Digiterre’s Rajesh Jethwa is named in the top 30 of the 2023 CIO 100
We speak with Mark Pickering, Director, Energy & Commodities about his role at Digiterre, what interests him about the sector and some of the highlights of working with the team.
I originally started out in Investment banking almost 40 years ago, working with traders and building derivatives trading systems across multiple asset classes. During the early 90’s I began working with the Commodity traders at Bankers Trust, helping them to build their first CTRM system and I guess this was from there my career in Energy and Commodities really started. I spent 6 years at Enron in Houston and London ending up as their Group CIO. After Enron collapsed, I joined Shell Trading as their CIO and after another 6 years, I moved as CIO to EDF Trading. Following EDFT I set up my own consulting business called CIO Squared and had been doing that, on and off, up until Covid struck. At this point, I was going to retire but found I was getting quite bored during the lockdowns.
Post lockdown, Digiterre invited me to the first F2F Energy trading conference run by Computer people, which I jumped at. It was refreshing to get out and meet people face to face and I realised there was a lot of new interesting work going on in the industry. Digiterre asked me to join them and as they say – ‘the rest is history’.
I look after the Energy and Commodities side of the business. I spend a lot of time with the Sales team, introducing them to people I know in the industry and working with them on their sales strategy and pitches to potential clients. I also work with the Digiterre senior management team and offer advice and insights into the running of the business. This also involves working particularly closely with Ian Murrin, Digiterre’s CEO, who has a great sense of humour and is great fun to work with. Having spent most of my career on the buy side in senior line management roles, I also like to get involved with the delivery side of the business here, working both with our own delivery teams as well as directly with clients. I find there is a great can-do culture here and I’m very impressed with the quality of the people I now work with
One thing that comes to mind; when I started my career there were no viable ETRM/CTRM vendors and as such we tended to build the functionality for the traders in-house. We then saw a big evolution in this space with new suppliers coming to market, building and selling products in this space until buy vs. build was pretty much a no-brainer buy decision. More recently though, it seems to me that the changes in the market, driven by the World Energy Transition are, in many cases, overtaking the vendors’ ability to build the new accommodating functionality, and to some extent, companies are looking to build some of the more complex functionality in-house.
Another big change has been the evolution of Cloud Computing. When I started, we either built and ran our own Data Centres or leased space in a locally managed DC as close by as possible to reduce latency for our Traders. These days, the massive improvements in technology and services provided have meant the CIO can effectively outsource a large proportion of their hardware needs.
There was one big benefit arising from the COVID-19 pandemic – remote working. Before COVID-19, most CIOs working in Commodity trading (and other sectors) had the difficult job of providing disaster recovery solutions for their trading teams and other parts of the business. This usually meant dedicated offsite DR facilities, backup DCs, and backup bandwidth. Covid forced business managers to accept that to continue doing business, staff had to work from home, even the most sophisticated of Traders. I think IT teams and IT companies did an admirable job of making this work, and it’s now a way of life and a big cost-saving.
I have always enjoyed working with Traders and find it particularly fulfilling when you are able to create a system or solution that helps the Traders gain a competitive edge. With the world evolving as it is, there now seems to be even more opportunities to create these types of solutions, and I think this is something Digiterre excels at.
Obviously Net Zero is a big driver of change across the industry. Companies are looking to change their Energy mix with a big emphasis on renewables.
Many of the companies we work with now have C/ETRMs and other systems that are no longer fit for purpose. There are numerous reasons for this, but most companies I’ve seen over my career experience this at some point. These companies are looking at major IT transformations and in some cases business transformations.
Many Energy Trading companies are looking at technologies to allow them to optimise their asset portfolios that now include new asset classes such as wind, solar, batteries, etc.
Another big challenge for our clients is how to optimise access to the huge amounts of data they have and turn this data into a commercial asset.
Working with the sales team has been great fun and I particularly remember enjoying riding an eScooter for the first time, instead of catching a cab, to E-World when we were staying in Essen.
By: Rajesh Jethwa
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