The speakers at the FIDI Conference 2015 and Reason Global sponsors the FIDI fun run

May 18 | 2015

Tom Ansley - Down memory lane; Guy Lundy - Africa rising; Rev Mpho Tutu - Small things can change the world; Reason Global sponsors the FIDI fun run.

Down memory lane

Tom Ansley is one of the most familiar and popular figures in the international moving industry.  Although he is now largely retired he drew a large and attentive audience to hear him speak about ‘FIDI, FAIM and Fantasy’.

As always with Tom it wasn’t so much what he said, but the way he said it that made his presentation hypnotic.  From his first syllable, the audience was hooked and he gently reeled them in with his 40-minute trip down the FIDI memory lane.

He spoke of the early days of FIDI when it was run by technocrats who, as a new delegate, he daren’t even call by their name.  He said that the meetings were very uninteresting, spending hours discussing seemingly trivial things, and everything was translated into English, French and German.   It was in 1982 that English became the official language.  The idea was proposed by a German member and the French were totally unimpressed.  However that change instantly made the meetings much more interesting and many more people attended. 

Tom remembered his first FIDI conference, in Venice in 1969.  His boss at Stuttafords had not wanted him to go because he thought it a waste of money.  Tom said that he often reflects on the massive role FIDI membership played in the fortunes of the company over the years.  Indeed in 1979, when Tom had the opportunity to acquire what was left of Elliott in South Africa for himself, it was the existing FIDI membership that he prized highly.

Tom took the audience through a journey from the Florida meeting in 1970, the first time FIDI had been outside Europe, through to Athens in 1972 when commercialisation of the organisation was first muted, and on with tales that amused everyone and sparked fond memories for many.  “Throughout, I was overwhelmed by the hospitality,” he said. “It left an indelible impression with me.  Everyone was so kind.”

Quality is important to Tom.  He said that personal achievement was often just a question of attitude.  He always tries to catch people doing things well and praise them for it.  And he is often influenced by people who performed well: for example, to this day he favours Hyatt hotels because he was once given exceptional service by a member of staff at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong.   

In 1993 Tom became a member of the FIDI Board and set about, what became, something of a revolution for the organisation.  At that time it was often difficult for some companies to gain FIDI membership because of industry politics.  To formalise FIDI quality standards and membership requirements he and Bryan Bennett, from what is now TheMIGroup, set about developing FAIM as FIDI’s undisputed quality standard. 

He came up against tremendous opposition with companies saying that they didn’t need a quality standard because they were all quality movers (completely misunderstanding the purpose of the programme) and that FIDI should be recognised as the quality standard. However, after much debate FAIM was unanimously embraced by the FIDI Board.  FAIMISO followed soon after.

In closing Tom said that he greatly admires the FIDI of today, its democratic principles and the introduction of more women onto the Board.  He said that wherever he goes in the world now the moving industry has given him a friend.  “What other industry includes exotic travel as a main ingredient?” he asked.  He thanked everyone for giving him and his wife, Loy, so much fun hospitality and genuine friendship. 

The audience stood to applaud him.  They all walked a little higher above the carpet as they left the room, floating on Tom’s unique brand of enthusiasm and inspiration.

Photo: Tom Ansley

Africa Rising

Guy Lundy is a futurist and headhunter with Odgers Berndtson in Cape Town.  It is partly his job to attract people to live and work in Africa.  His presentation to FIDI, entitled ‘Africa Rising’, explained the dynamics that have been active in Africa for many years and painted the continent as an attractive proposition for companies prepared to do their research and invest for the long term.

Guy firstly explained the old image of Africa.  He called it the WWF view: wildlife, war and famine.  He said he could now add ‘disease’ to the description.  This was, however, a product of the cold war with superpowers conducting proxy wars for idealistic motives such as those in Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia.  With the end of the cold war, motives changed and the wars largely stopped.  With the instability removed democracy began to take over, financial institutions provided debt relief, and foreign investment began to flow in.  The 54 diverse countries of Africa have seen output increase steadily and, according to Guy, will continue to do so. Recent figures show that six of the fastest growing economies of the world are African, albeit from a low base.  Guy said that the world slump over the last seven years won’t last forever.  He believed that the rise in the US economy will drive recovery elsewhere and that this will have a positive effect on Africa.

The investment is not all coming from the Chinese, contrary to popular belief.  The infrastructure of Africa is being rebuilt by countries such as Brazil and India as they recognise that the rapid growth in the continent’s population, predicted in some African countries to more than double in the next 35 years, will provide tremendous opportunities.  Already 50% of the population is under 20.  The infrastructure investment includes solar farms, airports, rail, roads, ports and bandwidth, all essential to help manage the population growth and satisfy the demands of a rapidly developing middle class.  Guy said that Africans are now much more aware of the rest of the world, corruption is generally no worse than elsewhere, democracy is rising and with increasing urbanisation, population levels will stabilise.

However Africa is a very fractured continent with historical divisions taking time to break down.  Only 13% of African trade is within the continent.  The infrastructure between the countries is poor and borders are inefficient.  Though new trading blocks and international rail links are improving the situation allowing intra-Africa trade to increase. Inflation is generally in single figures.

In closing Guy said that he believed Africa was moving towards a much more open economy that is developing the ability to deliver goods and services to the rest of the world.  Companies going to Africa, however, need to know that it’s not like other places and success depends on understanding, having the right people with the right education, the ability to diversify and the determination to invest long term. 

Photo: Guy Lundy

Small things can change the world

The Rev Mpho Tutu is the daughter of Desmond Tutu, the Executive Director of the Desmond and Leah Legacy Foundation and was the keynote speaker for the FIDI conference.  A packed hall greeted her, all eager to hear this inspirational, eloquent writer and teacher in action.  She was poised, striking in her red headdress, and delivered a speech intended to promote the theme of the FIDI conference, Ubuntu: the African philosophy that requires us to work together for a better world.

She said that the concept of ubunto is close to her heart.  It represents the shared responsibility we all have to build a more compassionate, equitable and sustainable world for our children to live in. Rev Tutu contrasted the village lives that are rapidly becoming rare, with the global village we have created through the use of social media and communication technology.  “When people all lived in villages they believed that the particular set of spiritual and cultural practices to which they subscribed were universal,” she said.  “They were unable to see beyond their horizons.”

However now the village has expanded and the moving industry is part of that expansion.  “Today not all the people in our village look the same or worship in the same way,” she explained.  “Moving is directly affected by globalisation and the unfettered movement of people, information, goods and services in the seemingly shrunken world we now call the global village.  We all have our roles to play if we are to create the fairer more caring secure world we all crave.  Regardless of what we do, where we do it or how much money we earn.”

Rev Tutu explained that we all live through other people; we have co-stewardship of our world; we are part of something bigger; we are all brothers and sisters within the human family. She claimed that despite this the rich are still getting richer and the poor poorer.  “Inequality is the challenge of our time,” she said.  “Africa is generating fabulous wealth but few Africans will benefit.” In fact she believed that Africa’s new prosperity could be detrimental to many with increased pollution, famine and war. 

She also believed that it was fair to leave these challenges at everyone’s door and had some practical advice for those in business.  In a commercial world it was necessary to ask three questions: What do you need? How can I help you so we can engage together? What would you like to bring to the table? “Those questions can really shift our ways of working.”

In closing Rev Tutu praised FIDI for its support of Bertrams School saying that education is a gift that, once given, can never be taken away.  And she implored us all to use our imaginations to think something good to do for others every day.  “You don’t have to do a huge thing to make our world a better place you just have to be committed. The quality of life is made up of the quality of life for each individual.  If you make life better for just one person, you change the world.”

Photo: Rev Mpho Tutu

Reason Global sponsors FIDI Fun run

On the bright, clear Cape Town morning of 31 March, 2015, around 30 FIDI delegates shook off the cobwebs from the previous night’s revelry to take part in the FIDI Charity run in aid of Bertrams Junior School in Johannesburg.  The event was sponsored by Reason Global Insurance.

It was a short bus ride to the start at Mouille Point, by the bay, with the ocean as the backdrop and the mighty Table Mountain looking on. After a short, but wise, warm up, the race was on over a 4km, point-to-point course along the promenade.   

Seventeen or so minutes later it was Michel Haener from DGM Veron Grauer SA, Geneva who took the tape first, soon followed by Lisa Drewry from Taylor International in Toronto in second and Patrick Makurat from Brauns International in Bremerhaven, third.  With the sun on their backs the rest of the field followed, all sporting their t-Shirts, supplied by Reason Global Insurance.  Many put in fast times while some were just out for a jog or even a gentle walk.  All were smiling, all enjoyed the experience and all received a congratulatory medal from Malcolm Pearson from Reason Global. 

Just to make sure there was plenty of fun in the fun run, there were also prizes for the best selfie taken on the course and the best hug for the marshals all of whom were dressed in animal onesies. 

But the real winners were the children from the Bertrams Junior School.   The money raised went to help the school expand, enabling it to educate children from tiny tots up to grade seven.  As the quotation from Nelson Mandela on the back of the race t-Shirts said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

“We were delighted to sponsor the race and are thrilled that over the conference, with all activities combined, FIDI members raised over €28,000 for the school,” said Malcolm Pearson.  “Thanks to all those who took part in a memorable and fun morning and the many others who were unable to take part but donated much needed funds for the cause anyway.”

Photo:  Michel Haener from DGM Veron Grauer SA, Geneva (first), left; Lisa Drewry from Taylor International in Toronto (second) Patrick Makurat from Brauns International in Bremerhaven (third). 

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