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“There’s Fresh Enthusiasm to Move the Institute Forward”

The new President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) is
Helen Noble, who took over stewardship of the Institute on the first of October
for a two-year term. She talks to Linkline about her work in the maritime sector
and her ambitions for her presidency.

With almost a quarter a century of experience in the
complex, and ever-evolving, sphere of maritime and
transport law, Helen Noble is used to dealing with unique
challenges and the requirement to evolve to stay relevant.
For her, the challenge of taking the Institute forward,
developing the membership of CILT and ensuring it is fully
representative of the sector is a natural one.

Helen has been involved on the Council of CILT on and off for
several years. “I firmly believe in the importance of our
industry having an active membership body organisation
where we can collectively harness the vast body of
knowledge we have all as members developed over the years
to embrace development and change, a forum where we can
all enhance our knowledge further, a medium through which
we can mentor new entrants to our industry and an assembly
where we can ensure our industry maintains consistently
high professional standards and education.” The logistics,
transport and supply chain have so many different
components, but we are all interdependent on one another
to differing extents. “It is therefore critical in my view for the
industry that we have a collective and fully representative

Helen set up her Shipping & Transport Law practice in Ireland
in 2004, building upon the career she had previously
established in shipping law firms in London and Singapore.
Helen’s firm, Noble Shipping Law, is now located in Arklow,
where she practices with her assistant, Hazel Dalton. She is
currently looking for a third person to grow the team further.
The dual Irish and English practise specialises in all areas of
maritime and transport law, such as cargo claims, bill of
lading issues and disputes, ship arrests, insurance issues,
marine casualties, personal injury claims, road transport
disputes and freight forwarding claims. “I feel so privileged to
work in this industry. To me it is as thrilling today as it was 25
years ago. No one day is the same. I can be dealing with a
highly contentious dispute one moment and be handing the
drafting of a complex commercial agreement in the next.
Unlike other areas of law, there is a huge commercial focus to
what we do. We solve problems in a way that enables our
clients to get on with their business with the least
disturbance possible. As a truly international practice we are
afforded a rich and unique opportunity to work with many
different countries, companies and cultures.”

Challenges and Brexit

“One of the biggest challenges for my practice has been
recruiting professionals who either have a legal background
in the industry or who possess a good commercial acumen
combined with a willingness to specialise in a niche area of
law,” explained Helen. Trusting in her instinct and putting
time into mentoring individuals however has paid off in
Helen’s experience and there are many individuals who have
trained under Helen that continue to work in this area of law
at an international level. “Some of them now instruct me here
in Ireland which confirms you get out what you put in and it
always brings a slightly droll smile to my face.”

When Helen first arrived in Ireland in 2004, the Irish economy
was booming and, working in conjunction with bodies such
as the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO), there was a
real impetus, drive and enthusiasm for building on Ireland’s
strong record of attracting foreign direct investment and
encouraging international shipping business to Ireland.
There was a core group of people working hard to establish a
“Maritime Cluster” in Ireland. Ireland had a great story to sell.
First and foremost, maritime transport is the absolute
lifeblood of the Irish economy in terms of both imports and
exports, the overwhelming majority of goods coming to or
leaving the island do so by sea,” she explained, “it wasn’t
difficult therefore to describe our maritime roots and
establish our authenticity as a maritime nation.” Putting that
aside, Ireland is an easy place and tax efficient area to do
business. It’s English speaking with a legal system based on
the Common Law making it an attractive hub for major
shipping corporations looking to establish an EU foothold for
example corporations from countries such as India and
Singapore. Ireland already had a proven track record with its
success in the aviation industry and it was felt we could
emulate that in the maritime sector.

Unfortunately jump forward just a few years and the boom
had gone bust and attracting new international business
became difficult and was to a large extent on the back burner
as we fought fires for our clients and all dug deep to deal
with the economic crash.

As economic times improve, “Ireland once again has the real
potential to develop as a ‘go-to’ place for international
shipping business,” explains Helen. Of course, one very large
cloud on the horizon for the industry is Brexit. The decision
taken by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union
has major consequences for the transport, logistics and
supply chain sector. The issue of what to do with the Irish
border has finally started to gather momentum and, as no
surprise to all within the sector, it now appears as one of the
major sticking points in the Brexit negotiations. Quotes and
terms such as “Brexit means Brexit”, “a hard Brexit” and “a soft
Brexit” were bandied around in the early days after the UK
vote seemingly without any real focus. They were term used
to talk about a multiplicity of issues but with immigration
issues seemingly at the core. A “hard Brexit” will however
have significant repercussions for the island of Ireland. When
the United Kingdom leaves the EU, Ireland will become an
island within an island and the impact on our transport,
logistics and supply chain sector will be huge. An already
complex border issue with a difficult history has become
even more complicated with the Conservative power sharing
alliance with the DUP which has served to introduce a further
political dimension to this trade issue.

Helen is pleased to report that on 24th January 2018 CILT
Chapters in the UK and Ireland are holding a joint event on
Brexit to focus on this issue entitled, “The All Island Supply
Chain – BREXIT.” In what is becoming an increasingly
entrenched political position on the UK and Irish sides, the
event will explore the practical issues to an all island supply
chain post Brexit. As the sector’s professional membership
body this type of event is crucial to ensure the voice of the
sector is debated and is heard.

While Helen does acknowledge the threat that British
departure from the European Union will present to the
viability and sustainability of many companies and operators
within Ireland’s the transport, logistics and supply chain
sector, she also points to potential opportunities. “Brexit is a
huge concern for anyone in the transport or logistics
industry, we will face particular challenges due to the border
and the massive volume of traffic between the UK and
Ireland,” says Helen. “However, it’s very important that we are
not passive but also that we look to take advantage of any
opportunities Brexit may present for our industry.” British
insurers have already this year indicated a number of moves
to Ireland to serve customers post Brexit such as LGEN.L.
Within two days of each other in the third week of November
two of the world’s largest ship protection and indemnity
insurers announced they were setting up European union
subsidies in Dublin, the Standard P&I Club and North of
England P&I Club. “This is a hugely exciting development for
the maritime sector in Ireland and certainly is a stride on the
aspiration road for a “Maritime Cluster.”

Vision for CILT

In terms of her vision for her two-year term as President,
Helen is keen to ensure that CILT is clearly identifiable as the
professional membership body for all within the transport,
logistics and supply chain sector. This includes those involved
in the areas of travel and planning, aviation, bus and coach
transport, freight forwarding, logistics and supply chain,
operations management, ports, maritime and waterways, rail
and transport planning. This level of harmonisation is
essential to ensure consistency in high professional and
educational standards and an industry that works in a
cohesive and seamless manner. She says, “I think it is fair to
say that we have reached a point where the outward
perception of CILT is that we are too focused on one or two
areas of the sector to the exclusion of others.” Helen’s aim is
that CILT will actively embrace membership from all areas of
the transport, logistics and supply chain sector to ensure CILT
is the collective and relevant voice of the sector. Helen adds,
“we should be recognised as thought leaders throughout
these sectors.”

To this end, Helen is keen to harness the considerable
resources at the Institute’s disposal. We have a diverse
membership. Some of our members are the key leaders
within Ireland’s transport, logistics and supply chain sector.
Those that are key leaders in the sector and that are not
currently members will be encouraged to join. Over the next
two years Helen aims to foster the relationship with those
key leaders and to put those key leaders at the very heart of
the organisation. This will empower CILT to be the relevant,
collective and professional voice of the transport, logistics
and supply chain sector, enable access to all members to the
different industry areas and provide them with relevant
networking opportunities to develop and enhance their
careers, and it will ensure that education remains accessible,
up to date with industry needs and requirements and at the
highest standard possible.

Helen concluded “as an institute we produce some great
research and do so much great work, and I would love to use
that to promote what our members do and focus on and
develop our identity as an organisation. There’s a busy two
years ahead, but we have a strong and very skilled Council,
we have an innovative Vice President, we have a new forward
thinking CEO and we have excellent staff. There is a genuine
enthusiasm and renewed vigour within the institute and I
look forward to achieving our goals together.”


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