Discover what life is like working for Gazprom Marketing & Trading with Success Stories, a Q&A series which aims to shine a light on the individual stories, careers and achievements of our people.
In this edition of Success Stories, we’re chatting to James Chapman, Junior FX Trader here at GM&T, about his work, development and personal achievements within the company. With a background in economics, James has risen through the ranks to become a trader on our much-respected FX desk.
Here, we talk to James about his career highlights, day-to-day role and what he believes is the key to success for new people joining the GM&T team. Read on for the complete Success Stories interview.
Hi James, thanks for agreeing to speak with us. To kick things off, could you tell us about your background, your qualifications and previous roles, and how you came to join GM&T?
Yes, so I studied at the University of Manchester, achieving a degree in Economic History and Economics. During my studies, I completed a summer internship with GM&T, where I predominantly worked on the structured gas trading team.
After university, I secured a place on the graduate scheme, which lasted for 18 months and comprised of working in three different roles for six months at a time, including retail trading analyst, power analyst and power operator. I stayed in the position of power operator for a further two years, and recently joined the FX desk as of 1 October 2018.
In layman’s terms, could you give us a high-level overview of what your role involves day-to-day? And how, strategically, does it fit into the company’s wider operations?
So, I’d probably split what we do on the FX desk into three categories, the first of which is the proprietary trading side, where we assess a variety of different economic and political factors to speculate on whether we think currencies are going to appreciate or depreciate in value, across the G10 (Top 10 most traded currencies).
The second thing we do is hedging the FX exposure for the commodities desk. The commodities desks range from power to gas to carbon to oil to LNG. As these guys are trading in their respective markets, they build up an exposure, whether it be in euros or in dollars, and they need to hedge that exposure – that’s where we come in.
The third area we take care of is providing market information to the commodities team; this is essentially to keep different areas of the business in the loop with what’s going on the in the markets, so that they can make better-informed trading decisions.
How do you think working at GM&T has helped you to progress your career? And what skills and proficiencies have you learned while you’ve been with the company?
I think one aspect of working at GM&T that I’ve found really helpful is that, working in a front-office position, I was given a lot of responsibility straight away.
In this particular role, people expect you to come in and hit the ground running, so to be given that challenge and responsibility has been fantastic, and I’ve really felt able to just crack on with things, whilst being given the necessary support.
Another thing that’s been really helpful in building my career here is working closely with some very experienced people. When I first started, I quickly realised that a lot of the people on my team had years of experience in the industry, so working with them day-to-day, and feeling like I can ask questions, has been really beneficial.
The final thing I’d say about my career at GM&T is the incredible choice of courses and training available. There’s a broad range of courses that you can access at any time, and even if something is not advertised, if you go to your boss and say, ‘look I want to do this to improve this skill,’ I’m confident this would be signed off on as well.
What have been your stand-out highlights of working at GM&T so far? Are there are any project wins or accomplishments you’re particularly proud of?
I think my proudest achievement within the company so far has been landing a role on the FX desk. Formally being given the job on the trading desk was always a goal of mine, as I’ve always wanted to work in trading, so that’s certainly been one of the highlights of my career at GM&T so far.
Another highlight came during my tenure within the power operations team. When I initially joined, we were purely an operations team, and our target was £70,000 for that year. We built the team and became much more active on the trading and asset optimisation side.
Eventually, our target rose to £500,000, and that year we ended up making £1 million.
Could you tell us a little about your department? What is the structure like, and how do you work together day-to-day to achieve business objectives?
So, the team is made up of only three people; two of us in London and one in the US. I work directly with our global head of FX, who’s an exceptionally experienced guy. It’s been incredible to work alongside someone with such experience, not only on the fx side, but on the derivatives side also, as coming in I had limited knowledge of this.
The two of us collaborate closely with our man in the States, who manages his own spec book. Day-to-day, we work very closely together, discussing our views and generating ideas, whilst keeping abreast of the latest news and economic data releases– it’s a very collaborative and hands-on department.
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your role? And how do you work to resolve problems when they arise?
I think one of the most challenging aspects is staying on top of everything. FX is so global, you need to stay on top of the economic situation in many different countries. Unexpected news and market activity can completely change how your day pans out, so it’s exciting and challenging at the same time. And, you not only need to know the economic situation of different countries around the world, but their politics too, as this can have a knock-on effect on the global economy. It’s tough, but really interesting.
What advice would you give to candidates who are looking to apply for a job at GM&T?
The first thing I’d say is: do your research. Read up on the company and learn as much as you can about the role you’re applying for. At the end of the day, the people interviewing you will be professionals who have most likely done this for years, so if you can show that you’ve done your research and know a little about the industry, it’ll go a long way.
The second thing I would say, and it might sound like a cliché, is just to relax, be confident and be yourself. The corporate nature of GM&T can appear intimidating to those applying for a role here, but the company does work hard to create a culture where people can relax and enjoy their work. Everyone wants to get on with everyone, so a friendly face and air of approachability will go a long way at the interview stage.
Do you have anything else to add for people who are successful in the application process? And what other advice would you give them to improve their chances of success within the company?
The first thing I’d say is leverage the experience of those around you.
You’ll work with some incredible people who have years of experience in a similar position to you, so absorb as much knowledge as you can from them, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Working with people from different departments, companies and even countries is really beneficial, so learn as much as you can and leverage this to build your career.
Another thing I’d say is to use the resources at your disposal.
As I touched on earlier, GM&T offer a huge number of different training courses which can be extremely helpful in building your knowledge of a specific subject area. The company is also great at filling in the gaps in their learning materials, so don’t be afraid to ask if there’s a specific course you’re interested in.
The final piece of advice I’d give is to try and build a strong network. Get to know the people around you and in different departments, and you’ll almost certainly be more successful in your role. The majority of the departments at GM&T rely on close collaboration between teams, so networking is crucial to both yours and the company’s long-term success.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of Gazprom Marketing & Trading. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Gazprom Marketing & Trading accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.