What is your background in few words and what triggered the launching of Ampersand World?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in International Business, a Master’s degree in Management and Personal Development as well as a Diploma in Digital Strategy (web marketing). I am also just coming to the end of a coaching course, so will be a Business Coach by the end of the year! I have more than 15 years of professional experience in the shipping, trading and recruitment sectors.
My aim in founding Ampersand World was to provide a relevant, more tailored response to recruitment and training needs within the commodity sector – a business-oriented approach that reflects my own personality. When I first became a manager, I quickly discovered the difficulties involved in finding good candidates to support me with my projects and challenges. There aren’t many courses out there and few really prepare students for the challenges of the real-life working environment. When I had the opportunity to become more involved in the world of recruitment, I was keen to build an organisation that was in line with our industry and that could keep pace with it. We are specialists in the field and we speak the same language as our clients.
What lessons have you learned since founding Ampersand World 5 years ago (at the personal, business and organisational levels)?
Being an entrepreneur brings up new challenges every day. I launched into this venture enthusiastically full of optimism and determination, but without any real notion of what lay ahead. In practical terms, it’s turned my life upside down. Working for hundreds of clients, managing tens of thousands of applications as personally and professionally as possible and running a business, with all the economic and organisational surprises and conjecture that brings… It’s like climbing Everest! I’ve learned to organise myself efficiently, to surround myself with the right people and to trust those to whom I delegate responsibility. My job satisfaction comes from ensuring our clients’ satisfaction. In our profession, you have to have a sense of humility. Even if you’ve got the best candidates and intentions, fate and business have a habit of creeping into your best-laid recruitment plans. Our work can be intense but we love it and it’s this that drives us to do better every day as we tackle the challenges of entrepreneurship.
Geneva is becoming a hub for commodity trading and is attracting a growing number of candidates, particularly those with a background in banking. In light of this new situation, have you developed a different approach towards such candidates?
The labour market in Geneva is pragmatic. The massive changes taking place throughout the finance sector are encouraging former bankers to turn to the world of commodities and in general I would say that’s a good thing. The market is transforming at breakneck speed and the finance models that were used before the economic crisis have become outdated. Some trading firms are adapting by bringing activities that used to be done by banks in-house, so they need these new candidates. However, few bankers realise that working for these trading or commodity firms is completely different from what they did before. This is why we provide them with tailored support, for example, through our themed TradeLab® training workshops, where they have the opportunity to get to grips with the specific features and working environment of the trading sector under the guidance of leading professionals.
At a time when digital technologies are central to the recruitment process, how have you diversified your corporate presence to attract candidates?
Digital technologies are in Ampersand World’s DNA. Our philosophy is to be as close as possible to talent within our sector so that every individual, wherever they may be, has access to the latest news about our industry and is able to change their own situation if they so wish. Our approach is simple: we are active on most social networks and engage with our community in a way that suits each particular platform. The information we put on our professional networks is geared towards business, management and recruitment, whereas our social media accounts are a mix of company life and tips of all kinds (including on branding, management, career development and well-being at work). Here at Ampersand World, we like to navigate between these two worlds.
In your view, what 3 key skills must candidates have if they want to work in trading and why?
If I had to choose just 3 universal skills, I would have to say (1) an understanding of international business, (2) the ability to be nimble thus reacting and adapting quickly to different situations and (3) having your finger on the pulse of the profession.
Today, Ampersand World organises dozens of events that bring together hundreds of people. What are your plans for the future?
We always love sharing special occasions with our partners and the talented individuals we meet. A lot of work and energy goes into organising these events, but it’s always hugely rewarding. Our aim is to make these events truly unforgettable experiences for the commodity trading community. We recently introduced a different kind of conference at Ampersand World’s annual cocktail dinner and the feedback has been really positive, so the future holds plenty of surprises!
“The future holds plenty of surprises”
What regular meetings do you hold to cultivate team spirit at Ampersand World?
I have a habit of comparing Ampersand World to a sports team! Our office is open-plan and we often work in teams of two or three on a particular task. The whole team meets every week to discuss a key internal issue linked to the market, to our clients and that reunites the entire team. We each have our own personal and team objectives that bind us together, but we always celebrate Ampersand World’s achievements – big or small – together. It’s a fast-paced working environment and there’s never a dull moment, so we relax by arranging team activities just for us. You must also know that we are excellent at event planning!
What do you make of the company who sent their Head of HR onto the Paris metro in search of candidates?
It’s the future of recruitment! The time when HR managers could work from their desks, without being connected to the world or even to the realities of their industry, is gone. Talented individuals are looking for innovative companies that are in tune with the times. Every day we see how having a close relationship between business and HR service providers helps companies to grow. There are two types of companies: those that prioritise developing the talented individuals who work for them and the rest. We only work with the first kind.
What will the recruitment agency of the future look like? Which do you think will stand out from the competition?
Soon companies won’t need providers to simply act as intermediaries between them and candidates – they have the Internet for that. Although ‘CV churner’ agencies do still exist, their days are numbered. The added value that recruitment agencies will offer in the future will lie in their ability to select candidates effectively and their in-depth knowledge of the profession and its stakeholders. They will sit at the heart of a company’s structure, offering advice and proactively going out and finding candidates before companies even realise they need them. At Ampersand World, this is exactly how we are positioning ourselves as a true ‘business partner’. We help our clients to exploit their potential by independently selecting candidates who share their philosophy and ambitions. Our strength lies in our understanding of their precise needs, that we are extremely well connected to the economic fabric upon which our industry is built and lastly but crucially, the fact that we have the time to deeply analyse the profiles of the talented individuals we meet. The service we offer is our expertise, allowing our clients to focus on their own business and leave us to it. Our goal is to bring the best candidates to the negotiating table with them. This human element brings enormous added value, one which we are not prepared to substitute or have replaced any time soon.
Do you have a quote that inspires you?
‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.’ Oscar Wilde or ‘If you really want something, and really work hard, and take advantage of opportunities, and never give up, you will find a way.’ Jane Goodall
There are many quotes that I find inspiring.
What is your favourite commodity? Or, put another way, if you were a commodity, which would you be and why?
I like many commodities for a variety of reasons. The people who specialise in each of these commodities are just as diverse and interesting.
Having said that, I’m a big fan of coffee – its colour, consistency and strength can be adapted and change over time and in different situations. Coffee in itself is a world of surprises; it knows how to make us feel good. Sharing a coffee brings about friendly, warm, and convivial moments. Coffee creates a universe all by itself, often expected and welcome.