For most members, the value of Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport lies in its local and national events. But Richard Hunt is determined to change all that and widen the horizons.
Hunt became international president of the institute in May last year, and since then has been working hard to bring the international dimension more to the fore in the everyday work of the institute.
The logic of the plan is obvious. The decline of manufacturing in Europe and the shift to the developing countries of Asia and the Far East has put much greater emphasis on the international aspects of logistics. For many companies, the ability to manage a supply chain starting at a factory in China and ending with a customer in London has become critical to their business.
The institute is, perhaps surprisingly, well positioned to contribute as it has more than 30,000 members in some 30 countries.
“With globalisation at the centre of the agenda, to be an international network is a great strength”, says Hunt. “We want to encourage younger professionals in logistics and transport.”
As their careers develop, possibly involving moving around the world, the aim is that they should be able to regard the institute as their career partner.
The institute is represented worldwide with national councils, national independent sections and institute branches and offers international professional qualifications in logistics and transport at diploma level. For example, it has a contract with China to provide education and training, as a result of which thousands of Chinese students have received institute qualifications.
Hunt points out that, internationally, the institute is made up of a group of very different organisations. There are ten national councils which can approve their own members. The other territorial organisations are smaller requiring different levels of support from the centre.
And the way the institute is viewed by members can be different. For example, he says, in Malaysia there is a strong emphasis on the educational role of the institute while in New Zealand it is seen as an important networking organisation.
To take the international agenda forward the institute is now in the process of setting up a new international secretariat with the participation of the UK, Ireland and Hong Kong.
This means more internationalisation of the institute, says Hunt. “It gives an international flavour to our activities with more people working on the international agenda.”
The international secretariat would be a virtual centre leveraging the strengths of the participants, enabling each one to take part of the international agenda.
The plan is that Hong Kong would be responsible for membership administration for those territories that are currently too small to do it for themselves; Ireland would be responsible for education administration; and the UK would be responsible for general and financial administration.
Another part of this strategy is to launch some international awards. The first of these will be an “International Young Achievers Award” and this is likely to be followed by an “International Safety and Environmental Award”.
At the moment the international secretariat is based on three national councils but, says Hunt, other national organisations could get involved as it develops.
As well as adding an international dimension to the day to day work of the institute, this development also opens the way to a more aggressive recruitment policy.
For example, says Hunt, why shouldn’t the CILT in Malaysia recruit members in Indonesia. “You can’t do that from London.”
To facilitate this, there is discussion around introducing the notion of franchise areas for national organisations to develop internationally.
At the moment, the CILT has only a handful of members in continental Europe. It is a member of the European Logistics Association and any attempt to recruit directly would not be appreciated by other ELA member organisations. But there could be scope for closer cooperation particularly with organisations in Eastern and Central Europe.
Hunt points out that the institute is in discussion with a local organisation in Taiwan about developing closer cooperation. If this is successful, it could provide a template for building relationships elsewhere.
These are first steps, says Hunt, to what he hopes will be more vigorous expansion. The intention is that over the next 12 months the institute internationally will look at the fundamentals of the organisation.
“My message is: we want to see change,” says Hunt.