Conference History

Hold it and they will come!

A brief history of the Outlook Conferences

To get the whole story I met with Hazem Ghonima FCILT, our Chief Executive Officer. With a little prodding, Hazem admitted that the Outlook Conferences were basically his creation. He was Chair of the Ottawa Chapter when the idea first came to him. 

At the same time there was a decision by Transport Canada to discontinue its regular forecasting conference (with the exception of the air mode). Hazem, whose business expertise (he is the President and CEO of TAF Consultants), and personal passion was transportation freight analysis and forecasting, was quick to smell an opportunity. But, as he states, his overall motivation has been to “promote the discipline of forecasting as a vital tool for strategic planning, business development and policy decisions”. Transport Canada was very willing to give its blessing to the undertaking of a forecasting conference as they were keen not to lose a forward looking capability.

With an enormous amount of careful planning, program development, speaker selection, endless promotion, tight control over costs and the commitment of the then Minister of Transport, David Collenette, to speak at the conference it was a tremendous success and revenue generator for CILTNA.

Hazem, supported by a planning group from the Ottawa Chapter, had found a niche for a transportation conference with a focus on the future. Hazem attributes the success of the conference to a “new integrated conference structure and concept that attracted people and gave them a whole new perspective on forecasting”. 

After Hazem’s year as Chair of the Ottawa Chapter, a new Chair and Board was in place. 

As the Outlook Conference grew and exceeded the capabilities of the Ottawa Chapter, the National Board of CILTNA saw this as an opportunity for a national approach to the Outlook Conference.

Each of the Outlook Conferences has had its notable achievements ‐ one that stands out for Hazem is 2008 which gathered in one session speakers from the world major waterways: the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway – a first in North America. And as they say, the rest is history – the string of successful Outlook Conferences has been key to the ongoing success of the CILTNA as it continues to attract speakers from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. 

By David Hinks, Editor - CILTNA Newsletter