In April 2017, Brandy Christian will become the president/CEO of the Port of New Orleans, following the retirement of current CEO Gary LaGrange.
“When I accepted the position as chief operating officer in January of last year, I knew that this kind of promotion was a possibility, but it was still a gamble,” says Christian, who made the move to New Orleans after 15 years at the Port of San Diego, where she last served as vice president of strategy and business development.
“My job there was to focus on the long term planning for the agency and secure new crews and cargo,” she says.
Christian’s big coup came when she secured the arrival of Disney Cruise Lines to San Diego in 2012. “We were suffering with perceptions of violence in Mexico, the main destination of cruises out of San Diego, and a lot of cruise lines had pulled out,” she says. “The arrival of Disney really helped show everyone what a quality destination we were and put us back on the map.”
Recently named the “fastest growing import and export port” in the United States by the Journal of Commerce, the Port of New Orleans continues to experience record-setting growth.
“My goal as the CEO of the Port of New Orleans is basically going to be to build upon the success and growth we’re already seeing,” she says. “I also want to continue to build an organization where every employee is excited to come to work each morning.”
Mentor: My biggest mentor has been my mother. She really taught me to be courageous and believe in myself. My father died when I was 3 and she raised my sister and I while balancing the demands of a career through sheer courage and self will. She has always been an example of strength to me. Defining moment: After 15 years as VP at the Port of San Diego I was ready to make a change – ready for more of a work/life balance. While at lunch with my (10 year old) daughter one day she just looked at me and said, “Mom, why don’t you just get a job that makes you happy?” It was so simple. So I took her advice and took a gamble and came here. It’s been the biggest payoff. New Orleans completely feels like home. Advice for young women: Go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. With focus and confidence, you can create anything. Goals: I think there’s a lot of opportunity to expand across all our jurisdictions, especially Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes. Favorite thing about what I do: The variety. No two days are alike. I really enjoy the politics and marketing on the business side. I spend a lot of my time doing personnel management, lease negotiations, working with new business deals and resolving operational issues. It’s all really exciting.