Why women should consider a career in commodities trading

posted: 08/06/2022

Anna Simmons switched her focus from engineering to commodities trading. She explains her role as an analyst and how she strives for success.

Anna works as an analyst at Glencore, assessing risk and passing the information to traders. We asked Anna about her job to find out more about this intellectually rewarding career. Read her Q&A below to determine whether you’d be a good fit for the trading floor.

Anna Simmons Education: A levels in maths, further maths, physics and economics. Engineering masters (MEng) at Durham University. Job: Trading Analyst at Glencore. Graduated: 2019

What is it like to work as an analyst in commodities at Glencore?

Glencore has a flat structure – it is a meritocracy with a very entrepreneurial culture. From day one you are seated right next to the traders, so you are exposed to and learning from the best in the industry. You are given the freedom to add value in the way you want, and this is encouraged and supported. If you show initiative, there are no limits to progression. It is also a very lean structure, so the job you do has a direct impact on the business and you learn fast.

My daily tasks can vary hugely, from building models, scraping and analysing data, giving presentations, listening to conferences… the list goes on, but that’s what makes it interesting. As an analyst, you need to be adaptable to the events that are unfolding that day and to respond promptly to gauge the impact, highlight the risks and communicate these elements as quickly as possible to your traders. Since I joined Glencore, we have experienced many market-defining events, from coronavirus, to the European gas crisis, to the Russia-Ukraine conflict... you never know what you will have to become an expert on next! Whichever product you focus on, they are all derived from crude or gas, which are intrinsically tied to the macro-economic and global political environment. It means you can never stop learning.

How is the Glencore graduate programme structured?

There is no set route or ladder that all graduates follow once they join Glencore. You can expect to be placed within a team on your first day, which will likely be in risk management or analytics. Your career path will then be defined by your own ambitions and achievements. Some people will focus on one product, some will gain experience in multiple products, some will switch between roles and some will specialise within a specific role. All graduates are given a mentor with whom they can have regular catch-ups.

What key attributes do you need to work in commodities?

The role of an analyst utilises a range of skills.  It is particularly technical, involving the use of Excel, python and SQL.  In addition, time management, relationship management, communication skills and initiative all aid success.  The ability to prioritise tasks which can add direct value, and to present the conclusions in a succinct and digestible way, is key.

Glencore has a rigorous recruitment process, how can candidates impress on their Glencore application?

The key is to show how your individual experiences demonstrate that you have the skills, resilience, proactivity and/or entrepreneurial flair that can add direct value to the business. This does not have to be a summer internship in finance – I remember explaining why my experience in the performing arts would lend itself to the trading floor!

What is commodities trading?

Commodities trading is the buying and selling of raw materials. Examples of commodities are precious metals, like gold and silver, agricultural products, such as cocoa, and energy products, including oil and natural gas. Commodities are essential to everyday life, and thus commodities trading started long before modern financial markets evolved. The prices of commodities vary continually due to shifts in supply, demand, government policy, macroeconomics, weather and seasonality. There are many players in the commodities markets, from producers who want to hedge against market fluctuations, to consumers who want to lock in future costs, to speculators who have a view on future prices. The markets are international, with exchanges around the world.

tags: Women in Mining Global