Landed a position at Glencore straight out of Uni - Now how do I become a trader?

Hey guys I'm new to this forum. After terribly failing at my interview with Trafigura for their 'New Grad' program (they asked some ridiculous questions) I decided to not give up and eventually got an interview with Glencore. The role I secured is a "Trading Assistant" for their copper department. I was wondering now, what's the best way to move up the ladder and secure a trader role (with a P&L attached to me) or if not that, what would the next best position be to aim for? I have heard a scheduler role is pretty good?. I would appreciate everyone's insight on this as many of my relatives/friends have no clue about physical trading houses and their career paths.. almost seems like the majority of people are clueless when it comes to commodity trading.. 

Comments (25)

Dec 26, 2021 - 5:57am

Scheduling is a more typical energy (O&G/power) term. In metals/minerals we generally call them operators performing a traffic or trading operation function. Trading assistant is essentially a traffic function.

Becoming a trader isn't checking a box or working your way up a ladder, but having the correct attitude and entrepreneurial flair along with a solid grasp of the markets. Therefore I'd suggest instead of focusing on how quickly you can get into a trader position and get a 'PnL', take your time and learn as much as you can in a junior role and ask the right questions.

Dec 27, 2021 - 8:52pm

Well on my hand , I've only worked at an Ag Phys trading desk and i know that the last 2 traffic operators we had are now junior trader 

So for what it's worth , I guess it can be a good position to learn the business 

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Comm
Dec 26, 2021 - 11:20am

I feel like doing BB S&T first and then laterally is the more tried/tested role as you lateral directly into a trading position; as the pathway to BB S&T is well documented most probably know the route from there. Although, the internal move is definitely doable so I'd recommend you contact people at your firm who did it and network with them.

Dec 26, 2021 - 3:51pm

Generally speaking, trader's assistant gives you the most opportunity since you're working directly with the traders (ie your future bosses). As you build your reputation and the better you are at your job, the more likely they'll give you a chance. As for schedulers, do research on this. How many former schedulers went on to become traders at Glencore? LinkedIn is a good tool for this. What type of questions were you asked at Trafigura, why did you consider them ridiculous? 

Dec 27, 2021 - 2:20am

Initially my goal was to become an LP scheduler at a midstream company here in Canada however after speaking with the management, I came to find out that any opening for that role within a company is always backlogged with employees. I still would not mind that route but I am sort of afraid that I might become too "niche". As far as the trafigura interview goes, here are a few questions they asked me (I will be honest I should have prepared better before the interview but did not know what to expect/how to prepare) 

1. What are some risks involved with transporting oil from point A to B (they mentioned specific countries)

2. What is the meaning of incoterms?

3. What are the different types of oils? 

4. Barrel of oil costs 30, you can sell it a few days later for 32, would you move forward with the trade? (this question seemed too easy..I thought it was a trick question)

Dec 26, 2021 - 4:03pm

Congrats bro. I know one guy who worked at Glencore right out of their undergrad for 1-year -> took a year off -> and then joined a smaller firm working for an ex -Glencore guy and became a trader after about a year. Not sure what the process is for becoming a trader at Glencore, but at traf, you have to get sponsored by someone within the company to take their trader assessment program where you're competing against other international applicants. 

Most Helpful
  • Trader in S&T - Comm
Dec 26, 2021 - 5:05pm

Start by being a really good traffic person, don't whine about stuff, take on more and more and more responsibility, be really good at it. Find ways to do things better than the last person who was doing it, improve their processes. When things inevitably go wrong, find creative ways to fix them, hopefully not only stopping the bleeding but making money for the company. Build relationships with the traders, pay attention to their phone calls with counterparties, pay attention to what they ascribe value to.

Make your way closer and closer to the P&L generating stuff. Eventually if people like you you will get a shot on a limited scale. It is pure luck (ie people above you quitting) as far as getting a bigger seat, unless you somehow develop a new market or find a niche no one was looking at before (careful here, there are no free lunches. If a company as big as Glencore is not doing something, it is probably not because they just need one more person to do it).

I would not leave after just one year. The biggest players in primary metals are playing a whole different ball game from the smaller guys. If you get P&L for a few years and know the rest of the industry, your value to a firm trying to start a new book or replace their current subpar head of copper is $$$$$.

Dec 27, 2021 - 2:41am

Very insightful and thank you. Apart from the points you've made on becoming a really good traffic person, I was also thinking that educating myself on this industry by reading books like "King of Oil" and "Oil 101" (This book apparently is given to all Trafigura new grads) would also give me an advantage? as opposed to treating this role as just another 9-5 to pay the bills and perform tasks without actually developing a passion for this industry. 

Ps. If you could suggest any other text resources that you think might come in handy I would greatly appreciate it.

  • Trading Assistant in S&T - Comm
Dec 27, 2021 - 5:31am

You have obviously to read "King of Oil', won't give you any hedge because everyone else has already read it, but it is such a great book so go for it. Oil 101 is a pain in the ass, but it is mandatory if you want to know the product you deal with.  

Try to be the more curious you can be, develop your knowledge on every aspect of the physical trade. Try to always focus on the strategic aspect of any trade. In the end, it is only supply and demand so try to broaden your perspective on the whole supply chain involved with your commo. 

BTW why do you think that the questions are Traf were ridiculous? 

  • Trader in S&T - Comm
Dec 27, 2021 - 6:08am

As far as 'advantages' go, read the books but don't expect to get that much ahead from them. Would recommend Metal Men by Copetas as it focuses more on the metals side of that story. There is also The Story of Metal Trading and Philipp Brothers by the Waszkis, but those books will probably not make a ton of sense to you initially, very much written from an insider perspective.

If you want to get P&L, it almost goes without saying you cannot treat this as a 9-5. You should be doing everything you can to learn as much as possible. There just aren't that many resources in metals. The International Copper Industry by John Jessop is the one technical book in your field I can think of but I would look for a pdf (I am long a physical copy, willing to sell at small discount to Amazon's current spot prem).

Dec 27, 2021 - 2:49pm

Great advice above by Trader. But to start out, first off you are basically at the "end game role" there is no worry to try to lateral to a position to get you into trading faster. It will just depend how the firm views you and how the group/talent is currently. Main thing to start out is to not take any task too lightly and communicate quickly with your bosses if you mess something up make sure to speak up and let them know. After a while try to find ways to make their lives easier and possibly automate some tasks. For the first three months just focus on taking it all in and gaining knowledge. I would not even worry till month6 how to move towards generating P&L.

Dec 27, 2021 - 9:43pm

Copper is going to be HUGE for the next decade. A lot of demand (e.g., EVs) and constrained supply (Not enough mines coming online). Good place to be. Will be talking point across a lot of industries as everybody moves towards sustainability. 

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