Louise Tieman fell in love with the Pacific Rim when she was a student at the University of Puget Sound.
Two weeks into her position as CEO of the World Trade Center in Tacoma that passion for business across the Pacific Rim — as well as here at home — has been elevated to a whole new level.
Tieman, who has lived in Gig Harbor for 22 years, is now the head of the only full-service trade center in the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s a dream job for me and I’m absolutely thrilled to assist Washington companies with trade needs,” Tieman said.
While the center in New York City is the most visible and the largest branch of the World Trade Center association, Tieman said, there are centers in 330 cities and 100 countries. It is the largest trade association in the world. The Tacoma office partners importers and exporters in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
A 1985 graduate of UPS, Tieman said the Pacific Rim trip that took her to different countries and cultures was formative. A native of Los Angeles, though, the Pacific Northwest has a special place in her heart.
“Having traveled all around the world, Gig Harbor is my favorite place,” she said.
On the UPS trip, Tieman visited South Korea, Japan, China, Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and Nepal. The group headed back to the west by way of Austria and then the London School of Economics.
The trip opened her eyes to the world. She’s learned languages and, as a by-product, culture.
“You can’t learn a language like Chinese... and not learn about the culture. You can’t live in Asia without coming to appreciate the food and the music and the warmth of the people,” she said.
In her job now, the nation she works with the most often is China, especially with Tacoma’s sister city, Fuzhou. Tieman said working with Chinese cities puts the United States population in perspective. For example, Fuzhou is made up of 7.5 million people.
“The U.S. has only one city over 10 million (people) and China has 30 cities over 10 million,” she said.
Tieman’s job is matchmaking. Right now, a major export for Washington is wine. With a growing middle class in China, the demand for Washington wines and spirits is growing, Tieman said. On a recent trip to China by Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, it was clear that Washington products were in high demand.
“The Washington state pavilion had the largest lines because everyone wanted to taste,” she said.
The center is funded by both the City of Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma, but Tieman said her job is to visualize business regionally. That means bringing local sellers into the world of exporting.
“I think I would like to introduce the World Trade Center to more Gig Harbor companies,” she said. “Part of our role is to focus attention on Pierce County as a wonderful place to live and to invest.”
For now, she’s settling into the office and her role at the helm.
In a world where international issues can often be a wedge, Tieman stresses that her job isn’t political.
“Most people are not political, governments are political,” she said. In working with other countries she sees that, just like here, investors care about communities, families.
She thinks trade can bridge gaps between nations.
“Building relationships not only builds trade,” she said. “It also builds peace.”Karen Miller: 253-358-4155 email@example.com Twitter: @Gateway_Karen