Port Leadership Conference Recap

Port leaders must be able to navigate many challenges — including increased competition from other ports around the world, limited funding for infrastructure improvements, and changing global trade patterns — and develop strategies tailored to the unique needs of their ports. Last week, AAPA held its first Port Leadership Summit (formerly the Executive Management Conference) in Portland, Oregon, to provide a forum for future port leaders to learn from port CEOs and AAPA’s Port Professional Executives (PPXs) — individuals with 10+ years of port or supply chain management experience. This executive development event is a cornerstone of AAPA’s Port Professional Manager (PPM) program.

Attendees explored the challenges facing port and supply chain leaders today, including crisis management, digitalization, environmental sustainability, effective board management, and public and media relations. Attendees learned how to become stronger leaders, manage a wide range of stakeholders, maximize human potential, make tough decisions, prioritize resources, build consensus, negotiate effectively, and manage conflict when necessary. Speakers included Mario Cordero, CEO, Port of Long Beach; Diahann Howard, Executive Director, Port of Benton; Larry Kelley, Executive Director/CEO, Port of Port Arthur; Gary Nelson, CEO, Port of Grays Harbor; Daniel Stahl, CEO, Port of Longview and Paul LaMarre, Executive Director, Port of Monroe, to name just a few.

Participants also had many opportunities to network and build relationships with their peers throughout the program. They toured the ports of Vancouver USA and Portland, attended receptions, went on a dinner cruise on the Willamette River, and the PPM candidates learned lessons in leadership from axe-throwing. Developing these relationships is key so that when participants have issues or problems in the future, they have a core group of industry colleagues and friends they feel comfortable reaching out to for help, and these activities help to establish those bonds.

Leadership Summit attendee Anna Silva, HSE & Cruise Ops Manager at Port Everglades, said it best on her LinkedIn page when she posted, “This week’s Port Leadership Summit through American Association of Port Authorities was probably the best I have ever experienced. We dealt with leadership through the head AND the heart.” To learn more about AAPA’s professional development opportunities to grow in your career, please reach out to Shannon McLeod, Senior Director of Member Services.