Emily Santoni said she knew “absolutely nothing about the energy industry 11 years ago.” She had friends who were in the energy space and loved their careers, and she said seeing people who had such passion for the industry piqued her interest.
Early in her career, she faced that challenge and others due to being a woman in a male-dominated industry.
“There were occasional situations when I would be overlooked in a meeting or conversation by a group of men,” she said. “However, I quickly learned how to speak up when I knew I could add value to a conversation and, more importantly, when I should listen. I always saw these challenges as opportunities.”
Today she is chief marketing officer (CMO) with Opportune LLP in Houston. It was an equally challenging road to build the marketing program at her current company.
“At the end of the day, the culture and relationships that exist across the sector will continue to be a source of strength and a mechanism by which the industry will thrive.”
Building the message
“When I started at my current firm, we had very little marketing chops. No brochures. Barely a decent website. Did I know how to build a website? No. Did I know what information to put on the website? No. But what I did know was that I was surrounded by very intelligent people that could share the information I needed to build a strong brand.
“Mistakes were definitely made, but what mattered most was that the management team instilled trust in me early on and allowed me to make mistakes. Firm leaders never told me what to do; instead, they took the time to show me what good looked like. Within a year of joining, we had a refreshed website and were building a marketable brand.”
“Becoming CMO, many may say it is just a title, but for me it meant so much more. As a marketer, I believe that a title gives insight into a person’s story.
“Every woman I have known in leadership has had to deal with difficult conversations and go outside of her comfort zone to get the recognition she believes she deserves. What inspired me to get there was me being raised by an encouraging single father who instilled the belief in me that I was no different or less than one of the guys.”
“The energy industry is full of intelligent and resilient individuals that work hard and have fun. As we all know the energy industry has its ups and downs, but it is the people that bring a special light to even the toughest times.”
Advice for young professionals
“Relationship building in this industry is key. Being likeable and positive is just about as important as any skill set you bring to the table.”
“I have always looked up to people in my firm and those across the industry who have taken stock in me. Most notably, the founder of Opportune LLP and my mentor, David Baggett. He took me under his wing at 24 years old and made sure I always had a seat at the table. If I didn’t understand the subject matter of a meeting, he always made sure to explain it to me in layman’s terms beforehand. When he saw confusion on my face, he would break it down for me afterward. He is and always has been a teacher by nature. He made the most difficult subjects easily understandable. People who are great at their craft have a funny knack for this, and I am lucky to still look to him for mentorship to this day.
“The best advice I have ever received was from my father, ‘Work hard, do the right thing and surround yourself with great people.’ It is incredible how such a simple concept worked out so well for my life and career. I incorporate this mantra into my personal and professional life by putting my best foot forward every day, building trustworthy teams, and spending my time with intelligent and motivating friends, mentors and peers.”
View the full on-demand video interviews featuring this year’s honorees at HartEnergyConferences.com/Women-in-Energy
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