What is the story of how you came to be the first female Operations Director at the Port of Milford Haven?
I come from a chemical engineering background, working in the chemical industry for 12 years before joining the oil industry for 7 years. When one of the major customers on the Haven, which was my employer at the time, closed down, I found that my skills gained from my background were perfectly transferable for a role at the Port of Milford Haven. I joined the Port in 2016 as the Operations Manager and became Operations Director in 2019. It has been an exciting journey with lots of lessons along the way, and I utilise my experience in the chemical and oil industries every day in my current role.

What does working in the Maritime industry mean to you?
I thrive off the variety. Especially as the Operations Director of such a diverse organisation. We are the UK’s leading energy port, but we also own a Marina, a hotel, a ferry terminal, Wales’ largest fishing port, a cargo port that we are adapting to be ready for future energy, a solar farm and so much more! From talking about improving facilities in our Marina to talking with customers of the Haven, every day is different.

You manage the Health & Safety of our operations, what would you say is the biggest challenge in this area?
I think it’s the importance of team members feeling empowered to use their stop work authority on anyone they see potentially putting themselves in harm’s way. Something I always refer to in inductions for new team members is how proud I was in a previous job, when myself and the Refinery Manager, in our enthusiasm discussing an issue, unwittingly crossed over the 1m safety line at the jetty edge and were very quicky (and gratefully) told to move back by the jetty operator as we were not wearing life jackets.

By every single member of the team being empowered to hold others accountable for their safety, no matter what position they may be in, we are all able to create a safer working environment.

What do you think the future looks like for the safety industry, specifically in Port operations?
For me it is about continuous improvement; even if it is only small step changes, these add up over time it can lead to a significant improvement. It is crucial that the maritime industry leads the way in its commitment to safety, learning from one another through key organisations like Port Skills and Safety – but also, we need to learn from outside of our industry. My connections with other operations directors in different industries has been so influential, it is great to have the opportunity to share and learn from each other to improve the safety of our operations.

What has been a pivotal learning moment in your career?
A key learning for me has been that I’m only as good as my team. The success and excellence of operations is the sum of every individual. It’s the team, and the teams around us. People are the most important part. Having worked in the chemical, oil, and port industries – it doesn’t matter what your operations are, people are the key element.