, Texas. I work within BP’s Integrated Supply and Trading (IST) business unit, one of the world’s largest physical traders of oil and gas. Our team works in close partnership with Upstream and Downstream and provides the commercial face for BP’s trading activities.

My team’s job involves analyzing the markets, evaluating the economics of our deals and highlighting potential risks. One of the most exciting parts of my role is getting the company to look at the market from a different perspective. I help BP’s marketing and trading organization look at the bigger picture, three, four or five years ahead. It’s about preparing for the future and generating long-term strategies.

BE: How has the role of women in the energy trading environment changed throughout your career? 

DC: I don’t believe the role of women in the energy trading environment has changed, but I do believe more women in energy trading, especially leadership positions, leads to diverse perspectives and robust business decisions. In addition, more women in leadership roles provides more role models and mentors for younger women starting in the industry, which hopefully motivates the younger generation to choose energy trading as a long-time career. That is the spirit behind BP’s Diversity & Inclusion agenda within IST: encourage diversity of thought and experiences, including women and all groups, to broaden conversations and grow the business. 

BE: What advice would you give young women seeking a career in an energy-related field? What about energy trading specifically? 

DC: I think mentorship for women in energy and IST is very important. Women relate well to each other, and it is valuable when you create a safe space where one can share feelings or concerns. I also think women can learn from women just as well as they can from men. I encourage women to have more than one mentor so they can experience working with individuals with many different styles and approaches. BP provides several formal and informal mentorship opportunities to its employees. 

BE: What has been a career highlight for you? 

DC: One of my career highlights was the first time I delivered a presentation to a group of my industry peers at an external event. Usually, I would build the presentation for my boss to deliver, but the invitation this time was for me to present at the conference. I was thrilled and nervous at the same time. It was one of the biggest professional presentations I had ever given at that point in my career, and it was a turning point for me. I was developing as a subject matter expert and it was my first “visible” moment among my industry peers.

Another highlight was in 2013 when I was selected to present at the University of Oklahoma’s Price College of Business inaugural Women in Leadership Seminar. It was exciting to be recognized as a female leader from BP and have the ability to speak about a topic outside of the typical “market” presentations I usually provided. I talked about my career path and my passion for the advancement of women in the workplace and shared my advice for how to kick off a successful career. It felt really good to tell my story and be an inspiration to the young men and women in the room. 

BE: What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career? 

DC: I have never been a shy person. However, when I entered the workforce and the trading industry as a young female professional I had to learn to be confident and relate to the people I worked with. Admittedly, several of my co-workers at the time were very seasoned males, therefore I had to adapt my style to relate to them and become part of the team. This is where my interests in sports helped – often times on Monday mornings when my male counterparts were discussing the weekend’s hockey, baseball or football games, I could contribute to the conversation because I had watched the same games. You have to be able to speak up for yourself while also advocating and marketing your skill set. I learned to be vocal and promote myself early on in my career and that has been very helpful to me. 

BE: What do you think are the keys to success when working within a trading organization at a global oil & gas company? 

DC: One of the keys to success when working at BP within IST is leveraging your own network. I’ve been able to connect many different individuals across our company, help break down silos, increase communications and ultimately influence our business opportunities. It is also important to know how to communicate efficiently and effectively, especially in IST’s fast-paced environment. It doesn’t do you any good if you have a new business idea or improvement to operations if you cannot communicate it to others and put a plan in action. 

BE: Did you have any female role models that have impacted your career? 

DC: When I first started my career, I admit that I did not have a female role model to look up to in a leadership role. As I was making the transition from university to working life, I relied a lot on my female co-workers to share experiences and lessons learned to help me navigate the corporate world.  In addition, as I was growing my career as an energy market subject matter expert, I was often the lone female in the room at various business meetings. I knew that I worked in a largely male-dominated industry, and I recognized that I would likely have many male bosses and colleagues over my career. I sought male and female mentors both inside and outside of the organization to be my sounding board for questions and career guidance; I have benefited greatly from their advice over the years.

In my leadership role today, I strive to be that role model for younger female employees who are navigating their careers. I believe a good mentor asks many questions but provides few answers, instead leaving the mentee to drive to their own conclusions and determine their way forward. I remember how frustrating it was for me to initially experience that from my mentors, but it is extremely empowering to be introspective at times and work through issues to achieve your goals.

Dawn Constantin has 17 years’ experience in the energy industry, primarily focused on analytics and influencing corporate planning & strategies. Dawn is currently the Head of Partnerships & Analytics at BP North America Gas & Power, based in Houston. 

She spent four years with TransCanada PipeLines in Calgary, Alberta before joining BP. Mrs. Constantin holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University of Nova Scotia (now Dalhousie University).