Churchill Consulting

Case study: First port of call – discovering your purpose and acting on it

Case study: First port of call – discovering your purpose and acting on it

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  • Category:Case Study
  • Offering:Strategy
  • Industry:Transport

The Fremantle Ports Authority (Fremantle Ports) is responsible for managing the Port of Fremantle and the Kwinana Bulk Terminal. In resetting their strategic direction, Aaron Ryder explains how Churchill helped Fremantle Ports to reassess their purpose and identify the reason why they exist.

Container trade is currently the largest source of revenue for the Port. With the WA government currently considering options around the future of containter trade in WA, including potentially transferring it to a new purpose-built facility further south, Fremantle Port found itself facing an uncertain future.

Recognising a new approach was needed to take Fremantle Ports forward, the organisation underwent an extensive renewal, with new appointments to the Board and Exec, including new CEO, Michael Parker in 2021.

Once appointed, Michael spent six months getting to know the business and its people and observing the shifts in customer priorities and trends both within and outside Fremantle Ports.

The next step was for Fremantle Ports to reset its strategic direction. This new strategy needed to re-position Fremantle Ports to address the issues that will confront the organisation over the coming decade.

Fremantle Ports asked Churchill to facilitate the strategy development process. The first step in that process was to identify the reason why Fremantle Ports exists.

Our approach – Understanding your purpose

Your purpose isn’t created. It already exists whether you know it or not. Our approach focused on uncovering the reason why Fremantle Ports exists. This involved three discussions:

  1. Who does Fremantle Ports serve? And what do they want?
  2. How does Fremantle Ports contribute to those they serve?
  3. What is the impact of Fremantle Ports’ contribution on those they serve?

The output from these conversations was used to develop a single action orientated purpose statement that communicates why Fremantle Ports does what it does.

An action orientated purpose has two elements:

  • A contribution – which convey the actions that serve the highest needs of the most important stakeholders
  • An impact – which describe how stakeholders benefit from the contribution.

Discussions to identify Fremantle Ports’ purpose also prompted the Board and Executive to revisit and reconsider the stakeholders they serve, and what these stakeholders want from Fremantle Ports now and into the future.

Churchill’s process and approach to including and managing the stakeholders  through this strategic process included:

  • Direct engagement with Fremantle Ports stakeholders (customers, partners, people, stakeholders, and importers and exporters) and global port leaders to identify current and future needs and how leading ports are evolving to better serve their stakeholders.
  • Bringing the Fremantle Ports Board and ELT together to discuss who the most important stakeholders are, what these stakeholders want from Fremantle Ports, and how Fremantle Ports serves the highest order needs of its stakeholders.
  • Facilitated group discussions to identify the actions Fremantle Ports delivers to support its stakeholders and the benefits that stakeholders experience.


Through the many conversations and managed sessions, Fremantle Ports successfully engaged with its stakeholders and created engagement and buy-in around the purpose for Fremantle Ports.

A new single statement was developed to articulate Fremantle Ports purpose and direction for the future:  

“Facilitating trade for a more prosperous Western Australia.”

The purpose statement became the reference point and anchor for the new strategy, underpinning the intent, direction and activities needed to fulfil that purpose.

As well as informing the purpose, which underpinned the strategic, the collaborative work that went into developing the purpose had several beneficial outcomes including:

  • Alignment between the Board and ELT on who Fremantle Ports exists to serve, what its stakeholders want, and how Fremantle Ports delivers on those demands
  • Stronger relationships with direct and indirect customers, commercial partners, and value chain partners, leading to greater acceptance as WA’s supply chain manager.
  • Building a reference point to support decision making in developing a new strategy and to support future decisions to be made in executing the strategy.
  • Establishing a strong foundation to support a refresh of Fremantle Ports’ culture and values and provide clarity and direction for employees to

For more information on how Churchill can help you connect with the reason you exist, email us at

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