Career profiles

Woman smiling in a business meeting

Josh Okpalanne

Business development (supporting downstream business in Ghana)

Joined Vitol: 2013
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria
Current Office: Accra, Ghana
Education:  BSc Chemical Engineering Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Interests: Football, renovating schools in my hometown

I got called by a recruiter who asked if I’d heard of a company called Vitol, and I said of course! I’d been working in engineering for quite some time and wanted a more commercial role. I knew about the company but didn’t know the scale it was operating at.

I knew that trading houses were organised a bit differently. If you find an opportunity at Vitol then you are empowered to go out after it. Previously I had been working for a much larger organisation that had lots of layers of bureaucracy. Vitol is a very agile company where things move very quickly. I started as a Commercial Analyst in Houston, then moved to the Derivatives desk in London where I was shadowing the West African business development before I was asked to transfer to Ghana.

There is no company like it. It’s a very unique place. The beauty is that there is not much red tape. I’m working with a lot of smart people so you have to be on your A-game every day. It’s a constantly challenging environment that rewards hard work.

My role is challenging and merges both my engineering and commercial skillset. I’m currently working in our office in Accra which has the atmosphere of one big family. It’s demanding merging commercial acumen with trying to meet real energy flows in the country. I’m constantly trying to find new opportunities that make sense. They’re not always just out there waiting for you, you need to go out and find them.

When I came to Ghana I helped broker a complex deal with the only refinery in the country. The deal involved taking the crude to the refinery, processing it and taking the products. It was a big deal to coordinate and execute, and I learnt a lot from it. I was able to bring together my engineering and commercial skillsets and was really proud of what I was able to achieve.

The world is going through a massive transition. It couldn’t be a better, more interesting time to think about a career in energy. You could determine what the next stage of the planet’s life is and there’s lots happening in the energy space: wind, solar, geothermal.

Ivana Todd

Joined Vitol: 2008
Hometown: London via Skopje, Rio de Janeiro, Almaty, Mumbai, Moscow
Current Office: London
Education: BSc Economics & Geography  at London School of Economics
Interests: Theatre, travel, hiking, netball

I was working on a graduate programme for an oil major in Moscow when I first came across Vitol. I did three years of rotation, including a year in oil trading where Vitol was one of the clients. It was through this experience that I got to know the company and was impressed with their work.

My role focuses on FSU countries. I initially did hedging for the crude oil book for the first two years and then moved across to physical deals in Russia and Central Asia. I understood the culture well and had already built a network of contacts while living in the region, which combined with the knowledge I’d acquired, was really valuable.

Vitol is a meritocracy. It doesn’t matter what background you’re from, if you work hard and achieve results then you’ll be recognised and rewarded. The door is open to seek out new opportunities and to drive your own projects forward. At Vitol, you have the freedom to take charge of your own development.

The market is fast paced and unpredictable, which makes every day interesting and challenging. My team has to be able to react to trends and changes, such as the cost of shipping, geopolitics or refinery economics. Gathering market intelligence is a big part of the job so every morning I speak to my team in London, Rotterdam, Moscow, Singapore, Nur Sultan and Geneva to find out what’s been going on.

Here, we live our business, we’re in it 100%. It’s a team effort, if there is a deal to be done you will have full support across all functions to get that deal done. Decisions are made quickly without having to go through layers of management. You need to be driven, ambitious and be able to take measured risks.

I’ve always taken the long-term view in how we collaborate with partners. My proudest achievements at Vitol have happened over a number of years, not in one moment. We’ve negotiated complex, large-scale deals that collaborate with a range of stakeholders, from oil majors to governments. You’ve got to understand what the person on the other side of the table wants to achieve and find a win/win solution for all parties.

We need to find futureproof solutions for the world. The energy sector is changing and it needs new ideas and leadership. Now is a fantastic opportunity for new talent, especially more women, to come through, find solutions and design our new world.

Joyce Ling

Trading/Marketing Manager, Coal, Singapore

After gaining a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne, I spent some time at other commodities trading firms before joining Vitol in 2008. I initially joined as an operator, and I’m now a Trading Manager for the coal desk, which was a startup when I first joined. Now the team comprises marketing and trading personnel both on the physical and paper arena and operators to execute the physical business. I was interested in the challenge of establishing a new business and getting it up and running, building something you can call your own.

My job covers a wide range of roles and responsibilities including logistical operations and solving any operational issues. The commercial aspects include trying to work out potential arbitrage opportunities between origination of supply and delivery of product. This means I get to travel to some of the far reaches of the world to get to grips with market dynamics and the needs of our customers.

I enjoy being given the chance to build a business in its own right. Vitol has allowed me to develop many different aspects of myself. There is no clear structure on the job scope, which encourages employees to be creative and take ownership of work they like to pursue. My colleagues are simultaneously competitive and supportive but perhaps most importantly, entrepreneurial. Your career path is for you to decide and if there’s an opportunity to be had, you can take it.

Allamin Daggash

Commercial analyst, LPG/bitumen, Lagos

Joined Vitol: 2020
Hometown: Borno, Nigeria
Current Office: Lagos
Education: University of Oxford
BSc – Engineering Science
MSc and PhD in Chemical Engineering
Interests: Film fanatic, bird watching, playing and watching sport

I kept hearing about this company with a flat hierarchy. I was already working in the energy sector and was hearing a lot about Vitol and how it operated with a flat structure.

I wanted to do something more commercial and have greater visibility of the bigger picture.  I was also intrigued by this company I’d heard so much about. The meritocratic structure means that if someone has a wide range of skills then you are given the opportunity to add something across the whole business.

Vitol is totally unique to other places that I’ve worked. My colleagues have so many different skills and are characterised by their humility: there is a culture of rolling up your sleeves and working hard. When I joined the company, my boss told me that whatever question I might have, about whatever topic (work or non-work related!) someone at Vitol would know the answer. The flat structure is absolutely key to this, being able to communicate with people across the organisation is so much more effective and helps you grow as a professional.

I like being able to build models and tools that guide commercial decisions. Working in the Lagos office gives me an insight into how our operations run across the whole supply chain. This overview means that you can identify where the commercial advantages might be and build something suitable for the specific market you’re operating in.  I find automation really interesting and I’ve been able to automate our processes in the local LPG business here in Nigeria. It was really rewarding to build something from scratch and add commercial value to the business.

My day-to-day is extremely varied. In the mornings I collate activity reports on our pricing, operations and logistics, such as what’s happening at our terminals and what products are coming in. These reports are sent to London, Geneva and Rotterdam. In the afternoon I call customers, gather intelligence and find out what’s happening in the market. Then I spend my time on business development, building on any projects I’m working on and scoping out any opportunities.

Energy is a constant, it’s never going to disappear, it will always be here. The industry changes, and is changing now, but energy will always be of use. The skills I am learning now are transferable and can be adapted to new environments.

Daniele De Ruschi

Business analyst software engineer, MIS, Geneva

Joined Vitol: 07 April 2014
Hometown: Bergamo in Italy
Current Office: Geneva
Role: Business Analyst Sr. Software Engineer
Education: MSc in Engineering of Information Technology at Università degli studi di Bergamo
Interests: Motorbike – Skiing – Videogames

After I graduated, I had the opportunity to work at CERN in Geneva for a few years. Working in Switzerland exposed me to companies working in an interesting space techwise. I was searching for a new opportunity when a role in an in-house development team at a ‘lean trading company’ was presented to me. This was the start of my journey with Vitol.

The colleagues who interviewed me were so engaged with their work, their passion made me want to be a part of the team. The MIS team was quite small so I met most of the people I would be working with during the interview process. During the interview process, I was presented with technical and functional challenges and also had the role explained further to me.

 Everyone at Vitol is aiming for the same goal. In my role, I feel empowered to own my decisions whilst feeling part of a team that works well together and where I am listened to. This dynamic motivates me and makes me feel like I belong. At Vitol, being polite and respectful towards both your colleagues and any counterparties is central. We’re all working together to find solutions to energy supply and demand, that’s the most important thing.

My role requires me to understand my clients’ business needs in order to develop the best products for them. I love being able to propose and implement solutions that have a positive impact. In my job there is a good balance between analysing functional requirements and more hands-on development of software. This balance means I get to continuously learn about new aspects of the business.

A day at work can be very different depending on the ongoing projects. Some days are fully dedicated to software development where you need to establish a flow in your mind and stay concentrated for a long period of time. But I also work with a range of stakeholders, either in person or on a video call. This could be helping a colleague to overcome an issue in the system, project planning, training a new joiner or brainstorming new ideas with a cup of coffee on the wonderful terrace of the Geneva office.

Every time we make an acquisition or become part of a joint venture, we have to integrate the new business into our existing systems. In the past 8 years, we’ve moved some really big companies such as Varo or Viva Energy into our systems. I find it amazing how efficiently we’ve handled these processes and I’m proud of my contribution to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andreea Mogosan

Business developer, MIS, Geneva

Joined Vitol: as a contractor on 13/03/2017, and became intern on 01/08/2018
Hometown: Campulung, Romania
Current Office: Geneva
Role: Business Analyst/Developer
Education: Master degree in Econometrics and Applied Statistics at Orleans University (France)
Interests: spending time with my family and friends, travelling, enjoying nature

The advantage of working in IT is that we can choose which industry we want to work in. I didn’t come from an energy background and originally joined when team was being expanded.

Four years in at Vitol, I don’t regret moving from Paris to Geneva for this role. One of the reasons I wanted to work for Vitol was because we have a set of in-house applications. This means that we control the development fully and can react quickly to the needs of the business.

Every day is different at Vitol, there’s no opportunity to be bored. My colleagues are all highly professional people who are willing to share their knowledge on both the technical and functional sides.

Working in tech isn’t just about implementing what the business is asking for. You also have to analyse the problem and understand what could be the best solution for the business. I’m part of Back Office team, in the IT department. This means that I have the opportunity to work on a variety of subjects: invoicing, tax, payments, finance and others.

The business is constantly growing and our applications need to keep up with it. We always have plenty of requests for new functionalities so I split my time between working on different projects, specific requests from the business, and giving our users support.

Every project I’ve ever worked on, is now used consistently by the business. When I first arrived at Vitol, I took over the development of a specific tax module. The rollout was really smooth; I got to travel to Rotterdam, London and Singapore to meet the users I’d built the module for and introduce them to how it works. This function is now used every day by colleagues all over the world.

The most significant challenge humanity faces today is related to energy. We need new ideas to help create a sustainable supply of energy and help support the energy transition. I think the first step in doing this is to understand how this industry works, and the best way to do this is from the inside the sector.