I had the opportunity to attend the Humanitarian Logistics Association (HLA) conference in Paris on April 1.
My logistics to attend the welcome dinner the first evening were perfectly timed. My flight was on time and although I just missed one RER train and had to wait 15 minutes for the next one, I was still in good time to drop off my stuff at the hotel before going to the restaurant. I was catching up with email on my iPhone when at one of the stops some teenagers went running by and one tried to grab my phone. Luckily, I had a strong grip. After lots of commotion going on outside the train and it not taking off for some time, the police came on the train with one person handcuffed. One of the police asked if I was ok – and then told me I needed to go the police station to make a statement. So after that diversion I made it to the dinner slightly late but before they had moved from the bar to the dinner table. It was a reminder that despite well planned logistics, something unexpected can occur that impacts your plans so you must have contingency plans.
HLA is an association of individuals that are logistics professionals. HLA was formed to increase humanitarian logistics effectiveness through sharing of information as well as providing education opportunities. The conference attendees including logisticians from NGO organizations such as World Vision, WFP, Oxfam, OCHA, Care, Red Cross, ICRC, Mercy Corp, IOM, WHO and other NGOs. There were also individuals from academia. There were even two students from Sweden that are studying supply chain that wanted to learn more about how they could use their education to help others.
As a person that has been involved in supply chain for many years, I really enjoyed meeting others with similar backgrounds. Being relatively new to the humanitarian sector, having spent most of my career in high tech, I am continually amazed at the different type of challenges that those in aid roles face. It was fascinating hearing the stories from the field – particularly from those that had just returned from Haiti.
I was inspired by what HLA is doing. When they explained their Red Dot program, I immediately raised my hand to become a Red Dot. Red Dots are there to help spread the word about HLA and encourage others involved with humanitarian logistics to join. This new Red Dot is recommending that all of you involved in this area join the HLA (www.humanitarianlogistics.org).
Managing Director, Aidmatrix Europe