- by Kaitlin Lowe
In the world of maritime operations, it takes a special kind of dedication and adaptability to thrive. That said, we are proud to celebrate the remarkable 20-year journey of Melissa Hotard, our esteemed Controller. Melissa’s unwavering commitment, coupled with her journey from an Accounts Clerk to her current leadership role, exemplifies the spirit of excellence that defines our team.
As a Controller at Associated Terminals, Melissa Hotard is vital to our financial operations. Responsible for tasks ranging from financial statements to bank reconciliations, Melissa’s attention to detail and leadership skills are instrumental in maintaining the financial health of our organization. Her role extends beyond the numbers; she oversees the accounts payable department and plays a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth functioning of our day-to-day operations.
Melissa embarked on her career in accounting after earning her degree from Southeastern LA University in 2000. She honed in on her skills during three years at the corporate office of New Orleans Original Daiquiris before joining Associated Terminals in December 2003 as an Accounts Payable clerk. Over the past two decades, Melissa has ascended the ranks, proving her skill and diligence as a Staff Accountant and Accounting Supervisor before assuming her current role as Controller.
Throughout her journey, Melissa faced challenges—one notable instance being the corporate office’s move from Reserve to Convent. This change brought additional responsibilities due to the acquisition of St. James Stevedoring, a new working environment, and an extended commute. Despite the personal and professional adjustments, Melissa adapted with resilience, showcasing her dedication to the company’s success, and continued to ‘give her 100%.’
Melissa’s goal of continuously learning is evident in her approach to challenges, and is key to her professional success. She emphasizes the importance of being open-minded to change and encourages seeking guidance when needed. As a leader, she pays it forward by training new and existing team members in accounts payable or current workers on new tasks., fostering an environment of patience and understanding.
“When training, I try to explain things thoroughly and I always encourage them to ask questions until they fully understand. Patience is key with training coworkers on new tasks. I definitely like to lead by example,” said Melissa.
Melissa says that Ann Thibodeaux, Sr. VP of Accounting, is no doubt her career mentor. Melissa shares, “I wouldn’t be where I’m at in my career if it wasn’t for her. Even after 20 years, I
continue to learn from her. She is a great person who leads by example, and I’m honored to call her my friend.
Melissa also expresses profound gratitude for the privilege of working alongside the original owner, David Fennelly. Since her early days at Associated, she recounts how he consistently extended kindness and wore a perpetual smile. David stood as an exemplary leader, treating everyone with equality, regardless of their job title.
Outside the office, Melissa finds joy in spending time with her husband Jamie and son Hayden. Their shared interests in sports, including attending Saints and Pelicans games, and enjoying family gatherings reflect the importance of work-life balance.
A valuable lesson Melissa reflects upon upon this milestone is that “there is always something new to learn, you can be employed for years at the same company, but you have to be willing to be open minded to change,” she said.
She further explains how she has found that the leaders and coworkers at Associated are there to help whenever she needs, and she encourages other team members to ask for and offer assistance as she does daily.
Building off the warmth and sharing of knowledge that comes with being a part of the team, Melissa’s best advice to new hires is “never be afraid to ask questions to learn about our industry!” She explained how she always continues to learn about the industry simply by asking her coworkers in different departments, “we work in a fascinating industry and there are so many moving parts to make our company successful,” said Melissa.
Like many other team members, Melissa appreciated how Associated Terminals is more than a workplace; it’s a second family. She emphasizes the camaraderie and support that colleagues-turned-friends provide, especially during challenging times such as Hurricane Ida. She explains that during a tough time, she felt familial type support from members of the Associated Terminals team.
Reflecting on these past two decades, Melissa had said, “I’m content with where I’m at in my career. I will continue to be a part of the accounting department as long as they’ll have me.”
Melissa Hotard’s 20-year anniversary is not just a testament to her individual accomplishments but also a celebration of the collaborative spirit that defines Associated Terminals. As Melissa continues to contribute to the success of our organization, her story stands as an inspiration to all team members. Cheers to 20 years of excellence and to the many more milestones ahead!Back to News