Tuesday, May 28, 2013

POLB Head Resigning to Lead Port of Oakland

After less than two years as executive director of the Port of Long Beach, Chris Lytle is leaving to take on the same role at the Port of Oakland.

In doing so, Lytle will leave the second busiest seaport in North America to take the helm of the California’s third-busiest port, which is still in the process of recovering from a scandal involving its previous executive and maritime directors.

“The future of the Port of Oakland is bright, and I am excited to be a part of the team as we work to realize its tremendous potential,” Lytle said in a statement released by the port. “My family and I are also really looking forward to living and working in the Oakland area once again.”

Lytle was previously based in Oakland from 1992-1995 as an executive with Sea-Land Service Inc.
He has held the Port of Long Beach’s executive director position since November 2011, taking over the role upon the retirement of longtime director Dick Steinke. Lytle first joined the Port of Long Beach in 2006 as a managing director, and was promoted to Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer in 2008.

Lytle is expected to remain at Long Beach until mid-July and is scheduled to begin his new job in Oakland shortly thereafter. The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners is expected to name an interim executive director sometime in June.

Prior to his Long Beach tenure, Lytle was Vice President of West Coast Operations for the French-based shipping line CMA CGM. He also previously held executive positions at P&O Ports North America and Denmark-based APM (Maersk) Terminals. He holds an MBA from the University of Puget Sound and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Central Washington University.

“My time here in Long Beach has been wonderful and I have been very privileged to work with a talented, dedicated staff and the best customers of any seaport in the world,” Lytle said May 23. “I will miss the Port of Long Beach, but look forward to exciting new career challenges in Oakland.”

Among the challenges awaiting him in Oakland will be helping the port continue its recovery from a financial scandal involving the port’s previous executive director, Omar Benjamin and maritime director, James Kwon. In 2012, the two were found to have spent $4,500 entertaining shipping executives at strip club in Houston, Texas 2008 during a business conference.

Kwon resigned effective at the end of 2012, while Benjamin was forced into retirement in November of the same year. Another port executive, Deborah Ale Flint, has been serving as interim port director since October 2012. She is expected to continue in a senior executive position after Lytle comes aboard, according to the Port of Oakland.