Oct. 19, 2022

Haskayne student goes from top rookie to winner of bp Canada Trading Competition

Why extracurriculars are important, what gives Tara Jindal a winning edge, and why other women should try trading
Participants in the 2022 bp Canada Trading Competition that was held on October 1, 2022
Participants in the 2022 bp Canada Trading Competition that was held on October 1, 2022. Pamela Aranas for Haskayne School of Business

Tara Jindal got involved in the bp Canada Trading Competition with a nudge from her brother and earned the title of top rookie in 2021. This year, she was top trader — the first time a female trader has won the competition since it started in 2012.

The bp Canada Trading Competition, generously sponsored by bp Canada since 2012, is the only hands-on energy-trading event of its kind in Western Canada. The simulation — and the training sessions leading up to competition day, led by George Hart, lab co-ordinator at the Haskayne School of Business — are designed to make the experience welcoming for students across campus.

The majority of the 37 students this year were both graduate and undergraduate students from Haskayne with other students coming from math, computer science and economics. Mayankjot Singh was the top rookie for 2022. Tara Jindal and Elissa Field were the only female competitors.

Jindal shares why it is important to get involved with experiential opportunities, what gives her the winning edge and why others should get involved.

What made you decide to get involved with the bp trading competition?

My brother Dhruv Jindal introduced me to the trading program as an extracurricular when I was in my first year. As a first year, trading was an abstract concept to me as I had no previous exposure to it. However, after learning the different cases and understanding how the software works, I started to build an interest in trading.

I enjoyed how energy was integrated into the trading cases and I found myself learning more about the energy industry. It was an extracurricular that genuinely did not feel like work/academic and was purely a fun and interesting activity to engage in.

Last year you were the top rookie. Tell us about that experience

Last year, the competition was online over Zoom, but it was still a fun and a memorable experience. I got a chance to hear industry professionals talk about their work and learn about trading as a career. George (Hart) and other veterans of the competition helped guide and teach me which helped me win top rookie. Because of my positive experience with the competition last year, I wanted to do it again and I have noticed each time I partake in the bp competition, I learn more about trading and the energy industry.

What did you do to prepare for your win this year?

I attended the trading practices to practise the four cases (Price Discovery, Oil, Contango, and Natural Gas). Overall, I heavily practised cases such as natural gas that were challenging and more involved when more traders join the simulation. When practising at home, you know exactly what is going to happen; however, during competition, things can change quickly and not in the way you originally anticipated. I took insights from alumni of the competition and trading program to develop efficient trading strategies. 

Do you think you have any skills or background that make you particularly suited to trading?

From a student’s perspective, I think I am curious about trading and am willing to work hard to cultivate the technical and analytical skills required. I think if you are interested enough and have a strong work ethic, those are foundational requirements for anything.

Trading as a professional versus as a student has its discrepancies and I think I have a long way to go before I have the right skill set and experience, but it is something I hope to keep working toward throughout my involvement in the trading competition. I think George does a fantastic job in introducing the cases to newcomers and even students with no prior experience find that they learn a lot and are often surprised how interesting trading can be.

Has the opportunity to be involved in the bp trading competition changed any school or career directions for you?

One hundred per cent. If it wasn’t for the bp trading competition and the trading program here at the university, I would have no knowledge about the profession or what trading even means. It is not a subject that is touched on in our business classes so extracurriculars like these are extremely important to cultivate interest and passion for different career opportunities.

The competition provides networking opportunities to students which is critical in developing a career in the future and I am hoping to join the RITC (Rotman International Trading Competition) team again this year to continue exploring trading.

Do you have any role models in the trading world?

My brother has been a strong role model as he first introduced me to trading. He urged me not only because trading is an interesting topic, but also because he felt that there was a lack of female students in the trading program and something had to be done about it.

George, the leader of the program has been incredibly welcoming. As a student who knew almost nothing about trading when I first started, I was nervous about competing in the competition, but he was very welcoming to new inexperienced students and his dedication to the program has played a big role in why I want to continue with trading.

Lastly, the older students and alumni of the program have been role models for me. They are more experienced and knowledgeable and for them to share that with me has been incredibly valuable.

There are usually more male traders than female traders. What has your experience been as a female trader in the competition? In training?

I have never felt like an outcast or felt like I don’t belong in the competition. Everyone from George to my brother and other students have been very encouraging and even pushed for my success. I find that being one of the few females that were in the competition gives me motivation to do my best rather than intimidate me.

It’s an empowering feeling to be the only female to ever win the competition and I hope and wish more females may see this and take the initiative to come out and trade. My goal is to introduce more females to the competition next year.

The bp Canada Trading Competition is an annual event each fall. The event happens early in the academic year, allowing for veteran and new traders to practise toward earning a spot on the UCalgary team for the Rotman Trading Competition hosted by the University of Toronto. Students who wish to get involved in the 2023 event can reach out to Hart to be added to a mailing list for the next competition.