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New leadership team

A new leadership team has been voted in at the International Cotton Association (ICA) following our annual general meeting, which took place last month during the association’s Hong Kong 2018 trade event.

Mr Bill Ballenden (CEO, Dragontree) takes on the role of ICA President. Bill will be supported by Mr Azeez Abdul Syed (Senior Vice President, Olam Cotton) as First Vice President and Mr Alex Hsu (Managing Director, Formosa Trading Co Ltd) as Second Vice President.

New to the board are Mr Pierre Chehab (Platform Head EBS, Louis Dreyfus Company Suisse SA) Mr Shafiqul I. Sarker Sohel (Managing Director, Purbani Group) and Mr David Wookey (Director, Sterling Cotton Limited).

On accepting the role of President, Bill delivered a compelling and humorous speech that touched on the value the ICA brings to members and the value members bring in return:

“Tonight, I wish to talk about what it is that the ICA does for its members. We have all experienced first-hand what it is to understand that the measure of how much something matters to us, is to have it taken away. It’s called taking something for granted. So, I would like you all to please imagine what our professional lives would look like if the ICA did not exist. Firstly of course there would be no ICA Dinner. None of you would be sitting here this evening…..

“Many of you will leave the ICA Annual Trade event having met with many people who are important to your business. To replicate those meetings on a business trip would cost a lot of money and use a lot of air miles.

“…the committees and Board that work hard to ensure that ICA Bylaws and Rules remain relevant and up to date would not exist… It would not be long before awards lacked consistency and enforcement became a lottery. The relevance of the list of unfulfilled awards would be greatly diminished. What then Ladies and Gentlemen? It would not be long before parties to a contract started to ask themselves whether there is any point to fulfilling the obligations of a cotton contract. Chaos would reign, it would be ‘dog eat dog’ and before long the cotton market as we know it would become nothing short of a Gladiators Arena.

“Perhaps I am being a little over dramatic. But the fact is that the ICA is run for its members, using members’ funds and is not for profit. We all know that business is hard and getting harder, and that making a margin is not easy. But without the membership fees that are paid by ICA members, none of the infrastructure that we all take for granted would exist. So, to all the members in the room, and on behalf of all the non-members in the room: thank you.”

Bill joined the cotton business in 1996 as a trainee at Ralli Brothers & Coney in Liverpool. After spending a number of years in Liverpool and a year living in Abidjan, he moved in 2001 to join The Seam to build and manage their international cotton trading platform. In 2007 Bill joined Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) as a trader in Geneva. He then spent the years 2008 to 2014 managing LDC’s cotton businesses in India and China, living in Gurgaon and then
Beijing, and eventually managing the Asia region out of Beijing. In 2014 Bill once again moved to Geneva and managed the European & Black Sea regions, China, Singapore and Australia for LDC. At the end of 2017 Bill left LDC to start his own company, called Dragontree, focusing on online auctions for commodities.

Comprising 24 members, the new board line-up continues to represent the ICA’s global membership across all sectors of the supply chain and builds on its commitment to engage the entire global cotton community.

View the full ICA Board line-up >

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