Max van Meer

Job title: Managing Director North America
Nationality: Dutch
Office location: Amsterdam. NYC as per July 2023
With STX: 15 years

1. Max, you’ve been with STX for over a decade so we could say you’ve seen it all. How has the
company evolved during this time, and what keeps you here?

When I started in 2009, it was just the six of us in a small office room. We shared the backoffice and finance department with another company. There was a great atmosphere with youngsters at the beginning of their career with “Work hard, play hard” as the motto. We had to figure out everything ourselves. Setting up the first trading infrastructure, drafting the trading and brokerage contracts, building a website, doing marketing and everything else we thought was needed. It was one of the best periods in my professional life.

Today we are a team of close to 500 people with more than 10 offices around the world, with our main trading hubs being Amsterdam, New York and Singapore. We have specialized departments with experienced professionals for every part of the trading process.

It has been great to see the company evolve. Every step of the journey has been fun and challenging. Fast growth comes with change and not everyone likes the change. We want to make sure to focus on the opportunity ahead of us while maintaining our entrepreneurial DNA. New people have joined and gradually the company has changed into what we are today: one of the most successful environmental commodity trading firms in the world.

What keeps me here? The energy transition is a global movement. The world will be a different place ten years from now. STX is in the middle of it all and we are contributing to the transition.

We were initially a secondary trading firm but we have expanded our focus to originating new projects in the field of energy efficiency, carbon reductions, biomethane and many others. All these projects across the world come with their own challenges. I like to look at complex trades. I like the financial aspect of it, and I like the creativity and ambition we at STX must have to make these projects happen.

STX is becoming a global player very rapidly, which offers exciting career opportunities for everyone. I have had several roles within STX and will take the next step in July when I move to New York to co-head our US office as the Managing Director STX USA.

2. How do you envision the future for STX?

Governments and companies around the world are pledging carbon neutrality. The CBAM regulation is the first step towards making our markets a global integrated playing field and there are trillions of dollars needed to make this happen.

STX already has a leadership position in this market. With our growing origination and financing capabilities, we will get involved in larger and more complex projects and in more geographies.
The quality of the people we hire is constantly increasing, constantly making our company a more exciting place to work. Our board of advisors consists of experts with a deep knowledge of the industry and large networks that is accelerating our growth and new ambitions.

I truly believe that STX will become one of the top three global players in the environmental commodities market with 10,000 people covering all relevant geographies.

3. Trading houses are known for their drive and competitiveness, which comes with its strengths but also disadvantages. How would you say STX culture walks the line between the two?

I like a company culture where people work together to achieve joint and aligned goals. People with a strong commercial drive can make good things happen fast, but it is important to have different personalities and approaches in the team. To be successful with what we do, it is crucial that everyone can experience a working environment where they can shine and contribute to our success.

Our company is in a transition from a trading company to a company that helps corporates on their decarbonization journey, which also attracts different profiles. We need a variety of professional skills, cultures, languages, personalities, expertise – you name it. I think STX is becoming a great melting pot of all of the above.

And of course, like in any growing company, there will be differences of opinion between different people and teams and there will be clashes of cultures. But in the end, this is what makes the company evolve further.

4. What sets STX apart from these traditional trading houses?

Most trading firms are mainly financially driven. We adopt the same business model (origination, trading & analyses, sales) but we have an additional layer of environmental progress. The new talent is no longer solely financially driven or career focused but they want to have a feeling of purpose. STX is in the unique position to facilitate both.

5. What advice would you have given to your younger self if you knew where you would be now? Is that advice different to someone entering the industry now?

When STX was at a start-up phase, every milestone was celebrated. This included every new counterparty that we onboarded, every trade we closed and every revenue goal that we achieved. This enhanced the team feeling and the company culture that we were unknowingly defining at that time.

If I could advise ‘little Max’ I would tell him to dare to dream big. To not only look at the next achievable milestone but to think about the unimaginable things that STX could achieve in the future (which we today have achieved). Creating a dream or a vision is very inspiring. If people believe they can do great things, great things can happen.