Significant talent moves

Talent search and competitive intelligence specialists


Our highlights of the latest moves in the Ags sector begins with the news that Louis Dreyfus Company’s new COO is Michael Gelchie, taking over from Andrea Maserati who has left the company. Michael returned to LDC in July 2019 as the head of the coffee platform, having originally joined in 1990 and working in its rice, sugar and cocoa businesses. In 2010 he went to Sierentz as Senior Portfolio Manager, afterwards becoming Trading Director at Sucden Americas Corp. LDC has also appointed Nigel Mamalis to be Global Head - Risk & Compliance as the latest in a series of senior roles he has occupied since joining in 1988. Also, Michel Demaré --- a member of LDC’s board since April 2014 --- is made deputy chairman. 

Software and IT specialist Rudy Cortembert is today at LDC Geneva as Senior Data Strategist - Predictive Analytics. Rudy’s title at former employer ECTP had been Solutions Architect.

Stefano Rettore, former president of ADM’s origination business, is named interim leader of the initiative (now called Covantis) launched by ADM, Cargill, Cofco, Glencore and LDC to modernise global trade operations.  He will lead the project as an independent adviser during its development phase until governance is in place and will also head the search for its first CEO. A Covantis digital platform to support trades is being developed - subject to regulatory approvals, it should appear next year.



*Based on moves of data scientists tracked by Commodity Appointments in last 12 months.

AGS infographic

*Based on moves of data scientists tracked by Commodity Appointments in last 12 months.

American ags supply chain company Pipeline Foods brings in Anthony Sepich to be CEO. Anthony is a former ADM manager in European corn milling products and most recently has been Senior VP of Compass Minerals’ salt business. He succeeds interim CEO Robert Hodgen, who returns to being MD of investor partner Amerra Capital Management serving on the management board for Pipeline Holdings. Pipeline Foods was launched by the two companies in Minneapolis in 2017. It is the first US-based outfit focused exclusively on the supply chain for foods that are organic, non-GMO and grown by so-called regenerative crop production practices designed to help maintain soil quality.

Veysel Celebi has garnered experience of several product sectors, including petroleum, chemicals, natural gas and palm oil, and most recently served as Cargill Belgium’s global key accounts manager for starches, sweeteners and texturisers. His 12 years in Benelux positions with Cargill has been ended by a move to ADM’s commercial office in Amsterdam to become Regional Sales Director for specialty food and feed ingredients. 

Former Cofco Netherlands grain trader Leonard Brandhorst is now at Dutch animal feed company Royal De Heus as Global Purchaser. Leonard has also previously been part of the grain trading team at Nidera in Rotterdam.


Jingtao (Johnny) Chi has stepped down as Cofco chairman to be succeeded by Richeng Luan. Johnny was made CEO and Vice Chairman in 2017 and was appointed Chairman in 2018. He moves to become President of China Grain Reserves Group (Sinograin). Richeng Luan was appointed VP responsible for the group’s grains and oilseeds, sugar and cotton businesses in 2016. He’s additionally chaired several subsidiaries including Cofco Trading and China Agri.



Interim leader found for the Covantis initiative launched to modernise global trade operations




Moving across Switzerland from Geneva to Zug is Walter Singer, recruited by EuroChem Group to be Global Product Manager - Urea. While based in Geneva for CHS Europe, Walter held the position of Head of Fertilisers - EMEA. 

Renée McReynolds Laird started the millennium by becoming Rabobank ED/Head - Food & Agri Risk Management Americas. From there it was on to Newedge Group as their Chicago Branch Manager and Global Head - Agricultural & OTC Commodities. Most recently she’s been in advisory and consulting roles, but futures brokerage R.J. O’Brien & Associates has now selected her to be Senior MD/Global Head - Commercial Agriculture & OTC Markets. We note that the McReynolds Family Agriculture Scholarship at Kansas State University was created by Renée to support ag students studying risk management.

Over to Omaha, as Gavilon Group’s appointment of Jim Navin as CIO brings him from being product director for Kiewit Technology Group in Nebraska, where he was responsible for enterprise software and systems. The group says that James will lead the strategic direction of Gavilon’s technology team and innovation to meet the needs of people within the global agricultural supply chain.

Gabriel Beasrat Belew is ETG’s choice for its new Commodity Trader role. Past titles for Gabriel include Vegoil Trader --- his role when at BTG Pactual/ECTP and Avere Commodities.


Finally, in Sydney, Robert Spurway will be CEO/MD of GrainCorp after the planned demerger of the company’s malt business is completed, latest by Q2 2020. Current chief exec Mark Palmquist is set to become the MD/CEO of malt business upon a successful demerger vote at an Extraordinary General Meeting and subsequent court approval. He will relocate to the North American Headquarters of Malt in Vancouver, Washington State. Robert Spurway’s appointment by the board brings him from New Zealand dairy co-operative Fonterra, where he’s been COO of Global Operations for the past six years.



Company News

Watch our CEO’s interview with Jan Voetmann, Head of Analytics at Ørsted, here for the inside track on data scientists.



This is merely a snapshot of some of the recent people moves and associated trends observed by our Ags research team at Commodity. For further information about our intel offering and headhunting capabilities, please make contact with our CEO Jakob Bloch here Linkedin