(Adds context, detail)
By Julia Payne
LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Gunvor Group named Muriel Schwab as its new chief financial officer on Wednesday as part of a wider leadership shake-up, making her one of the highest ranking women in oil trading.
“Having conducted an extensive search across the industry, Muriel proved to be the best candidate, with broad experience in commodities finance and a wealth of commercial insight across all continents,” Gunvor Chief Executive Torbjorn Tornqvist said.
The oil industry, and oil trading in particular, has come under scrutiny for some of the lowest representation of women. Panels made up only of men, dubbed “manels” in the media, are still the norm at oil, mining and other commodity events.
Schwab was previously regional head of trade and commodity finance for the Americas at Rabobank in New York and a member of the trade commodity finance management team. She was previously at Gunvor between 2007 and 2014 and has held roles at Taurus Petroleum, Credit Suisse and ING.
Her appointment is part of a wider revamp at the top of Gunvor following weaker profits last year. Schwab will replace Gunvor CFO Jacques Erni by May 1 next year and will also serve on its Executive Committee.
Erni has worked for Gunvor since 2006 and been its CFO since 2013. Gunvor, which says 44 percent of its staff are women, widened its executive committee from seven to nine people at the start of the year. Erni will become an executive director on the company’s board after a transition period.
The trading environment has been harsh for many tradng firms in 2018 after an already lacklustre 2017. Gunvor posted a sharp profit drop last year after investing heavily in building a North American presence.
Schwab will join several other recent high profile top level female appointments this year, including Emma Fitzgerald as CEO of Trafigura’s Puma Energy and Mariam Almaszade as the new CEO of Azerbaijan’s Socar Trading.
And Royal Dutch Shell last year appointed Jessica Uhl as its new CFO. (Reporting by Julia Payne; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Alexander Smith)