News from the BPA

Recruiting for senior positions in the ports industry: the BPA examines how to avoid the pitfalls and perils!

Today (8 April), on International Recruiters Day, the British Ports Association has published a dynamic paper examining the various options available for ports recruiting senior executives.

Today (8 April), on International Recruiters Day, the British Ports Association has published a dynamic paper examining the various options available for ports recruiting senior executives.

In an increasingly competitive environment, the paper also suggests that ports can utilise behavioural science techniques to help select the best talent.

For many ports, recruiting a senior executive is not an everyday event. However, as such individuals usually hold high profile positions that can have significant influence over the future direction and success of an organisation, it is important to get the appointment right.

There can be a lot of pressure on those responsible for the recruitment process to make the right selection. This paper discusses the challenges involved, whether the recruitment process should be kept in-house or outsourced, how to attract and identify the right candidate, and the potential pitfalls.


Recruitment specialist Phil Hagen authored this paper and identifies what ports might need to consider.

Commenting on the paper, Phil Hagen said

”Successfully recruiting a senior executive to join an organisation is undeniably an important task that must be conducted professionally and fairly. Throughout my 25+ years experience, I have seen the positive contribution a new senior executive can bring to a role, however, I have also seen how sometimes things don’t go to plan with a new recruit.

As highlighted in this paper, those responsible for recruitment must ask themselves questions like what caused the vacancy, what specific behavioural qualities are ‘must haves’ and do we have the in-house experience to identify and measure the candidates.

Behavioural assessments may also be helpful when identifying a candidate’s suitability for a vacancy as they help identify natural character traits that are either key controllers or significant influencers.”

Another important factor to consider in the process are the interviewer’s natural unconscious bias and whether the interview panel is diverse. Creating a diverse balanced panel can be challenging, particularly if the port does not have such availability within their organisation.

To help overcome this problem the umbrella body Maritime UK have developed an ‘Interview Pool’ tool that gives access to a pool of professional women in the maritime sector to help with recruitment, enabling gender-balanced interview panels to be created.

Commenting, Sara Walsh, Head of Corporate Services at the British Ports Association said:

”We are delighted to be working with Phil Hagen to publish this paper. Senior port roles are often critical to the success of the organisation so it is imperative the best possible recruitment process is in place.

There is an increased focus on inclusion, an interviewer’s natural unconscious bias and ensuring a diverse interview panel. To underline this we recently held four ‘inclusion in the workplace’ webinars for UK ports. A first for our sector.

We know that not having female representation on interview panels can be off putting to some candidates and could also reflect negatively on the perceived culture or lack of inclusiveness of the organisation. We are therefore pleased to support Maritime UK’s ‘Interview Pool’ which has over 40 high quality industry professional volunteers ready to assist in enhancing the recruitment process free of charge.”

Phil Hagen, who is an experienced senior executive recruitment and business strategist having spent over 25 years as a senior director-level executive, working in the telecoms, IT and ICT sectors, examines a range of issues in the report.

A qualified behavioural science practitioner and developer, he created the unique SalesMatch psychometric behavioural assessment tool to help companies identify and recruit the right people for the job. Phil is also currently a Cowes Harbour Commissioner.