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Bringing the Outside In: Professionals Come to Ports with Experience, Inspiration from Non-Maritime Industries

In the last decade or so, more and more port executives have come from major shipping lines. But tapping into human capital from outside the port or shipping industry requires flexibility, openness and creativity.

By Meredith Martino

The port industry prides itself on its unique nature, and port executives and senior managers from ports throughout the hemisphere proudly state the unofficial industry motto: “When you’ve seen one port, you’ve seen one port.” And it’s true – an individual port may have some similarities with other ports (types of cargo, proximity to major population areas, constrained land, public accountability), but each one is a distinct mix of challenges and opportunities.

In the last decade or so, more and more port executives have come from outside the port industry, but the descriptor “outside” typically means years of experience at a major shipping line. While working for a shipping line is certainly different from working for a port, it’s hard to deny that the two industries are closely linked and require familiarity with many of the same stakeholders and issues.

Tapping into human capital from outside the port or shipping industry requires flexibility, openness and creativity. Though they may be unique – both as an industry and as individual entities – ports can draw inspiration from modern-day technology companies, professional sports teams, airports and other industry associations by hiring port staff and working with port solution providers who come to the table with a wealth of experience from non-maritime backgrounds – redefining what it means to come from “outside” the port industry.

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