Tell us about your career journey since you graduated…
I joined Cargill in 1985; a global commodity trading company. I worked for Cargill for 20 years in various trading and asset management roles in the UK, Switzerland and Germany. In 2005 I moved to Singapore and joined Noble Group as Managing Director for the grain business in Asia. From 2006-2010 I moved into investment banking with commodity trading roles at Merrill Lynch and Barclays Capital. In 2010 I invested in RCMA Group and became global CEO for a rubber trading business, based in Singapore. We expanded into coffee, cotton, sugar, electricity, oil and oilseeds.
What does an average day at work involve for you?
As with many jobs, the typical work day is meetings, phone calls, managing emails and market information and being available to our global teams for 15-20 hours each day. Our business is currently involved in cotton, sugar and coffee trading on a global basis so follows global market inputs. We also have an electricity retail business in Singapore which has a more local focus. The asset businesses we own are crude oil production in Australia and rapeseed processing in the UK, which again have a more local focus with more operational concerns.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
I have enjoyed all my jobs. My role as CEO of RCMA Group has been the highlight. I have had the opportunity to lead global teams in many different products and businesses. We have been able to grow the business and change strategy, with good timing to exit the original rubber business. We have outperformed most competitors in a challenging market environment in the commodity sector.
How would you say Brunel helped you to get where you are today?
At Brunel I was sponsored by BP and I also spent a lot of my spare time playing sports. The BP work experience was invaluable to get me started on a career and quickly taking responsibility. The experience of playing and leading competitive sports, plus the team ethic at Brunel in the 1980s, has also been a key factor in my success. When recruiting young graduates I look for people that have played competitive team sports.
Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?
I chose to study at Brunel because it was the only university where BP would sponsor placement students in my preferred degree discipline of Mathematics. I was very keen to gain work experience while studying and worked in London, Aberdeen and Harlow. I also had the opportunity to work in the US as a Soccer Coach which came through representing Brunel and UAU.
What is your best memory of studying here?
I particularly enjoyed participating in sports, captaining the Football team for 3 years any playing for English UAU. We had some memorable trips to many other universities in the UK and overseas tours to Malta and Paris. I also played cricket for Brunel and participated in the annual ‘ring road dash.’ Through the sports teams I made my closest friends at university and we are still in regular contact now.
If you could give one piece of advice to new students, what would that be?
Try to find a job or career that you enjoy and work with people you like. You spend a lot of time occupied with your career and will likely have to make decisions to move locations to develop your career. It is important that you are doing something you enjoy and associating with people you like.
What would be your top tip or advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey?
Managing a career is like playing for a sports team. You will have wins and losses, promotions and relegations that you need to manage - enjoy the wins and learn how to live with the losses. You will always be able to find a level or standard that allows you to compete - the most important factor is to enjoy the game.