Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014 - (Page 14)

»FEATURE WORKING WITH STAKEHOLDERS: THE BUCK STOPS AT THE CEO'S OFFICE From shippers to state agencies, carriers to the community, many groups have an interest in decisions made by the port. By Lori Musser R unning a port in the 21st century is not a pursuit for the meek. Port business is important business, especially from an economic perspective. It is complex - spanning functions, modes, assets, geography, time and jurisdictions. Perhaps the most challenging of all port management tasks is engaging and working with stakeholders. CEOs must ensure these relationships are managed wisely; their jobs hang in the balance. The Rise of Stakeholder Rights The variety and sheer volume of stakeholders with a claim on ports is mindboggling - and it is growing. In the good old days, some ports ran much like private entities, working with customers to expand business, reporting to a board and quietly taking earnings to the bank. Those days are long gone. Nowadays, information is at everyone's fingertips, and its availability has entitled and allowed individuals and groups to make their opinions known, pursue their expectations and anticipate timely responses. To some extent, private businesses can still pick and choose their stakeholders. Not so for ports. In the same hour, a port might receive a call from a global carrier on crane availability, a minister on scattering ashes, a neighborhood association on noise and a commercial fishery on security. 14 AAPA SEAPORTS MAGAZINE Stan Payne, an experienced port CEO and now principal for transportation management consultant Summit Strategic Partners, said that before a port can hope to optimize interactions with and delineate entitlements for stakeholders, it must clearly determine the division of responsibility between its board of directors and its CEO and staff. Who sets stakeholder policy? Who implements it? That will affect the answer to the next questions: Who are the stakeholders? What is the stakeholder policy? What are the boundaries of the port's relationship with its various stakeholders? Payne said that there are pros and cons to greater stakeholder interaction. "When you make a decision with stakeholder input, there is a greater chance of success. However, a stakeholder can have a vested interest that may not be in the best interests of the port going forward." He said that there are a number of useful tools to help develop positive relationships with stakeholders, but they come at a cost, and resources must be managed. "Ports must understand that there will be times when the port and stakeholder have to agree to disagree. At that point, how you approach the conflict is important," Payne said. He added that good relationships take time to develop, and given the relatively short tenure of CEOs and commissioners, staff may be the only candidates available with sufficient longevity to nurture the relationships that can make the conflict resolution process more palatable for stakeholders. It is increasingly important to regularly align port strategic plans with those of the cities, counties and states within which they operate. "It is all about the greater good of the community," Payne said. A New Beginning at the Port of Long Beach Delivering on all stakeholder expectations is neither reasonable nor doable. A port can, however, make great inroads on engendering respect for its decisions through understanding. The Port of Long Beach learned that lesson the hard way. "We were dragged to the party," according to Managing Director of Environmental Affairs and Planning Rick Cameron. In the early '90s, Long Beach's naval station, a long-serving base for the Pacific Fleet, was up for closure. "Once the writing was on the wall that we would lose the Navy complex, we geared up to see ... how we could benefit from the BRAC process. We were in major need of expansion land," Cameron said. The port's reuse plan was accepted, but management hadn't anticipated the strong bond so many in the local community had with the property. Interested groups included naval aficionados and historic preservationists. A portion

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014

AAPA Headquarters
From the President’s Desk
Public Sector Agencies with Private Sector Expectations
Welcoming Veterans to Port Ranks
Working with Stakeholders: The Buck Stops at the CEO’s Office
Words of Wisdom from Long-Standing Port Executives
PPM® Certification Readies Executives for the Top
Facing Challenges Head On
Ports are Critical to U.S. Economy’s Health
The Changing Paradigm of Transportation Executives
Port and Maritime Environmental Compliance Planning Starts at the Top
Comprehensive Records Retention Plan a Must for Ports
Saint John Brings the Port to the Classroom
Barbados on Track for Record Cruise Growth
Santa Marta Focuses on the Environment, Community and Operational Efficiency
Northwest Ports Partner to Further Cut Diesel Emissions

Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014