Mamadou Ciss is the President and Founding Partner of Alliance Commodities. His career in rice began with Cargill Geneva in 1984. In 1992 he founded Inglewood Gestion SA, after which he set up Ascot Commodities (part of the ADDAX ORYX group) in 1997. In 2006 he left for Singapore where he created Hermes Investments Pte Ltd. Upon returning to Geneva in 2011, he launched Alliance Commodities. Mr Ciss has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Geneva. Mamadou has 28 years experience in trading rice.
#1/ What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The earliest highlight would be when I started my first job as a rice trader with Cargill in Geneva. Others include setting up my first trading company, signing my first big contract to purchase 900,000 mt of rice in one go and being named “rice trader of the year” by The Rice Trader in 2017.
I’m sure that there is still much more to come and there will be many more of these exciting career highlights (life is never dull in trading and you have to constantly reinvent yourself).
#2/ If you had to give just one piece of advice to a junior colleague starting their career, what would it be?
Personal relationships are everything, whatever type of physical trading you do, so always be honest and try to be polite to everybody (within reason). Your reputation is priceless and you never know when you might cross paths with someone again. Try not to burn bridges and give your all in everything you do. Always strive to achieve excellence.
Don’t assume you know what someone else is thinking or what is or isn’t possible in a particular commercial situation. More often than not, it turns out to be exactly the opposite of what you had imagined.
#3/ What do you enjoy the most in your day-to-day work?
There are a few cardinal rules in trading:
Don’t get hung up on your position and stay on your toes – the market is always right in the end!
Don’t fight the trend; the trend is your friend! I will always remember a time when the market was bearish and I was thinking of going long, when someone said to me “Even a dead cat will bounce if it is dropped from high enough”. And sure enough, the market bounced a bit before continuing its downward trend.
Murphy’s Law says that “If something can go wrong, it will”, so think ahead and take action!
You’ll never go broke by putting money in the bank! (Don’t try and be a hero!)
#4/ What do you enjoy the most in your day-to-day job?
There is no denying that managing the company (with my partners) on a day-to-day basis and therefore enjoying the benefits of organising my own work schedule plays a big part. But put simply, I love what I do.
#5/ If you had to do it again, would you choose the same career path?
Definitely. I can’t think of any other occupation that would involve so many business management skills. You get to learn a lot about human nature as well, which is very useful in your personal life.
#6/ Where is your favourite place on earth and why?
Geneva is very important to me and my family as it is where I have spent most of my life. But Dakar is just as important as it is where I come from and I will always be proud of my African roots.
#7/ How would you describe your relationship with Ampersand World?
Very close and friendly. And, most importantly, one that is based on trust and mutual respect for each other’s abilities.