DR ROCHELLE Macdonald was today named CEO of northern Australian shipping specialist Sea Swift.

Earlier this month, Mid West Ports announced Dr Macdonald was stepping down as CEO of the organisation. She has more than two decades of experience in the ports and marine industries in Australia.

Sea Swift chairman Steve Boulton said Dr Macdonald’s appointment followed an extensive recruitment process.

“This is a key appointment for the business, and we are excited about the strength and experience of the combined executive team with Rochelle, Lino Bruno and Mark Hope,” he said.

“I look forward to working closely with the executive team when Rochelle moves to Cairns and takes up her role in May.”

Rochelle will join Sea Swift after nearly three years as the CEO of Mid West Ports Authority.

There Rochelle oversaw a transformation of the business which included improving connectivity with the broader port community and customers, securing new customers, and both growing and diversifying trade.

Prior to this role, Rochelle held senior management positions at North Queensland Bulk Ports and the Dampier Port Authority (now part of the Pilbara Ports Authority).

During her time in north Queensland, she oversaw several marine infrastructure projects which provided better port access and connectivity for communities and customers at Weipa, Abbot Point, Mackay, and Hay Point.

Rochelle said she is passionate about contributing to regional and remote communities having spent the past two decades working in regional Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia.

“I’m so excited to be taking this role and looking forward to moving back to Northern Australia and becoming part of the Sea Swift team,” she said.

“Having the opportunity to live and work in such a beautiful part of the world, and to be part of a business that connects our regional communities is a great privilege. Over the coming months I’m looking forward to getting to know the Sea Swift team, our customers, and building high-quality relationships with all levels of government, industry, and the community.”

Dr Macdonald said the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have been particularly hard on parts of northern Australian communities.

“Sea Swift has done an incredible job in continuing to provide the essential services to over 55 communities during this period,” she said.

“We will play an important role in supporting the ongoing economic recovery efforts, and I am looking forward to implementing new partnerships and innovations that will set Sea Swift up for long-term success, working with and building on the great work of the existing management team.”

Mr Boulton paid tribute to acting CEO Lino Bruno, who will continue in this capacity until Rochelle starts in May.

Mr Bruno will then resume his role as COO.

“Lino has done a tremendous job with our customers and overseeing a number of key growth initiatives over the last few months,” Mr Boulton said.

“With Rochelle’s appointment, the board has strong confidence in the combined capability of the executive team to lead the business into the next phase of growth and consolidation.”

Dr Macdonald graduated with a Bachelor of Science with honours (First Class) from the University of Tasmania, before completing a Master of Engineering Management at the University of Technology Sydney, PhD in Public Health at the Curtin University, and the Program of Leadership Development (PLD) at Harvard Business School.

Dr Macdonald won the award for Women in Shipping & Maritime Logistics at the 2019 DCN Australian Shipping & Maritime Awards in Melbourne. She was previously acting CEO at NQBP, as well as general manager – engineering and development, also at NQBP.