Thibault is a well know soft commodities trading manager with a strong exposure to African Markets. After more than 10 years with Ecom and Bunge, in Mexico, USA, Switzerland and Cameroon, Thibault is now the executive director of Tropicore in Switzerland.
What is the best moment you can remember in your career?
I spent some time – 4 years – managing facilities for a major soft commodities group in Africa. I remember when local workers came to me asking what impact the product (there it was cocoa and coffee) we were exporting had in the countries where it was consumed. That opened my eyes! These people were working within facilities in the producing country, preparing a commodity for export that their relatives probably harvested in the countryside: it is important for them to know what we, and the industry do with this product, and how the final consumer enjoys it! We then stopped the plant for 2-3 hours and explained the various steps in the value chain to all our local workers. I realized that working in commodities means working on one single world, and not several different ones.
Working in commodities means working on one single world
If you had to give just one piece of advice to a junior starting his career, what would it be?
Be responsible, take initiatives and commit yourself. This is not rocket science to understand: we are doing one of the most fantastic jobs on earth. You might have the highest degree, the best relationships or even all the necessary funds backing you, but if you don’t take responsibility for your acts, the right initiatives, and are not committed to your work, I think you can forget about being successful in your career.
Do you have a Motto/Lucky charm
Volume is vanity, profit is sanity. Commodities need to recover a human perspective. Behind the bread you eat, the coffee you drink, the gasoline you use, there are thousands of people who work and live for that. This is not just about figures, speculation, plants or vessels. I truly think that a commercial relationship has to communicate the story of a product and educate people. First, set up a profitable and a long term relationship, and then the volume will come naturally.
In your opinion what is the main skill a good trader should have?
Self-confidence. If you don’t trust yourself it means you don’t trust the product you are selling or buying. In that case, I can’t see you keeping your customer with you in the long term. Being self-confident means knowing your products perfectly, as well as the people producing them. You should then go to meet them in the field and understand their reality, and you should do the same for all the stakeholders active in your value chain.
How could you qualify your relationship with Ampersand World?
Personal and original: Personal because AW has always been available to discuss, share and liaise with me and original because I have the impression that AW has been with me, and me with them, from the beginning.