05th February 2018

Aberdeen Harbour Board Welcomes new Chief Executive

Aberdeen Harbour Board welcomes new Chief Executive

Aberdeen Harbour Board welcomes Michelle Handforth, who has officially taken over the role as Chief Executive today.

This comes after an extensive recruitment process, when Michelle, who has 20 years of board and leadership experience in global, multi-site businesses, was recruited to succeed Colin Parker as Chief Executive.

Alistair Mackenzie, Chairman of Aberdeen Harbour Board, welcomed Michelle’s appointment to the role.

“Michelle is joining Aberdeen Harbour at an incredibly important time for the organisation.  Construction works are well under way at the Aberdeen South Harbour site, whilst we continue to focus on providing second-to-none services and facilities for our customers in the existing harbour. Michelle will be tasked with overseeing the successful completion of project works and in facilitating business growth in the existing facilities.

Michelle’s considerable commercial and operational experience at a senior level means that she is tremendously well equipped to tackle and realise these goals.”  

The expansion, which will afford existing customers the opportunity to diversify and expand their interests, is also expected to attract new customers and markets to the port, including a more significant share of the available cruise vessel fleet and larger more cost-effective commercial vessels.

Since work commenced on site in April 2017, the South Harbour development has already made significant progress, with its main contractor, Dragados UK, completing approximately 200 metres of north breakwater, as well as a first round of dredging activity.

Michelle commented, “After being offered the post towards the end of last year, I’ve been very much looking forwarding to getting started at Aberdeen Harbour Board.

“Colin Parker’s work here at the port, which spans over 30 years, has left a lasting legacy for us all. He oversaw a number of significant infrastructure projects, which modernised the facilties available to our customers, including the development of Torry Marine Base and the planning of the on-going harbour expansion into Nigg Bay. As Britain’s oldest existing business, with a solid strategy in place for our future, I am committed to continuing this work and I am certain that the harbour will continue to thrive and provide a significant contribution to the local, regional and national economy. “


Notes to editors:

Michelle’s career has seen her hold leadership roles in the areas of aviation, rail, maritime, financial service and oil and gas industries. Before joining Aberdeen Harbour Board, Michelle was the Managing Director of Babcock Offshore Helicopters based in Aberdeen; and has served on the Boards of First Choice Holidays, Sea Containers (Rail) – former operators of the East Coast Rail and Orient Express Group – Aviva, Veolia Transdev and as General Manager for Sydney Ferries in Australia, providing her with considerable experience and knowledge in supporting Aberdeen Harbour Board’s ambition to bring large cruise ships to the north east. Whilst living and working in Australia she was a Board member of the Committee for Sydney, Sponsoring Director for international talent New South Wales Board of Economic Development and a member of the Institute of Customer Services Australasia.

Michelle has a BA (hons) Law degree and qualified as a Barrister in 1986.  She has worked internationally in the USA, Europe, India and Australasia. Whilst in India she also established a community care and education programme for orphaned children in Mumbai.

Aberdeen Harbour

Aberdeen Harbour is Europe's premier marine support centre for the oil and gas industry and the main commercial port servicing North East Scotland.

With trading links to up to 40 countries across the world, the port is a key regional resource and a vital part of Northern Scotland’s infrastructure. With a wide range of industry sectors contributing to record annual traffic figures, Aberdeen Harbour handles just under 25 million tonnes of shipping and activity at the port generates over £1.5 billion to the region’s economy each year and helps sustain around 12,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Media contact: Jennifer Buchanan, Jennifer.buchanan@fifthring.com, 01224 628080