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Marine Corps to TOTE Maritime, Totem Ocean welcomes new Alaska GM Grace Greene

Grace Greene definitely came prepared for her responsibilities as Alaska General Manager of Totem Ocean Trailer Express. Behind a nice smile and mild mannered exterior beats the heart of a true warrior – a fact which is borne out by one look at her resume.

By Michael Moore – This article first appeared in the August edition of Totem Ocean News, the official publication of Totem Ocean Trailer Express.

photo 2After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Oceanography from the United States Naval Academy, Grace went on to serve as a Marine Corps helicopter pilot and Aircraft Commander in Iraq, followed by various leadership roles in Operations and Logistics as well as Director of Safety and Standardization.

As Alaska General Manager, Grace is responsible for the operation and profitability of the Alaska terminal and fostering positive relationships with customers and political and community organizations in the region.

Grace brings over 13 years of professional experience managing a wide range of activities from complex oil and gas exploration logistics, aviation operations and safety in remote Arctic Alaska, to business development and consulting. Most recently she was responsible for leading all aviation logistics operations in the Alaska Venture for the Shell Exploration and Production Company.

 What is your vision about the challenges and opportunities facing Totem Ocean and the Saltchuk family of companies in Alaska and the Arctic?

I believe that Alaska is at a tipping point, there is so much potential for growth and responsible development.  Our challenge is to stay ahead of what’s next and be prepared to deliver when called.  Totem Ocean and the Saltchuk family of companies in Alaska are uniquely positioned to provide support for complex logistics and transportation projects, whether they are here in Anchorage or offshore in the Arctic.  I couldn’t be more excited about the future.

Can you tell a little about how you apply your military experience and skills to your work with Totem Ocean?_U5U9131

I think my military experience has taught me confidence to make decisions, to be responsible for my actions and take care of those around me.  We are only as strong as our weakest link, which I learned from the “Laws of the Navy” when I was a midshipman.  This and the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, or Always Faithful, have helped shape who I am today.

We are also in an industry that relies on organized and timely operations, something that really resonates with me.  During my time in the Marine Corps, especially during combat operations, everything depends on timing and planning.  This experience directly applies to what we do every day.

You made the transition from Naval Academy Oceanography major to a Marine Corps helicopter pilot – how did that come about?

When I first stepped foot into the halls of the Naval Academy, I wanted to be a navy pilot.  About 30 seconds after I began my first year during “plebe summer”, I saw a Marine Officer for the first time and was awestruck.  He was wearing his dress blues and struck me as not only a decorated warrior, but I could feel that he was a leader and someone who could make a difference – that’s what I wanted to be.

Being oceanography major has helped me understand how our planet functions, and proved to be a very useful background during pilot training and my time in the service.  Today, it helps me to understand the complex tidal systems we have in Alaska.

Tell us a little about how Totem Ocean works with the rest of the Saltchuk family of companies in Alaska.

Totem Ocean has great relationships with the other Saltchuk companies in Alaska.  One of the best examples of how we work together is the Alaska Project Cargo Team.  This team is comprised of leaders from each of the Alaska operating companies, and we get together to figure out how we can as a group support development projects and partner together to provide a “one stop shop” for logistics and transportation needs.  It is really exciting to think about how we can leverage the amazing capabilities our group of companies has, especially as we look forward to continued growth of development within the State.

We also get together in the form of the Saltchuk Alaska Giving Committee.  Each of the operating companies donates a part of their profits to give towards post-secondary education and youth and social development in Alaska.  We have organized exciting programs such as a scholarship fund at Alaska Pacific University and support organizations like the Museum of the North in Fairbanks.

What do you consider your most important achievements of the last five years?

Ask anyone around the office and they’ll tell you I say the #1 most important thing is family.  I have a young family – my daughter Claire is 3 and my little boy Patrick is 1, so naturally, they are my most important achievements in the past 5 years.  Outside of that, I’m proud of the life that my husband and I are building here in Alaska.  At work, I’m extremely proud of the impact and contribution that Totem Ocean has on the community – being able to make a difference in Alaska is a tremendous honor.

Do you still fly? Do you have any hidden talents?

I haven’t flown since I left the Marine Corps, but we are now the proud owners of a Super Cub – so I hope to get out and start flying again soon.  As far as hidden talents, most people probably don’t know that I love to bird watch!  Alaska has so many amazing birds, it’s so much fun to learn about them and keep track of how many I’ve seen!

Is there anything else you would like the Totem Ocean family to know?

I care a lot about Safety.  When I worked at Shell, I was immersed in their safety culture.  I have brought that along with what I learned in the Marine Corps as an Aviation Safety Officer to what we do at Totem Ocean.  Everyone can always do better when it comes to Safety.  Most of the mistakes we make are human error, so if we all just took a second to stop and think next time before we do something, I bet we might make a different or better choice that could prevent an incident or injury.  I love working with companies like Weaver Brothers and United Freight because they have such a strong safety culture, and it shows through in everything they do.

What is the biggest challenge Totem Ocean in Alaska will be facing over the next year.

At the end of 2015, we will begin converting our ships to run on LNG.  This is a huge undertaking, and demonstrates our commitment to the environment and the future of Alaska.  Our challenge will be to make sure everyone understands the positive impact this conversion will have on our environment, and I hope it will generate support for the Alaska LNG project.  I would love to say in 10-15 years that the ships that bring the goods and services to Alaska are also fueled by Alaskan LNG.

How have your experiences working for Shell prepared you for Totem Ocean?

Working for Shell helped me learn so much about Alaska, especially about the different people of Alaska and the opportunity for responsible development.  Working for Shell gave me the chance to visit many of our amazing communities, from Kaktovic to Adak and I learned that in Alaska, it’s all about logistics.  Totem Ocean is a huge part of Alaska’s supply chain – being able to visit communities throughout the state helps me to understand how critical it is that we continue to deliver on time, every time.

What do you anticipate being your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge is to continually evaluate how and what I’m doing, to make sure that not only is Totem Ocean being as effective and efficient as possible, but that I am personally doing everything I can to support those that work around me.  I am so lucky to have such a great team to work with; everyone contributes and puts in no less than 110% every day.  I need to continually challenge myself to give just as much or more.