Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014 - (Page 14)
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
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
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.
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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
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
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
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