Well after some weeks of intense preparation I was able to deliver my presentation to a very active and engaged audience in the offices of the City of London Corporation Offices nestling right in the heart of London. I have to say that in all honesty I really enjoyed giving the presentation, although naturally it is always challenging addressing an audience  and it should involve a little nerves, it is only natural. Suffice to say it seemed to go well with a lot of engagement and positive suggestions for future debate.

My hour long presentation  of 17 slides was split into three parts, the first looked at barriers to entry for Bus drivers and mechanics, so as part of my research I set about applying for jobs to see just how easy or indeed hard it was as well, as discovering how expensive  and challenging the modern process actually is The second  part looked at what championing the industry looks like, just who does promote the bus and coach industry? if anyone?and how do they do it. The third part was around attracting new talent, what works, and what does not. As pert of the presentation I showed a film that  I made in 2004, with a channel four TV Company it followed a group of Polish bus drivers as they trained to become bus drivers in the Uk, and a very evocative film it is to watch.

The  Forum event itself was actually really good with  an excellent collection of speakers including Professors and Doctors from the world of academia as ell as a range of experts in their respective fields (Not quite sure what I was doing there but hey ho!) The setting for the event on the first day was exceptional. In truth  I had never been to the Guildhall in Gresham Street before, I had heard of it but upon entering the sense of history was almost tangible. This is a place that has within its walls ruins from an original building built by the Romans they are preserved just off the entrance hall and are a reminder of the rich heritage that the square mile of the City of London has to offer.

The days presentations were conducted in a splendid hall that is set below stairs and created a very evocative atmosphere for both speakers and audience. There were some truly excellent presentations, Richard Atkinson CBE gave a motivational, engaging, and fascinating presentation about how he set about changing the culture of Innovation at the Royal Air Force where he was previously a former fighter pilot, and becoming  a Station Commander and then Air Comadore. Richard talked about the culture of leadership and how different approaches result in different styles with very different consequences.

Another lively and interesting presentation was delivered by Keith Kerman, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Fleet Operator for the City of New York, who operate one of the biggest municipal fleets in the world. Keith talked with real passion about changes in the culture of safety that the team at NYC have implemented called Vision Zero. This is an initiative that the Mayor of New York has instigated and Keith is the man delivering it. The size of the department is impressive with over 30,000 vehicles, 80,000 fleet operators and more than 2,000 staff engaged in fleet operations and servicing. There are some great ideas and projects going on in New York, one of which engages very actively with schools and colleges to encourage and recruit young people to join the City as engineers and skilled mechanics. In sharp contrast to over here in the UK where we do absolutely nothing that I have discovered when it comes to recruiting young people to join local Authorities.

The evening saw a drinks reception and a superb meal that took place in the West crypt of the Guildhall, the crypts were originally built in 1042 by Edward the Confessor  this again was a fascinating place steeped in history, there was a plaque on the wall which stated that the building was re built  in 1974 after it was destroyed in 1666 when the Great Hall’s roof collapsed in due to the roofs weight. This amazing building  survived both the great fire of London as well as the efforts of the Luftwaffe in both world wars. As they say if those walls could talk they would have some stories to tell over nearly a thousand  years of survival. After the meal the Future Fleet Forum awards winners were announced. The guest speaker was an amazing chap called Richard Noble, formerly the fastest man in the world, he was the holder of the land speed record between 1983 and 1997, he was also the director of ThrustSCC the vehicle that holds the current land speed record set at Black Rock Nevada in 1997. Ironically he admitted that he had recently attended a speed awareness course as he had been caught speeding by the Police, at the course the attendees were asked how fast they had ever driven, suffice to say I think that we know who won that prize.

Richard was a fascinating man who has driven at speeds of 633 mph in 1983 a record that was broken by Andy Green under Noble’s direction in 1997 when he drove at 763 mph, Richard was an inspiring, engaging, and funny speaker who had a unique story to tell, which is far from over as next year his team seek to break the land speed record with Bloodhound a car that will surpass 1,000 miles.

So, I have to say a great event and well done to Ann -Marie Knegt  the editor of LAPV Fire and Rescue magazine and her super team, they did a brilliant job in putting the conference together never an easy task, and it was a real success, I would not hesitate in recommending the next event that takes place in Montreal next year. Congratulations also to the other event partners, the City of London Corporation, New York City Fleet, The City of London Police, and of course the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.