Geneva has become a world center of physical commodity trading in recent years. Overall, it is estimated that 40% of international commodity trading takes place in the Geneva area. No less than 200 businesses work in the Canton directly or indirectly for this sector, representing between 5,000 and 6,000 employees. All these businesses have one thing in common: the need for specialized and continual training for professionals in the sector in Geneva.
The Master of Science in Commodity Trading and the Diplomas of Advanced Studies in Commodity Trading were created with professionals through the Swiss Trading and Shipping Association (STSA). Both programs are run and the Diplomas are delivered by the University of Geneva, GSEM Faculty in order to address this need. Special attention is paid to the selection of the most renowned teachers and guest speakers. The aim is to provide students with the highest academic standards with the selection of professors known for their knowledge in a particular domain. To complete the learning experience, professionals from the industry are invited to expose participants to practical considerations and examples.
Recently, those programs have been subject to modifications that we summarize in this article.
Master of Science in Commodity Trading
Created in 2008, this unique academic program has been designed to respond to a need identified by Geneva’s commodity trading, commodity finance, and shipping community itself. Taught in English, this academic curriculum consisted traditionally of 24 modules structured into three complementary sections: components of trading, commodity hedging and price risk, and commodity finance and financial risk management. In order to be accepted into the Master’s program, prospective students had to secure a part-time traineeship in commodity trading or in a finance-related company before the beginning of the first semester.
The Master has seen several changes these past years. In 2016, the University decided to add an academic option to the Master. Prospective students had two options:
- Professional option: they secure part-time traineeship before the beginning of the first semester;
- Academic option: the internship is replaced by 30 ECTS of courses to choose from the ones offered by the GSEM master programs, subject to the agreement of the teacher and the Scientific Committee;
However, in November 2017, the Scientific Committee of the Master decided that as of September 2018, students will have to secure work of 80% in a company linked to the Commodity Trading industry, as was the case before 2017. The “academic path” will no longer exist and hence existed for only one year. The Master in Commodity Trading is an academic master and the format of the course will stay the same as in 2017. As always, there will be slight changes in order to better fit the constantly evolving commodity trading industry.
Moreover, as of September 2017, the master is called Master of Science in Commodity Trading.
DAS in Commodity Trading
Alternatively to the existing bi-weekly format, the DAS in Commodity Trading is now offered in a new block format designed for international audiences.
- Bi-weekly Format for professionals living in Switzerland and surrounding areas: Courses take place twice every month on Friday afternoon (2pm – 9pm) and Saturday morning (8am – 1pm) and occasionally three days in a row on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
- Block Format for the international audience: This new format consists of four blocks of two modules taking place in Geneva over six days combined with four online modules. The first intake started in September 2017 with students from Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Greece, etc. Each module is subject to an evaluation, and class attendance is mandatory. For each training hour, two hours of reading, preparation, case studies and homework are required. Both formats are delivered in English.
DAS Field Trip 2018
On the 11th of May, the DAS in Commodity Trading Class was in sunny Athens for the purposes of their annual field trip. On this field trip, the class was accompanied by the University Director, Professor Thomas Straub, and the Program Coordinator, Leticia Saura, as well as the Swiss Trading & Shipping Association (STSA) Secretary General, Dr. Stéphane Graber.
The class visited Hellenic Petroleum, one of the leading energy groups in South East Europe, with activities spanning across the energy value chain and with presence in six countries. Its shares are primarily listed on the Athens Exchange (ATHEX: ELPE) with a secondary listing on the London Stock exchange (LSE: HLPD/98LQ). The attendees had the opportunity to get a closer look of the group’s activities which include but are not limited to ‘Refining, Supply & Trading of Petroleum Products (17MTmn annual refining capacity) both in Greece and abroad (as their primary activity), Fuels Marketing in Greece and abroad, Petrochemicals /Chemicals Production &Trading, and Oil & Gas Exploration & Production.
The second visit was arranged at the premises of Barry Rogliano Salles (BRS) in Athens. Thanassis Limnios who is a shipping professional with fourteen years of experience in the field, and also a graduate of the DAS and delegate of the 2017 Class , invited them to BRS’ premises, provided a short presentation of BRS origins and activities, and also gave the opportunity to those who were not familiar with the company’s work to get a better idea of what it does. The students and the university staff had also the chance to get a live navigation on the AXS Dry platform, a highly sophisticated maritime platform created by BRS, which is a main tool for brokers’ and operators’ efficient ship monitoring. The feedback was very positive and the attendees were quite satisfied with the content of this interactive session.
This trip also offered the opportunity to those who visited Athens for first time to see the monuments of the famous historic city, such as the Acropolis of Athens, and walk the historic streets of this beautiful ancient land, as well as enjoy the Greek hospitality, Mediterranean cuisine and vibrant nightlife.