Nicole Smith – Graduate – Port Management

Other Businesses

ABP Property

Our property division brings together an unrivalled land bank spanning 21 multi-modal locations around the country, with 960 hectares of port-based development land.


Drawing on 60 years of experience, ABP Marine Environmental Research (ABPmer) provides specialist marine environmental research and consultancy services.

UK Dredging

UK Dredging (UKD) operates the largest British-owned dredging fleet and specialises in the provision of reliable and cost effective port maintenance dredging services.

ABP Graduate Scheme – 2021/22

I have now been on ABP’s Port Management Graduate Programme for one year and am now on my third placement as part of the scheme.

My first placement was in Operations in South Wales. This was my introduction to what we do as port operators and South Wales was a great place to start as we have a variety of operations taking place there, with cargoes ranging from steel to fertiliser, coal to timber, paper products to turbine blades and everything in between from road, rail and sea, with even the occasional cruise. Aside from getting to know the services we provide and how, I was involved in several projects, namely evaluating operational processes at out agribulks terminal and the potential for a new Terminal Operating System and working on labour utilization. This placement gave me a great grounding in how port operations work and the challenges faced, that I have been able to carry forward into my following placements.

I then moved into the South Wales Marine department and shadowed, pilots and their cutter crews, integrated with the management team and also followed a survey & dredging campaign undertaken by UKD. I analysed berth utilisation in Newport during this placement and also led a project to apply for government grant funding. It was great to see the marine side of operating the port and gave me a wider understanding of our responsibilities in this area and the challenges we face. I also learned a lot from being able to manage a project myself, liaising with colleagues from almost every department in the region.

My current placement is my Out of Region placement, for which I am in the Humber for 4 months in the General Cargo department in Hull Operations. I have found this particularly interesting as the operations involve a lot of container de-vanning and Ro-ro operations which I hadn’t been exposed to at all in Wales. So far I have seen the implementation of a new Terminal Operating System in the terminal, but the biggest take-away from this placement so far has been a great deal of HR and people management experience as part of the restructure taking place in the terminal at the moment.