As the Massachusetts Port Authority searches for a new leader, its board must decide whether to hire a stellar coach or a superstar athlete, a conductor or a soloist.
Think Bill Belichick vs. Tom Brady – or the management analogy that departing CEO Tom Glynn likes to use, Keith Lockhart vs. Yo-Yo Ma.
The process officially began on Thursday — as Massport started advertising for a search firm. The recruiter will likely be picked at the November meeting, Glynn’s last. (Chief financial officer John Pranckevicius will take over on an interim basis.) The new CEO probably will more closely resemble Glynn, who had broad administrative and public policy experience, and look less like Tom Kinton, an aviation specialist who previously held the top job.
And the new chief may be a familiar face: An emphasis will be placed on candidates with Massachusetts experience.
You can’t blame the board members for seeking a Keith Lockhart — not with the wide range of tasks that will confront the new boss.
Managing Logan’s growth: At its core, Massport runs airports, with busy Logan overshadowing its others in Bedford and Worcester. Kinton led Logan’s modernization, and set in motion a recruitment program that would draw a parade of overseas airlines to Boston. To keep up, Massport is adding seven gates to international Terminal E. But there’s only so much room. The new chief might consider a regional approach, possibly by building more business at the authority’s airport in Worcester.
Getting people there: As the Ted Williams Tunnel gets more jammed, Massport needs to figure out how best to get travelers to their planes. The port authority is adding as many as 5,000 new parking spaces at Logan. The agency also agreed to double the Silver Line buses to South Station. And it’s expanding its Logan Express shuttle service, maybe with an additional pickup spot. (Cambridge’s Kendall Square topped an internal list of options.) Then there’s the futuristic “people mover” that Glynn floated – a monorail-like system snaking through the entire airport property. Dream solution or billion-dollar pipe dream? The new chief may have to decide.
Modernizing the ports: Plans to install new, giant cranes at the Conley shipping terminal have progressed more slowly than expected. But they’re still moving forward, as Massport tries to attract newer, bigger container ships. Then, across the Reserved Channel, a major face lift is eyed for the Black Falcon cruise ship terminal, a.k.a. the Flynn Cruiseport. The Legislature authorized up to $100 million for the job, but Massport still needs to figure out how to best finance it.
Developing the South Boston Waterfront: Construction began recently on a 1,000-room-plus Omni hotel, and the agency has narrowed the list of bidders for an office development on Congress Street. But other Seaport-area projects aren’t moving as quickly. Massport still has unresolved issues with developer Millennium Partners in the industrial park. And don’t forget the long-awaited Postal Service relocation, potentially to land south of Summer Street. Massport might need more than a charismatic coach or a brilliant conductor to help pull that off.