Pierre Gay started off his career in Swiss banks, throwing himself into the world of commodities and finance from the very start. His experience is vast yet strong, from being the Group Head Commodity Finance of BNP Paribas, to Managing Director of Euronova Energies SA. Currently, Pierre works as the Managing Director of Helsinge Ltd., an innovative company specialising in energy and petrochemical trading. However, his career only shows a fraction of who he is. Pierre Gay joined us to share immense insight on his journey, as well as encouragement and advice for those looking to join this industry.
#1-What is the best moment you can remember in your career?
I have obviously had several “best times”. But, I had the immense luck and privilege to start my career in the commodity-finance world the year the Soviet Union collapsed. So, a whole continent full of immense opportunities and challenges opened up. I remember numerous due diligence trips deep into the USSR’s industrial hinterland in the Urals, the Arctic and the Baltics. I met true entrepreneurs, trying to come up with new ways to get the commodities they traded onto the international markets. So, if I have to pick one “best time”, it is probably the Wild West that was the commodities sector in early-90s Russia.
#2-If you had to give just one piece of advice to a junior starting his/her career, what would it be?
Commodities-trading and finance are some of those rare business where both interpersonal and analytical skills, dealing with complex micro and macro factors, play a part in determining whether or not you achieve what you set out to do. This is a true people business. At the end of the day, you are dealing with the ability of a team of people to manage the risk you either finance or depend on to get your commodity just when you need it.
Focus on building your network, on the culture of the business environment you operate in. Invest in your own technical and interpersonal skills. Lone wolves don’t last long in this business.
Don’t confuse legitimate ambition with rushing things.
#3-Do you have a Motto/Lucky charm?
Have I looked at a given issue from every possible angle? Who can help me if I can’t? You get closer to the truth as a result of teamwork.
#4-What do you enjoy the most in your day to day job?
The surprises that I will have to deal with. You must be keen to adapt your agenda and be flexible enough to cope with challenges that are not necessarily foreseen. There really is no such thing as routine in this job.
#5-If you had to do it again would you choose the same career path?
Absolutely!! Not many businesses offer those who are curious and humble enough to learn new things so many opportunities as the winding road that is the world of commodities.
#6-Where is your favourite place on earth and why?
On my boat, fishing on a Norwegian fjord. Do I really need to explain why?
#7-How could you qualify your relationship with Ampersand World?
Penda has this great natural ability to read your character and bring matching people together. That is what our industry, more than any other, requires. Again, we are first and foremost a people business.