Interviewing Alessio

After high school I found myself puzzled about what I wanted to do or study. Only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to travel. I applied for a work and travel visa for Australia and spent an amazing year there. Towards to the end of my stay I met Alessio. Over the years we have met up several times and always in different countries. Alessio is from Italy.

What is your job title?

That is a good question. I’m always in trouble when somebody asks me what my job is. I guess I could say that I’m a trader, more specifically a metal scrap trader, or in many cases an agent. I try to be in touch with as many scrap yards, steelworks and foundries around the world as I can. When I see that somewhere there is a high demand of an alloy and I know where it can be sourced, I try to make a business out of it. Sometimes I buy and sell a relatively small quantity with a margin, sometimes I sell in account of big companies in bigger quantities and take a commission for my work.

Where do you work?

My office is in Lugano, Switzerland, but nothing really happens there beside lots of phone calls and emails. My clients at the moment are mainly in Germany, Italy and India, but this can also change fast depending on the market.
Less than 50% of my time is in the office. More often I visit clients, go to conferences and try to do some networking, and sometimes, I admit it, take the liberty to work from places I like 🙂

How did you get in to the line of work?

It was my father to bring me into this business. I had no intention to follow his steps, until I tried and was really surprised to find out how much I liked it. The new possibilities of communication and travel, along with my personal work style, surely changed a lot the kind of work I do now, but most of the concepts remains.

Did you feel lucky landing your job?

I like to work in general. I think that I would be happy in many other lines of work. My luck was that I had a teacher with true intentions of letting me learn all the tricks and not trying to hide them from me. Plus I’m very happy to have done some friends on the way whom I can trust.

What qualifications are needed?

Languages are a big help, especially English and in my very specific case I take advantage of German.
Besides that, everything can be learned on the way. The only requirement is lots of good will, the intention of dedicating lots of time and energy to it (sometime I abuse this), and the knowledge that sometimes lessons that have to be learned can be very hard (or costly).

Are you striven by the work you do or your paycheck?

I work in recycling, I help steelworks reducing CO2 emissions by using scraps instead of minerals, I believe in the need of moving resources where they are most needed and I see many good effects of my work. I also like to keep my clients happy and help them with their needs, as with time, most of them become friends. The paycheck is the demonstration of a good work, but surely also the main reason to put such effort in what I do.

Does your work match your expectations?

I try not to have expectations. I surely can do more and will try to take opportunities to be more efficient and work better. On the other hand I can’t complain with what I reached so far.

Describe a basic day at work. Does it vary day by day?

It can be very different from day to day. A portion of time is spent in the office sending emails and making phone calls. Generally we can say that I spend a lot of my time in front of my laptop. What I really like is going to travel, visiting clients, seeing some actual work and taking part at conferences on the other side of the globe.

What is the most exciting thing about your work and why?

I’m fascinated by working with very different kind of people and I’m very excited every time I get to travel. When I started working I heard that some big traders were selling some kind of materials in India, but none in my surroundings had contacts there. I decided to go to Mumbai and New Delhi, contact randomly as many companies as I could and try to find clients. I literally had no clue what to look for and how to conclude a deal. I made no business there, but I’m still in contacts with many of those companies and some of them became very important for me in the following years. I remember this first travel as the most exciting. I’m probably looking to find that same feeling every time I can.

What do you get asked about your job by friends and family?

I think that my friends are still trying to find out what I do exactly. They know that I deal with metal scraps and that I travel often, but I suppose that everybody has his own opinion about what I do.
I get asked if it goes well or if it goes bad, and how much free time I have and when. I don’t really get questioned a lot about the details of my work.

What is the best part of your job?

Being free to decide what to do and when, and having the chance to travel a lot.

Do you have bad days or moments? Why?

Of course I do! Sometimes I have to deal with lots and lots of bureaucracy and it can be very frustrating. Sometimes, despite lots and lots of efforts, for the most stupid reason a deal won’t happen. Sometimes there can be lots of pressure, when I guarantee something to my clients and my suppliers don’t respect what we agreed putting me in a difficult position. Sometimes suppliers and clients have a very different opinion about the quality of a product and it can be difficult to find an agreement when everybody is angry and feels that is losing money. Sometimes I make mistakes of every kind. Bad days are always there and will always be.

Do you have any advice for people considering your line of work?

Like in all kind of works, the beginning can be hard and it take some time to understand the procedures. The only advice is to never get unmotivated and put effort in what you do, results will come!

Thank you Alessio!


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