When I joined HCB in 1993, I knew next to nothing about the regulations that govern the transport of dangerous goods. It also quickly became apparent to me that I knew less than I thought I did about the businesses involved in the transport of chemicals.
I also had very few contacts in the industries I was covering. In those days, if I wanted information from someone, I had to ring them up – email was in its infancy and was not widely used. And gradually, speaking to the same people time and again, some sort of network was beginning to develop.
What really made a difference, though, was getting out of the office. It is one thing to build a relationship based on talking on the phone (which is a lot better than exchanging emails) but it is something else to have face-to-face contact with someone, ideally over a beer in the bar at the end of a long day’s conference or exhibition.
Indeed, my first big outing after joining HCB was to attend EPCA’s Logistics Meeting in October 1993, and I have at least one very important contact who I still talk to regularly who I first met at a reception in a hotel in Monte Carlo during that event.
Talking to people also helps inform what I write for HCB. It is easy, sat at my desk, to believe I understand what is going on out there in the real world but very often I am surprised by the information that I pick up when I’m away from the desk. My understanding of events may have missed an important point or may misinterpret the intentions of those involved. In fact, one good conference can keep me going in new commentary on events for several months.
So in many ways I am always happy when March comes around, as this marks the beginning of the new year’s conference season. This month alone, HCB will be represented at the IATA World Cargo Symposium in Istanbul, the big StocExpo Europe event in Rotterdam, the unmissable LogiChem conference in Rotterdam, the cosy BADGP AGM day in the UK and, right at the end of the month, AFPM’s International Petrochemical Conference in New Orleans.
April is also busy and I am looking forward to a visit to Denver for Ouray Environmental’s inaugural Transportation and Response Symposium, with the GPCA Supply Chain Conference following swiftly in Dubai. The month finishes with another annual highlight, COSTHA’s forum and expo, which this year takes place in Greenville, South Carolina. Not only has attending the COSTHA event kept me up to speed with regulatory developments (not just in North America) but it has also taken me around the US to see places I would never have gone to otherwise – and I have fond memories of being in San Diego, CA, Austin, TX, Savannah, GA and many others. Indeed, I’m not sure I’d heard of Greenville until COSTHA announced it would be going there.
In these days of straitened budgets, the Coronavirus threat, flight-shaming and generally overworked managers, it is easy to make an excuse to stay in the office. But the value of getting out and networking with others in the industry is easy to underestimate. I hope to be expanding my network further over the next few weeks – see you there! Peter Mackay[post_title] => Editor's letter on the road [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => editors-letter-on-the-road [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-02-21 15:36:57 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-02-21 15:36:57 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://hcblive.com/?p=16990 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )