Of Course Glencore Became A Boss-Kissing “Cult” Right Before The Big Pay Day


Glencore’s recent IPO has led to a lot of speculation about the firm.

One recent article, from Reuters, says the commodities trading company is “cult-like” as a result of CEO Ivan Glasenberg’s only promoting top people from within the company.

Another, from the Guardian says the firm’s IPO is like Goldman Sachs’ in 1999. It also says the money at the top is huge and that all of Glencore’s ~65 partners are cashing out big time after the IPO.

From the Guardian:

Following its flotation in May, Glencore’s partners will be sitting on shares worth, on average, $100m each. They will be locked in for six months, but will be able to sell tranches of stock at staggered intervals over the next four-and-a-half years. Partners are also promised a $1bn dividend for 2011 that is expected to be paid in cash.

From the Australian:

The 485 partners who own Glencore shares on average $103 million each, and leave Glasenberg, according to estimates, with $9 billion.

Put two and two together and the scene looks like this: the last few years have been absolutely nuts at Glencore leading up to the IPO. Everyone wanted to be named a partner because that’s where the money is. And now, the few that tried really hard but didn’t make partner are b*tching about it around town, and thus, word about Glencore’s crazy culture is out.

One big clue that this is the case: Reuters says, “A group of traders often joins the 54-year-old boss for his daily run.”

Now, the title the lucky ~65 at Glencore have right now is Partner. But who wants to bet that at least 10 of them have jogged with the boss or at least talked about jogging with him. 

Of course, we could be wrong; CEO Ivan Glasenberg was the Israeli race-walking champion in the early 1980s. And he’s got a good story about why he started commodities trading –

“I observed a man sourcing candle wax from South America and selling it to Japan,” he said. “I thought: ‘That’s unbelievable. Talking on the phone in his office, that man made money moving candle wax from one country to another.’ It really interested me.”

So it could be just that Glencore employees actually like to take early morning jogs with their “charismatic” boss.

But we think those jogs were actually double-tasking health and career-advancement. And this “crazy” culture at Glencore will be dialed down significantly now that the IPO is on its way. 

Another clue from Reuters: “A lot of them are very loyal to Ivan personally. They’ll want to be part of the new structure. They are his loyal lieutenants.”

Now read more about the culture and tell us if you don’t agree.

Here’s what people say about the money-crazed employees who work there:

  • “They are so tough, the ones who survive. They are so resilient, like androids. There can be all kinds of horrible things going on, and they rarely lose their cool.”

And here are the rumours about life at Glencore:

  • Staff get 400-500 emails/day and they have to be on call 24/7
  • “I generally worked 10-12 hours a day. The assumption is glam parties in the evenings … but the reality of the daily stresses means I rarely went out in the week.”
  • “If you make a mistake and you’ve lost them money, then the whole company will ridicule you because they send these multi-chain emails around.”
  • “[Employees] learn to be really, really careful, because the whole company will laugh at you and you’ll lose your bonus.”