Age of Pacific Lecture: April 28, 2014

By Megan Nelson

Due to some creative scheduling, we were able to hear from two speakers during the most recent Age of Pacific (AoP) lecture. The first speaker that we heard from was Mr. Curt Bloodworth, the head of International Human Resources at Tektronix. Curt spoke with us about the difference between a leader and a manager. By his definition, managers have the typical managerial responsibilities—assign tasks, put the team in place, etc. Leaders, however, have all of the same managerial tasks, but they help the team understand why these items are important and how they lead to success. Curt believes that empowering your employees and giving them the resources they need to be successful will allow them to create a personal connection with the job and understand how they add value to the company.

Mr. Bloodworth also spoke about the challenges in developing a strong global team. The three main challenges were 1) Proximity/Time-zone, 2) Experience of the team, and 3) Culture. Proximity becomes a challenge in scheduling meetings because it is important for all members of the team to have contact with one another and to have meetings where everyone is involved. It is the leaders responsibility to determine a time, no matter how late or early, when everyone can and will attend and have input. Experience is a challenge because the skill set in each country varies and you have to know where to go to get what is necessary for a job to be done well. Along with this is the differing definition of what “good” looks like from one worker to the next. Culture is the third challenge and is based on the differences in language, work styles, and ethics/compliance. Curt’s experience has been that the difference in how business is conducted has led to non-compliance with U.S. laws and standards. However, the intent of the employees is not to be defiant—they just do not understand. It is important to outline how things should be done and why.

The second speaker was Mr. Bill Wyatt from the Port of Portland. Mr. Wyatt spoke of the port’s importance to the city and to the state of Oregon, as it supports 490,000 and Oregon’s trade dependency. He also explained the balance of imports and exports that flow through the port and how this allows for maximum efficiency within the port and in generating revenue. In terms of exports, Japan (35%), China (23%), and Korea (21%) are their largest partners. For imports, China (64%), Japan (7%), and Vietnam (6%) are the largest trade partners. Many of the items that are going out are agriculturally focused, such as animal feed, hay, wood, etc. Items coming in are tires, glassware, furniture, and many other consumer goods.

Bill also answered questions concerning the transportation of dangerous materials and emerging energy sources. There are major concerns about the safety of transportation of coal, and because there are no clear solutions, the port does not deal with this material. There are also severe market fluctuations in dealing with coal, which is not a risk that they want to take. They are looking for ways, however, to deal with methanol because this low carbon fuel will be needed more in China. He also focused on the energy revolution. The U.S. is becoming an energy efficient nation, as we are buying no oil from the Middle East and very little from Venezuela. This is going to increase the importance of transporting crude oil by rail throughout the U.S. to coastal refineries. New methods are going to have to be developed to ensure the continued safety and supply throughout the country.

Both speakers offered a lot of great experiential information and advice as we move forward through the MIM program. We appreciate the opportunity to learn from them and hope that more people join the AoP lecture series in order to further their knowledge and local connections as well.

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