The Massachusetts Port Authority Calls in Isaacson, Miller To Find New CEO

A growing number of transportation companies have enlisted executive search firms to help them find senior talent. One of the largest port authorities in the country recently called in executive search firm Isaacson, Miller to help find its next leader. Let’s take a look of what kind of candidates will have the skills needed to lead the Massachusetts Port Authority!

February 28, 2024 – The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), one of the nation’s most multifaceted port authorities and a prime engine of economic vitality for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and New England, has called in Boston-based Isaacson, Miller to lead in its search for a new CEO. Past CEO Lisa Wieland recently stepped down. Lisa Savereid and Jeff Kessner are leading this search with Tatiana Oberkoetter. Massport seeks a seasoned executive with experience in all critical dimensions of leading a complex, operation- and capital-intensive enterprise with a large, diversified physical footprint and legions of customers. While transportation, aviation, and/or port experience is a distinct plus, it is not a requirement for consideration.

The CEO will bring strategic planning, operational, and financial proficiency, and experience with facilities, crisis leadership, legal compliance, and customer service, according to Isaacson, Miller. They will also have experience overseeing broad issues related to inclusive economic development, the environment and climate, and public policy.

Political and diplomatic wisdom is essential, as is the patience and resilience to keep listening and talking even when the stakes are high and contention is occasionally in the air. The CEO will bring exceptional staff leadership ability; a genuine commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and experience thriving in a role with considerable public visibility and accountability.

Isaacson, Miller notes that the next Massport CEO will have a rare opportunity to help shape the future of one of the country’s most diversified, dynamic, and climate-conscious economies. Commerce and community in New England rely on the movement of people and goods, and Massport is the primary facilitator of that movement. The CEO will be at the influential center of ongoing activities that build a more equitable and sustainable economy that works for all in the region, while enhancing the Authority’s already remarkable record of success and positioning it for continued achievement in a rapidly changing world.

The CEO of Massport reports to the board of directors and is responsible for the safe, secure, and efficient management of the authority’s aviation, maritime, and real estate assets and the internal support services they rely on. Each of Massport’s businesses has its own unique mission, opportunities, challenges, and internal and external dynamics, but they must be synchronized and unified in a common mission and purpose. The CEO will represent Massport with aviation and maritime partners and customers, external governmental officials and agencies, and business and community leaders and will provide a shared vision for the authority’s expert executive leadership team that is outstanding for its tenure and operational excellence.

Related: Isaacson, Miller Places CHRO for Michigan State University

The Massachusetts Port Authority is an independent public authority of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, created by act of the legislature in 1956. Massport operates three significant business lines – Aviation, Maritime, and Real Estate – and stewards $3.4 billion in assets that safely, securely, and efficiently connect the Commonwealth and New England to the world beyond and enhance the quality of life for residents in the region.

In 2019, Isaacson, Miller assisted in the recruitment of Ms. Wieland as Massport’s CEO. The organization’s CEO prior to that was Thomas Glynn, who was placed by Spencer Stuart.

Nationally Recognized Search Firm

A nationally recognized search firm focused on recruiting transformational leaders for mission-driven organizations, Isaacson, Miller has conducted thousands of placements over more than three decades. More than half of the firm’s work has been in academia, involving university presidents, college chancellors and deans. The firm has filled top leadership posts at Wellesley College, Washington State University, Miami University, Howard University, Bowdoin College, Dartmouth, NYU, Virginia State University, and the University of North Carolina, among others.

Using a Recruiting Firm to Improve Your Hiring Process
With the ongoing talent shortage, organizations of all kinds are facing increasing challenges in finding the right talent. This puts a lot of pressure on the HR team, especially in smaller companies, who not only have to bring in the right skills but also ensure that employees are happy and willing to stay, according to a new report from Randstad’s Doug Hammond. To alleviate this pressure, teaming up with a specialized recruiting firm can bring a host of benefits, including time and cost savings. Randstad explains that this leaves you with more time and energy for other important tasks. The study looks at a few reasons why more and more companies are choosing to partner with a recruiting firm.

Recruitment is a time-consuming process that entails various tasks like posting job ads, reviewing resumes, conducting interviews and coordinating reference checks. Randstad notes that getting each step right is crucial, as a poor hiring decision can significantly affect your finances. A study from Northwestern found that the cost of a bad hire could be at least 30 percent of their expected earnings in the first year.

John Isaacson, the firm’s chair, founded Isaacson, Miller in 1982. He has led searches in many areas of the firm’s practice. Mr. Isaacson has helped the firm develop its cumulative knowledge of the craft of search and has attended, with increasing interest, to the missionary purposes of institutions, the political and economic disciplines of specialized markets, and the emotional and intellectual learnings that leaders acquire in a committed working life.

Ms. Savereid is one of the firm’s senior partners with a career as a search practitioner and organizational leader. She came to Isaacson, Miller in 1994 with a background in government and business and established a search practice spanning several core areas of focus in the firm. Ms. Savereid has played an important role in the development of the firm’s higher education practice, leading presidential and cabinet-level searches for some of the firm’s most prominent higher education clients and building and sustaining long-term relationships with them. Her practice also includes leadership recruitment for philanthropy, economic and community development, and social justice advocacy clients.

Mr. Kessner joined Isaacson, Miller in 2014 and has recruited senior leaders for public and private higher education institutions, including presidents, provosts, deans, and chief student affairs officers. His clients include small liberal arts colleges, regional comprehensive institutions, and large research-intensive universities. In addition to his higher education practice, Mr. Kessner has recruited leaders for advocacy organizations, economic development agencies, research institutes, and associations. Prior to joining the firm, he worked at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

Ms. Oberkoetter is a managing associate at Isaacson, Miller. She recruits leaders for a variety of civic institutions, including human services and social justice organizations, foundations, environmental non-profits, and higher education institutions. Ms. Oberkoetter joined Isaacson, Miller in 2016 as a search coordinator. In this role, she acted as a liaison for clients, candidates, and the search team and provided project management support for searches, primarily within the higher education sector. Since Ms. Oberkoetter became an associate in 2018, much of her practice has focused on president, CEO, and executive director searches.

Related: Isaacson, Miller Seeking VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Davidson College

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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