An interview with Laurent Guerrero, Former EBS Manager at BTG Pactual Commodities, Agribusiness
#1-What is the best time you can remember in your agribusiness career?
First, from a personal point of view, what I remember most are the people I have worked with.
In each position, I had the chance to work with outstanding teams and I am proud to have played a full part; we’ve achieved an awful lot together.
In my first two jobs, at Ferruzzi and at Louis Dreyfus, I was lucky enough to have outstanding mentors. They had very different skill-sets and personalities, and each passed down to me very different but complementary know-how and expertise.
Later in my career, I had the chance to hire people and build teams together. There was a great sense of cohesion and, while we all had our individual characters, we worked very well together. I really enjoyed the team spirit. I get a kick out of passing on my experience, and out of challenging and motivating team members.
From a purely professional point of view, my experience at Noble has been the most enriching.
We have been able to build a very successful global agribusiness in a very short time, starting almost from scratch. This involved opening offices all over the world, hiring teams, and buying greenfield investment projects in logistics and the oilseed-crushing industry all over the world.
#2-If you could give only one piece of advice to a junior just starting out, what would it be?
It is impossible to limit it to one piece of advice!
Remember that a job, even a great job or a fantastic career, doesn’t give full meaning to your life, at least not by itself. Life is about what you learn, who you are or can become, who you love and are loved by.
Find a way to say yes to things. Say yes to invitations to a new country, say yes to meeting new friends, say yes to learning something new. Yes, is the way to your first job and your next job, to your spouse, and even your kids.
Never stop being a sponge, by which I mean soaking up information, rather than borrowing money from people and not paying it back!
Every person you meet is a potential door to a new opportunity—personally or professionally.
Nothing beats tenacity and persistence. Even if your talent is still dormant, you can always develop it to its full potential. People who are persistent and tenacious and driven by a very clearly defined goal… well, nothing compares to that! Not giving up is really huge!
#3-Do you have a Motto/Lucky charm?
In chaos, there is opportunity. Most major career accelerations happen when someone steps into a mess and makes a difference.
With a positive attitude, you can do anything better than you can with a negative one.
You should step outside your comfort zone to continue growing.
Never give up on your dreams.
#4-What do you enjoy the most in your day-to-day work?
My ultimate role and key function is risk taking and management.
I enjoy the challenge, I enjoy the responsibility, and I enjoy the methodical and precise approach necessary for me to reach a decision.
But what I like most is that, once that decision is reached, you have to get it across to all the stakeholders, which sometimes takes a lot of convincing and persuasion!
#5-If you could do it all again, would you chose the same career path?
Although you always try to be in control of your career path, the route you actually take is very often the result of the people you meet and the opportunities life sends your way.
I have been very lucky to be able to live on different continents with very distinct cultures, to work for different companies with various business models and strategies.
It has been immensely enriching, so I would not change anything!
I really enjoy the paradigm of having to reach very simple decisions and conclusions to solve complex problems and situations.
In the end, the value we add results in consumers being fed the best-quality agribusiness product (raw or finished) at the best price, under the best conditions and at the desired time.
#6-Where is your favourite place on earth and why?
At the helm of a very fast, heavily crewed, racing sailboat going through rough weather.
I obviously love sailing but, in this situation, I also like the challenge of bad weather at sea.
I enjoy getting the crew to give it their all and pull together, and to keep at it, when times are tough.
#7-How could you qualify your relationship with Ampersand World?
I have mainly dealt with Penda, who I believe has a strong network and possesses excellent people skills.
She does a great job.