21 Dec 2018

NQBP’s new chief executive officer, Nicolas Fertin, started in September. After a busy few months, we caught up with Nicolas to get his first impressions and learn a bit about his story.

NQBP Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Fertin
CEO Nicolas Fertin took the reins in September
How long have you been in Australia?

I came to Australia from France with Mars (yes, the chocolate bar maker!) more than 20 years ago. I have an engineering background and at the time I had diverse roles in supply chain and logistics, information and communications technology, and organisational transformation across Asia. In fact, Mars manufacture many different food products and optimising the supply chain was becoming more critical to compete in a world market.

Where was the first place you lived when you arrived?

After I was offered the amazing opportunity to relocate from Europe to Australia, my UK colleagues had promised my wife and young daughter a beautiful beach lifestyle, but we were first based in Ballarat ... Although this is one of the coldest places in Australia, we found the weather much nicer than in northern Europe and lived there for seven years. We very much enjoy the friendly and relaxed atmosphere of Australia’s regional towns and their communities.

Tell us about your career journey.

After Mars, I joined P&O Ports as Global Technical Services Director, responsible for all infrastructure operations and development across 26 ports in 12 countries. Although based in both Melbourne and London, I ended up relocating with my wife to India and Dubai. I really enjoyed managing an international team with lots of different cultures. I also spent more than six years working for Pacific National, Australia’s largest rail operator that provides freight services throughout Australia. Before joining NQBP, I was CEO at Southern Ports in Western Australia for three years.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

I am proud of having left behind organisations that are safer with stronger capabilities and connections with their customers, communities and stakeholders. I am very proud of the work accomplished at P&O Ports, where all “fall from heights” incidents were eliminated within 18 months. It is critically important to me that everyone returns home safely every day.

What have been your first impressions at NQBP?

I’ve been very impressed with the passion our people show for our ports and our port communities. From our operations crew to our environment team, our office staff and everyone in between, there is a real commitment to setting a global standard in sustainable trade and port development.

What are you most excited about?

Because we have accountability for four different ports, I think we have an amazing opportunity to share knowledge and help shape future prosperity throughout Queensland. Each of our ports offers key strategic advantages for the state and it is our role to bring these opportunities to life. The world is changing fast and we have a role to play in adapting our ports and shaping the supply chain they are part of.

Can you describe a typical day as NQBP CEO?

I don’t know if there’s such a thing! I enjoy spending as much time as I can at each of our four ports, so if I’m in Mackay I might get up early and go for a walk along our beautiful breakwater before heading out to the port to meet some of our port users. If I’m up in Weipa, I’ll make a few early site visits before the day gets too hot and then spend the afternoon talking with as many local stakeholders as possible. And if I’m lucky, I’ll finish up with fresh barramundi for dinner!

Do you have any unusual hobbies?

I am still a bit French and love cooking a nice meal. Sorry – this is not very unusual! I used to do a lot of kite surfing but my body (and my doctor!) no longer permit such activities. I stay active with running, gym and some tennis and, being in Queensland, I hope to get back into sailing.

When I was five years old I wanted to be a...

... fireman. With my four brothers and one sister, we lived opposite a fire station, so I wanted to join them. We lived in Caen, a town in Normandy in northern France, which was destroyed during the D-Day landing. I still have vivid memories of watching the fire trucks being called to help the army remove unexploded ordnance.