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Business Observer Thursday, May 21, 2020 1 month ago

Port director looks deep into the future

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From day-to-day to 20 years, Carlos Buqueras has his eye on the future.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Executive: Carlos Buqueras, executive director,

Company: Port Manatee

Organization: The port, in north Manatee County, recently released a report showing its annual economic impact at more than $3.9 billion, with the port directly and indirectly generating more than 27,000 jobs.

Working situation: A number of Port Manatee’s employees are productively working exclusively from home. While I am currently focusing on working away from the office as much as possible, overseeing the ongoing 24/7 port operations often requires me to spend a large part of the day at the office.

Biggest working-from-home challenge: Working with people face-to-face has always been very important to me, so it is taking some adjustment on my part to utilize digital platforms to meet with customers and stakeholders. That said, I must add that I am grateful for the interactive communications technologies we have today, which are integral to keeping us connected while ensuring our safety.  

Most important lesson you've learned in the shutdown: Port Manatee has always — true to its mission — served as a powerful catalyst of countywide economic growth and as a hub of trade-related activity.

What the present pandemic circumstances have underscored is the critical importance of the port in even the most challenging of times. Port Manatee is maintaining operations and is playing a crucial role in the delivery throughout Central and South Florida and beyond of such essential commodities as fresh produce, fuel, lumber and wood pulp. Why is wood pulp essential, you might ask? Well, it’s used for the manufacture of toilet paper!

Books, articles, TV shows, podcasts and/or audiobooks have you’ve focused on: I guess I must confess to being a bit of a workaholic. Every day, I read the digital edition of The Wall Street Journal and listen to financial podcasts to keep up with the latest business trends. I focus on podcasts such as the Harvard Business Review’s After Hours and The New York Times’ podcast, The Daily, as well as content from other global news outlets focusing on international trade.

Currently, I have really been enjoy watching an award-winning Spanish crime drama entitled “La Casa de Papel,” known here as “Money Heist,” which takes place in my country of birth, Spain.  

How far out into the future are you looking? Whereas, in some respects, I think we’re all living on a day-to-day basis, we certainly can’t entirely do that here at the port. We are looking out at least 20 years, while we are keeping a particularly close eye on finances within a five-year timeframe.

How do you maintain your spirit/morale? How do you keep the team motivated?  During these difficult times, with the pandemic having such enormous economic and social impact, I have been able to keep my spirits up by knowing that Port Manatee is remaining open and operational while maintaining full employment. In fact, several businesses operating at the port are bringing in additional workers.

Keeping the team motivated is very important, and communication is key, so I have been making sure to stay in constant contact with the members of our team while setting clear goals and objectives and celebrating accomplishments.

Exercise or stress relief have you’ve turned to during the crisis: I truly enjoy nature walks, taking in the beauty of our surroundings. Although I’ve been trying not to spend as many late workdays at the office as I did in the pre-pandemic world, I must say that I delight in the gorgeous sunsets over Tampa Bay.

Last trip to out of the house: Alas, it was going to my office at the port.

What are you most looking forward to post-lockdown/pandemic? I am very much looking forward to reconnecting personally — in the same room and not just on a computer screen — with our key customers globally, as well as to heartily welcoming back to the office our team members who have been dedicated to working remotely.

 

Click the links below to hear how more regional executives are handling the shutdowns.

 

 

 

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