December 11, 2003

Mic Dinsmore


Agency: Port of Seattle

Position: Chief executive officer


Mic Dinsmore, chief executive officer of the Port of Seattle since 1992, has spent his career in international trade and transportation. In carrying out the policies set by the port Commission, he leads 1,750 employees at the Northwest's largest seaport and airport.

The naturally deepwater harbor is the fifth largest container port in the United States. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has the advantage of being equidistant from Europe and East Asia, and services more than 28 million passengers a year.


Dinsmore has witnessed the growth of the Northwest's Pacific Rim trading partners for the past three decades and has seen tremendous change as these fledgling foreign cities and nations have transformed themselves from stagnant, process-driven economic backwaters into front-line hubs of international commerce.

“I have visited a number of cities recently, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul/Inchon. These cities don't believe they are entering into a global society with a global economy — they know they are in a global society, and they're busy making things happen,” Dinsmore says. “In fact, in the past five years, each of these cities has built a phenomenal new modern airport, while paying attention to the environmental requirements of society.”

‘It is important that we have a broad understanding of our developing role as citizens of the world.’

-- Mic Dinsmore

Dinsmore sees this as an exemplary model of decisive and wise transportation infrastructure use. And he challenges the Puget Sound region to keep pace.

Overseeing an unprecedented $4 billion capital program at the port, much of it destined to upgrade an airport last remodeled nearly 30 years ago, Dinsmore is resolute in his mission.

“Clearly, we have to respond much more quickly than we have in the past,” he says. “And we have to start now — today — to make the necessary infrastructure improvements. We can no longer take the inordinate amount of time it currently takes to make a decision.”

Under Dinsmore's leadership, the Port of Seattle has a firm commitment to constructing the third runway at Sea-Tac Airport, with its first landing scheduled for 2006. He has been credited with ongoing improvements for efficient handling of both airport passengers and air cargo.

Q&A with Mic Dinsmore
Q: If you could own any property on earth, what would that be, and why?
A: The University of Washington campus, because I can think of few institutions that are more critical to the economic success of this region. I’d give them free rent.

Q: Looking back on your career, what business deal still makes you smile?
A: The agreement the Port (of Seattle) made with the Highline School District, after tremendous efforts on both sides, to invest $200 million in noise insulation to improve the educational environment for K through 12 students.

Q: If you hadn’t gone into your chosen field, what would you be doing today?
A: I’d be a dentist.

Q: Who is your mentor?
A: I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors over the years, but one extraordinary individual who really stands out among them is none other than Richard Ford, who once led the Port of Seattle himself.

Q: What are you reading?
A: I usually read about three books at the same time — one for business, one for fun, and one that’s a little bit of both. In the business category, right now I’m reading “From Good to Great”, by an author named Collins. I’m re-reading a book called Trinity, about Irish history and independence. And I just finished reading “The DaVinci Code.”

During Dinsmore's tenure as chief executive officer, the port has lead the revitalization of Seattle's central waterfront, which boasts the World Trade Center, Bell Harbor International Conference Center, Pier 66, port headquarters at Pier 69 and an expanded, premier cruise terminal at Bell Street Pier.

Dinsmore was instrumental in creating the World Class Port Coalition. It is made up of representatives from organized labor, shipping companies and the port, and is the first group of its kind on the West Coast. Its mission is to improve working conditions and productivity in Seattle's harbor. Dinsmore also leads port staff involvement in the FAST (Freight Action Strategy) Corridor transportation initiative to increase regional freight mobility.

Dinsmore is credited with helping the port deal with the continuing fallout from the economic recession, a decline in revenue from shipping and other waterfront business, and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that increased security costs and cut income at the airport.

His previous positions at the port include chief operating officer and director of the Seaport Division. Before joining the port, he served as vice president for Sankyo Transportation and vice president, Pacific, for Burlington Northern Worldwide. He also served as executive vice president for Eagle Marine Services, a stevedoring firm which is an operating arm of American President Lines (APL); director of North American Operations for APL, and port manager for Sea-Land Service Inc. in Oakland, Calif.

Dinsmore is convinced that the state must recognize and take more responsibility in its role in the global community.

“We live in a global society with a global economy and two things are constant: change, and the speed of that change,” Dinsmore said. “Washington is the most trade-dependent state in the nation and we are dependent upon the exchange of ideas across borders.

“It is important that we have a broad understanding of our developing role as citizens of the world. Our children of today, who will be our leaders tomorrow, are counting on us.”

Dinsmore serves on the board of the Seattle Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank. He recently served on the Governor's Competitiveness Council and is chairman of the Japan-America Society, chair of the Seattle-King County Workforce Development Council, head of the governor's Council on School-to-Work, and is on the executive committee of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Trade Development Alliance and the Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center.

He serves on the boards of the World Affairs Council, United Way and University of Washington's School of Business and Urban Development Project. He is part of the steering committee of the Washington Transportation Alliance and sits on the boards of the National Center for APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) and the International Association of Ports and Harbors and the Seattle Maritime Academy.

Dinsmore holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of Washington.

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