7 July 2023


As my Global Chairperson tenure comes to an end, I have been reflecting on the last few years. I started my tenure in July 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when we were confined to our homes with virus logistics more in command!

It was a time where we were unable to organise events physically and to engage with our members. I had to virtually ascend to the position. However, we were undeterred and had alternative plans for meeting any and all of these challenges. Virtual connectivity was new to many of us but we made the maximum use of the opportunity and in fact connected more frequently than ever before, which yielded beneficial results. Post-Covid, we have kept with the new normal created and we see much more connectivity among us, which of course is good for pushing for the changes we want.


WiLAT was built a decade ago on a strong foundation as one of three CILT special interest groups as a global forum after Nigeria set up the first WiLAT territory in 2010. I am thankful to my predecessors Aisha Ali Ibrahim FCILT and Dr Dorothy Chan FCILT for laying the foundation and strengthening the governance structure, which paved the way to spread our wings during the past three years.


As I took over the role of Global Chairperson, I set five priorities to steer WiLAT forward:

  • Growing members
  • Extending reach
  • Developing partnerships
  • Driving capacity building
  • Promoting sustainable living as a way of life through our individual and collective actions

Exponential growth

Nineteen (19) new territories were inducted to the global family during the past three years virtually, except for one where I had the opportunity to physically be present to witness the launch of WiLAT in Uzbekistan in September 2022. WiLAT has spread its wings to thirty-eight (38) territories with over 3,260 members as at June 2023. Twenty-two (22) new contacts have been identified which means more WiLAT spread. They too will join the network in the coming years once compliance to governance is ascertained.

In Ghana, Indonesia and Malaysia, WiLAT expanded its footprint by setting up regional WiLAT chapters. WiLAT also pioneered the entry into the francophone region with the launch of WiLAT Cote d’Ivoire in 2021 and Togo in 2022 and to North America with the Caribbean islands in 2021. One of the notable features in the footprint expansion plan was in Central Asia region where GVC Marina Kuznechevskaya FCILT launched five territories within the space of one year with the support of USAID. A new region was created for Australasia under GVC Dr Catherine Lou CMILT, expanding WiLAT regions to nine. Out of the 34 countries where CILT is present, WiLAT is yet to be set up in 12 countries. In six of these countries, WiLAT has a contact. We have opportunities in six more countries to develop new contacts. The contacts developed in North America, Namibia, Cameroon, Hellas, Reunion Islands, Brunei and Azerbaijan are ready to launch WiLAT within the year. Poland will set up WiLAT as a Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) forum within CILT. WiLAT also took the lead to support the setting up of CILT branches in Turkiye and in Namibia under the leadership of Berna Akyildiz FCILT and Prisca Myumbelo CMILT respectively and work is in progress in Cote d’Ivoire and Greece.


WiLAT made good partnerships with funding agencies, trade associations, universities and corporate partners to support our efforts locally and globally. In particular, I would like to thank PAIOI (Port Association of Indian Ocean Islands), Hoplun, Interport Bangladesh, EFL Global, SAGT (Port of Colombo), DHL (Hong Kong), USAID etc, for their generosity and commitment towards WiLAT. Central Asia, Turkiye and Indonesia are leading in developing partnerships.

Capacity Building

WiLAT’s mission is to improve the status of women and capacity building is one of the key priority areas. WiLAT Capacity Building Center (WCBC) was set up virtually in June 2021 to complement the CILT education offering. It was established with the aim to develop female leaders and to encourage knowledge acquisition of the latest industry trends for advancement in our ever-changing world of supply chain, logistics and transport. This is a compelling membership offering for our WiLATs worldwide. A skill survey was also conducted to understand the training needs and findings were used to update the programmes. The second edition of the CALF programme was successfully concluded in hybrid mode with a physical workshop and industry visits in Singapore.

We started our focus on the DEI agenda and Hong Kong is leading in this with a survey and will be exploring certification in the future. WiLAT territories were incentivised to nominate participants and supported member conversions. A language translation facility for multilingual participants and virtual discussion forums are some of the features that have been added to enhance the learning. To date we have conducted six programmes and trained over 200 personnel from 20 countries by an experienced international resource pool. I am thankful to Vicky Koo FCILT, our Head of WCBC, who led this pioneering initiative and her team for a job well done.

Corporate social responsibility

WiLAT inspire and impact and as part of our contribution to society and planet. We have conducted thought leadership webinars on sustainability, tree planting in Sri Lanka and Togo, plastic recycling in Nigeria, street clean ups in Indonesia, bicycle donations in Nigeria and Ghana and commemorating earth day and world environment day to create awareness on the climate emergency and call to action to make sustainable living a way of life. Individually I know many are walking the talk and that is what really matters and we have enabled some of these mindset changes.

Communicating with our audience

In our WiLAT Global 10th anniversary year, we launched our publication “Spreading our Wings” and launched it at the CILT international convention in Perth. It provides an account of our decade old journey and I am thankful to Dr. Dorothy Chan FCILT, Editor of the publication for her leadership and her editorial team for their tireless efforts in creatively documenting our journey. We also developed a video to portray our WiLAT Global journey. Currently we are present in all the main social media platforms and have gained traction for our news with an ever-growing following.

WiLAT China introduced a Podcast series in 2021 to continue their dialogue with membership. Background work has been done to launch our global Podcast to inspire our membership to keep abreast with industry trends and make them future ready. In August 2021 we introduced the Global Media Coordinator role and it really did justice to branding and media work.  I am thankful to Dhashma Karunaratne CMILT and Amra Zareer CMILT for promoting and boosting the image of WiLAT.

We spread our news through the launch of “Wings of Change” quarterly newsletter in October 2021. To date, we have published eight editions. We have redesigned the latest edition to make it more informative. I am thankful to the past and present international editorial committee members for their professionalism and tireless efforts. We need more members to contribute with thought provoking articles to create value to our membership.

Organising ourselves

We had an eventful annual calendar and it kept our Global Secretariat on their toes. Many WiLATs have conducted webinars, coffee talks and conferences individually and in partnership with like-minded organisations to promote special days in our event calendar. We also saw heightened engagements with teams locally and regionally. The biannual orientation was introduced for all new joiners in February 2023. This enabled everyone to be on the same page. It is important that we all know our mission and how we are creating value to our membership. We also introduced regional meetings with GVCs in 2021 taking the lead to engage with territories more closely. We have completed our second round of meetings. This has helped us to understand more closely the challenges and opportunities at ground level. We also revised our WiLAT Forum Guideline to reflect the current reality.

WiLAT life cycle has moved from introduction to development and growth. It is time to focus on consolidation now. In order to sustain the growth momentum and to strengthen WiLAT, an assessment was introduced to understand the maturity status by studying the compliance and the impact WiLAT has made in respective territories. This paved the way to understand the gaps, prioritise our focus areas and support territories to reach maturity. This will help us to consolidate our plans. A robust strategic plan was also developed with the future in mind and the key strategic objectives will be to grow members and reach, develop capacity, strengthen governance, improve visibility and strengthen succession planning.

The first edition of Stars of WiLAT (SoW) programme, which was launched in 2022, saw ten future leaders being recognised at the CILT International convention in Perth. SoW will be an annual recognition in our WiLAT calendar. The nominations have been called for this year for the second edition with awardees being recognised at next year’s international convention.

A force of nature

As our CILT International President Paul Sainthouse FCILT, opined, I quickly recognised that WiLAT is akin to a force of nature almost something to wonder at, a beacon of light shining and always impossible to ignore” and it is an acknowledgement that WiLAT has made a difference to CILT and our industry. Today WiLAT has an advisory position in the Council of Trustees in recognition of our efforts. I am thankful to the CILT International President and the Trustees for the trust placed in WiLAT. Also two positions have been allocated for WiLAT in the International Education Steering Committee (IESC), which is an endorsement of the work done by the WCBC.

Our members are influential Thought Leaders in their respective countries and have made a mark locally, regionally and globally living our values to inspire and make an impact. WiLATs have demonstrated our proactiveness, resilience and agility through our work. I am thankful to each and every one of them for their immense contribution in the past three years to spread our wings and make a difference.

A final glance backwards

I am humbled by the knowledge that through our efforts we have significantly grown in size and thereby in influence. This will help us in ensuring that we will be able to help the WiLAT forum that we hope to support and strengthen. A stronger network makes all of us stronger and the future requires more connectivity and nodes to be strengthened.

With my successor Vicky Koo FCILT at the helm of Global WiLAT, I know WiLAT will be in extremely capable hands for the journey ahead. I wish her all the best during her tenure.

Last but not the least my gratitude goes to past and present country chairs, GVCs, Advisors and all WSC members and especially the Global WiLAT Secretariat headed initially by Vicky Koo FCILT and then passed down to Dr Doreen Owusu Fianko FCILT and her team Nlaliban Wujangi FCILT, Patrick Andoh, FCILT, Dhashma Karunaratne CMILT and Amra Zareer CMILT for their hard work and unstinted support during my tenure. I must also thank CILT and WiLAT Sri Lanka for their unwavering support throughout. It was a privilege serving you as the Global Chairperson and I hope I was able to fulfill the trust placed on me.

Let’s keep our focus with a purpose, persistence and passion to drive greater progress for the next decade and beyond.

Wings flutter; headwinds are encountered; yet we fly high in formation with determination and focus. The destination we seek is sweeter for all of us.  

All the best WiLAT. We are stronger together!

Gayani de Alwis FCILT

Global WiLAT Chairperson

30th June 2023