20 December 2021 | International

As my Presidency comes to an end, I have been reflecting on my time at the head of this venerable organisation. My term has coincided with a difficult time for the Institute, and for the wider world. Covid-19 has impacted all parts of our lives, changing the way we work, and the way we engage with society. Despite these challenges, there have been many positives. The Institute has weathered the storm and is well placed to carry on into the future.

At the beginning of my Presidency, I outlined five key areas to focus on: sharing best practice, inclusivity and care for every member, expansion into unchartered territories, sustainability and the green agenda, and digitalisation. I am proud of the way we have overcome many difficulties to deliver in each of these areas.

Although not originally part of my plans as President, crisis management quickly became my main focus. Through strong and clear communications, teamwork, and dedication, the International Office of CILT executed a series of plans that mitigated much of impact of the pandemic, allowing members to stay in touch and informed throughout 2020 and 2021.

It was a time of great uncertainty, and we quickly realised it was more important than ever that we communicate effectively with our members. With face-to-face meetings, seminars, conventions, lectures and other branch activities all suspended, we needed to find other ways to engage with our members and offer ongoing value to their association with CILT.

It was also apparent that one of the most important things we could do was to help co-ordinate our industry’s response to Covid-19. Our good reputation allowed us to be authoritative communicators, whilst our wide network of members and friends could be used to connect professionals at the local and international level, enabling the sharing of ideas and new best practice, and providing a space for collaboration.

We adapted our marketing and communications strategy, developing a series of best practice bulletins and webinars to support members across the world. I initiated 5 areas of research on the following topics: immediate business response, the supply chain response to shortages in medicines and food, safe practices in passenger transport networks, global shipping and the supply chain – the short and long-term response, and finally business continuity and the ongoing management of risk.

These topics were communicated to members in a series of ‘calls for research’, and I am both grateful and impressed at the breadth and depth of response from around the world. Through the efforts of individuals and branches from all parts of our international family, we were able to create 10 Covid Response Bulletins containing nearly one hundred best practice response articles from members in 25 countries across 5 continents. Alongside this work, we upgraded our direct communications, expanding our use of the branch network and our social media presence. We also began our first series of Zoom webinars, creating 16 pieces of recorded content now housed on our YouTube channel.

At a time when many countries were in lockdown, when businesses were struggling to cope with the demands being placed upon them, and many people were isolated, these bulletins, webinars and other communications helped to keep our global family connected and support branches where Covid was preventing activity.

Although the pandemic was and is still very much with us, after some months we were able to begin widening the scope of our operations, moving from reactive to proactive actions, and ensuring the urgent did not crowd out the important. Inclusivity and care for every member was clearly the key area we needed to focus on, and with many still working from home, we chose to lean more heavily on our communications, concentrating on the idea of ‘One family, keeping everyone informed’. 2021 saw the launch of the Events section on the international website. Since inception, the Events section has featured over 130 separate events on a wide range of topics from Covid-19 to sustainability, digitalisation, and the future of our profession. This was followed by the Articles and Publications section, which has grown to house 68 articles since its launch in June. I have every hope that with the support of our expert membership, these sections will continue to grow, becoming a valuable resource for our CILT family.

In the same vein, we established a programme of regional meetings, allowing all country branches in a region to come together for mutual support, networking, and the sharing of best practice. We have now been through 4 rounds of meetings per region, and this programme will carry on in 2022, helping to keep the Institute stronger together.

Although unable to meet face-to-face, our members were still able to take part in several international gatherings, including the Central Asia Trade Forum, and the China International Logistics Development Conference.

We also worked hard to achieve consistent representation of a single global brand across our communications, extending and refining our Brand Guidelines documents, and leading a thorough brand audit of our branch network. This ongoing work is vitally important, and I am sure you will all play your part in the months ahead.

Despite the great challenges we have faced, the Institute has kept moving forward, and I am very pleased to say continued to grow, expanding our reach and our message to new territories around the world. During my presidency we have established two new branches, first in Korea, and latterly in Rwanda. I congratulate everyone involved in the creation and support of these endeavours, and I wish them every success for the future.

Patrick Mugabo speaks at CILT Rwanda launch

WiLAT has also continued to go from strength to strength, creating 13 new chapters in the last two years. The establishment of WiLAT chapters in Bangladesh, Madagascar, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Oman, Fiji, Kazakhstan, Korea, Seychelles, Caribbean, La Cote d’Ivoire, and Rwanda has helped grow WiLAT membership to well over 3,000. Enabling more women in our industry is not just socially important, but good business, and with a further 17 countries ready to establish new chapters, I am certain the industry will continue to see great benefit in the coming years.

WiLAT launched their Capacity Building Centre in June, and alongside their newsletter, Facebook and LinkedIn presences, this creates a compelling membership offering for any woman working in the logistics and transport industry worldwide.

The nurturing of talent has always been a key part of CILT’s mission, and alongside WiLAT, I have been greatly pleased to see the strides forward being made by our Next Generation Network. With a new leadership structure of regional vice-chairs in place, and improved offering, positioning and identity work underway, I can say the future of the Institute is in safe hands, and there is much more to come in 2022.

On the subject of our future, nothing is more important than the future of our planet, and our industry’s role in protecting and sustaining the world we all share. In February 2021 we launched our Green Technology and Sustainability campaign, featuring a strong programme of member-led imagery, as well as articles, bulletins and a series of webinars featuring experts from around the world such as Professor Alan McKinnon and Professor Becky Loo. I am proud of our work in this area, and grateful to all members and experts who gave up their time and effort to enhance our understanding of this vital part of our shared future. Sustainability and the green agenda come with many challenges, but also many opportunities. We as an Institute must continue this work, and make sure our profession is well placed to meet those challenges and help create a sustainable future for all.

We completed the campaign cycle for 2021 with a focus on Digitalisation and Industry 4.0. Launched in September, this campaign focused on the technologies advancing more rapidly than any innovation in our history, disrupting societies and transforming the way we learn and communicate, the way we work, even the way we think. Just as with the Sustainability campaign, our Digitalisation campaign created a bulletin offering views of the future from all parts of our CILT family and beyond. We also published a webinar series, including interviews with leading thinkers such as Professor Dr Rod Franklin, Professor Ed Sweeney, and Gamu Matarira.

In total, across the two campaigns, CILT published nearly 30 hours of recorded content, alongside 59 articles representing the experience of members in 20 countries across 5 continents. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to both the Digitalisation and Sustainability publications. You can read our International Green Technology and Sustainability Bulletin here and our International Digitalisation and Industry 4.0 Bulletin here and watch all our recorded content here on our International YouTube Channel

I would also like to thank the many international members who sent in photographs, images, and statements to be used in our campaign graphics and as part of the awareness campaigns across social media. We are proud to be a global family and being able to show our diversity and togetherness has been a great strength of our campaigns this year. Part of the mission of CILT is to equip our members with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in the logistics and transport industry. I am proud of the work we have all done in helping to achieve this through the Digitalisation and Sustainability campaigns, and I am deeply grateful to everyone who has played a part in making this work a success.

The work of a President is not done in isolation, and I would not have been able to perform my role without the unwavering dedication and support of my team. My thanks therefore firstly to my team in Malaysia, and particularly to Sharifah Salwa Abu Bakar. Your loyalty, dedication and passion have been an essential part of our successful journey together. I could have not done it without you, and I am very grateful to you all for your hard work.

Secondly, I wish to thank Keith Newton, Secretary General of our Institute for many years, and a man of great integrity who at my request postponed his retirement to support me during my presidency. His strong international relationships and commitment to the ideals and realities of our Institute have guided CILT well for many years, and his exemplary conduct throughout his CILT career is reflected in the high regard in which he is held throughout the international community. Keith, I wish you all the best in your well-deserved retirement.

My thanks also to the Communications and Governance team. Much of these last two years’ success is down to the hard work of Ceri Williams, ably supported by Jasper and Tobias. I commend your work ethic, and know with certainty that incoming President Paul Sainthouse has a strong team to lean on as he deals with the challenges of leading our beloved Institute.I also thank the International Education Team of Jon Harris and Zoe Roberts, who supported and expanded our network of training providers well, and kept our educational offering, a vital pillar of our Institute, strong through troubled times. I look forward to the new Halal Logistics educational offering from CILT in 2022.

Finally, I wish to thank the Council of Trustees, and the International Management Committee, and wish you good fortune for 2022 and beyond. I was so lucky to have members of the council who were not only brilliant but understanding and accommodating of whatever my short comings were during the term. Our relationship went beyond the course of duty, we are brothers and sisters in the CILT International family.

Lest we forget, we have to protect and stand up for the ideas and the beliefs that make CILT the unique organisation it is. We are not just a profession but a family, and we must ensure nothing and no-one jeopardises that special bond. Our strength is our unity – Stronger Together.

Looking to the future, I am sure that CILT will continue to flourish. Both WiLAT and the Next Generation Network are making great strides and I know 2022 will be a great year for both. The new year will also see the further development of the International Business Forum, creating another strong component of our offering, and one I am certain will greatly benefit members and branches.

It has been a great honour to lead the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. I encourage you all to keep supporting each other, and supporting your branches. I am proud to say that together we are shaping the future of logistics and transport. My sincere thanks for your support throughout these last two years, and my best wishes for the future to you all.

Dato’ Ts Dr Abd Radzak Abd Malek
International President