Thursday, 13 August 2009

Risk Conference Planned for 2011

Jon and I lunching at the 3 Mackerel Restaurant in Falmouth with Nick Lamb (right) of RMRI, just after signing an agreement between MEI and RMRI to organise a conference Risk Management and Risk-Based Decision Making, which will be held in Falmouth, May 13-14, 2011.
We have been planning this conference for the last three years, after a chance meeting with RMRI Chairman Alan Minty in Cape Town.
I first met Alan in Zambia in 1969. He was a mechanical engineer in one of the open pits, and a fine powerful squash player who introduced me to the sport. He became Copperbelt squash champion and later became an English County champion and international, whereas I reached only the dizzy heights of English minor county level.

Alan and I, keen observers of Zambian life, had watched with interest the movement of the African population between the various Copperbelt towns. Few of the Africans owned cars, so they made full use of buses and taxis. Taxis were everywhere, rickety vehicles carrying inordinate numbers of passengers. There was money to be made here. All we needed was a good car and a reliable driver and we could then sit back and count each day’s takings.

Alan had a driver in mind, one of his African workers, who was keen to leave the mine, so we put our meagre savings together and bought a fairly new Nissan station wagon which would more than adequately serve our needs. We planned everything meticulously, possible routes, fares and the commission for the driver, who, having great confidence in us, had given up his mine job.

The great day dawned, we gave the driver his final briefing, he proudly took his seat in the taxi, drove away, and that was the last we ever saw of him or the car!! Thankfully we had not provided him with an expensive uniform as well.

Alan and I lost touch after leaving Zambia, but met up again quite by chance over thirty years later in, of all places, Robben Island off Cape Town. Barbara and I had been visiting Cape Town for many years, and thought we should at last visit this small windswept island where Nelson Mandela had been incarcerated for 27 years. On leaving the boat we transferred to the coach, that would take us to the old prison, and there sitting opposite us were Alan and his wife Sheila, instantly recognisable after all those years. We had a great reunion dinner in Cape Town, where we reminisced and caught up on how our careers had developed since our Zambian days. It transpired that Alan had a thriving family business in the oil and gas industry, specialising in, wait for it, risk assessment! Oh, the irony of it! If only we had carried out some form of risk assessment 35 years previously our African driver would not have had his early Christmas present.

Anyway, I look forward to telling this tale when introducing Alan at the Falmouth conference.

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