Katherine Bamford

Trade Development Director, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

As Trade Development Director at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) – one of the largest ports in North America – Executive MBA graduate Katherine Bamford’s job is to support Canadian trade by ensuring customers have a positive experience moving cargo and passengers through Vancouver.

Bamford has had a long career at the VFPA, which sees over 130 million tonnes of cargo and 800,000 cruise passengers pass through its terminals each year. Starting as an administrative assistant, she moved into communications roles, which introduced her to every faction of the Port Authority, and allowed her to develop a unique overview of its many moving parts.

Now, as Trade Development Director, Bamford leads a team whose goal is to keep Vancouver on the leading edge by pinpointing customer challenges and opportunities and implementing effective strategies to address them.

“It’s kind of like an on-the-job MBA,” says Bamford. “You have to understand how each of your customers’ supply chains work: what is important to them, what is their corporate culture that informs strategic decisions, and how that differs from country to country.”

Bamford wanted to formalize her business education so she could speak to her work with authority, leading her to the Executive MBA program at the Beedie School of Business.

“Now I’m able to have that much more grounded conversation based on my EMBA education,” says Bamford. “It’s very important to be able to bring that vocabulary, that credibility, and that understanding to a conversation, whether it’s inside my company or with a customer.”

Having previously dealt primarily with shipping companies with headquarters in Asia and Europe, Bamford wanted to know more about business in the Americas, specifically in shipping, so she opted to undertake the Americas MBA for Executives elective stream.

The program partners the Beedie School of Business with three institutions based in North and South America’s largest economies: Canada, the U.S.A., Brazil, and Mexico. Students are given the opportunity to work together and study management issues in each country in a series of four eight-day intensive residencies.

Bamford describes the Americas Executive MBA as a highlight of her Beedie experience. The program gave her the opportunity to view business from another country’s perspective, and provided a deeper understanding of how business in the Americas ties into her role at the VFPA.

Bamford is confident that her Executive MBA education has provided her with a much deeper wealth of knowledge to bring to the table in her role.

“I’m interested in a bigger picture, but in a more detailed way,” says Bamford. “It’s about bringing more understanding and more meaning to the conversations that I’m having right now.”