A heavy equipment operator, port construction manager, shoe company executive and maritime university student encouraged Long Beach young women to explore careers in shipping industry at this week’s fifth annual Celebrating Women in Trade luncheon.
More than 300 people attended the Nov. 17 event, including 160 local female high school students. The educational outreach event, first created during the Port of Long Beach’s 100th anniversary, was held at the Grand Ballroom of the Long Beach Convention Center.
During the event, officials awarded the second annual Advancing Women in International Trade Award to Carolyn Martin, a goods movement industry legend who retired in 2014 following a 42-year career with International Transportation Service, which operates the oldest container terminal at the Port of Long Beach.
“It wasn’t easy for our women trailblazers,” said Harbor Commission Vice President Lou Anne Bynum, the event’s emcee. “That’s why we owe it to them to build on their hard-won successes, and offer this platform to encourage young women to consider international trade as a career path.”
Martin rose from an executive secretary to ITS’ assistant vice president of Customer Service. She was a pioneer in terminal operations design, including entry and exit gates, worked with programmers to computerize import operations and helped set up ITS’ facilities in Oakland, New Jersey and Tacoma.
“To see how large this event has become warms my heart,” Martin said. “We’re unleashing this power in young women so they know they can and will make a difference in this industry.”
In a panel discussion during the event, women who currently work in the industry talked about their inspiration, education, and career paths and described their job duties and typical workdays. Participants in the panel were Elena Armas, a cargo-handling heavy equipment operator and member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU); Port of Long Beach Director of Construction Management Suzanne Plezia; Karla Strasser, Vice President of Import Allocation and Planning at Skechers; and Halley Hogan, a Cal State Maritime Academy student. Students and teachers from all Long Beach Unified School District high schools and St. Anthony High School also participated in table discussions facilitated by industry professionals.