Ron O'Brien - Derivatives Director - Interfood Inc.
Hi Ron, could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Ronald Kevin O’Brien II, I am 40 years old, married, and I have two small children. Currently, I am the Derivatives Director of Interfood Inc., based in Miami. I’m working for Interfood since 2013 but I’ve been trading dairy futures and options since 2004.
What was your motivation to start a job at Interfood?
Interfood and its worldwide business gave me the opportunity to increase my network and my reach and to develop with the market. Dairy futures had just begun climbing to critical mass across the globe and I saw a good match with Interfood’s strategic derivatives focus to build a mutual success on a global scale. Therefore, Interfood was the perfect next step for me.
What is your favorite thing about Interfood?
Interfood gave me an opportunity to achieve my professional objectives. Interfood’s capabilities have blossomed over the years and risk management is now deeply embedded into our culture and value propositions. We are known as one of, if not the world’s premier Dairy Risk Management firm and that makes me proud.
What is your best memory of your time at Interfood until today?
Interfood made it possible to spend 5 months with my family in the Netherlands. That was a very special time, both personal as professional. We all gained a greater respect of the differences and similarities that exist between the US and European culture. The experience reinvigorated my desire and motivation due to how much opportunity still remains out there, how much there is to learn from my global colleagues and how we can further grow our general and derivatives dairy propositions to benefit our customers.
About your job at Interfood, what does your average working week look like?
I spend most of my time behind a computer. My colleagues sometimes joke that all I do is press buttons. And I cannot blame them in doing so, as for the most part they are correct. I do buy and sell futures, swaps and options, usually by pressing a button on a mouse. And that is quite different from the work my colleagues do when they are buying and selling physical dairy products, whilst offering supply chain solutions, technical product knowledge and market information. My team is mostly involved in providing risk management solutions, the last value proposition we offer to our stakeholders.
With that said my workweek starts Sunday night and ends Friday “early” afternoon EST. Between those hours my life is pretty much dairy trading focused. Analyzing charts, back testing correlation studies, creating and debating market views and managing my WhatsApp and email inbox. I’m obsessed with accuracy in real-time position reporting, therefore I’m constantly monitoring traders’ actions or price movements that change delta. Daily spot call trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and various meetings with traders, management and our Derivatives team all keep me on schedule.
What do you like the most about your job?
It has been said, “if your chopping down trees in a forest, and doing it extremely well and very efficiently, it may look like your accomplishing something, but it’s not helpful if you’re in the wrong forest.” I enjoy “figuratively” going on these expeditions in uncharted territories and prospecting for the right route to take, alongside fellow likeminded, talented and passionate colleagues. And I especially enjoy, after scouting the most direct and practicable path, navigating it alongside the future leaders of Interfood.
How do you see the future of Dairy Derivatives?
There have always been many parameters that influence the global dairy market and therefore there will always be an important role for our derivatives business, ensuring prize risk management solutions for our buyers and suppliers both in the States as well as abroad, although it still hasn’t been a pill swallowed whole by the supply chain. But I foresee that volatility of our markets, politics and financial measures will ask for strategic choices for all parties in the dairy supply chain.
Exchanges and brokers will continue to list options, packs and calendar spreads on current contracts and develop creative instruments to decrease risks involved. I also see a big role for data and algorithmic machines that will automate some financial processes and instruments. The dairy market will evolve like other commodity markets, with possible disruptive trends to which we will have to respond as a leading global dairy expert.
Finally, what would you say to potential new team members?
First of all, welcome aboard! You were hired for your skills, but what we especially appreciate is the ability to learn, develop and lead. And your way to adapt to new circumstances and ways of working, as we work in an ever-developing business. Become obsessed with mastering your craft, developing your skills and honoring your principles, whilst staying true to Interfood’s core values.
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