With a strong maritime background – he served at sea and commanded Royal Navy warships – Bob Sanguinetti is no stranger to the intricacies of marine transport. Add this to his experience in intelligence, gained while working at the ministry of defence in a number of strategic roles, it is easy to see why he was appointed CEO of the Gibraltar Port Authority and captain of the port in 2014. He spoke to The Report Company about the measures he is putting in place to ensure this key Mediterranean port remains head and shoulders above the competition.
The Report Company: You were a commanding officer in the British navy, and worked at the ministry of defence. How different were these roles to your current post?
Bob Sanguinetti: I am struck by the similarities. In both environments, you work closely as part of a team of highly-motivated, focussed and committed individuals, often to tight timelines whilst keeping an eye on the longer term future. The leadership challenges are exactly the same. To achieve the best outcome, you need to understand the part you play in the bigger picture. In turn, every member of your team must know what their role is in what you are trying to achieve. The environments are clearly different, but the principles are exactly the same.
TRC: You have been in charge of the day-to-day running of the port for over a year. What progress has been made in reaching the goals set when you took office?
BS: We have introduced a number of initiatives aimed at improving the operational efficiency of the port. These have been underpinned by an aggressive advertising and marketing campaign reinforcing the uniqueness of our port, and highlighting our ability to provide the widest range of marine services. This has been done in close consultation with the port and wider shipping community to ensure we have a comprehensive understanding of their needs. I believe we have established the infrastructure and capacity ready to build on the current levels of activity in our busy waters.
TRC: What sort of year have you had so far from a business point of view?
BS: Whilst still early days, figures to date show that, year on year, activity appears to be rising across most areas of our business.
TRC: What is the fuel-acquisition strategy of Gibraltar and has this changed of late in response to developments in the international oil markets?
BS: Gibraltar benefits from the diversity of the operating models used by the principal bunker suppliers, with products sourced from a number of locations. This gives us resilience and an element of redundancy, leaving us well-placed to meet and overcome any unforeseen challenges or developments. It also makes for a healthily competitive marketplace.
“I enjoy a good working relationship with my opposite number in Algeciras. We share the common goal of safety of navigation in our busy waters”Tweet This
TRC: The shipping sector accounts for about a quarter of Gibraltar’s GDP. In what areas do you see room for expansion?
BS: Without compromising safety, I see room for expansion across our three main areas of activity. Following the introduction of the initiatives mentioned previously, I would like to see a return to the pre-economic-crisis high volumes of bunkering. In the cruising industry we are working hard, in partnership with the Gibraltar Tourist Board, to continue to attract more cruise ships year on year. And we are actively looking at ways of providing the increasing number of superyachts visiting the Rock with a wider range of services, encouraging them to make the most of the attractions on offer here.
TRC: What security measures have been introduced since you took on this role?
BS: In line with the International Security for Ports and Shipping (ISPS) code, we aim to provide a secure environment for all users of the port and its waters. We work closely with other security related organisations and law enforcement agencies and keep our processes and procedures under constant review, and at the required level against the prevalent security backdrop.
TRC: What contact do you have with the Spanish port authorities?
BS: I enjoy a good working relationship with my opposite number in Algeciras. We share the common goal of safety of navigation in our busy waters. Consequently, we have open dialogue between ourselves and our teams.
TRC: As a former military man, how would you describe your management style?
BS: I have always worked on the principle of treating others as I would like to be treated myself. I like to instil a strong sense of purpose and pride across the port team, delegating responsibility appropriately and sensibly and ensuring all team members know exactly how they can best contribute towards the overall effort. Most importantly, a lively sense of humour is never discouraged.
“I have always worked on the principle of treating others as I would like to be treated myself. I like to instil a strong sense of purpose and pride across the port team”Tweet This