My experience at Leadership Tampa’s Natural Resources/Transportation Day

Tina Cotton
Assistant Vice President, Financial Foundations – USAA 
Leadership Tampa Class of 2013

Our most recent LT-13 (the best class ever) event was Natural Resources/Transportation Day. Our day chairs were Keith Greminger of Kimley-Horn and Chris Smith of Mosaic. I want to give a special shout-out to them for a great day!

We started the day at the Tampa International Airport (TPA). There we were greeted by members of TIA leadership team. Chris Minner, Vice President of Marketing, gave a great overview of the airport, their vision and their journey to continue to make it one of the top airports in the country. After Chris’ presentation, our class was divided into 3 groups to partake in tours of the Airport. My group started our tour visiting the area where you check in to get to the airside. The line was long but manageable. Interesting trivia shared, the top 2 items that are left in the trays once they go through screening are eye glasses and belts. The next tour was to the Airport Operations Center and I can tell you it is all about ensuring passenger safety. You kind of know this already but seeing it action brought it to life. Our host for this segment of the tour noted they have 30 full time dispatchers, 5 Managers and 1 General Manager-all with a total of 250 years of experience!! Incredible! We ended our tour with a visit to the baggage claim area. I don’t know about you but I still had the “old-school” view of the baggage claim process, i.e. there is a person at stations throughout the process manually checking and loading. The process today is nothing short of amazing, including a sophisticated screening system, conveyor belts to move the luggage and manual inspection when there are red flags. Believe me – my brief summary doesn’t do it justice – just know our bags are well taken care of!

Our next event for the day was at the Tampa Port Authority. Now you are starting to see the trend….all about transportation. Our day chair, Chris Smith introduced John Thorington, Senior Director of Communication and Board Coordination of the Tampa Port Authority. John has over 30 years with the port. The longevity of the leaders in the transportation industry proved to be a trend throughout the day. It is great knowing we have this level of leadership in our Tampa Bay community.

John gave us an overview of the many facets of the port. I will confess I thought of the port mainly from the cruise standpoint. And while that is a component of what they do, there are many other facets that are incredibly interesting and valuable to our community. The port has recently partnered with Mediterranean Shipping Company a container shipping line and the largest carrier serving the United States. They also recently expanded operations with Amalie Oil company, an international lubricant blender and packager. Exciting was the enhanced cargo-handling efficiency and connectivity that has been achieved by the Tampa Gateway Rail project.

Our lunch was hosted by the Florida Aquarium where we were greeted by Thom Stork, Florida Aquarium, CEO. During our lunch we learned more about Manatees and the Florida Aquarium partnership with other natural resource entities, including Mosaic, a strong partner of the Aquarium.

We ended our day at the Tampa Electric Company (TECO) plant and Manatee Viewing Center. We received several presentations from the leadership team which included, Gordon Gillette, President, Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas; Tom Hernandez, Vice President of Energy Supply; Paul Carpinone, Director, Environmental Health and Safety. They all talked about their focus on customers and helping to keep rates down through efficiencies and natural resources.

A consistent message throughout the day was: cost of doing business, growth of the organizations, marketing and supporting Tampa Bay and most important making sure their customers are well taken care of!

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About Tampa Bay Chamber

The Tampa Bay Chamber is a not-for-profit business membership organization that helps promote the businesses and business interests of our members. We come from diverse backgrounds: from small businesses, big corporations, government bodies and the military. United, we become a single, unifying force with the power to shape the future of Tampa Bay.

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