Sébastien Dilan has more than 16 years of experience in liquid chemicals trading and has recently joined Tricon Energy to implement their sulfuric acid desk. Prior to that he was working in the Swiss Packaging Industry when he moved from Paris to Switzerland. Today he will tell us his philosophy working on the ground, meeting producers and receivers, which enabled him to gain extensive experience in products traded over the counter.
#1-What is the best moment you can remember in your career?
I don’t have a single best moment, but rather a series of good ones. Generally speaking, I would say that what is best is getting to shape a new business, which I am currently doing for Tricon. As a trader, you go out in search of a new source or client, and there’s no better feeling than when you’re able to bring all that together and see a positive margin!
There’s also the fulfilment you get from meeting new people. You grow, learn from others and develop relationships with people who help you boost your performance and work more quickly and effectively. Human relationships are a key part of our industry!
And when you’re dealing with people from the 5 continents, you have to develop the ability to adapt; learning and working with all these different cultures is incredibly rewarding!
#2-If you had to give just one piece of advice to a junior starting his/her career, what would it be?
The world of commodities has undergone huge changes. The internet has allowed for more transparency, bringing more players, more competition, hence margins are more difficult to achieve and producers have become traders, in their own right.
Given this evolution and new challenges, whether you work for a producer or a trader makes no difference. I would advise those new to the sector that the most important above all is people you work with. Being aligned with your team and group leaders is for me the most important as it brings strength and as result confidence, key ingredient for success. Tricon Energy is a fabulous example for that.
Also, it’s important to take your time; learn to explore the profession from all angles, be curious and analyse things in depth, know your product before you are willing to trade. Any decisions have consequences and can cause lots of damages if taken too quickly; you need to weigh up the decision and this takes time to learn.
Finally, I would add that it’s important to constantly challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone. You will always meet people who are stronger than you. My advice? Stay alert!
#3-Do you have a Motto/Lucky charm?
In my view, keeping a low profile and show respect and humility is important – don’t overdo it! My father use to say that sometime: talk is silver, silent is gold.
And I’ve always gone by the “two Ps” rule: show patience and perseverance.
#4-What do you enjoy the most in your day to day job?
The thing I enjoy the most is working with people that have a drive and passion which motivates everyone. It’s important to be on the same wavelength as those with whom you work with. I’m completely in tune with the management and people I work with at Tricon.
It is also a group of things such as being involved in lengthy negotiations and deal with people outside of working hours, over golf, dinner and even karaoke! Or train up the next generation and share your knowledge. You need to know how to open up your own experience to benefit others and give them a chance. You can work so much more effectively if you’re surrounded by good people.
And of course, what I love about this job is the fact that every day is different. When you have chemical tankers out on water or manage stocks on behalf of producers and clients, a tiny grain of sand in the mechanism can cause major headaches. Each day brings new surprises! Trust me.
#5-If you had to do it again would you choose the same career path?
I love this job, especially the way you can dedicate yourself to be successful. It’s a truly vibrant profession in which you get to travel, discover new things and meet lots of people. There’s a limit to what you can do by phone or email. Same as for getting the information which is a key ingredient to success. To get the information, you have to be working down on the ground, actively seeking it out. That’s how you start sniffing out business opportunities. It’s incredibly exciting!
#6-Where is your favourite place on earth and why?
In our business, relationship is everything; building it takes time and requires lots of travelling, to spend time with people you deal with to develop connections, during and also outside office hours!
I spend half of my time travelling, so my time at home with my family is precious. Business class is my home and first class my bed!
#7-How could you qualify your relationship with Ampersand World?
I have a great deal of respect for the work you do. It’s a difficult job as it’s not just about finding a person with the right qualifications for a job – of which there might be many – but choosing a candidate who fits in with a company’s DNA.
Your approach is highly proactive and very reassuring. You develop an understanding of a company’s corporate culture and spend time getting to know both your clients and candidates so that you can act swiftly and effectively.
Photo credits/sources: www.emo-photo.com