My Story So Far - Oil

Hello everyone,

It has been a while since I last posted on here, but I think some of the older users on here may remember me. I figured I would fill you in on everything that's gone on in my life since I last posted.

Well, to make a long story short, I'm a junior at Wharton now. I know that in the past I've said that I've wanted to pursue a whole host of different career paths and what a journey it has been. My interest has swayed as my knowledge about the industry has grown (largely thanks to this site and users like you). First it was banking, then it was being Schwarzmann's right hand man at Blackstone, entrepreneurship followed, then equities in dallas, options trading was next in line, that lead to quant trading (until I realized that I was not Rainman), and now, and finally I hope, I have settled on oil trading. Whatever people say about me, you can't fault me for not having dreamed.

I realized that my mistake was that I had always just gone for the next 'big thing', the shiny firm that everyone at Wharton or WSO was talking about (but knew nothing about), and that paid the most. That's changed, I've realized that to be truly successful, whether it's in running a Burger King joint that turns into several and makes you millions, or being a top notch fuel oil trader, you actually have to have a legitimate interest in the field that you are pursuing, or you'll always just paddle along to stay afloat. One of my mentors told me that if you can still say that you're doing your dream job after receiving a 50% pay cut, you're in the right profession.

So that's more or less what I've done. I looked back at all the jobs that I desired at one point, and realized that I really wouldn't be happy doing any of them - some more than others, even if the payed me double, until I found oil trading that I think suits me perfectly. I've always been a people person - my nickname in school was and is bromar - a play on my name, so I figured that a job where I had contact with people, even if it was just shouting an order on a phone for two seconds, was essential.

Furthermore, it is obvious that solving the energy crisis will be crucial over the next 50 years, while I am not intelligent enough to be an engineer and actually do that, being involved in the industry and helping pricing oil correctly to help efficiently distribute it is contribution enough for me. If something better does come along 20 years down the line, having worked in the industry will help me capitalize on whatever it is. In short, it's a very exciting time to be in the industry.

I've also lived in oil producing regions all of my life (from Saudi Arabia, to Brunei, to Malaysia, and I have roots in Uganda which is now an oil producer, and the US which is both a producer and a consumer) so an interest in oil grew naturally on me. I've witnessed first hand the massive impact gyrating prices can have on oil producing countries, the benefits oil has brought those countries, and the squandered opportunities and the curse of oil in those same countries. Oil prices always seemed completely arbitrary to me, I always wondered what drove them, and so I endeavored to find out.

I figured that in the long run situation of a tightening supply, little if any excess capacity, and increasing demand, supply disruptions would have an even greater impact on prices than they have previously. The ability to predict them by understanding the politics of the region shall be an immense tool going forward, particularly given the volatility of a market that I suspect shall become even more volatile going forward.

I realized that I had a unique advantage because I understood the nuances of the politics in these regions, something you only gain by living there. I spent time interning with Malaysia's opposition leader and Saudi Industry leaders and went out of my way to meet and talk to Nigerian politicians (which recently paid off, but I'll get into that later). I had to work for free and live in abject poverty for months at a time, but I believe my efforts were worth it. In all honestly, I only worked for the politicians because I got rejected for every single Wall street job I have ever applied to, but I made the best of a bad situation and hopefully it will pay off soon.

Crucially, I have realized that oil trading, at least from the little that I understand of it, feels more like a hobby than a job. I'm sure I have rose tinted glasses on and the nitty gritty of oil trading is probably a lot more tedious than I assume, but regardless, I feel that I will enjoy it. I actually enjoy reading about oil. I've read Morgan Downey and some other texts, and I still find the whole industry fascinating. I've been proactive and networked my way into a job at Nigeria's National Petroleum Company for this August where I will hopefully learn a lot about the industry and set myself up for recruiting next year.

So that's where things stand. I've been reading everything I can to learn more about the industry and getting my applications ready for next year. I'm hoping that I'll land a gig in London (as I am a major Chelsea fan and have a lot of friends there) or America, but in all likelihood the choice will be made for me. I'm looking forward to a wonderful recruiting season and I hope for all the best. Thank you everyone here that's guided me on this path (and if you can guide me a little more, that will be appreciated).

I know this piece may come off as sounding self-congratulatory, but that's not my intention. I am well aware of the fact that I have still achieved nothing. I am not an oil trader yet and despite my best efforts, I know comparatively little about the field. I am still unemployed and I am scared silly about getting a job come recruiting season next year, but I just felt like telling my story.

Aubrey Drake Graham, a great philosopher in his own right, once said that you only live once, and that's precisely what I plan on doing: living doing something I love.

http://www.razume.com/documents/27204

Comments (16)

Best Response
Aug 3, 2012 - 12:15am
Urban Guerrilla, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You remind me of me when I was younger..I had the exact same attitude, but had no idea what I was getting myself into...I was stubborn and resilient -- needless to say, I got to where I am because of my attitude and willingness to learn. This relates to you because you have the right attitude -- to want to commit to a particular field of study and commodity and be the best you can be. The one thing I would like to stress is your flexibility. If I were you, I would NOT put yourself in a box focused on oil -- I would also keep your mind open to gas, power, alternative fuels, and any number of other commodities out there (from coffee, sugar, or soybeans) Most kids that come into the industry slowly figure out what physical trading is and is not -- at which point the majority of them do not have the patience or endurance to want to go the extra mile -- put in the extra work -- to eventually trade oil and handle a large book for the company. If you have any questions, PM me.

Aug 3, 2012 - 12:47am
trailmix8, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What a great post, I feel the same way. I've always wanted to try to get the next job for the money, but as I get older I totally want to do something in an industry that reflects my interests (Energy as well as Aerospace and Defence). I am currently reading energy trading and Investing and am loving the book, I did not know a lot of the detail regarding electricity, power, and just the majority of the physical commodity arena in general.

monyet:
Furthermore, it is obvious that solving the energy crisis will be crucial over the next 50 years, while I am not intelligent enough to be an engineer and actually do that, being involved in the industry and helping pricing oil correctly to help efficiently distribute it is contribution enough for me. If something better does come along 20 years down the line, having worked in the industry will help me capitalize on whatever it is. In short, it's a very exciting time to be in the industry. .

I also feel the same way about what you say here. When acquaintances (outside of finance) say that the majority of finance employees do not add anything to society, I often use the example I have quoted from you, saying that the energy landscape will change during our lifetime and I want to be in a position to help the world's societies have access to efficient, clean, and affordable energy. Etc.

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Aug 3, 2012 - 2:43am
Cola Coca, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"Ladies and gentlemen...I've traveled over half our state to be here tonight. I couldn't get away sooner because my new well was coming in at Coyote Hills and I had to see about it. That well is now flowing at two thousand barrels and it's paying me an income of five thousand dollars a week. I have two others drilling and I have sixteen producing at Antelope.

So, ladies and gentlemen... if I say I'm an oil man you will agree.

You have a great chance here, but bear in mind, you can lose it all if you're not careful. Out of all men that beg for a chance to drill your lots, maybe one in twenty will be oilmen; the rest will be speculators-that's men trying to get between you and the oilmen-to get some of the money that ought by rights come to you. Even if you find one that has money, and means to drill, he'll maybe know nothing about drilling and he'll have to hire out the job on contract, and then you're depending on a contractor that's trying to rush the job through so he can get another contract just as quick as he can. This is...the way that this works."

tl;dr - hey, look everyone, it's Daniel Plainview from "There Will Be Blood".

Aug 3, 2012 - 8:07am
Imperialian, what's your opinion? Comment below:
monyet:

Furthermore, it is obvious that solving the energy crisis will be crucial over the next 50 years, while I am not intelligent enough to be an engineer and actually do that, being involved in the industry and helping pricing oil correctly to help efficiently distribute it is contribution enough for me.

Don't be stupid and idealistic. an oil trader does not help to solve the energy crisis. an oil trader is a selfish person who cares only how much his trades will make him and how much bonus he can get because of that. If there is a chance to arbitrage and exploit inefficiencies, he will do that. If you are a damn big player, you can even corner the market and keep prices up or down artifically.

Aug 14, 2012 - 7:34am
monyet, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Imperialian:
monyet:

Furthermore, it is obvious that solving the energy crisis will be crucial over the next 50 years, while I am not intelligent enough to be an engineer and actually do that, being involved in the industry and helping pricing oil correctly to help efficiently distribute it is contribution enough for me.

Don't be stupid and idealistic. an oil trader does not help to solve the energy crisis. an oil trader is a selfish person who cares only how much his trades will make him and how much bonus he can get because of that. If there is a chance to arbitrage and exploit inefficiencies, he will do that. If you are a damn big player, you can even corner the market and keep prices up or down artifically.

"If there is a chance to arbitrage and exploit inefficiencies, he will do that" isn't that precisely what makes the markets more efficient?

Aug 3, 2012 - 10:22am
Senvik, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Good on you man! If I may make a suggestion - read more. I am the same exact way as you- I settled in different fields 15 times before I even finished freshman year. Just keep reading about everything you can get your hands on that you're even remotely interested in. Expand your interest base so you can better narrow down if oil trading is actually right for you (you will probably expand/change it later). I wish you the best of luck.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." - IlliniProgrammer
  • 1
Aug 3, 2012 - 11:42am
eurokopek, what's your opinion? Comment below:

That's a 90-degree turn in your plans, I hope in 5 more years it will not be a 180 degrees with you being an islamic finance expert throwing monkey shit at anyone who mentions interest (riba)

gz though

Aug 3, 2012 - 11:53am
SirTradesaLot, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You need to chill a little bit. Appreciate the enthusiasm and I'm sure you'll do fine, but life will not turn out exactly as you plan. Keep an open mind, it's fine to want to do trading, but honestly, if you couldn't find a job trading oil and could get a job trading, say converts or ETFs, of course you would take it

I agree with the person who said to print this out and read it in 5 years. You will be surprised.

Aug 3, 2012 - 12:26pm
monyet, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the advice everyone, it is well received and appreciated. I never said that I'm only going to do oil trading or that its my only path (there are tons of commodities - and other products- out there that I know little about), and I'm open to everything and will apply broadly and see what comes up. I just figured that out of all the option out there, oil seems like it would suit me best, so I focused my energy on making sure that I stand out from the crowd in at least one field and I have built my profile around it. I can't study everything in the detail that I am attempting to study oil in time for recruiting, so I have to pick.

Aug 3, 2012 - 12:20pm
TheMilkman, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How does this get front paged?

Congrats to you for finding something that your passionate about but, what is the point of this, are you looking for advice or someone to critique your plan?

DLJ Analyst Class '96
Aug 3, 2012 - 7:27pm
tdswim, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Urban Guerrilla:
How do you know oil will suit you best? I would venture to say -- you won't know until you trade it...and a lot of it is the learning curve. If you can keep up with the pace, then you'll be fine.

Regardless of whether or not it will be the most suitable option in the long run, it'll be a whole hell of a lot easier to break in if it's something that he has a good story for and can speak enthusiastically about come interview time.

Aug 3, 2012 - 7:29pm
Urban Guerrilla, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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