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Trafigura is hiring the world’s top traders. Here’s what it takes to get in

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Trafigura is hiring the world’s top traders into jobs offering immediate global mobility, the potential for rapid promotions, and a fast-paced working environment.

The commodity trading and logistics company, which boasts annual revenues of more than US$98bn, has now launched its annual international recruitment drive.

It’s open to candidates with about two to seven years’ experience, both physical traders from commodities houses and paper commodities traders from banks.

“We’re one of the few companies offering jobs in physical trading at this level – the stage just before you define your long-term career,” says Greg Hertault, Head of Talent Acquisition at Trafigura.

While the jobs are in oil and metals trading, candidates don’t need to have specific experience in these fields. “We’re product agnostic in our hiring – you can still apply if you’ve been trading in energy, agriculture or other commodities,” explains Hertault.

You are also likely to move countries as well as products if you join Trafigura.

“You might shift from London to Geneva or from Singapore to Panama, for example,” says Hertault. “You mustn’t just be open to moving internationally, you must actively want it. As a new trader, we could base you in any one of our 67 locations.”

Jose Larocca, Head of  Oil and Petroleum Products Trading at Trafigura, agrees: “Anyone looking to join needs to be motivated to travel to help identify and maximise opportunities for the company. We employ some of the most ambitious, driven and loyal traders from every corner of the globe.”

Hertault says Trafigura doesn’t have headcount targets for its hiring campaign and is focused instead on “finding the best people globally and putting them into lean, efficient teams where they have the chance to make a significant impact.”

So who does Trafigura want to hire?

“We want people with trading experience, but more importantly they must show the potential ability to go the extra mile for clients,” says Hertault. “We want to hire highly motivated people who have shown they can trade successfully, but are still energised and open to learning new skills.”

New joiners must also be able to meet the demands of Trafigura’s working culture.

“We are where you come to accelerate your career once you’ve been in trading for a few years. You’ll work hard, but we’ll offer you better infrastructure than many of our competitors” says Hertault.

Your earnings potential is high as a Trafigura trader, as are your opportunities for promotion, he says.  “You can land important new responsibilities within a year or two of joining. Everyone can step up if they perform.”

This is partly because Trafigura doesn’t “stifle” staff with the complex hierarchies typically found in large banks, says Hertault.

“The environment at Trafigura is unique and entrepreneurial – characterised by a flat management structure, strong collaboration and support, and individual and team ambition,” adds Larocca, who joined Trafigura in 1994 as one of its earliest employees. “We have an exceptionally driven culture, where success is rewarded and performance is recognised.”

Physical traders from other commodities houses typically enjoy moving to Trafigura because it provides them with a “more competitive” platform, says Hertault. “We’ll push you harder and give you wider exposure to new products and markets.”

But to cut the mustard at Trafigura you also need strong communication skills.

“As a physical trader here you develop relationships with clients and add value for them – that’s one of the critical things that differentiates us,” says Hertault. “So if you’re a candidate from a paper-trading background, we assess whether you have the relationship-building skills needed to make the transition.”

How does Trafigura make sure its new traders are the right fit?

“During the interview process we spend as much time as possible, up to 30 hours, with each shortlisted candidate. You’ll have face-to-face meetings in different locations with our traders, heads of books, and board members,” says Hertault.

“It’s important to demonstrate your technical skills during interviews, but you also need to show your personality and geo-political awareness. We’re trading real products in the real world.”

If you are lacking experience in physical trading, you might initially spend a short time on the deals desk to learn the company’s systems. But you will then go straight onto the trading desk to generate your own P&L.

“We have open trading floors where knowledge is easily shared across the floor,” says Hertault. “We’re not a large company headcount-wise – even our main offices only have 200 to 500 employees – so we need people who can work closely with teammates and solve problems together.”

The fact that Trafigura has been profitable every year since its inception in 1993 is a major drawcard for attracting and retaining elite traders.

Larocca, who is based in Geneva, Trafigura’s European trading hub, explains: “I’ve worked for Trafigura almost from the start. During this time I’ve seen it grow to become a Fortune Global 500 company, with recent years producing some of the best results achieved to date.”

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