Career Spotlights: David O’Sullivan, Dry Cargo Shipbroker, Clarksons Platou
How did you get in to shipping?
Unlike most, I have no one in shipping from my family and I fell into the industry by accident. During the middle of my undergraduate degree I did a 1 year placement at Ofgem, which got me exposure to the energy markets as they became deregulated. After that I worked for a couple of Energy Trading companies before specialising in the coal and freight sector at EDF. I loved working in the freight team, and learnt from the ground up from confirmations, settlements, operations to the freight trading desk. Outside of work I studied evening classes with METL for the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers exams, which helped my network and cemented my career choice.
What has been the highlight of your working career to date?
I won a couple of prizes with the ICS in my final year for top grades and the ceremony was held at Trinity House. This was a special occasion for me because my parents attended and got to meet my tutors and fellow professionals.
How has Covid-19 impacted your day to day business activity?
The first three months were very difficult working from a laptop on the kitchen table and sharing childcare duties with my wife. I had to conclude many fixtures on my headphones, whilst taking my daughter out in the afternoon, which meant not giving full attention to my client nor my daughter! Overall I managed to get through it, and at Clarksons we are blessed with first rate IT support.
Which skill have you had to work hardest to develop that didn't come naturally to you?
One thing I had to work on as a shipbroker was pushiness, as a competitive broker you cannot always take no for an answer. If you think you are the best channel for a particular business you must keep trying. Even then, if you take your eye off the ball for a moment when you think you have commitment, another broker could step in and grab the deal.
What's the one key tip you'd share with people looking to build a career in Shipbroking?
Shipping is an immensely rewarding career. You work at the forefront of international trade and you encounter different nationalities and cultures every day. Two things were instrumental in my career - firstly studying the ICS brought on my skills and knowledge far quicker than purely learning on the job. Secondly I attended every networking event in London you could think of - ICS, Young Baltic, SPNL, The Fixture where I met lifelong friends and associates. Reputation is everything in Shipbroking so take the time to get out there and meet as many people on the industry as you can, particularly when you are young as you will never have the same amount of free time again.