Inbound Logistics | April 2023


IL: Besides engaging in the “maritime ballet,” how do you spend a typical work day? I’m up at 3:30 every morning. I exercise rst thing because if I don’t, I’m grumpy. I get to the ofce no later than 7 a.m., when it’s quiet and I can organize my thoughts. After that, no two days are the same. I meet with ocean carrier customers and ultimate shippers, and I work to recruit new people into our industry. I try to talk to at least one member of our board every day. I walk the halls at our headquarters and walk the terminals, spending time with the people who produce our revenue. I like to be seen and known. After all that, I’m asleep by 8 or 8:30 every night. IL: What do you most hope to accomplish in the next year? I’d like to continue our infrastructure projects, such as the successful implementation of our chassis pool. We’re building a near-dock intermodal rail facility that will be served by both CSX and Norfolk Southern. We want to keep working on creative infrastructure solutions, such as a barge service to move our intermodal cargo, and continuing to improve our inland ports. IL: How do you spend your time when you’re not working? I like to be out in the sun—practicing yoga, exercising or shing—and spending time with my dogs and my friends. n Dinner For Three In Barbara Melvin’s dinner party daydream, she shares a table with two people from history whom she greatly admires: South African President Nelson Mandela and American entertainer and philanthropist Danny Thomas. “They probably had more in common than people would think,” says Melvin, noting each man’s powerful determination. “From Mandela, I’d want to hear how he maintained his spirit of monumental change through all the challenges he faced,” says Melvin. She notes that Mandela is the source of her favorite quote: “I never lose. I either win or learn.” From Thomas, Melvin would like to hear how he took St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital from concept to successful reality. “I can’t imagine having the fortitude to follow through on what probably was just a fleeting thought at one point in his career, to then create such an impactful organization,” she says. “Plus, he was funny and entertaining.”

IL: Since you became president and CEO, what has been at the top of your agenda? People. At the start of the pandemic, we retracted our workforce. But we really should have been hiring. Nobody foresaw the unprecedented surge in demand the ports would see when the economy restarted. As volume ramped up, people came to work every day and moved boxes in the most challenging circumstances. Not only our port employees and crane operators, but our longshoremen, harbor pilots, tugs, stevedores, motor carriers, and railroad partners all stepped up to service the supply chain. Saying “thank you” was never enough. I wanted to concentrate on telling the story of how they took care of each other and kept freight moving the best they could. IL: How did the port manage through that crazy volume? It took a lot of innovation. For instance, we opened our gates on Sundays, giving motor carriers the option to work half days on Saturday and Sunday rather than lose an extra full day on the weekend. Our railroad partners matched those hours for us. We hired 150 people, and since COVID was still a concern, we got creative about training them—for example, using simulators rather than making two people sit close together in a piece of equipment. When chassis capacity grew tight, we implemented a proprietary chassis pool. We used a shotgun approach, trying all sorts of things. If something didn’t work out, we would fail fast and x it. IL: What characteristics make you an effective leader? I’m decisive. I challenge people, even before they’re ready. I’m here to help my team and be the ultimate decider, but I also like people to bring me solutions, not just issues. I can take bad news without overreacting, creating an open environment for collaboration and problem-solving, rather than a culture where you don’t talk about problems until it’s too late to x them. I love to promote from within, because that’s the way we continue to achieve the diversity that’s necessary in this industry. Finally, I love to celebrate victories of any magnitude. If you create an environment where everybody feels they will be thanked for doing things that benet the organization, then you create a happier workplace.

April 2023 • Inbound Logistics 15

Powered by