ECOM University in Amsterdam 2023


Article by: Catherine Henzelin and the Global HR team


Developing and significantly investing in our talents is a strategic priority for ECOM, and we are therefore proud to have launched the new ECOM University this year, which took place in Amsterdam from the 24th to 26th October 2023. 


The aim of this introductory training is to bring together emerging talents from all over the world to provide deeper insight into our broader ECOM business, as well as the opportunity to build a strong global network with colleagues and leaders from our different commodities, functions and countries. 


ECOM University is the continuation of the former Halle U trainings, developed and run by the previous CEO Andrew Halle. The program was revamped to build a truly connected One ECOM, represented by a dynamic and diverse gathering of 32 participants from 12 different countries and 21 entities from all continents, nominated by the EXCO members.


The content of the program included different presentations, case studies, business critical challenges and a workplace style assessment, with focus on an interactive learning experience through discussions and group work. ECOM leaders from different commodities and functions shared their expertise in person or through video conferencing, which were particularly praised as key learning opportunities by the participants. 



We are grateful to Colman Cuff, Deputy CEO of Coffee for opening the session with a presentation on the One ECOM strategy, and with Aline Deniau and Sofia Scharrer for introducing ECOM’s Sustainability and Climate Strategy. Thank you to Imogen Chopra who taught the participants about the key risks in commodity contracts, Neil Fuller for sharing his knowledge of the Cocoa Trading business, as well as to Vis Prabhakaran and Kristian Hansen for explaining ECOM’s Risk Management. To wrap up this first edition, our CEO Alain Poncelet was delighted to answer thoughtful and very pertinent questions from the audience.  



The three-day training was facilitated by Jonathon Fite from North Texas University, who taught the topics of History of Commodities, Merchant Function, Supply Chain, Control Cycle and Financial Statements throughout the week. His enthusiasm and ability to captivate the audience was highly appreciated by participants. 



Another highlight of the inaugural ECOM University was the visit to ECOM’s Dutch Cocoa operation in Amsterdam. Guus de Gruiter, CEO of Cocoa Products, Joop Stoots and their team played gracious hosts, offering a tour of the plant and presentations by their leadership team. For many participants, this firsthand experience became a defining moment in the program, providing a tangible connection between theoretical knowledge and practical application. 


Last but not least, as shared by most of our participants, we could really feel the ECOM spirit throughout these days spent in Amsterdam. Everyone was in high spirits and eager to learn about the many different departments within ECOM. The fact that so many different people came together, enabled for lively discussions and collaboration, as well as camaraderie.


ECOM University 2023 stands as a testament to ECOM's commitment to nurturing global talent. By fostering a collaborative and immersive learning environment, the program has set the stage for continuous growth, innovation, and excellence within the organization. As ECOM continues to adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of the global market, initiatives like ECOM University will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the future leaders of the company.



The below comments of participants stand as a perfect illustration of the spirit from the first ECOM University. 


“One ECOM is one of the most impressive topics in the program, it was mentioned repeatedly and was the base of one of our case studies. It was truly a great opportunity to meet colleagues from different commodities and countries, which provided us an idea of how beneficial working as One ECOM will be in the future.”


“ECOM University provided a remarkable learning experience for which I'm genuinely thankful for. What left a lasting impression on me was the depth of ECOM's sustainability commitments, its innovative spirit, and its dedication to the welfare of its employees, farmers, and the environment.”


“This program represents an investment in both me and my colleagues, and it has ignited my enthusiasm to continue growing and contributing to the vision of One ECOM in any way I might be able to.”


“The program's comprehensive content, including the different presentations, case studies, and real ECOM business challenges, has provided me with valuable insights into our expansive ECOM ecosystem. Moreover, the exposure to colleagues from around the world has broadened my perspective, significantly enhancing my knowledge in trading, contracts, risk management, finance reporting, and other areas.”


The success of this first edition of the ECOM University confirms that we are on the right track to develop this learning path further.  We look forward to the next ECOM University in 2024!

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