Founder & Managing Director
In the dynamic world of material trading, strong leadership plays a vital role in driving change, fostering and inspiring others to overcome adversity. CEO Insights Asia got in touch with resilience, and navigated the complex challenges of the industry. A leader with vision and determination is crucial for steering businesses toward success, especially in the face of geopolitical uncertainties and market fluctuations. One such exceptional leader is Sam Yao, whose remarkable professional journey exemplifies the transformative power of effective leadership in the material trading industry. From his initial triumphs to facing daunting obstacles and seeking personal growth, Sam Yao's story serves as a testament to the necessity of strong leaders in shaping the trajectory of businesses Sam Yao delves deeper into his first entrepreneurial venture Petram, and how this young trading professional is driving innovation through his new venture, Avant AI.
How has been the journey of Petram over the years?
I established Petram, a trading house based in Singapore, primarily focusing on dealing in base metals. In 2016 and 2017, the market conditions seemed favorable, presenting an excellent opportunity for me to venture into business, backed by a good reputation and strong relationships with customers and suppliers. Providing exceptional service along our supply chain, the business began to thrive, and my belief in myself and my ability to tackle challenges played a significant role in this success. However, as with any business journey, hurdles emerged in 2018.
Despite reaching a peak revenue of nearly $3 billion, we faced a coping period that tested my team's and the company's resilience. During these trying moments, I found immense support from my team, partners, and customers, who understood the challenges we were up against. Seeking to further improve my business acumen, I decided to attend Harvard Business School in 2019, where I had the privilege of connecting with remarkable individuals from around the world, including inspiring friends from the US, UK, Mexico, Brazil, Dubai, and India. Their encouragement and confidence empowered me to face difficulties headon. The experience at Harvard Business School, interacting with classmates from over 56 countries, enriched my perspective and imbued me with the energy to navigate life's uncertainties and career challenges. Petram remains committed to elevating its trading endeavors worldwide, engaging with countries like Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, Korea, and Indonesia. While conscious of market turbulence, we also recognize the importance of innovation and adaptability to stay competitive in this ever-changing landscape. I envision leveraging AI's potential to make business easier & more efficient
What is the genesis story of Avant AI?
Recognizing the importance of AI to human beings, I ventured into the world of AI startups. There came the idea of designing AI solutions and AI digital employees tailored to the needs of all walks of life. These solutions offer personalized support, data research, and predictive insights, enhancing the decision-making process. I envision leveraging AI's potential to make enterprise cost-saving and more efficient.
I envision leveraging AI's potential to make business easier & more efficient
What can traders expect from your new venture?
Avant AI's offerings aim to provide customers with better service and maintain an impeccable reputation. Our customized AI solutions will empower traders with real-time market insights, reducing manual tasks and streamlining processes. By utilizing AI, traders can stay ahead of market fluctuations, make informed decisions, and adapt to ever-changing geopolitical dynamics. Avant AI's growth journey involves collaborating with businesses in China and beyond, offering tailor-made AI solutions and AI digital employee suppliers for enterprises globally.
What is your leadership approach?
My leadership approach revolves around empowering my team and instilling confidence in them. I believe in allowing traders to negotiate and make decisions while upholding strict compliance systems. I trust my team members and foster a culture of responsibility and initiative. Moreover, I emphasize the significance of operations in supporting traders and guiding my company through challenging periods.
Your journey has been exceptional, from working for renowned companies to starting your own. What advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs?
A strong mindset and the ability to make good choices are the keys to a successful and fulfilling life. The upcoming leaders must remain committed to constantly improving themselves and staying focused on their goals. Life is not always smooth sailing, and I understand that facing challenges is inevitable. Embrace them as they come, and accept and solve them one step at a time. This approach has proven crucial in overcoming difficulties and achieving my goals. I firmly believe that to navigate life, I must be internally strong and resilient. Embracing challenges and staying positive are essential components of success. In Chinese culture, we have a saying that optimistic people may not always be right, but they tend to be more successful. So, I make it a point to stay positive, keep pushing forward, and never give up. Looking toward the future, I acknowledge that making the right choices is pivotal. With numerous paths to choose from, I know that working hard is not enough. I continuously strive to upgrade myself and improve my mindset. Learning from others who have more experience and broader perspectives is essential. As I stay curious and open-minded, I can make informed and sound decisions.
Sam Yao, Founder & Managing Director, Petram
Founder & CEO of Avant AI, Sam Yao's journey as a material trader began after graduating from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He honed his skills and expertise at prominent trading companies such as Stemcor, Eramet Comilog Manganese, and Gunvor. Sam's reputation and personality earned him customer accolades, motivating him to embark on a new career path. In 2016, he founded Petram, a trading house based in Singapore specializing in base metals. Despite facing challenges and turbulent market conditions, Petram grew remarkably, achieving nearly $3 billion in 2018-19 revenue.