A day in the life of… Katie Pearce, Commercial Management Graduate, London

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Can you tell us more about what you did before you joined ABP?

I majored in Anthropology with a minor in International Development studies at St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada. My first job out of University was in communications and marketing with a consulting firm that advises Governments and works with organisations like the World Bank to plan and develop Infrastructure Projects (rail, ports, energy) in Africa and South East Asia. This really lit a fire in me that wanted to learn more about the effect good infrastructure has at local, national and international levels. As time went on, I grew more and more interested in shipping and ports specifically when I learned that “90% of the world’s economy moves over oceans”. I moved on to get my Masters in Global Business from the University of Victoria, BC in Canada where I had the opportunity to study in Taiwan and Austria with a cohort of students from around the world. I moved to London shortly after for a Bid Manager role with a corporate Travel Management Company, but always had ports and shipping in the back of my mind. So when the opportunity to apply for the ABP Graduate Scheme appeared I hoped this would finally be the moment where I could get back into this industry. I’m so grateful it was!

What did you find most appealing about a Graduate role at ABP?

I lived in Cardiff for 2 years and could see the ABP logo almost from my kitchen window. When Covid-19 first locked the country down, I would use my one permitted outdoor exercise to go for long walks around the barrage. And every time I passed the port I wondered what was going on in there, who was working there, what kind of products were moving in and out of the port, and what a typical day looked like. So I regularly checked in with the ABP Careers website. The Graduate Programme specifically was of interest to me because I knew I was passionate about the industry, but I wasn’t sure where I would best “fit” within the organisation. I was hungry for the variety of experiences, roles and locations the Graduate Scheme offered to help me find that fit. As my background has primarily been office-based in marketing, communications and sales I was keen to get into the operations side of the business and to visit as many ports as I could and speak to as many people as I could from every team. I thought the structure of the Graduate Scheme would get me out of my comfort zone and build up previously underutilised skills and interests. On a personal level, I was also encouraged to apply when I saw that ABP had signed the Women in Maritime Charter and there was a sense of genuine support for diversity in the organisation.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?

A typical day at work so far has been limited by ‘Work from Home’ measures to protect employee health. So I interact with my colleagues virtually as often as possible. I feel like I know quite a few people around the country, despite not having been able to meet them at our various ports in person yet. These regular catch-ups have been so critical as I continue to learn about our operations, systems, projects, customers and processes. I’ll call my manager to go over the week’s priorities and ask any questions. I could be supporting our Alternative Energy sector by researching the latest news, government initiatives or updating internal communications. I could be updating and/or analysing data in our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. I could be working with a GIS expert on developing maps that illustrate how new investment around our ports could contribute to local/regional growth. I’ve been a fly on the wall as part of strategy and project planning sessions, interviewing local stakeholders and customers. I contribute to new efficient, safe, value-driven, customer-focused ways of working too.

What’s the most exciting project you are currently working on?

With my background in Bid Management, I was invited to join the team developing a proposal for a Freeport in the Humber. The government has set out objectives around increasing trade, generating development and investment in local communities and businesses, and becoming a leader in innovation and sustainable zero-carbon industrial hubs. Freeports are just one way of contributing to that vision, and I feel like I’m witnessing history being a part of this project team made up of a variety of private and public stakeholders from the region. It is amazing to be a part of an organisation like ABP that has a direct role to play in this country moving towards a greener economy, with greater collaboration and more opportunities for all. There are other projects happening all over ABP’s ports, facilitating and promoting sustainability, alternative energy sources and a greener future. As I’m still relatively young, and hope to have a long career, I’m excited about the direction we’re moving in and the customers and partners we are and could be working with.

If you could give some advice to young people interested in pursuing a similar career path, what would it be?

I think curiosity, enthusiasm and the courage to speak openly and honestly are really valued here. You may hear this a lot, but it’s true that you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and ask as many questions as you like, ask for as much exposure and experience as you can get. It will only help you develop personally and professionally, and make you stand out as a keen team player who cares about the success of our business and our customers. I don’t think we ever stop learning. I hear people at ABP near retirement talking about how they still are learning new things about the industry, our systems and operations and our customers’ needs. Even if we have a specific role, with specific responsibilities, everything everyone does here is connected and supports every other part of the business as we work towards the ongoing growth and success of ABP’s role in keeping Britain trading.

Applications for ABP’s Graduate Training Scheme are open until Sunday, 28th March 2021. Find out more and apply here.