Margaret Bonds Podlich
Education: B.A. in History/Political Science from Tulane University, New Orleans
Years in the marine industry: 22
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry? If you think about everyone in the U.S. going to work today, what percentage of them are working to give other people happiness? That’s what we do in boating, whether it’s building a boat, or running a marina, or selling engines. I consider us quite lucky for that.
We have to remember that the entire recreational boating industry is based on discretionary income. There are many threats at so many different levels. That’s why the industry must be alert and politically active about legislation and aware of how connected our businesses are to the overall economy.
If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why? Passing the Clean Boating Act in 2008. This was a turning point within the boating industry where everyone put their differences aside and started working together. It’s the only way the bill got passed. Otherwise all of us would be living in a world with “normal operational discharge” permits required for every boat in every state to go in the water. What a nightmare. Think the luxury tax was bad? This would have been worse. But the byproduct of this particular legislative success is an ongoing collegial working relationship. See all the cosponsors for the NMMA’s ABC? That demonstrates the ongoing bonds.
How do you hope to inspire other women in the marine industry? The future for boating is diversification from the traditional white male boat owner. Having women in the industry, in every business, at every level, helps fuel that gender-neutral and ethnic-neutral future that we all need to grow boating. Being a woman president who is out in the public a lot, and on the water a lot – it’s fun to show that potential.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry? Know what you know, and know what you don’t. No one knows it all, you just have to ask lots of questions. This is still a male-dominated field, but we’re not the only industry like that. Be your best, make it a priority to continue to learn and grow every day, and your gender is not going to be an issue.
What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies? I read a lot of books (including audio books while driving) and enjoy cooking up delicious and healthy foods for family and friends and exercising and travel. I also do textile crafts and like working with the vibrant colors of fabrics and yarns.