Their journey at Riverlake
Haykel Sahraoui — Senior Shipbroker
Geneva — Joined Riverlake in 2010
I was always attracted by the commercial side of things. In 2010 I got the opportunity to start my career at Riverlake in the R&C department. I was 22 years old, I will never forget the first time I walked into the trading room. Lots of screens, the phone ringing continuously and the shipbrokers talking about crazy figures. That was the first time I thought I would like to be in the industry.
After two years in the R&C department, I expressed my interest in moving into chartering. Riverlake responded to my wish and gave me the opportunity to become a shipbroker. Riverlake, although a holding company with several subsidiaries and activities worldwide, is still a family business that listens to its employees. The company encourages both personal and career development. If you are a spot broker and you want to do ship Sale & Purchase or Commercial Ship Management, you won’t be turned down. Instead, we are helped to achieve our goals.
My stress was intense on my first call, asking, at the age of 25, a shipowner to offer me a ship to transport a cargo worth millions of dollars Thanks to all, I carried out this first charter. When it was completed, everyone in the room applauded and I felt a satisfaction that I will never forget.
Later I was assigned the North African region. I speak Arabic thanks to my Tunisian origins, it made sense for me and the company.
I am now 34 years old, and I have been with Riverlake for 12 years. Why?
Firstly, for the six weeks holiday we get after ten years in the business (laughs). More seriously, the priority of the company is the well-being of its employees, for instance asking during the COVID to work from home. Now we can do part of the week home office. I have also been able to see my daughter growing up.
If someone asks me the qualities of Riverlake, I would say diversification: we can move from one office to another if circumstances and wishes so permit. It’s also very cosmopolitan. My colleagues are Swiss, Italian, Nigerian, Dutch, French, Georgian, Scandinavians, Hungarian etc… this mix of cultures is very enriching. Then Career development: It is possible to start as a trainee and end up as a senior shipbroker within a few years. And we travel a lot which I like !
There is a family atmosphere: it is very rare to spend a day without laughing together, the management is with us in the same room, and we don’t need an appointment to go and talk to them. There is Proactivity; ideas are encouraged at Riverlake. If they are well thought out and the business plan is interesting, Riverlake will help you to implement them. And Riverlake does not stay in its comfort zone and always tries to innovate with new projects.
How do I see my future at Riverlake? I’m continuing with what I know best, which is brokerage. Afterwards, why not move on to a managerial position to train, pass on my knowledge and give another young person the chance to discover this exciting shipping industry.