The Port of Long Beach is not the only West Coast container port that is beginning the process of finding a new executive director. At a special meeting of the Seattle Port Commission held on April 2, it was noted that port CEO Tay Yoshitani plans to retire next year.
Finding a replacement for Mr. Yoshitani should be a time of thoughtful reflection by the Seattle Port Commission. While change in leadership can be traumatic for some organizations, the Seattle Port Commission should view this as an opportunity to review the goals and objectives of the organization and, with input from port tenants and customers, conduct an honest assessment of the competitive challenges facing the port.
The replacement of Mr. Yoshitani, a person well respected within the trade community, will be one of the most important tasks of the Seattle Port Commission. It will not be an easy or quick process. The person chosen to next lead the port faces big challenges — declining container volumes, need for major capital investments, new and costly environmental regulations and well-known competitive threats that are constantly evolving.
The port commission would be ill-advised to delay in searching for a replacement for Mr. Yoshitani. It would be smart to get the selection process started now so the commission is prepared to choose a successor by early January with the advantage of having the person on board for a transition period well before Tay sets sail in June.
Finding the right executive won’t be easy — the port needs someone with successful executive leadership experience running a major business or public enterprise, superior political/communication skills, and a knack for marketing.