Maxim Van Goethem

Full Name: Maxim Van Goethem
Job Title: Head of EAC | APAC
Location: Singapore
Nationality: Belgian
Years at STX: 6+ years

1. Singapore is a new adventure for you – what are some focus areas for you and STX?

In addition to my role of heading the Singapore office, I’m also leading EAC business development and growing our activities in the APAC region. It’s our goal to become as big here as we are in Europe. Compared to Europe, where markets are mature and our internal infrastructure is developed, Asian markets are newer for us. We’re fortunate we can draw on this internal infrastructure and know-how – for example if we’re working on a specific deal proposal, we can always get the support we need from Amsterdam. Having worked in both offices, being a conduit to both regions is a key part of my job.

2. It must be exciting to take your experience and help build something up. What elements keep you passionate and motivated?

We’re expanding into a region with significant activity in renewables. Although the market is less mature compared to Europe, it’s very exciting to build something from the ground up. In my role, I aim to connect internal and external stakeholders, with a primary focus on executing trades and establishing a strong market presence. As a deal maker at heart, I’m passionate about pursuing the next trade.

3. What brought you to STX and the renewable energy space?

I have an educational background in finance and always dreamt of a career in banking, ideally as a quant analyzing stocks and becoming the next Warren Buffett! I began my career pricing OTC traded derivatives in the asset management department of a big bank. However, after two years, my perspective on a banking career changed. I transitioned to a more front-office role, helping companies hedge their forex exposure. In this position, I discovered my passion for sales.

However, I did feel somewhat disconnected from the product and sought new opportunities. A colleague mentioned the growing importance of environmental commodities, so I searched LinkedIn and found a mutual connection at STX’s Benelux desk. After meeting for coffee, I was immediately hooked. With an exciting opportunity available to build the Belgian business and make deals with utilities, offshore wind developers and large corporates, it was an easy decision to jump over to environmental commodities!

4. Drawing on your background in finance and leadership in financial commodities, what are some attributes or skills that someone needs to succeed at STX?

Trading at its best combines market expertise and creativity to find solutions that benefit both STX and the counterparty. To succeed, you need a mix of commercial and analytical skills. Our products are mainly OTC traded, making the business relationship based. It’s crucial to connect with people from all walks of life—one moment you’re talking to a CEO, the next to someone from the operational side of a renewable energy plant. Being able to translate different stakeholder needs into business ideas is key to success. Additionally, digging into the numbers helps create a trading strategy and helps you build your story when talking to counterparties.

5. How do you use these attributes or skills to manage the challenges and opportunities in your role?

In our business, the biggest challenge is expansion, both internally and externally. STX is growing rapidly, so it’s crucial to maintain internal coordination and clarity about responsibilities. This is especially important for me after moving to Singapore. I manage this challenge by keeping close contact with the team in Amsterdam. Our rapid growth is driven by external factors, as the market we’re in is still developing with new opportunities constantly emerging. To stay on top of these changes, we focus on the next trade, whether it’s entering a new market or dealing with a new type of product. This approach helps us effectively navigate this dynamic environment.

6. How does STX’s culture help you in your day-day work?

For me, STX’s culture is founded on ambition, friendship and entrepreneurship. We’re all very ambitious, aiming for the best. Because we share the goal of creating and building something, we focus not only on ourselves but also on helping our colleagues as much as possible. This aligns with STX’s values of building for the long run and loving to win together. Our common goal makes it easier to form friendships—with colleagues as friends and business partners. Additionally, management is supportive of good ideas for developing the business. Entrepreneurship is highly valued here.

7. In such a growing, dynamic business it can sometimes be a challenge to make time for yourself. What is your preferred approach to work-life balance?

I’ve never found work to be too overwhelming – I like my colleagues and counterparties. If I need to close a deal late at night or over the weekend, that’s just what I need to do. I’m the type of person who looks forward to Mondays—TGIM!

That said, my schedule is quite packed nowadays, especially with the time zone differences. Meetings with colleagues from New York or Mexico often mean late nights in Singapore. To maintain work-life balance, I prioritize my mornings. I set my alarm for around 6 am to hit the gym and enjoy a coffee before starting the business day. I also try to protect my Friday nights.

8. Any final advice or tips on growing your career in the environmental commodities industry?

The first piece of advice I want to share is to connect with your peers. Our industry is quite small, a fact I’ve experienced in both Europe and Asia. If you’re starting your career with us, don’t hesitate to talk to people internally. We all enjoy sharing experiences and advice. When attending events, make the most of them by meeting as many people as possible. Try to connect the dots and, if needed, introduce your contacts to internal product specialists from parts of STX.

The second piece of advice is about deal-making: be persistent! I have many examples, but one stands out. I chased one counterparty for over two years before we finally traded. They were initially unresponsive, but I knew the information I was sharing via email was valuable. This kept me on their radar, and eventually, they asked to schedule a call. Two weeks later, we completed our first very profitable trade.