Career of a Trader

As a teenager I was living in industrial area. I have been seeing long trains, carrying wagons full of coal and huge tankers departing from the port on regular basis. On many occasions I was wondering who are the people buying and selling these huge amounts of commodities. How does the market for commodities look like? How the transport and financing is being organized.

How does it even make sense to ship such huge amounts (hundreds and thousands of tons) of products as widely available as coal on such long distances?

Later when I was studying finance, and as every eager student of finance, reading Financial Times to bed, I noticed the existence of the commodities trading sector, with mysterious privately held companies making headlines from time to time. Big money, exotic locations and colorful characters involved, my curiosity in commodities stemming from early years has been re-sparkled.

I sought my way to enter the sector, starting as an intern trading oil products in off-grid Eastern European town, then joining big names in corporate sector, climbing the corporate ladder and making it as a trader.

The journey was and is rewarding and more importantly still far from ending. Sky is a limit in commodities trading, some of todays biggest trading houses have been started by single individuals, not so long ago.

The aim of Commodities Academy at large is to bring a joy and reward of commodities trading to the wider circles, opening up the prospect of rewarding career path to ones  that may as well not know at all about its existence.

While the goal of this article is to sketch the possible career development and discuss career choices that you will face while entering commodities trading,  providing you with a rough idea of where the life may take you, after you enter this industry.

Until the creation of Commodities Academy, commodities trading could have been learned only on the job. People have been entering trading-path in two ways. Either directly recruited as trading trainees, usually working as seasoned trader’s assistance, observing older colleagues at work and gradually getting more independence and room to operate or through long term process of in-house promotion.

Marc Rich, one of the best commodities traders of all time, reportedly started in mail room of Philipp Brothers. Many of today’s traders started in back office. Some of top trading houses still put promising graduates in traffic (logistics) department as a natural starting point on the path of becoming a trader.

Problem is that it takes a long time and some luck to advance in corporate environment from being in back office or in logistics to finding a place at the trading desk. Trading traineeships on the other hand, that Commodities Academy is aiming to emulate/replace are organized infrequently and only by biggest players in the field in chosen offices.

It is understandable considering how much resources it takes to educate a trader, who can further leave at any time, if better vacancy presents itself at competing company.

Speaking of which, corporate loyalty is an outdated concept in the dynamic world of commodities trading.

Changing for better roles at different companies seems as a great shortcut through corporate ladder. In the end, you do same thing everywhere, generate profit through trading, amassing contacts and know-how as you go. As a football player you change shirts of the teams you are playing for, while the game stays the same.

Our aim is to get you playing in no time. So you can enjoy the game and reap its benefits much quicker than you would following the beaten path.


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