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Celebrating a Very ImPORTant Professional (VIP) on World Maritime Day

In honor of World Maritime Day, we asked recognized ports and maritime professional, our own Stacey Jones, about her experience in the industry over the last three decades.

A globally recognized ports and maritime expert, Jacobs Buildings, Infrastructure and Advanced Facilities Program Manager for the Americas Stacey Jones worked for 25 years at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) in various roles, including Deputy Director of Development and Chief Harbor Engineer.

As the first female Director of Engineering Development in the Port’s history, Stacey worked her way up starting in 1981 as a student engineer. She’s overseen some of the largest port developments, including Pier 400 Container Terminal, Main Channel Deepening to 53 feet; San Pedro Waterfront Redevelopment and the southern end of Alameda Corridor construction.

Stacey eventually moved into private consulting with Halcrow/CH2M HILL and Jacobs serving in operations, business development and project management for programs focused on the Pacific Coast from the Port of Alaska to Guam to San Diego and San Francisco.

In honor of World Maritime Day, we asked Stacey some questions about her experience in the ports and maritime industry over the last three decades.

What do you think of this year’s World Maritime Day theme?

This year’s theme, “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” is a powerful and inspiring moment for me as a woman in the industry for 37 years. I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of one of oldest and thriving industries globally dating back some 500,000 years. It’s wonderful that the International Maritime Organization is raising the awareness of the importance of gender equality in an industry that continues to grow with job opportunities across diverse skill sets and professions – but more importantly, opportunities for woman. 

What’s it meant to be a leader in ports and maritime industry during the last 30 years?

I’m proud of my ports and maritime experience as an engineer, woman and role model to those I’ve been fortunate to work with. In my past 37 years, being one of the first female engineers at my first position with the Port of Los Angeles and the first Chief Harbor Engineer drove me to open doors for others. It was one of my goals to hire the best and brightest I could find, and yes, many of them were women.

Today, I marvel and celebrate all the tremendous woman I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the years. As a new female engineering professional, I knew I had to earn my place to be recognized for the work I did, to progressively grow my skill set, lean toward my strengths and overcome my weaknesses, to become that leader that I wanted to emulate.

As a leader in the maritime industry it was necessary to be an emissary, to build the trust of those around you and open doors and shape an organization that allows for inclusion and opportunities for women. Early on, I relied on trade and professional industry and community organizations like Women’s Transportation Seminar, International Trade Education Program, FuturePorts and eventually accepted leadership roles which broadened my reach to help empower women within my influence. I too understood that “empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurs productivity and growth and benefits every stakeholder in the global maritime community”. 

How has the industry changed?

The industry has seen a lot of change in the past 30 years. The boom years of double-digit growth of container traffic throughput in the U.S. from the mid-1980s spurred tremendous investment in terminals around the world.

The Mega Container Terminal became a mainstay due to the increase in the size of container ships that were typically 4,500 Twenty Foot Equivalent (TEU) capacity growing to 18,000 TUE capacity in 2015 causing the need for deeper channels and larger turning basins. In 1995, CH2M HILL, now Jacobs, designed one of the largest container terminal marine berthing structures in North America. The terminal also included one of the early U.S. west coast on-dock rail yards that connected to the $1 billion Alameda Transportation Corridor which shifted truck traffic to rail.

During this period, we saw the advent of automation introduced initially in ports in Europe, Singapore and Taiwan. As automation eventually spread to the U.S., Jacobs designed the recently completed automated container terminal at the Port of Los Angeles, and we’re providing construction management for the Port of Long Beach Middle Harbor automated terminal. As ports began to expand, it became apparent that environmental impacts, community impacts and the preservation of open space and public waterfront uses needed to be addressed. Many ports embarked on the development of clean air action plans, transportation enhancement plans and waterfront development. Jacobs designed major central roadway realignment along the Port of Los Angeles waterfront completed in 2018. 

The ports and maritime industry will continue to evolve and innovate to ensure the safe, sustainable, efficient and cost-effective handling of goods and management of our commercial and visitor serving waterfronts. Port sustainability practices has led to the acknowledgment of addressing the resiliency challenges currently facing Ports, whether it is from climate change, sea level rise or other natural or made hazards. These challenges will provide opportunities for women to enter this industry and it will be important for companies to make a commitment, ensuring female talent pipelines and mentorships are created and maintained.

Jacobs truly focuses on inclusion and makes inclusion, along with diversity, core attributes in all of our employment and business practices in all locations.

What’s your current focus?

For the past two years, my career focus has shifted to the important and time-sensitive work of resiliency. I’m the Consultant Program Manager leading a team of more than 20 subconsultants supporting the Port of San Francisco’s (Port) Waterfront Resilience Program including the Embarcadero Seawall Program (Seawall Program), which entails the strengthening and adaptation of more than three miles of the century-old seawall protecting the city’s northern waterfront.

With over $100 billion in assets and annual economic activity supported by the seawall, estimates of 72% chance of a major earthquake happening between now and 2043 and projections of water levels rising more than five feet by 2100, time is of the essence to make improvements for earthquake safety, flood protection, sea level rise adaptation and resilient infrastructure

The City and County of San Francisco and the Port have taken this challenge head on with a strong vision and believe in the urgency of strengthening the seawall and adapting the waterfront over the next 50 plus years. It’s is an amazing opportunity to work for a client that has the foresight and fortitude to make a truly meaningful difference to the residents it serves for many years to come. The Port of San Francisco Seawall Project truly reflects the theme of 2019 World Maritime day – women play critical roles in this Program from Mayor and Commission leadership and members, to the Port’s Executive Director and the many professional women at all levels who have been and will be engaged on this project over the next several decades.

To celebrate one of our VIPs, we asked Jacobs Global Ports & Maritime Solutions Director Patrick King about her impressive career:

“As Stacey prepares to retire toward the end of 2019, I reflect on her leadership, her ability to solve complex problems and her many contributions to the port and maritime industry. Her ability to apply her exceptional experience, integrate innovative solutions with proven good practice, and lead our team in partnership with the Port of San Francisco has set up the Embarcadero Seawall Program for long term success,” shares Patrick. It has been a true privilege to work closely with Stacey for the past 15 years and there is no doubt that her groundbreaking leadership will leave a lasting, indelible mark on the industry.”

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