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Meet a certified ERP

ERP_headshot_Dipendukar

Dipendu Kar

Düsseldorf, Germany

Job at time of interview: Manager Consulting, Accenture

CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO IN YOUR CURRENT JOB?

As a management consultant at Accenture, I provide consulting to financial and utility clients on how to model and valuate different commodity products in the energy trading systems. I deal with gas, oil, refined products, power, and emission commodities. My primary responsibility is to model such products in the underlying ETRM system used by the business, so that there is complete end-to-end coverage of the commodity trade life cycle. My day-to-day responsibilities involve confirming with traders on the deal modeling requirements, discussing P&L and VaR requirements with the risk department, and confirming the correct invoicing figures with the back-office/settlements team.

HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR WAY TO THE ENERGY INDUSTRY?

My first exposure to energy trading was working for an energy utility based out of the Netherlands. Being new to the industry, I was quite captivated with the energy business and its underlying complexities and was fascinated to see how the market would mature over time.

HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE ERP DESIGNATION, AND WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO SIT FOR THE ERP EXAM?

Prior to taking the ERP Exam, I felt as though a single book or certification was not enough to fill the gaps in my knowledge of the energy field. Soon after GARP introduced this certification, I heard about it from one of my colleagues. At that point, it felt like the ERP was the certification that would cover aspects of the commodities life cycle required by any energy professional to be successful. This motivated me to gather more information about the exam and what it takes to prepare for it.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED IN PREPARING FOR THE ERP EXAM, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?

One thing all ERP candidates will agree is that the curriculum is extensive in terms of coverage and details. The biggest challenge was to finish all the requisite topics while maintaining my professional commitments, so that I could do justice to both. The GARP 15-week study plan really helped with my planning. At the end of the first week, I understood how much effort was needed and how much preparation would be required to finish all of the topics on time.

HAS THE ERP DEEPENED YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF COMMODITY PRODUCTS?

The ERP has provided me with a greater understanding of the commodities market. It has broadened my knowledge base such that I am comfortable speaking about all relevant commodities through all the aspects of their life cycle. It has also filled in the knowledge gaps that I previously had, since most of my work was limited to specific business areas or products based on client requirements.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE CONSIDERING TAKING THE ERP EXAM?

Earning the ERP certification proves that you have the commitment and dedication necessary to gain expertise in the energy domain. So if you are planning to take the exam, you need to first realize that you have to dedicate the time, attention and energy needed to attain that level of knowledge. You also need to create a time table through which you can diligently track your progress.

WHO WOULD BENEFIT MOST FROM THE ERP PROGRAM? ARE THERE SPECIFIC POSITIONS/BACKGROUNDS THAT YOU THINK WOULD BENEFIT MOST?

Anyone working in the commodities business would benefit from this program, since the ERP provides a complete understanding of the energy industry, end-to-end. Such extensive knowledge is pertinent for anyone who is looking to build a career in the energy sector, and I believe the ERP is the only program currently that provides this complete picture.

IN WHAT WAYS DOES THE ERP HELP YOU WITH YOUR DAILY RESPONSIBILITIES?

I now feel more confident while talking to traders or risk managers or back-office personnel since I completely understand their business objectives and can work with them to find technical solutions for business continuity.

HAVE YOU PARTICIPATED IN THE ERP CPE PROGRAM, AND, IF SO, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE?

I believe that the CPE program is a must for new Certified ERPs. The CPE program ensures that the ERP professionals maintain their qualitative edge. I have participated in a few of the CPE activities and I feel they are relevant to my professional growth.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OR ADJUSTMENTS REQUIRED TO MODEL ENERGY COMMODITY PRICE RETURNS VS. PRICE RETURNS RELATED TO CONVENTIONAL FINANCIAL PRODUCTS?

Commodity price returns are difficult to calculate, since, unlike conventional financial products, they depend on many real-time factors, including temperature, seasonality, storage trends, etc. Typically, on shorter time scales, an adjustment or hedging mechanism is necessary to minimize market risk fluctuations.

WHAT TRENDS DO YOU SEE WITHIN ENERGY COMMODITIES?

Apart from the usual, easily identifiable factors that routinely impact energy commodity price formation, there are a number of unpredictable geopolitical and macroeconomic factors that can impact the market. For example, one important trend that is quite relevant today is the expansion of LNG production and transport. Many countries are currently exploring opportunities to transport gas across continents, including US exports of LNG. We expect this trend to gain momentum in the near future.

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