Career Paths in Ags

Hi all,

I'm currently a Trainee at an ABCD and am fortunate enough to have a few options on the table to advance within both the Merchandising and Commercial Management sides of our business. Those in the former would initially focus on grain origination and byproduct (i.e., feed) sales en route to a role overseeing the full rail/barge position at a major elevator or terminal, while the latter involves managing major assets like crush plants or mills, and I was wondering if anyone else has been in a similar position and what they took into consideration when making a decision on where to go. I really enjoy trading and think a role at The Andersons/Lansing in Overland Park sounds like it would be a great deal if I have the opportunity at some point, but absolutely maximizing my earnings over the long term is my greatest priority, and so I'm willing to do whatever it takes to do that.

I think it may also be worth mentioning that I've developed a respectable level of skill in Python, R and VBA and have been able to use them to both automate internal processes and optimize analysis of correlations between trends like local weather patterns and cash bids.



Comments (4)

Most Helpful
Nov 30, 2021 - 7:52pm

I think you have two options that can lead you to pretty good destinations. I think its important to keep in context that you're still young and this isnt going to be a decision that means you only have to go down the commercial management or merchandising paths, they intersect many times and there will be many future opportunities to jump from one side of the business to the other. (IMO Its kind of weird they're making you choose one way or the other as just a trainee, at both of the ABCDs I have worked for, they value having both experience on the commercial side and merchandising side early in your career.) In the long term, if your goal is to maximize earnings the best thing to do would be pure merchandising and find a spot in a shop that will pay you a % of PnL, but then you live and die by your PnL, and even still there are big differences between running CIF barges for an ABCD and running a cross country book in western Kansas for Lansing in OP. You might make more money running your own truck book, but it takes a different breed of people to succeed in that vs those who can run a CIF book; a lot less Python or R going on in the W KS feeder markets. 

Dec 1, 2021 - 2:16pm

You're the man! I'd buy you a thousand beers for that response.

I really appreciate the insight - I switched careers from CorpFin so I'm in my late 20s, but am hoping the 3-4 year delay won't be an insurmountable hurdle in terms of career growth in this space. It feels like the ABCD that I'm at supports gaining experience on both sides as well, but I wouldn't necessarily say that it's actively encouraged. It sounds like a pure merchandising role at a smaller shop with a more lucrative comp structure is the place to be, it'd just be awesome to find something a bit more interesting than W KS FOB trucking, i.e. SAS or BSW bulk vessel exports or something along those lines.

Have you ever given consideration to moving over to the paper side or have you generally been committed to trading physical markets so far in your career?

Dec 8, 2021 - 3:55pm

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