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Early Career Lesson Number 1- Never Assume Anything

October 18, 2016

The third exclusive for Dynamic Commodities in my series- becoming a commodities trader

There was a path for the lehrlings at Philipp Brothers. The apprentices spent periods during school vacations in service departments like the mailroom or telex room. Upon graduation from university, the next step was a position in the traffic department.

While the service departments provided the young talent with an overview of the company, traffic was the operations nerve center of Philipp Brothers. The traders bought and sold raw materials. The traffic clerks transported the commodities from point A to point B. They also arranged for all logistical aspects of trade and invoiced the payables and receivables. An astute traffic clerk had the ability to improve the profitability of a business deal. This is because they served as a problem solver when it came to issues that invariably occurred. When learning the business from the bottom up, an education in trafficking commodities was of paramount importance.

I was in my last semester of college, in an exchange program in London. Furthermore, I had considered law school and even took the entrance exams. However, I decided that my career path and future seemed tied to Philipp Brothers. After all, I had spent five years  working for the firm during vacation periods.

With graduation day only a few months away, I sent a letter to the head of the personnel department. In my letter, I stated that I would be graduating in May. I was looking forward to working for the company as a full-time employee in the traffic department. I had assumed that Philipp Brothers would welcome me with open arms.

Each summer, I had performed well and even received a generous bonus payment. The gift served as validation that I had done a good job and was worthy of a future at the firm. What I did not understand or appreciate at the time was that my path was one of unexpected tests and lessons.

Several weeks later, an official letter from the firm arrived. Excitement filled me as I opened the crisp white envelope with a raised Philipp Brothers logo. As I read the correspondence, my heart sunk. The head of personnel wrote that the company had no plans to offer me a permanent position. I had learned the first of many critical and challenging lessons, never assume anything.

Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities.

 

Post Series: Origin Of A Commodities Trader

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