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Brandy ChristianFrancisco ChristianBrandy Christian, President and CEO, Port of New Orleans and
Francisco Christian, CEO, NOLA Motorsports Park:

With their work-life balance tipped more toward work than life in Southern California, Brandy Christian and her husband Frank knew it was time to think about a change.
They wanted a family-friendly environment and a better cost of living without sacrificing career advancement.

“We were primarily looking in the Southwest to be closer to our families,” says Brandy, who then worked for the Port of San Diego. “New Orleans was not on our radar at all, never had been.” Then she came here for business in 2014. “I was intrigued by the friendly people who were so proud to live here and share their passion for the city with others. Of course, the culture and history were a draw. Southern California has a transient population. We found it difficult to form a community there, even though we are both native Californians.”

A few months later, Brandy applied for the Port of New Orleans COO position. “The Port of New Orleans is highly respected in the industry and one of the biggest container and cruise ports in the world. It is also growing quickly. It was a great chance for me to advance professionally.” They also felt that opportunities would open for Frank in New Orleans, a hospitality industry executive.

Some months after Brandy accepted the Port of New Orleans post, Frank and their daughter joined her, followed shortly afterward by Frank’s parents and Brandy’s 20-year-old nephew. “One characteristic of New Orleans that sets it apart from California is the community involvement. We were quickly accepted into our daughter’s new school and school groups. After her first year at a new school, our daughter has been asked to join the honors program. This type of success in transition is a testament to the openness in the community that we joined,” says Frank.

After a thorough and careful search, Frank became CEO of NOLA Motorsports Park, which he has transformed into a thriving entertainment and event venue. His new post came about as the result of connections made once they were ensconced in the city.

“New Orleans is a very network-driven place,” says Brandy. “The executive positions are not obvious online, but once you find the right networking mechanism, it’s much easier, much faster to find doors opening than in Southern California. I instantly got connections through the Port. People wanted to see my family succeed here and were willing to help.”

Of the business climate, Brandy and Frank agree on its openness to growth. “In New Orleans, people are more open to experience, creativity and leadership skills, and less interested in boxing people by industry,” Brandy says. “You have an opportunity to make your mark, create something new. There’s an appreciation for new ideas and taking risks. We’re really happy to be here.”

economic development, port of new orleans, whynola


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