WJ Editorial
WJ Editorial

Young Leaders Show Barge Industry’s Potential

In this issue you can read about efforts of Open Waters, a Louisiana initiative launched this year by the Crescent River Port Pilots’ Association and New Orleans-Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the maritime industry. So far Open Waters has connected with more than 1,000 Louisiana students through educational roadshows, stakeholder partnerships and internships.

At the recently concluded Inland Marine Expo, one panel featured industry leaders speaking of the challenges the inland industry sometimes has recruiting team members. “The challenges we’re dealing with are going to get worse, not better,” one panelist proclaimed.

Yet the same conference showcased the ability of our industry to attract talented, bright, hardworking young people from a variety of backgrounds—and to give them the room, mentorship and support to achieve great things at a young age. The inland industry is becoming more diverse, as more women and members of communities not traditionally exposed to careers in maritime and the inland waterways become aware of the opportunities.  Traditional pipelines into the industry, like the Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers, are themselves becoming more diverse. 

 The 40 Under 40 awards are always a highlight of the conference and are getting more prestigious every year—at least, if we are to judge by the increasing numbers of nominees and the growing difficulty of selecting finalists. Two hundred individuals have been honored so far in the five years the award has been presented. We often speak of being able to earn six figures as a towboat captain by age 30 if you are dedicated enough. The 40 Under 40 awards presented at the IMX this year include several top leaders of companies like PTL, JF Brennan, the Port of South Louisiana, Colby Service & Supply and Karl Senner. Not that becoming a towboat captain or CEO is everyone’s goal, but those examples do show the level of success you can reach in our industry at a relatively young age with hard work, motivation and team support. They should encourage a lot of young people seeking a fulfilling, rewarding and long-lasting career.

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