Howard is regional director at Michael Page Hong Kong and oversees a number of disciplines including sales, marketing, digital, procurement & supply chain, retail & sourcing, finance, and HR.
Logistics position in commodity trading house/bank
I have 10 years' experience in commodity logistics, MBA qualified, fluent in English and Spanish. I am currently based in Switzerland where I manage the global logistics of an aluminium company, and have previous shipping experience with copper and metal scrap from Africa.
I also have experience across the supply chain, since I previously worked for a global shipping line and now undertake tenders for ocean freight, trucking and forwarding. I'm also involved in solving many logistics challenges faced by my company.
I am passionate about commodities and my ambition is to find a logistics position in a commodity trading company or bank, in Hong Kong, working closely with traders as I thoroughly enjoy roles where the commercial and logistics sides meet.
I have three questions:
(i) I have taken 3 months of private Mandarin classes and built up a vocabulary for a basic conversation. What degree of proficiency do Hong Kong commodity trading houses require?
(ii) I have done extensive research on potential employers and recruitment agencies using linkedin, google, ft.com. What is the best approach in order to apply for a position in Hong Kong: are unsolicited approached to line managers discouraged, should one only make use of agencies?
(iii) What is the current level of demand for logistics professionals in trading houses and banks in Hong Kong?
I would appreciate any advice you can provide in answering the above questions.
Thank you for your time
Howard Chan - Career Doctor
Posted Thursday 5th September 2013 01:21:00 AM
Dear Anders, To answer your first question, Mandarin is becoming a language that is being sought after not only for commodity trading companies or banks, but also for companies where general trade involves Greater China or Greater China affiliated merchants. As such, your three months Mandarin training session will no-doubt offer dividends with such clients. However, the degree of language proficiency that commodity trading companies require generally depends on the source of where the commodities are being traded to and from. For example, if the company is involved in trading soft commodities such as soybean, wheat and fruit or hard commodities such as precious metals from a country like China, then Mandarin would be a distinct advantage with regards to communication. Another way to look at this question is to identify the distribution channels and transportation network of the commodities at trade. If the trade line is more focused on the Greater China region, then proficiency in Mandarin would also be an advantage. As a minimum, the medium of language used for commodity trading or banks would still be English. In terms of the best approach to apply for jobs in your particular situation, it is recommended that you engage with a recruitment agency as they would have the professional know-how and networks to position you with the most relevant contact for the roles you are applying for. Working with a recruitment firm will also give you access to a professional advisor who can help guide you through your career plan. They can also act as an additional resource to assist you with obtaining feedback from companies where they represent you for a role. Moving on to your third question, the demand for logistic professionals in the commodity trade industry is generally commodity specific, as trade compliance jurisdictions - and the handling and management of transportation, warehouse and distribution centres for commodities - change by commodity class and groups. As you have experience in the aluminum, copper and metal scrap group, you may be interested in applying for commodity trading companies specialising in industrial/precious metals. On the other hand, within the banks, there is less demand for strictly logistic professionals but rather a need for supply chain, procurement and process-improvement professionals. All the best with your job search! Howard Chan Director Michael Page Sales & Marketing and Engineering & Supply Chain