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What it's like to work at Glencore

Author: Glencore | Date: 07/06/2018

Interview with Gerda Schwindt, Head of Human Resources at Glencore, originally published by In|pact Europe, a special supplement in this June's BILANZ.

One of the biggest employers in Central Switzerland, Baar-based commodities group Glencore has a very special corporate culture.

Gerda, why should talented people consider a job at Glencore? 
Alongside the fact that the commodities sector offers a very exciting working environment, people should consider working for us because of our corporate culture. We have very flat hierarchies. And that’s not just PR talk: trainees who start their career with us after a bachelor’s or master’s degree are immediately just two steps away from a global head of division. This means, of course, that jobs at the company are very dynamic, and that people absolutely have to be able to take responsibility and have an entrepreneurial mindset. 

By dynamic, do you mean that there’s no structured trainee program that everyone goes through?
Correct. With us, you develop in your role; you can bring in new ideas or build up whole new services. Having said that, all our trainees do start in the back office, where they learn about the commodities business from the ground up. We think it’s vital to give young talent plenty of opportunity to really understand our business and the processes involved. It’s the only way to ensure positive long-term development. 

And what might long-term development look like?
It depends very much on the individual’s talents, abilities and interests. Placements abroad might be appropriate, for example, either for a specific project or a fixed period. International experience is important if you work for a global operation like ours, and ideally, candidates will already have had some before they join us. But if employees are interested in spending time abroad, we encourage this. 

We always look for the best person for the job concerned, regardless of where they come from, how old they are, their gender or anything else.

Gerda Schwindt, Head of Human Resources

You have very strong local roots though, particularly in Switzerland. 
One does not rule out the other. Diversity plays a major role, of course. We have people from more than 50 different countries here in Baar, for example; but most of our people in Switzerland are actually Swiss. We’re very strongly connected to our location and ultimately create jobs for local people. We’re one of the biggest employers in Central Switzerland, and this brings a certain local responsibility. We support the dual education system in Switzerland, for example, by offering apprenticeships. We’re also very engaged socially and support a variety of regional sports and cultural institutions, as well as charitable organizations. 

Commodities trading is a fast-moving, year-round business. How stressful is the job?
You’re right. Some of the jobs here are very demanding. But we have virtually no cases of burn-out in the company. We believe this is partly because of the freedom and responsibility that our employees are given, and partly because we’re such a sporty company. There’s always a high proportion of staff involved in the official runs and races we support here in the region. We definitely believe in “mens sana in corpore sano” – a healthy mind in a healthy body". 
So, is a company with a special corporate culture that offers dynamic jobs and a large amount of responsibility looking for a particular kind of talent?
That’s easy to answer: we always look for the best person for the job concerned, regardless of where they come from, how old they are, their gender or anything else. And that’s why we have such a diverse workforce and such a high proportion of women working for us.