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Port of Seattle Pilots the PortAbility Program: Redeploy Your Skills


As part of its pandemic response, Port of Seattle introduced a new internal program called PortAbility to sustain operations, continue to use resources efficiently, and provide employees whose normal duties had been disrupted by COVID-19 with new, temporary opportunities within the organization. Evolving from the Port’s long established internal internship cross-training program, PortAbility created avenues to link available employees with priority work on other teams. Participating employees get to engage with the Port in new ways while building new skills and connections to help develop their career.

A Mutually Beneficial Program For All Individuals Involved

The Airfield Safety Crew is just one of the many teams that have benefited from the PortAbility program so far. Aviation Safety Assurance Manager Juan Martell, who had just started in his role, quickly realized there was a great need for additional employees. However, due to the impact of COVID-19, Juan’s team expected that they would have to hold on their request for additional help until the pandemic was over and operations returned to “normal.” During a strategic team meeting, Juan realized that even if hiring new employees was not currently an available option, there was an opportunity to recruit temporary help through the PortAbility program. 

Marcos Elias, Employee Screener in Aviation Security, and Chrissy O’Brien, Traffic Support Specialist in the Police Department, joined Juan’s team for what was originally a six week assignment on the airfield. Since the program was working extremely well for all teams involved, Chrissy and Marcos were able to extend their assignments to six months. 

The results are astounding! Previously, Juan and his team could only perform 100 safety observations. With Marcos’ and Chrissy’s help, in just a few months, more than 1,000 safety investigations and turnarounds have been recorded. The work completed by Chrissy and Marcos is important to the Port as this data can be used to analyze trends and implement new processes to prevent safety incidents in the future. By pursuing this PortAbility opportunity, Chrissy and Marcos have also expanded their professional networks, gained new skills and knowledge, and have taken a step towards their career goals! 

Published Date
Feb 26, 2021
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