International trade is a powerful engine for our nation’s economic growth. As consumers we are all connected to a global maritime industry, which powers the movement of goods that support our way of life.
The maritime industry has seen exponential expansion in recent decades due to advances in technology, but as the global supply chain becomes more complex and interconnected, it is also increasingly at risk.
Piracy attacks, the opening of Arctic sea lanes, unpredictable natural disasters and security threats are all reminders of how any disruption, however localized, can escalate and impact the global community.
Coast Guard Vice Commandant Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara sees a need to get back to the fundamentals, including safety, security and protection of the marine environment.
“There are very complex issues that we have to deal with so it is beneficial to first break them down – simplifying and analyzing to facilitate the best decisions,” said Brice-O’Hara. “And that must include inviting wide stakeholder participation so you don’t overlook a key aspect or critical point surrounding the particular topic, problem or challenge you are trying to resolve.”
Among those tackling these issues is a dedicated group of women leaders who are part of Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association, an international organization for women in management positions in maritime transportation and related trades.
WISTA’s USA chapter recently honored retired Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry by nominating her to be WISTA International’s personality of the year for her efforts to educate the next generation of maritime leaders using lessons learned during a three-decade-long career of service to our nation.
As commander of the 8th Coast Guard District, Landry was responsible for operations covering 26 states, more than 1,200 miles of coastline and 10,300 miles of inland waterways from Florida to Mexico, including the entire navigable lengths of the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee river systems. Ensuring the safety and security of the people who live along these waterways as well as the flow of commerce, her ability to lead the region’s challenges came down to one essential ingredient – relationships.
“When you are in a leadership position like I was, you draw a source of strength from your relationships,” said Landry as she keynoted WISTA’s annual luncheon at Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping 2012. “And when crisis comes, these relationships are even more important and we really do have to come together.”
The federal on-scene coordinator during the first days of the Deepwater Horizon incident, Landry said she depended on these relationships to, “manage dynamic tension, keep things moving forward and get decisions made.”
And that’s what fostering the global supply chain is all about: developing systems that can withstand evolving threats as well as recover from disruption.
In the decade since the Sept. 11 attacks on our nation, no cog in the global supply chain has been more scrutinized than New York City. The city has become a focal point of homeland and global security efforts as well as a model for the public-private partnerships necessary at the local, state, federal and international levels.
Charged with maintaining maritime security for the Port of New York and New Jersey is Rear Adm. Linda Fagan. Fagan draws upon a set of experiences that involves deployments to all seven continents, giving her a unique perspective on global challenges to the maritime industry and the importance of getting 230 city and state agencies to work together to keep the supply chain moving through her area of responsibility and one of the world’s most significant ports.
“The challenges in front of us, as an industry and as a nation, are only going to increase in complexity and scope,” said Fagan. “The way ahead for all of us as leaders is being in it together.”
“The way we make it work in New York,” she added, “is through partnerships.”
Brice-O’Hara points out that when developing policies or regulations, decision makers need to have a broad perspective. It is critical to listen to those who may be impacted as well as those who have a role in implementation.
“When solving maritime challenges, gathering input from the public is equally as important as hearing from your interagency partners,” said Brice-O’Hara. “Through outreach and engagement you learn things that you otherwise might not consider, leading to better policy or guidance.”
Emerging trade routes in the Arctic and piracy are challenges, amongst others, that require real teamwork, including international collaboration, to address. Coast Guard leaders use this spirit of collaboration to ensure the global supply chain system, supporting our nation’s trade, continues to be a powerful engine that is efficient, safe and secure.