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Young Forwarder Network gets back on track

Left to right: Sophie Hammond, Mathew Harvey, Mohammed Akhlaq, Bobbie Costin and Thomas Frost at the YFN Heathrow event.

Having ground to a halt in 2020 as a result of Covid-19, there has been a welcome return of face-to-face meetings for the Young Forwarder Network (YFN) created by the British International Freight Association in 2019.

As in nature, Spring has seen these valuable networking events re-born as part of a regular events calendar that is an integral part of BIFA’s attempts to improve the promotion of the sector, making it more attractive to younger people and providing forums from which to learn.

In the YFN Midlands region, guest speakers from Kuehne+Nagel, the official logistics provider for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will be taking place in Birmingham, gave a fascinating insight into the logistics and operational issues involved in the biggest multi-sports event in the UK since London 2012.

Andy Blundell and Alex Walton from Kuehne+Nagel explained the differences between deliveries and timelines to a high-profile event, compared to the day-to-day shipments involved in standard freight forwarding. They also shared their experience of event logistics from Delhi 2010, London 2012, Glasgow 2014, as well a host of other events around the world.

From left to right: Nathan Ainsworth, Georgia Sumner, Andy Blundell and Alex Walton at the YFN Midlands event.

Meanwhile, YFN members from the Heathrow region gathered at BIFA’s headquarters and heard from Mohammed Akhlaq, chief commercial officer at dnata, who gave a presentation entitled “dnata City: from concept to reality”.

Mr Akhlaq explained how, since 2014, the dnata city development at Heathrow has replaced outdated and cramped sheds with purpose-built and tailor-made modern facilities incorporating the vision to be “better by design” and utilising cutting edge systems and technology.

Last week saw the 75th YFN event since it was established, with an in-person occasion in Manchester, featuring Tom Turner, the first ever winner of the BIFA Freight Service Awards Apprentice of the Year four years ago, as guest speaker.

The YFN’s Local Organising Committee wanted to have a young speaker who has progressed well and Tom has just done that, he is now ocean product manager EMEA at Toll and is responsible for the company’s ocean development in nine countries.

Carl Hobbis, an executive director at BIFA, who has management responsibility for the trade association’s training and development services said: “With the restart of face-to-face meetings it felt good to see some of the established young forwarders again at all three events, as well as some new faces, who have all started their careers since the pandemic.

“The world of work in 2022 is completely different to how it was pre-pandemic, but I would encourage employers to see the value in these free events and give employees time to attend. At them, young people will build knowledge, increase their confidence, learn something new and are guaranteed to bring this back to the businesses for which they work.”

BIFA took the YFN online in May 2020 and has been running popular virtual YFN events every two weeks. These will continue, but they will move to every three weeks now that face-to-face regional events have restarted.

Robert Keen, Director General of BIFA adds: “We now need more BIFA members to take heed of this opportunity by encouraging attendance at YFN events; and making greater efforts to promote the freight forwarding and logistics sector in their locality.”

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