The engine room of energy trading

Andrew Walder talks about his role as a graduate in Operations at Gazprom Marketing & Trading

Here we speak to Andrew Walder, who joined GM&T in September 2012 with a BSc in computer science and business management. He's now over halfway through the Operations graduate scheme and shares with us his experience working as a power operator.

Why I chose Gazprom Marketing & Trading

As part of my degree I completed a year in industry working in an IT role for an energy trading company, which first got me interested in the sector and in trading.

Gazprom Marketing & Trading particularly impressed me because of its ambitious nature - GM&T has grown from two employees to over 900 globally in only 14 years. As a graduate, I was very ambitious and wanted to work somewhere I could grow too. I thought Gazprom's culture was perfectly in line with what I was looking for.

I chose the Operations graduate scheme because it's right at the heart of GM&T - I sit on the trading floor, where my role is to support the power trading desk.

The scheme also suits my aim of working somewhere where I can develop professionally. In a trading environment you need to be able to remain diligent under pressure, but also need to have the ability to adapt and be flexible - in a company like GM&T things are fast-moving and always changing. For example, even legislation can have a big impact on how you fulfill your role.

What appeals to me about energy trading

The energy sector intrigues me because of the challenges it is facing; energy generation in the UK is currently in a state of flux with government changes and economic challenges, and will be totally different in 20 years' time.

I also enjoy the fast pace and dynamic trading environment, because it suits my ability to think on my feet and change direction if necessary.

What my job involves

As a power operator you're at the centre of GM&T as you interact with all departments across the company. For example, I sometimes work with Trading Capability if we want to trade in a new region in Europe. I've also worked closely with IT to develop some in-house software to help me do my job.

My main purpose is to support the power trading desk. I schedule the physical power positions across the whole of Europe. That means that I co-ordinate deals with our power trading counterparties and send commands to the transmission system operator to schedule any physical transmissions of gas between two different areas resulting from the trades we've made.

This is all done using IT tools as well as speaking directly to grid operators and counterparties in other countries across Europe.

Power operators also interact with Gazprom Energy, the UK retail arm of GM&T, making sure we balance any of their energy purchases with sales by the trading desk in order to optimise GM&T's portfolio.

Skills you need in my job

For the Operations graduate scheme, GM&T doesn't recruit people who've done a certain type of degree. Instead they look for a set of skills and qualities that will make you a good power operator.

For example, it's extremely important that you are able to work under pressure, to a very high standard and stick to tight deadlines.

Although our power traders make thousands of trades, it's the power operator's job to schedule the power positions in order to process the transaction.

There's the pressure of knowing that you're responsible for bringing that money in, but it's also very satisfying to know that you're trusted to deliver such important transactions.

Communication is also a key skill as a power operator. For example, the ability to communicate effectively with a counterparty from Hungary and get something useful out of it, is a crucial part of the job.

Each European country has a different method of scheduling power positions, so you not only need to be able to break down communication barriers, either linguistic or cultural, you need to understand the rules of each jurisdiction.

Future ambitions

My ambition is to one day become a commodities trader, and because it's given me great exposure to the traders and the trading desk, the Operations graduate scheme is the perfect springboard for me to do so.