Ralph Graves

Graves, Ralph

Job Title: Senior Director, Capital Development
Company: Port of Seattle
Industry: Government, Design/Construction
Mentor Since: Fall 2009
Will Mentor: Graduate Students

Job Description

Oversee design and construction of projects in support of the operating divisions (Aviation, Maritime and Economic Development) of the Port of Seattle and of the Northwest Seaport Alliance with Tacoma.

Company Description

The Port of Seattle is a municipality of the State of Washington.  It operates the seaport, Sea Tac Airport and other holdings to create jobs and stimulate economic activity in King County and the surrounding region. 

Employment History

29 years U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officer (troop and Engineer District assignments), 5 years project controls lead for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement project (Parsons Brinckerhoff), 9 years current position at the Port.


BS (concentration in civil engineering), U.S. Military Academy
Master of Engineering, UC Berkeley
Master of Science, Industrial College of the Armed Forces 
PhD (civil engineering), Stevens Institute of Technology 

Mentoring Objectives & Scope

Through the course of the mentoring season we’ll choose a menu of topics in Port business and operations so that students gain an understanding of this government agency from the inside and relate business school studies to real-world application.  Besides learning about the Port as a public-sector agency, students might be interested in public works project management and contracting or environmental sustainability.  We can meet with other Port staff to talk about more business-related topics like marketing or finance.

When and where do you hold meetings with your students?

If at the Port offices on Alaskan Way, then some scheduling flexibility. If at SU, then best first thing in the morning or else in the evening. Weekends also possible.

Additional Information

The Port is an enterprise government – only 15% or our revenue comes from taxes – so in many respects we operate like a commercial firm.  Yet we are governed by elected Commissioners, so staff must respect political imperatives and the expectations not only of business and travelling public customers but also of the voters of King County.