Business Leaders of the Year Featured Leadership

Duda Leadership Award | John Murray

JOHN MURRAY, CEO Port Canaveral

He could be described as pragmatic, yet visionary — a leader who honed his skills as a ship captain and maritime executive who also understands the importance of listening and building consensus, not just making command decisions. John Murray

Strategically positioned at the junction of Florida’s north-south and east-west transportation corridors, the potential for the multi-purpose port continues to evolve and adapt to market demands and opportunities. In almost three years in the role, the 40-year industry veteran has helped shape the future of the port, while providing a focus and well-reasoned approach to what those goals should be and how to get there.

Speaking of the port’s cargo business, Murray said, “We’re strong on many of our commodities, specifically those necessary to sustain the construction boom, like lumber and aggregate.” He added that the port’s oil and gas imports are equally strong, noting that automobile imports have also done well and seem likely to continue in the future due to the port’s location.

The Golden Goose

Murray has always been realistic about how to leverage the port’s cargo assets for the best return, but he keeps his focus on the real prize, which is the burgeoning cruise industry. “There was a time when cruise ships were a leisurely means to get to a destination,” he explained. “Now, the ships are so spectacular, they’re the destination in themselves, and even larger and grander ships are
being built.”

With his characteristic guarded optimism, Murray described the port’s 30-year plan as “a vision document — a high-level blueprint that looks at the port’s future with information that we know today.” Though full of opportunities, he emphasizes that “not every project in this plan will become a reality,” but there is enough that will become a reality that it dizzies the imagination.

Forecasters see the port’s cruise volume doubling over the next 30 years to nearly 9 million cruise vacationers, necessitating the construction of three new terminals, while also completely renovating several of the existing ones.

“The cruise industry is always looking for new and innovative ideas, and Florida and the Caribbean represent the largest cruise market in the world,” Murray said.

Adapting to the Role

The best leaders continually evolve and adapt to the leadership challenges the position demands. As Anthony D’Angelo once said, “Become a student of change. It is the only thing that will remain constant.”

Moving from ship’s captain to shipping executive and then to a position where every major decision requires nearly unanimous consensus and often may involve local, state and federal governmental support, Murray admits his role has been challenging.

“I was accustomed to making executive decisions based on careful due diligence and immediately moving to implementation,” he said. “Now, that’s just the beginning of the process.”

Many important initiatives, like replacing the bridge on S.R. 401, take years to plan and complete.

Murray’s temperament and acumen has been the right combination to manage a position that has so many stakeholders to consider. Perhaps the statement of Henri Bergson describes him best: “Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.”

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SpaceCoast Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Brevard business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders, along with economic trends that are shaping our county.

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