How you could learn and grow with Glencore’s Industrial Placement Programme

Last updated: 25 Jan 2023, 13:32

We spoke to Glencore’s Industrial Placement Programme students to get an insight into the programme and their tips for success.

A picture of the Glencore Industrial Placement students mentioned in the article

Glencore is one of the world’s largest natural resource companies. Founded in the 1970s as a trading company, Glencore has grown into a major producer and marketer of commodities and now employs 135,000 people in 35 countries around the world.

Through the scale and diversity of Glencore’s industrial and marketing businesses, it responsibly supplies commodities that are fundamental to everyday life.

Glencore prioritises safety at all of its assets, seeks to minimise its impact on the environment and communities, and aims to attract employees who strive to become leaders in their field through the promotion of Glencore’s core values: safety, integrity, entrepreneurialism, simplicity, responsibility and openness.

What is the Glencore Industrial Placement Programme?

The Glencore Industrial Placement Programme is structured to bring out the very best in students and give them the opportunity to experience commercial, engineering or environmental sciences roles while working alongside the very best in the business.

The programme is suitable for undergraduate students who are completing a degree that includes a year in industry.

Glencore equips students with the highest levels of professionalism, personal ownership and commercial aptitude – key ingredients for a successful career.

Launch your career in commodities

The Glencore Industrial Placement Programme offers the chance to work with professionals at the top of their game to develop the key skills and attributes that are required to succeed in the commodities sector.

We interviewed a number of students currently undertaking the Glencore Industrial Placement Programme to get the lowdown on the value that the programme offers to aspiring commodities professionals, as well as a few pearls of wisdom for success.

As part of the Industrial Placement Programme, Glencore is looking for candidates to apply from a variety of backgrounds within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), economics, finance or equivalent and a degree which includes a year in industry. You will need to have an aptitude for numbers and good commercial nous, with an understanding of the commodities markets. When we spoke to Glencore’s intake on the programme, they were studying a huge range of degree subjects, from economics, politics and theoretical physics to chemical engineering, materials science and natural sciences. These students work within a broad range of teams, including structured finance, risk, analytics, data management, oil assets engineering and HSEC (health, safety, environment & communities).

Why should you apply for the Glencore Industrial Placement Programme?

The entrepreneurial culture is a huge draw for students coming to Glencore, perhaps thanks to the unique possibilities that the company offers in terms of hands-on industrial experience, endless learning opportunities and exposure to its business internationally.

Early responsibility and the chance to test your mettle in the workplace are excellent starting points for any career. Andres Bartlett is a chemical engineering student at the University of Bath on placement in the data management team at Glencore. He says that he found the environment fast moving from day one. ‘A lot of people on a placement elsewhere are not given the same level of responsibility, but at Glencore, students are expected to contribute and add value from the beginning and are treated like regular employees,’ explains Andres.

Georgy Ivakhnenko is studying theoretical physics at Durham University. He is working in the quant team during his placement and described it as the perfect environment to learn and see if the industry is right for you. ‘You are ingrained into your teams from day one,’ says Georgy. ‘You begin contributing as soon as possible, which gives you a great opportunity to showcase your skills’.

Another programme alumni, Jordan Georgiou , is studying economics at the University of Exeter and working within the financial operations team. Jordan explains that ‘you are always given the opportunity to share ideas that could help your team to move forward. It is unique to Glencore for you to have a voice in such a big organisation at such an early stage in your career.’

Glencore provides the chance to complete placements that offer insights into different areas of industry instead of just engineering or lab-based placements. This allows students to see the business side of engineering and commodities trading and what other roles there are outside of their degree.

Julia Battarbee is studying materials science and engineering at Loughborough University and working within the HSEC team. ‘The programme offers great exposure to the corporate world and potential opportunities for after you graduate,’ explains Julia. ‘You will have the chance to work with lots of different teams and the work you will be given is challenging.’

This experience of the corporate world is not limited to UK shores. Both Julia and Laura Williams , a natural sciences student at Lancaster University on placement in the HSEC team, were able to travel to South Africa and other countries for seminars, conferences and asset site visits.

What do you do during the Glencore Industrial Placement Programme?

The work very much depends on which department you are assigned to, but whichever team you’re in, you will be contributing to impactful tasks that affect the day-to-day working of the business. In other words, you will be doing real work. Our interviewees have contributed to a wide range of projects during their placements, including assisting with client pitch books and presentations, producing inspection plans, analysing carbon reduction projects and building infrastructure that helps traders and analysts to make informed decisions.

Roshan Singh Hehar is a chemical engineering student from the university of Birmingham currently on placement within the oil assets engineering team at Glencore. Roshan’s placement has already seen him working with key teams in the business.

‘I am currently working on a project which involves producing a piping inspection plan for a petroleum products storage terminal located in Argentina, one of Glencore’s oil assets,’ explains Roshan. ‘Initially, this involved developing a line list by examining the piping and instrumentation diagrams of the facility and working with the on-site team (and other members of the engineering team in London) to determine the most effective inspection procedure.’

It is not only the more established areas of the business into which students are placed, which can mean new and exciting projects to get to grips with for industrial placement students.

‘I work as a risk manager. The risk team controls and maintains exposure and profit and loss (PnL) within our specific books,’ explains Tomas Torres , a mathematics student from the university of Reading. ‘I run the speculative book for my desk so each day I have to make sure exposure is correct and expected. I calculate PnL and book any trades made by the traders into the system. Part of my job is to try and improve processes on the trading desk.’

What do you get out of the Glencore Industrial Placement Programme?

First and foremost, the industrial placement programme is there to give you a taste of the workplace, but this does not mean you will be merely shadowing. ‘It is a huge opportunity to learn from some of the best professionals in the industry,’ explains Jordan. ‘All of whom have years of experience and a willingness to sit down and talk to those with the drive to succeed and learn.’

You are given the opportunity to meet your team before you start your placement, which helps to ease your first day. Then, from the very beginning, you are given responsibility and the chance to put your newly found skills to the test. You will also receive all kinds of support throughout your placement, including regular catch ups with HR, access to an online learning platform (Entrima), department-specific specialist resources and talks from other staff and industry experts.

You can also expect full support from your team, who will be happy to help and answer any questions to further your personal development. Most of your training is done on the job, although you are not expected to be an expert. ‘You’re given tasks to learn and develop your understanding of the role you’re in and the tasks become more complex as you go on,’ explains Georgy. There are also chances to attend workshops and other training sessions; for example, Laura received environmental incident reporting and management training and training from the UN Environmental Programme regarding biodiversity and environmental development.

Our interviewees cited a vast array of technical and interpersonal skills that they were able to develop through the endless opportunities that were available to them over the course of their placements, including improved time management and organisational skills, coding and programming skills, presentation skills, project management skills and communication skills. All of these are a huge boost to your employability, but if you’re thinking about a placement in future it’s still worth remembering the basics as well, according to university of Exeter economics and politics student Alexander Nichol-Gent : ‘I would recommend refining PowerPoint and Excel skills. This is often overlooked as it can sound like generic advice; however, it is useful in your day-to-day role and can save you a lot of time,’ he says.

How can applicants best prepare for/succeed in the Glencore Industrial Placement Programme?

We asked our interviewees for their top tips on how to best prepare for and perform during the Glencore placement. They were kind enough to give us some ideas that they felt helped them to succeed and could help you too:

  • Gain a basic understanding of the commodities industry before you start
  • Be open-minded and friendly
  • Research the company before starting to get an understanding of the different teams and the sectors that they operate in
  • Refine your MS Office skills, particularly PowerPoint and Excel
  • Be willing to learn and ask questions if you’re uncertain of anything
  • Work on your communication skills
  • Liaise with the other placement students – you’ll all end up on different teams and learn different skills so you can ask for help when necessary (and vice versa!)
  • Seek out opportunities for yourself
  • Put yourself out there and be part of the conversation!

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