Niels Moitier - Senior Trader
"Our traders still have a spark in their eyes, even after a decade of working here"
At 09.30 a.m. on a Monday morning, the boardroom at Interfood is packed with around 40 traders sitting at the 20 m-long conference table. Colleagues based in Poland and the Middle East are participating via Teams. “During the traders’ meeting, the position holders update us on how the various product groups are doing in the regions. Do we want to go long, or short? Should we buy, or sell? This is where we gather market insights and analyze prices and expectations. Teamwork is key to reaching conclusions about where the market is going. “Sometimes, the information is more important than the deal itself,” states Niels Moitier, Senior Trader at Interfood. The Frenchman has been with Interfood in the Netherlands for just over four years.
You initially applied to Interfood for a supply chain vacancy, but you're a trader now. How did that happen?
“My energy appealed to them during the job interview and they asked whether I’d consider the trader’s role. The interviewer said that my personality and character suited the organization. At that time, I was working in connectors and computer chips for cars and electrical equipment and had no idea about dairy or trading, but their enthusiasm was infectious. So I got into this line of work by accident. But it’s the best thing I’ve ever done! Thanks to the variety of the work, the freedom you have, the great colleagues and the buzz you get after a deal – it’s highly addictive. Even colleagues who have been working here for twelve years still have a spark in their eyes. I can’t imagine ever going back.”
You describe it as 'highly addictive'. What's it like on the trading floor?
“There’s a special energy that I’ve never experienced anywhere else. Everyone is alert and there’s a lot of interaction and information sharing, especially when the markets are moving quickly. To stay abreast of what’s happening in the world, we monitor the news 24/7 and keep in touch with numerous professionals in the supply chain. Then, you need to be able to decide what to do with all the information; that instinct is a gift. The various product groups – such as butter, milk powders, creams and cheese – all affect each other, and that’s what makes the dairy market so interesting. It’s a volatile market in which prices can change in a matter of minutes, so timing is crucial. You have to be quick to understand things and even quicker to react – preferably before anyone else does. That atmosphere creates pressure, but in a positive sense, and I thrive on that. We help each other to stay on top of the challenges. And when things get tense, everyone is eager to spring into action, which also means you learn a huge amount in a very short space of time.”
So no two days are ever the same?
“Exactly, and I love that. At Interfood, you make your own day; there’s no one telling you what to do. You have the freedom to travel, take on projects and pitch your ideas – and you don’t have to work here for years first. The only ‘must’ is the Monday meeting, which is sacred. The busiest trading days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Besides that, you spend time visiting customers and suppliers. The dairy market is small and very friendly with lots of events and socializing with stakeholders.”
What's your most memorable trading deal so far?
“That was just over a year ago, when we were in a bit of a tight spot. We wanted to make a deal in a dead market to regain our position, but we’d been struggling for some time. Then one day, during Friday afternoon drinks, one of our colleagues arrived with a big smile on his face and said “Guys, it’s done”. It was an amazing feeling, and everyone started cheering and hugging one another. Although the colleague had actually closed the deal, it felt like a team effort. That shows the spirit here!”
What about the sense of purpose? Do you feel you can make an impact?
“One reason that Interfood is doing so well is because we are committed to building a more sustainable food chain to help our partners achieve their green goals. It’s not within reason that our corporate purpose is described as ‘Together for better’. We are proud of that, and we keep on pushing. I have three kids and want them to grow up in a sustainable world. What I do in my work has a greater purpose than simply exchanging goods, it’s about supplying vital food ingredients to all corners of the world. It feels good to be making a positive contribution.”
What does the organization have to offer?
“Interfood is quite a sporty company, perhaps because it has so many young employees. But everybody finds it important to not only work hard in the office, but also to get lots of exercise. Our building has a gym, including a trainer, that everyone can use for free, so you can go for a workout or do boxing training before, during or after work. In addition, we get discounted membership of the tennis and padel club, we play football every Thursday at the sports centre around the corner, and everyone is very competitive at table football! Besides that, Interfood offers an extensive, healthy lunch buffet including a salad bar, so there are plenty of opportunities to stay fit and active.”
What about learning and career opportunities?
“There’s a lot of room for growth here. Just look at me: I made several steps in my career within Interfood, after starting as a junior. And the same kinds of opportunities are available to my colleagues. I really value that, and it’s a good fit with our performance culture; if you do your job well, chances will come to you. No matter what level you’re at, you can keep working on your own development, whether by participating in training, learning a language or doing a sales or management course.”
And how might a growth path look like?
“Many traders start out as juniors, which gives them time to learn the basics of the dairy markets, and build up responsibility over time. Then they progress to senior level, which is when they need to start thinking strategically. Here, we don’t hire for a job, but for a career. I have plenty of colleagues who have been working here for ten years or more.”
Which skills do you need to be successful as a trader in the dairy industry?
“In this job, it’s not so much about your degree subject, background or work experience. What matters most is that you have the drive to win – that you’re ambitious and someone who always wants more. You need to be a self-starter who is quick to think, quick to understand and can come up with out-of-the-box solutions. It’s also important to have social skills because we do business with people from various cultures. If you’re a team player with an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset and who demonstrates commitment, then there could be a personal fit. Remember: a deal doesn’t stop when you close it. You own the deal! Sometimes it’s necessary for you to step back in after the support department has picked up a closed deal.”
Why should someone with a great job elsewhere consider working here?
“Because it’s better! The atmosphere on the trading floor and at Interfood in general is really nice and informal. They take good care of us. When you work hard and well, you’re rewarded for it. In my view, the trading floor is the best place to learn and to become the best trader you can be. Our motto is ‘work hard, play hard’. Sometimes you take a phone call outside of your regular working hours, but the flipside is that we regularly get together for drinks, to celebrate a special occasion and even for skiing trips. We have lots of fun together.”
Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring traders interested in a career at Interfood?
“Definitely be prepared to work hard, but also realize that it’s the best time you can have while working. Show that you’re driven, ambitious and dependable, because we work as a team. Come and meet us with a smile and be yourself. Interfood is a pretty informal organization, so don’t be shy. Be energetic and show us the best you have.”
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