Robin Pache began his career as a trader at the Paris stock exchange, before curiosity, opportunity and contacts took him to Sucden, the French Sugar trading house. He then set up his own firm, Hermes Commodities SA, a venture that lasted for 8 years. He was General Manager of Mettelmann Trading, further launched a sugar hedge fund in 2006, subsequently joined Agrifert as Sugar Desk Manager and has headed up Alliance Grain Traders (Switzerland) SA since 2014, part of AGT Foods & Ingredients Inc., a leading Canadian global pulse processor, listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
#1-What is the best moment you can remember in your career?
There have been so many, but, for me, the funny moments are always the best. There is one particular episode that springs to mind. It was 1992 and the whole team had been invited to a colleague’s wedding in Brazil. At the same time, the USSR was dissolved and our boss called us in to tell us that instead we would all be leaving for the CIS for 3 weeks without notice.
And so around forty of us found ourselves on a propeller plane. In the days following the dissolution, what had been an empire became several independent states, so we came up against a whole host of problems relating to visas and logistics. After waiting for hours, we eventually arrived at a Stalinist hotel in Baku in the middle of the night, dreaming of comfort and jacuzzi, but the temperature in the rooms was around 5 degrees and no hot water for a shower. We all ended up meeting in the corridor, at which point our colleague Jeremy, turned to us and said: “Disappointed!!!” (Note: see A fish called Wanda…)
#2-If you had to give just one piece of advice to a junior starting his/her career, what would it be?
First of all, I would strongly encourage them to go into the commodities industry. Then it is important to work hard and learn to put your ego to one side. I would also say that, to be a good trader and to be taken seriously, you have to be curious, creative, patient and rigorous in your approach! A rigorous mathematical background, and foreign languages certainly help too.
#3-Do you have a Motto/Lucky charm?
I’ve long been inspired by Steve Jobs. He said that what he did best was passing on his enthusiasm to his staff, which is precisely what I think I have to do in my current role.
#4-What do you enjoy the most in your day to day job?
I think it’s simply working with a team of committed individuals who enjoy what they do, in a stimulating and relaxed environment.
#5-If you had to do it again would you choose the same career path?
Absolutely! I would make exactly the same choices. It’s a brilliant profession to work in, one that’s very rich and varied. You get to do a bit of everything, from consulting to finance, banking, marketing, trading, insurance, logistics, and especially psychology, as interpersonal relations are key in this industry.
It’s a world that is constantly changing, where you have to continually challenge yourself. There’s also the sense that you’re doing a job that is inherently useful.
Traders sometimes suffer from a bad image, but it should be remembered that we are at the fore of the economy, dealing with basic and essential needs.
#6-Where is your favourite place on earth and why?
That’s a tough one… There are so many places, and their charm often lies in the people you meet and the discoveries you make there. I recently fell completely under the spell of Burma – it’s cultural heritage, beauty, history and people. It was a truly mesmerising trip.
#7-How could you qualify your relationship with Ampersand World?
Warm and friendly.