"THE OPERATIONS MANAGER IS THE ONE YOU CAN RELY ON DURING SHIFTS. ITS MY JOB TO MAKE SURE THE TRADING NEVER STOPS. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS."
After finishing his bachelor in India, Saumitra Wagh (27) came to The Netherlands in 2018 to start his MSc in Sustainable Energy Technology (SET) in Delft. He graduated in 2020 and started his career as Junior Operations Manager at Northpool in the summer of 2021.
Following a Master in The Netherlands
I wanted to do a master with a focus on the energy transition, specifically solar energy. I looked for different universities in multiple countries. When there was an opportunity for me at TU Delft, I applied for a study visa and got in.
Finding a job after graduating was difficult: since Covid a lot of companies had stopped hiring new employees. I did a small internship at a solar panel company; literally being on roofs for a few months, installing solar panels. I had a list of companies I wanted to work for, Northpool was one of them. there was a small topic about Energy Economics in my master’s, this is how I knew that there was something called energy trading.
The world of Energy Trading
I found it really interesting; I knew what trading meant, but never really saw it. Then I started working on the shift and I really liked it. The first six months were training for me. For the Operations Manager, it is really important to get independent quickly, because then you can do multiple shifts and provide trade support.
Learning how to work independently
As a Junior Energy Trader, you start working in a simulation environment; you can play around without affecting the situation and results on the actual trading floor. For the Operations Manager, this is different: It’s learning by doing, directly on the trading floor. However, for the first two/ three months you always have a Senior with you on the shift, until you can do it on your own. The sooner you can operate independently, the better for both the shifts and the company; then we have more flexibility.
Operations Manager vs Energy Analyst
The Operations Manager is the one you can rely on during shifts. It’s my job to make sure that the trading never stops. No matter what happens. This means being able to go through multiple scenarios to make sure that the Trader doesn’t stop trading, but also managing failing emergencies and prioritizing them. The Analyst makes the models, the Operations Manager tests them on the floor and gives feedback to the Analysts about what is working the right way, and if or how the model should be improved. Off the shifts, the Operations Manager makes sure every tool used is operating as it should and every incident that occurs is being communicated properly to the entire trading team. For the Analyst, it is more about working on different models and making sure the data make sense. For the Operations manager, it is about fixing, evaluating and constant thinking how to improve. There has to be a strategy for every problem. We’re constantly improving the tools we are working with.
Two positions: one trade support
For an Analyst, it is also necessary to be on the shifts sometimes because then he/ she knows how to make a model that is directly usable on the shift. For the Trader there is no difference. But, if the Analyst builds a model, he/ she might be able to give more information about that particular model during the shift.
It can be stressful in the beginning, but when you get used to it and you understand trading better, You get more confidence in yourself. Every situation has a different strategy. I communicate with the trader, sometimes also our IT department and external parties at the same time, given priority to the trader of course. The last strategy: just do the best you can to fix the problem. I have had a shift in the night when there was a major problem, but not on our end fortunately, but then you just deal with it. You tell the trader: this is what’s happening, close everything. It is the best thing you can do.
Cooperation within the company
In my position, I have contact with all departments. I function as trade support for the trader, but if something is not working properly, I start talking to the Data Engineers or Analyst who build the tool, communicating back to the Trader why something is not working. If there is an external problem, I pick up the phone and start calling people.
Working at Northpool
I never really thought about how I feel about it. I just like the job, but I also like how the company is: There is a structure, but there is also not a structure. I like it that I can approach anyone, anytime. Even our CEO is fine with accommodating you if he has his hands free. I really like it. Also, there is hierarchy but also transparency. Every month, I have a mentor meeting where I get feedback about my work. I can also ask the traders directly after the shift, because it’s really nice for me to learn from the seniors. It works both ways. There is transparency as well as it comes to give feedback between colleagues.
I would like to become more senior and get more responsibilities off the shift. Personally, I would like to travel more. Anywhere in Europe, but I also have my brothers in Toronto, Canada. With our new office in Canada, I would even like to go there. Just pack my bags and leave, see a new country.