15th April 2010 - a day to reckon with.
Normally I would wake up, grab a warm cup of coffee, run to the balcony with a cigarette, to wait for sunrise, and my thoughts would drift to where my soul belongs. In the peace and tranquility of my garden of Eden, the dolphins would be waltzing around a beautiful mermaid, with those seagulls hovering above as though they were an advanced warning system protecting them. In the meantime the sun would come up, wink at me and continue to wake up the rest of the world and spread it’s warmth of love.
This morning I am confronted with an uneasy calm which is making me disillusioned, and the fear of standing on the podium and expressing my gratitude to the peers and heavy weights of the industry who will be judging the capability of the students who made it across the finish line in the first batch of CILT Diploma. Of the scores who attended the course, my colleague Rohit and I are one of the chosen five!
The thought that I am finally graduating and becoming a thoroughbred member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transportation (UK) is soothing and comforting. The thought brings the much needed stability and peace to an otherwise confused mind.
Had my daughter Stephanie been around, the problems like which jacket to wear, and what colour would match the formality of the evening would have been solved easily! However my dearest friend Sheeja comes to my rescue and works out the colour combination with the ease and finesse which she is known for. Now having settled that, it’s time to make up my mind how my 10 minutes of agony on the podium should be suffered. I decide against reading out a written speech and to go with the flow with the random thoughts that comes to my mind. However both Fathima and Sheeja comes my rescue yet once again, and becomes my audience in RHME conference room. Having made the necessary correction in my salutation, they give me an 8 out of 10, and having passed my litmus test, I was ready for the evening.
Seeing my colleague Rohit decked up in his best, gave me the much needed confidence, as I prepare the drive to Aviation College where my dreaded wait will commence. After many cups of coffee and umpteen number of cigarettes, my blood sugar has already started doing the Macarena!
The start of the evening is slightly delayed, and the Master of the ceremony or the Host Mr. V.P. Menon methodically sets the agenda for an information filled evening. The main seasoned and experienced speakers for the evening including Mr. Ram Menen (VP Emirates, Skycargo) is all set and rearing to go.
Mr. Eeklon starts raving about working capital and related issues within Supply chain and does a case study on Apple and other MN Giants. Mr. Balaji Nagabhushan does his bit on Risk Assessment and related management, and wakes up those who had already settled into slumber during the previous talk. Things go on as scheduled, and suddenly it is time to go up on stage, collect our Diploma, pose for group photographs, and start the countdown for the dreaded moment.
The long wait has taken its toll on the butterflies in my stomach and has disappeared. Looks like they ran out of patience, and streaks of confidence and sense of accomplishment starts to emanate and engulf me. It’s make or break, swim or sink, the battle stations are called and suddenly I find myself adjusting the microphones on the podium
“ Honourable chief guest, fellow students, ladies and Gentlemen. Standing here in front of an audience as huge as this as good as being thrown into the middle of the deep blue sea, with the only option to swim or sink. For a moment I wish that I had listened to VP and joined the Toastmasters! Anyway as a true logistician I am going to attempt to take up this challenge and swim across to the other side.
My name is Hubert Richard, Supply Chain Manager of Radio Holland Middle East.
With the boom coming to Dubai......... “ (Gawd, I wish I wrote down and read my speech, but it is too late!!)
I search for reassurance amongst the audience, but there is none, except for Rohit who is begging me not to blow up the opportunity and tarnish the image of RHME, and yet once again I secretly wish I had someone from my kit and kin. People are re-aligning themselves in their seat. Bang in front of my face is Moshin (Director of Dubai Logistics City) and Alex Borg (Director of CILT, GCC Region) who has smiles on their faces when I describe how I explained to my wife the FIFO theory that should guide the usage of the refrigerator and so on. I knew I had hit the right note, as I can see in peoples eyes that they are eager to see where I am leading them.
Suddenly the allocated time is already up – I am thanking the audience for their patience and trying to leap out of the limelight, VP is approaching me with a smile spread all across the Pacific Ocean. Alex Borg walks up to me and gives me the thumbs up sign, and a huge handshake, and that itself told me that I had swum across the river and arrived unscathed! I had yet once again navigated myself through the mine-field of prying eyes and proved my point to all doubting Jonas’s that CILT is what it implies and that’s what made me! In the confusion, I miss out to acknowledge the grande ovation that was being showered.
Fellow students are in a state of amazement as I settle into my seat. Ahmed, Rohit, Sergey & Sabri are all praise, and then Mr. Ram Menen takes the stage for the vote of thanks and opens his talk with the statement Hubert, you’re a hard act to follow! This statement coming from a person whose stature is unquestionable in the industry told me that I had successfully managed to conquer the demons of fear and apprehension and subdue them. Far away I could hear my choir of angels singing This is it!!.
Rohit was on full beam, the only person there amongst the crowd from my kith and kin, once again proud of the fact that he was part of a winning team called RHME. As the evening came to an end and during the networking session Mr. Balaji, Mr. P.J. Mathew, Elias Pereira and scores of others came over and praised me for pulling it off in style, and in true CILT style.
We did the victory dance in Irish Village later that night along with some of the faculty, the students from the new batch and others who could make it to a grande finale!
With the mesmerizing moments behind me, I arrive home a fully satisfied person, with feelings of accomplishment; having kept the flag of not only CILT, but also RHME flying high and in the bargain firmly established myself as a small cog in the wheel amongst the Supply Chain Fraternity in GCC.
What I want to do now is dance to the delicate sounds of thunder in the pouring rain – all alone.... and thank all the angels, mermaids and the seagulls for being there for me when I needed them. Deep inside me I reach out and also thank King Neptune, the ruler of the oceans! Oh how I wish I can do a last waltz with a mermaid....