Veteran Voices
Episode 86

You can't expect your first interview to be perfect and excellent. You have to work on these skills, and it takes practice to tell your story about what you did in the military in a way that a civilian can understand.

-Gabe Soltero

Episode Summary

In this episode of Veteran Voices, Navy veteran and pilot Gabe Soltero joins host Mary Kate Soliva and shares his journey from military service to civilian life. He discusses his upbringing, Navy experiences, and the challenges of transitioning, emphasizing the importance of family support, networking, and utilizing veteran service organizations during this transition. Now working at Home Depot, he helps veterans find opportunities and champions veteran causes. Listen in as Gabe and Mary Kate highlight the significance of community support and provide valuable insights for veterans navigating their post-service life.

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:02):

Welcome to Veteran Voices. A podcast is dedicated to giving a voice to those that have served in the United States Armed Forces on this series jointly presented by Supply Chain now and vets to industry. We sit down with a wide variety of veterans and veteran advocates to gain their insights, perspective, and stories from serving. We talk with many individuals about their challenging transition from active duty to the private sector, and we discuss some of the most vital issues facing veterans today. Join us for this episode of Veteran Voices.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:48):

Hello everyone. Welcome to Veteran Voices. I’m your host, Mary Kate Saliva. Welcome back to all of you who are joining our show again and again. Great to have you as loyal listeners. And then welcome to our new listeners on Veteran Voices, where I love to interview veterans who are continuing to serve beyond the uniform. Veteran Voices is part of the supply chain now family, and we are in a proud partnership with the Guam Human Rights Initiative, a nonprofit that is near and dear to my heart where they’re looking at human rights issues impacting Guam, the region through research you can find more about their or that organization@guamhr.org. So I’m very, very excited about today’s guest and welcoming a career Navy veteran and a very cool pilot. So think like top done, kind of. Cool. Welcome Gabe. Gabe Terro. Thank you so much for joining me on Veteran Voices.

Gabe Soltero (01:49):

Thanks Mary Kate, good to be here. I appreciate the invitation.

Mary Kate Soliva (01:52):

Yes, thank you so much. And I will say that we are, this episode we won’t air before the Army Navy game, but the cool rivalry here that your Navy, and I’m army over here, so I’m so glad to have our Navy brothers and sisters on the show just to hear the breath of experience. So I was looking to see, I’m going to challenge you if you can pump us up with some motivation today and if you have a motivational quote to share or you’re welcome. I always welcome my guests to sing. Nobody has done it yet. You’re welcome to be the first.

Gabe Soltero (02:21):

I’ll not be the first. I’ll say that you’re going to get paid to do it. So I decided to go in a different direction with my life. I do appreciate the invite now. So when it comes to motivational quote, it’s not necessarily something that I can put on a big old poster board and take to the cam with me, but there is something that gets me motivated about leadership because I’m a big fan of leadership and it’s a quote from Colin Powell and Colin Powell said a while back, it’s amazing how much he can get done when you don’t care who gets the credit. And as I became a student of leadership during my time in the Navy, it is pretty much true. You have organizations in which somebody just wants the credit and things don’t get done as effectively as they might when you say, you know what, I don’t care about getting the credit. I just want this stuff to get done. And I have found that to be a recipe for success and I give credit to Colin Powell for sharing that with as many people as he did.

Mary Kate Soliva (03:15):

Yeah, I absolutely love that quote as well. And I think even just from a leadership standpoint, being able to take care of your people much better with that level of mindset, especially giving credit to those that serve under you and serve alongside of you as opposed to yourself though. Thank you. Definitely pumps me up even though I was definitely looking forward to you being the first to sing on the show. Without further ado, I do want to go back and talk about where you grew up. I love doing this on the show. I think it really just shows a different aspect of us. We end up coming and having this unified rapport of serving, but as far as where we came from and why we joined is different for each of us. So I’d love to hear your story about where you grew up and some anecdotes from that time.

Gabe Soltero (04:03):

Yeah, of course. So I’m also from an island. I’m also from an island in the United States, but it’s not Guam. I grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My family immigrated to Puerto Rico from Spain probably 200 years ago. So our family’s been there for a long time and I spent the first 18 years of my life there. I grew up in a bilingual household, speaking Spanish and English. And while we didn’t really have a military tradition, my dad did serve in the Air Force many, many years ago after college for a few years and left to start his own business. So as I was growing up, I was not necessarily exposed to a large culture of military service, but I kind of gravitated in that way. And I’m going to say not necessarily because I felt this calling to serve my nation or anything like that, it was actually a lot more basic.

(04:57):

I was 18 years old and I wanted to be a pilot. It was as simple as that. And I spoke to some recruiters, spoke to Air Force, I spoke to Navy. I just had a lot more cache to it. Something about having to go find a ship after you’re done with the mission and the Air Force guys come back and the airfield, this was the same place they left it. So no shade to my Air Force colleagues by the way. I just had to get that little dig in, but the possibility of leaving my island, which I love, but when you’re 18 you just want to go do something else sometime and just learn about the world. I thought this would be a great opportunity not to mention if I could get the Navy to pay for college, that would be a bonus. And so that’s exactly what I did.

(05:38):

I went to college in the States, I opened DC program, I managed to get a scholarship and that allowed me to finish my college degree and then be commissioned as an officer in the Navy. I was accepted into flight training and I was off to the races. But throughout my entire time growing up, my family always espoused a great love for the United States and everything it stands for as just not just a powerful nation, but also full of ideas about what it’s like to be a democracy, what government should be like. Not saying that United States has a wire because there’s a lot of things we can do better as a country, but I did come up with this great respect for what the US is trying to do as a nation to move forward with the cause of freedom and all that may be combined to help me figure out what if the pilot thing’s pretty cool, but there’s maybe a higher thing related to serving your country that maybe I didn’t come to fully grasp until after I’d been in the Navy for a few years and it just kind of, it’s home. And that was just a cherry on top for me.

Mary Kate Soliva (06:45):

And I have to ask too, your family’s thoughts when you came home and said, this is what I’m going to do, what was that like? Yeah,

Gabe Soltero (06:54):

Well for my parents it was like, yeah, my parents were like, are you sure? They didn’t really try to dissuade me. And I think part of it may have been that my dad was doing some math in his head when I said that they would pay for college and I am the fourth of five children. So when I came to him and I said, I got this idea and I get to do something I really want to do and I get to go to college for a lot less money, he said, okay, after my mom kind of whacked him on the head and said, Hey, let’s have this conversation really for sure, but don’t encourage him too much. But we got through it and I got a lot of support from the get-go, but I was very grateful that I didn’t really get a lot of pushback, but instead I got a lot of encouragement to go do what I wanted to do.

Mary Kate Soliva (07:39):

I absolutely love that. And even with your siblings, I mean the fourth out of five, did any of your siblings end up joining as well?

Gabe Soltero (07:48):

I’m the only one. I will say two others went into government service, but they went in a different capacity working in the State Department and in other areas of the government. But I was the only one who has served in the military and we’re all very close and they’re always telling me that they’re very proud of what I did. We’re all very proud of each other. We all love each other, but they were always telling me, or they always continued to tell me how they were very impressed that I took this road very happy that a member of our family served and they’ve just always been very supportive of our life, even as we were moving all over the world and I was deployed overseas away from my own wife of kids and all those experiences that we have when we are serving in the military.

Mary Kate Soliva (08:31):

No, I think that’s great to have that level of support, especially depending on what time that this happened, the place that our world right now. We talked about that too, about those trying to join now and the challenge recruiters are facing with the retention numbers and recruitment numbers. But it is just interesting at that time, whether we get support from our family or not, it’s not the same for each of us. So I love that you were surrounded by that sort of love and support throughout your career. And so as far as that goes, that definitely makes the transition much easier. But how was that for you leaving Puerto Rico and going into the Navy, especially going to flight school? You talk us through what that was like for you. Any sort of culture shock there or

Gabe Soltero (09:18):

There was some for sure, right. I went to where everybody spoke English 24 7, and that was very different from the environment in which I grew up. I felt confident enough my English skills that I was able to get by just fine. And as I finished college and I headed into flight training in Pensacola, it was an eye-opening experience. I think academically I was well prepared, so I felt that I could do well. I’m not going to tell you I aced it, I did not, but I was able to do well enough to progress, but it was also intimidating. You have a lot of these other people who are very smart, who are very driven, who are very, very, some of them arrived into flight training with their own private pilot’s license just because they have had an opportunity to do that before they began official navy training.

(10:04):

I had none of that. And I was in a way thinking to myself, what did I get myself into here? Am I going to fail out of here? Am I going to have to go do something else? Oh my God, what’s that going to be? So it was a little scary at times, but I very quickly fell in with a good bunch of buddies. We learned very quickly as we tend to do in these circumstances that when you study together, when you work together, you can collaborate to graduate as we say, and you can actually pull each other across the finish line. And to me, that was a big part of my success, not just in flight training, but really throughout my time in the military. But you find those colleagues who are like you find your friends who share your values and you have some common goals and you just get together and you quiz each other on things like emergency procedures and you take your time to, as we say, chair, fly a mission before you go fly. So you can imagine it as you sit in your desk chair and prepare yourself as best as you can. So while I was pretty taken aback and again intimidated when I began, as I made my way through the intermediate and advanced stages of the process, it became more of a very attainable goal and I got more excited knowing that I would succeed, that I would get to hopefully earn my wings of gold. And then after that I would go to go fly off ships operationally, which was a fantastic experience.

Mary Kate Soliva (11:33):

And what was that like to officially become a pilot?

Gabe Soltero (11:38):

Do

Mary Kate Soliva (11:38):

You remember that day?

Gabe Soltero (11:39):

I do, yeah. The wing ceremony, as we call it, is there’s a lot of pomp and circumstance and it’s just a really, really cool occasion. You go from having a very plain uniform to actually having a particular warfare device, as we called it in the Navy, to wear with your uniform. And that’s a point of pride for anybody who’s been in the military, right, to be able to earn a particular professional qualification, whether it’s because you’re a right or a combat infantry man, or whether you get to get your qualification as a submarine officer. There’s a bunch of different things you can do in the military. And for me to end flight trainee and get to be called, no kidding, a naval aviator was something that meant and continues to mean a lot to me. And then my parents came, of course, my fiance and now wife also came, and it was a really, really exciting occasion to be able to mark that milestone.

(12:33):

But at the same time, I knew that I was only getting started graduating from school. You have your diploma and you feel like you’re on top of the world and then you take a breath and then you say, okay, now I need to go to work. So it was in a way a bit intimidating too, knowing that I would have to go join the fleet and that would be evaluated on how well I did in the fleet, which would then help me measure my success is make sure that I could get it done because not everybody gets it done. Even after you get to the fleet, even after you have your wings, it’s still pretty hard. But I felt more confident and I was really excited at the opportunity and that’s what I wanted to go do.

Mary Kate Soliva (13:08):

I love that. And it’s honestly, I’m not a pilot, went the airborne route but did not end up flying the plane. But I can only imagine what that was like. And like you said, just being able to earn that, any type of qualification, type of badge, there is that sense of pride. Just really curious to what your thoughts was. It feels as cool as the movies now when you sit there and watch movies like Top Gun, do you have that sense of relatability of Hook was like, oh, I know what that feels like.

Gabe Soltero (13:37):

Not just that, but then you tend to chat with your buddies about all this stuff. The movie got wrong, right? You say, oh, did you see this scene? That’s just totally not right, but hey, that’s Hollywood. That’s what they do.

Mary Kate Soliva (13:47):

Did you go to nickname? What’s your nickname? Did we go over that?

Gabe Soltero (13:51):

No, no. So my call sign, yeah, yeah, we all have call signs, so my call sign is Rican. I’m Puerto Rican, but nobody believes it. So that’s what my call sign became as I was in my time in the Navy. Great kid. But yeah, it was a fun time.

Mary Kate Soliva (14:06):

No, I love that. And I’d love to as far as where did you end up going first and as well as, do you have a favorite duty location that you ended up throughout your career?

Gabe Soltero (14:18):

Yeah, when I finished my flight training, I went to my first flying unit. I was a helicopter squadron out of Jacksonville, Florida, and that’s where we lived for a while. But after that I moved with my family to San Diego to become a flight instructor and we stayed in San Diego for quite a while. And you’ve been in the Army? I’ve been in the Navy. I think we all know which service has, and I’ll put up San Diego against anybody at any time, and that was a fantastic place to be. It’s probably our favorite duty station. I got to do a lot of flying out of that. And my family enjoyed it as well because San Diego, what more do I need to say? It was a beautiful place to be.

Mary Kate Soliva (14:55):

The kissing Sailor, right?

Gabe Soltero (14:57):

That’s right, that’s right. Kissing Sailor, the Midway Museum. It’s a big Navy town. The Mepo Recruit Depot is there too. So it does have a large military population. Camp Pendleton’s just north of San Diego too, and that’s a massive Marine Corps base. So yeah, that was a wonderful place

Mary Kate Soliva (15:14):

To be. It’s not that you guys get the water, you get to go and be out by the water or you can throw a stone from us and we hit probably a farmland, literally should not have been places where it’s a government building in the middle of a field. They just bought the land from a farmer and they put a flagpole there and there’s the Army headquarters. It’s really not so much. I was like, they put us in Kansas, put us in the middle of nowhere and you guys get to go by the water. So definitely the jealous as far as the locations are concerned. But I love that aspect that you were able to provide some sort of stability. I’ve also had other veterans on the show where they talk about having to move. They did have to move their family about every two to three years and some of the challenges faced in the family side of the house with that. But being able to be in San Diego, I’m glad that you all were lucky to love that area.

Gabe Soltero (16:04):

We got lucky. And to be sure, we did move about a dozen times throughout my time in the Navy. We just happened to luck out when it came to the availability of jobs and maybe a little lobbying with my own chain of command to be able to twist arms at the right level and a little bit of personal lobbying to make it happen. And I’m glad it happened.

Mary Kate Soliva (16:25):

Great. Well, I’m glad that you mentioned with your chain of command, love to hear about and feel free to shout them out, anybody that took you under their wing during your time in service to sort of mentor and help guide you.

Gabe Soltero (16:37):

Yeah, there’s more than a few people, and this goes from my very first commanding officer, his name is Kevin Lynch, callsign Spike. He was a hard driver and he was very intense, did it for a reason. He saw in a number of his lieutenants the potential to do what he thought we could do. And I happened to be one of those guys together with some of my other buddies and he was exacting and he was demanding, but I learned a lot from him about how to fly, how to be a leader and how to chart my own path within the Navy. And because he was able to shape a lot of my thinking as a junior, very junior officer that really stayed with me throughout the time in the service. But it’s not just about our commanding officers, it’s also for us as a young officer about our senior enlisted leaders.

(17:23):

I had more than a few senior enlisted leaders who also took me under the wing who maybe sat me down and said, Hey lt, let’s talk about this. I’m not sure you’re getting it right. And it just teaches you some humility and it helped teaches you to open your ears and shut your mouth sometimes because when I’m talking to my command master chief, which is the senior enlisted leader in the Navy unit, you’ll listen to that guy or gal, whoever it might be, because they have a lot of wisdom. And the perspective that we got to keep the sailors forefront in our minds, our jobs as officers is to take care of our sailors. And I love that about the Navy, that you’re required to be excellent at whatever technical aspect. You might have a job, in my case it be a pilot, but you’re also required indeed demanded to be very good at, with what you call the ground job, right, to be as an officer, a leader of men and women.

(18:15):

And to be able to sit down with my various command master chiefs throughout the years and have that chat was something that meant a lot to me. And in particular, the Fisher Coine fish was my very last command master chief, and I happened to be a commanding officer of a squadron at that time. And I love, and I still love, we still keep in touch that he would have no issue about walking into the office and say, Hey, this is messed up. What do you want to do about it? And I respected the hell out of him for doing that, and I still do because he’s somebody who, despite his position in my position, did not hesitate to call things out when he saw that they had to be corrected and nine times out 10 that. So again, I was able to listen and I think in the end it may be a better officer and a better leader. So I owe a lot of that to those two particular gentlemen,

Mary Kate Soliva (19:04):

I appreciate that you mentioned as well, both above you and below you, the ability to how important it is to get from both perspectives and that you had that you’re fortunate enough to have that where they weren’t afraid to come up to you. I’m big proponent of approachability being a great leadership quality, that they feel that they can come to you and that you’re not one of those that’s blocking out all the sound, but you really took the time to hear them out and to heeded their guidance, especially again, the NCO O corps because we’ve been in a long time for some of us, right?

Gabe Soltero (19:39):

No, no, you’re absolutely right. What a great resource and what a great person to be able to just engage with and learn from. To me, I wish I would’ve learned about that earlier in my career. I would’ve learned even more.

Mary Kate Soliva (19:52):

Absolutely. And I think sometimes when we have very unconventional careers, we don’t always have a bunch of subordinates under us sometimes at the very early stages, it’s really you’re looking out in your career and trying to figure out things for yourself, but then it does change and you do end up having to seek that other guidance to really hone in what type of leader that you want to be. So I love that level of growth that you mentioned and that shout out for them. I’d love to hear as far as it came to your transition, so doing a career here, can you recollect about the moment or the time that you decided that this was time for me to start the process to transition?

Gabe Soltero (20:36):

For me, it was pretty deliberate. It was nothing very surprising. I had completed my last sea duty tour, as we call it in the Navy when you’re deployable, right? When you’re assigned to an operational unit. And I was doing my very final assignment, which was not operational. This was more in the educational role. And I was at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and I had on purpose sought orders there so that I could make my transition from there. And my wife and I had many conversations about it. And when it came time to click that send button on the paperwork that I submitted to state my intention to retire from active duty, it felt great. It felt like I knew I was making the right call because I didn’t feel the sense of dread, at least not yet. Initially it was very much, this is absolutely what I want to do, this is totally the right call. But it wasn’t maybe until a couple of weeks later when the response came saying, we have accepted your request. And at that point it became real. And then I said to myself, holy cow, now what do I do? And that’s when it’s happening,

(21:44):

Right? It’s happening. This is real. It’s

Mary Kate Soliva (21:45):

Coming. The train’s not going to stop now.

Gabe Soltero (21:48):

That’s right. And that’s when it got real. And that’s when I had to take some few deep breaths and make sure that I was moving in that right direction. But I was okay. I had no idea what I was going to do. I wasn’t okay in that sense, but at least in my head, I said, you know what? This is the right call to make. Partly because had I stayed on active duty, it would’ve required a very demanding schedule for me to be spending a lot of time out at sea. And I don’t begrudge that because I know that’s how the Navy operates and that’s what’s required of our leaders. But I had done plenty of that, and I was in a position where I could say, you know what? I’m going to retire on my own terms. I’ve done plenty of deployments and I learned a lot on those deployments, but they also were on your family. So now is a time to take this next step with my life and my career and be able to maybe be home for dinner and be able to watch my kids grow up in ways that I wasn’t able to do in previous years.

Mary Kate Soliva (22:41):

And I think we take for granted just the ability for our loved ones to know when we’re coming home and to know that it’s going to be the same and they can prep dinner and they know it’s not going to be cold or they don’t have to keep it heated for us. No, I can definitely relate to that and just the ability to be present and not miss those special moments that we can’t get back. So I was wondering too with regards to your transition, you went from being this lack of better terms, a badass pilot, the Navy, and then you said not sure what you were going to do after. Was there a level of fear there of the unknown? And also wondering, am I going to find something that makes me feel like I did wearing those wings on my chest?

Gabe Soltero (23:26):

Yes, it is incredibly stressful. You realize you’ve had the coolest job in the world for all these years. So anything beyond that is probably going to be a letdown. And that’s what one of my own buddies told me who had retired a couple of years ahead of me. He said, Gabe, you had an awesome job for all these years and I hope you enjoyed it because whatever comes next is not nearly going to be as cool as blah, blah. I said, oh, got it. Okay, fine. Thanks for sugarcoating it for me. Right? But he was right. And that kind of helped me frame my job search as so be, and I was able to make my peace with the fact that I had a pretty damn cool job for all those years and whatever I had to do next didn’t have to rise to that level of cool, but it still needed to have a level of fulfillment for me.

(24:09):

And so like many transitioning service members, I used a bunch of different services to help me figure out the things that mattered to me, the place where I wanted to live, the kind of job I had to, wanted to do, the kind of work I wanted to be engaged with. And through a lot of trial and error and really networking, I was able to talk to a bunch of people, learn about what the possibilities are and get ready for that transition. But I’ll tell you what, this is my retirement date approached. I didn’t have a job and I was still interviewing and sending resumes and doing this and doing that, but I did not have a job lined up right away. And it took me a few more months after my retirement to finally start working because it was hard. It was very hard, but finally got it took some time.

Mary Kate Soliva (24:55):

May I ask how you navigated that time? I know for many of our listeners, we have those folks who are still in active duty or those in transition right now. What would sort of your advice be to them and how you navigated that period that especially that three months once you did retire, how did you navigate? Where did you seek advice and how did you process that?

Gabe Soltero (25:19):

Yeah, so I was lucky to have love and support in my family, which really meant a lot to carry me through this period of uncertainty. One thing got better was start networking earlier. And this is something that you hear a lot of people say, but it’s true. The earlier you start networking, the earlier you start putting your name out there, the better you’re at it. I tell people it’s like running a marathon. If you’ve never run a marathon before, you’re likely not going to be able to get out there and run it on day one without any training. You got to start with shorter runs, get your five K in, get your 10 K in, get your long distance runs, and then on race day, you’re ready to go for the job search. It’s the same thing. You cannot expect that your first resume is going to look awesome.

(25:57):

You can’t expect your first interview is going to be perfect and excellent. You got to work on these skills, the whole networking piece of introducing yourself to somebody else to tell your story about what you did in the military in a way that somebody can understand that especially that somebody has never spent a day in the military that takes practice and it’s not something that many of us, at least not me, gets right out of the gate. And as I made my own transition, looking back, I wish I would’ve started doing all this maybe a year out instead of say maybe six months out, maybe even longer. Some of us took a little longer to figure that out. It took me a while. And so as I started the networking piece, I started talking to other peers of mine who were moving away from active duty at the same time, and we supported each other quite a bit.

(26:42):

We shared resources. We said, Hey, have you heard about this program? I know somebody in such and such companies are growing. So that whole networking piece is priceless. You can throw resumes at a wall all day long, but it is that introduction. It’s that talking to somebody who can introduce you to somebody who can introduce you to somebody that gets you to the conversation that is truly going to make a difference. And as I went through the process, I attended a number of sessions with different service providers that we can go into if you like, that helped me get into the right head space and helped me tell my own story so that as I retired and moved to a new city with my wife, I was able to rely on our savings a little bit and rely on some of my retirement income and then my wife’s income as well to maintain the sort of lifestyle until I started working full-time a few months later.

Mary Kate Soliva (27:36):

What I love that you mentioned the networking piece because we often start too late, but we’re also at the same time trying to hang on to the coolness of the job that we were doing at the time. And there’s that level of at least I did not retire and I’m actually still serving now within the reserves. But there was that level of is this the right time? Should I stay? And the military is a way of making you feel like, I feel like you’re not going to survive without them. Stay on a little bit longer. You can do it. And I think what’s really important about what your message in particular and your story is the family piece, so easy to make the decision without them, but without realizing that they’re also going through the transition with us. So I love that throughout your response there that you just mentioned about sitting down with your wife, having the support for your family, but also going through those decision points with your family I think is really important as well, going through that time. Thank you for that

Gabe Soltero (28:33):

Piece. It was, yeah, of course. A friend of mine told me a long time ago, while we were wondering whether or not to leave the service when we were junior officers, maybe about the eight year timeframe, buddy of mine said to me, I never need you more than you need the Navy. And it kind of put things in perspective to make me realize the Navy’s a big machine and if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, the machine will continue, no harm, no foul, everything’s fine. It’s just the way things happen. And my family, however, is very much a part of who I am, and even after I depart the service, I’ll still have my family with me. So it’s important to keep that in mind and it gave me some good perspective. I even turned in my resignation letter when I was about to 10 year mark because I was going to do something else with my life.

(29:13):

I was in grad school at the time, but I at the very end pulled it back just because I was able to figure out a way that allowed me to get some professional success with the support of my family. But as I moved on from active duty after 25 years of service, I’m like, yeah, I’m ready. It’s time to move on. It’s time to take that next step. And I’m glad I did. I did it on my own terms. And that’s the other thing, if you don’t do it on your own, the service at some point will say, Hey, it’s time for you to move on and you need to go. So as much as I had control over that position, I wanted to make sure that I could execute that.

Mary Kate Soliva (29:45):

Absolutely. And we all end up hanging up our uniform eventually. So I think what you said, you hit the nail on the head is just important to recognize that we are going to hang up our uniform at some point and you do the best that you can while you’re in and then preparing late, as you mentioned earlier, for those up and coming behind you to be able to just make sure they’re ready to take hold of the helm. If I put in a Navy analogy there almost, but I’d love to hear about the organizations, the veteran service organizations that assisted you during that time. Feel free to shout out some of those.

Gabe Soltero (30:20):

Yeah, thanks. The thing about veteran service organizations is that there are so many of ’em, right? So it can be overwhelming. You talk to veterans these days who may be retired from active duty or left active duty 20 years ago, and they might tell you, I wish I had all this when I transitioned. And yes, but it can also be a curse in the sense that there’s so many. And as I talked to people and I did some of my own research and I experienced some of the others, I figured that there’s different groups that do different things. And so I decided to pick items from a menu depending on what I needed to find for myself. So for the networking piece, for example, I was a part of the four block cohort up in Boston. Four Block is a career readiness seminar in the last 10 weeks you meet once a week.

(31:07):

Each week is hosted by a different corporate entity. And to me that was a great way to start practicing telling my story and how to network and how to meet people who work in different companies and ask them how they like working there. I did it in Boston. I did it once again in Atlanta, which is our current city where we’ve been living for a while. And I liked it so much that I became an instructor, which I found was just a very cool thing to do to be able to learn about how to market my own brand for the inner journey, which is like I think another part of the transition. I used an organization called the Commit Foundation and the Commit Foundation offered me some free one-on-one personal coaching sessions with a career coach. And this career coach, great guy, his name is Jason Ron, I love Jason.

(31:51):

He asked me some tough questions and he would say, Gabe, what do you think about this? And what do you think about that? And there are some questions that I hadn’t asked myself before, and it helped me kind of center myself. It helped me figure out what are the things that truly matter to me? And with this information, how do I go about seeking what I want to do next so that when I get out of bed in the morning, I can say I’m doing something that makes me happy as opposed to saying I’m doing something, I have to have a job and I have no other choice. And I do realize that many people have to have a job and have no other choice. I was just trying to work as hard as I could to find something as fulfilling as my Navy career had been.

(32:30):

So we’re working with the Commit founding, and on top of that, I’ll mention a third one. It’s called Candra Full. Candra Full offers you a free interview service that you can use that is just that very candid. You’ll have some mock interviews with somebody on the other side of the screen and right when it’s done, they’ll give you feedback right then and there. And that helped me get my confidence level to where I thought it needed to be. And I started my job search at that point was, this was right before covid. So in-person interviews were still maybe the norm and there were some virtual interviews, but not many. And I wanted to do my best to excel at, we all know there’s different tricks when you’re speaking to somebody on a screen. So working with Candor Full helped me quite a bit and get to where I wanted to go. So those are three of the organizations that I engage with. Again, there’s many others, but I found, actually, I’ll add one more. Hire Heroes A

Mary Kate Soliva (33:23):

Yes,

Gabe Soltero (33:24):

Hire Heroes. SA helped me with my resume. They have, again, this is all at no cost because it doesn’t cost you anything as a transitioning service member. And gave me some great feedback and offer me opportunities to engage with somebody who could tell it to me straight and say, yeah, your resume sucks. Here’s why. Let’s make it better. I found that very useful.

Mary Kate Soliva (33:42):

No, I love that. So you have Four Block The Commit Foundation, Canor Full and Higher Heroes, you say, right? So no, those are fantastic. And I love what you said about just being able to ask the hard questions. And the other thing I was like the civilians, my friends who have never served in the military, they’re like, I don’t love my job. I do my job. But the idea of trying to find something that they genuinely love and gives them purpose back isn’t something that I realized that they didn’t think of in the same way that we do. They said we were doing something cool in the military that fulfilled a part of us and became sort of part of our identity or being at the time, and then we try to find something in the civilian side when we get out that’s going to also fulfill us.

(34:31):

But I thought that was interesting when my transition that my friends are like, love my job. It pays the bills and then the money that I have that’s extra allows me to do the things I do love. But they weren’t wrapped around this idea that the pressure I was putting on myself during transition to say I’ve got to find something that’s feels just as fulfilling and makes me feel just as much of a badass, so to speak as I was when I was on active duty. And I thought that was something interesting that we didn’t talk about as much. I thought that was just a thing that other people do. But I find I only related to that with other veterans

Gabe Soltero (35:04):

For sure. I think it’s very much at the heart of a veteran’s quest, if you want to call it that.

Mary Kate Soliva (35:10):

Our hero’s journey as they say, right,

Gabe Soltero (35:12):

Exactly.

Mary Kate Soliva (35:13):

Storage. It’s like we still want to feel like we have this greater purpose and sense of being, and that part intrinsically is part of our values and when we’re looking for a good culture fit, as they say, the language that is identifiable with the civilian side. But that’s something that I think is important. And then as you mentioned, reaching out to those organizations, not being afraid to be vulnerable regardless of what, like you said, you’ve commanded entire squadron before. So it’s easy to come out to say, well, I’ve led all these people and all this millions of dollars of equipment. I got this in the bag. I don’t need to get help from anybody. But I think that goes to show the type of person that you are and leader to be able to humble yourself to go seek those organizations. That’s why I’m so glad that you’re on the show as well.

(36:00):

So in case those of you listening, regardless of your rank, it’s just really important to humble yourself to ask those hard questions. You can’t just say, I’m willing to work anywhere and everywhere. It’s like, are you willing to work weekends? Are you okay working holidays, you want to work nights, travel? There’s all these things that are important to talk about. So I’d love to talk about what you’re doing now. Of course, veteran Voice is all about serving beyond the uniform and giving back. So you shouted out some of the great organizations, but talk to me about the work that you’re doing now.

Gabe Soltero (36:31):

Certainly. So I worked for the Home Depot right now and I am the program manager for military relations. And after wandering around a couple of different jobs, I landed here and I have found it to be that perfect mix of fulfilling work because I get to still work with the military community, but also working in private industry for a profit driven enterprise, which of course the Home Depot is a Fortune 20 company and the Home Depot is like the size of the US Army. So it’s a large organization, which is to say a lot of stuff happens and there’s many people that work here doing many different things. Part of what I love about working here is that we actually live our values, which is similar to my experience in the military. We have a values wheel, which we all wear on our orange aprons.

(37:18):

And among those values are things that for the veteran community, sound like doing their right thing, building strong relationships, giving back. Those are all things that resonate with largely all veterans. And it very resonated with me too. So in my capacity, I work to engage with veteran service organizations in the community. We also run our Skill Bridge program. We are a department of defense skill bridge partner, and we run military fellowships. We’re transitioning service members who are looking for that next position, absolutely lead the service. And we also work with our own veterans within the Home Depot to make sure that they are aware of benefits and opportunities available to them within the company to try to make sure we raise their profile and keep promoting veteran causes internally as well as externally. So love it. I have a great team within my team. Everybody is either a veteran or a military spouse, and that’s not a requirement, but it just kind of happened that way. And just like when you talk to other veterans, you kind of speak the same language, you understand each other, you know what it’s all about, and it makes the job that much more enjoyable.

Mary Kate Soliva (38:25):

No, absolutely love that. And with Home Depot, I mean, I love being able to go to Home Depot and seeing the veterans, their aprons, the ones that tend to come up and we get to talking. And then it turns out that I forget what I was actually going in there for because we started talking about for time and service. But no, and I also love the activities that you all do for families as well, getting the workshops, building workshops for the kids, and just again, that family dynamic. So appreciate with that, with Home Depot and again, the Skill Bridge program. Could you touch a bit on the Skill Bridge program, what that is, in case our listeners aren’t familiar with that program?

Gabe Soltero (39:07):

Certainly. So the DOD Skill Bridge program is run by the Department of Defense, and it allows employers who partner with them to bring in service members who are transitioning as fellows or interns or people to work in their company for up to six months really. But we tend to find that 11 to 12 weeks is probably the happy medium. They need the commanding officer permission to participate, and they come to the company and they get fully integrated with our team. And while it does not guarantee employment on the backend, it does expose our military fellows to a potential career at the Home Depot by helping ’em learn about what we do, who we do it with, and how well we do it. This is at no cost to any company because service members are still on active duty, so they’re still receiving their full DOD salary and benefits.

(39:57):

So from an employer standpoint, right, because you get to explore potential new talent at a very low risk, but potential high reward and for the service members themselves, it’s also a win because they get to pursue an opportunity without having to commit to it if it winds up being not the right move for them, but they still get exposed to a potential career path with an entirely new company that’s just very different from the military. All those things lead to what I think is a great success. And I’m a big fan of Skill Bridge and realize DOD has put a lot of effort into it. I know there’s some grumblings about what may happen to it the next couple of years, but I hope they continue to use it. It’s a great opportunity to do relatively low risk.

Mary Kate Soliva (40:41):

Yes, I was fortunate enough to go through a skill bridge program as well with a different company, and it does allow you to explore and navigate as you’re going through that phase of the unknown of what am I going to do? And many of us do end up pivoting something completely different from what we did on active duty. So it’s such a great program and I agree with you. I do hope they keep it going. So I know we’re going to be wrapping up our episode shortly, but I would be remiss if, since I’m my family in Guam, that if I didn’t ask you about your time in Guam, so going from Puerto Rico, I asked about your culture shock in the mainland US and the Navy, but what about your time in Guam? I just would love to hear more about that.

Gabe Soltero (41:26):

Yeah, we spent two years in Guam and it was a wonderful time that we spent out there. I will say it’s pretty isolating. And living in Puerto Rico, I was growing up, I didn’t know any different. But now as I’m an adult, when I go to Puerto Rico, I know the plane right back to the States is a relatively short one. Being in Guam, you are seven hours from Hawaii, right? It’s the closest part of the US that you can get to. And that’s so wild that you learn to live in that environment right away. That said, the people are so friendly there and the beaches are so gorgeous, and because the population is a fraction of what it is in Puerto Rico, we’re talking 160 K versus 3 million plus, you can go to the beach and pretty much have the beach to yourself. And we did that.

(42:11):

So being able to go to the beach on Christmas day too, because it’s a tropical island and you can do that, that to me was great. And it was a great experience to just kind of unplug from the rest of the world, if you want to call it that for a while. And at the same time, getting to fly, that was my very last flying opportunity in the Navy. And that to me was a bonus, to be able to be in a leadership position, to be able to fly and to be able to be out there with my family. Not to mention the travel opportunities. You get to go to Asia with your family because even though you might be seven hours from Hawaii, it’s just a relatively short flight too, somewhere like Tokyo. And when you live stateside, you don’t always have the opportunity to do that. And living in Guan, we did. So we took advantage of that too. So altogether a tough two years, I will say. But at the end of the day, I’m glad we did. It was a good time.

Mary Kate Soliva (43:02):

Did you get to support Christmas drop at all while you were out there?

Gabe Soltero (43:05):

Yeah. Operation Christmas drop was something quite remarkable, if you want to talk about it. Oh no,

Mary Kate Soliva (43:10):

Please, no, please talk about it because I’m a little bit biased. But you talked about getting to fly out there and as a Navy pilot, and I was like, I can’t imagine that you’ve been out there for two years and not support Christmas drop, but since Netflix has a movie about it. But I feel like, again, not accurate depiction of how Christmas drop really is. So please tell our listeners about it in your experience.

Gabe Soltero (43:33):

Certainly. Yeah. So to be clear, I did not fly missions because as a helicopter, we don’t have the same range as all those Air Force airplanes too. But we got to ride with the Air Force as they flew all over these islands. So Operation Christmas drop is an activity that the Air Force organizes every year out of Guam, in which they take a lot of subsistence materials, whether it’s food, whether it’s fishing equipment, whether it’s other materials to people who live on these tiny, tiny islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and they fly over these islands and they airdrop a lot of these supplies to the people that live in these islands during Christmas time. And again, it can be food, it can be fishing line, it can be a fishing net, it can be fuel for the various devices, it can be generators.

(44:20):

And these are things that we sometimes tip for granted in the United States because we live in a very different kind of world. But these Pacific Islands that are very resource limited and have small populations often depend on what the boat brings in. And sometimes the boats don’t come in for a while. And so the Air Force compliments that by doing Operation Christmas drop on a yearly basis. And it is really a side to see the amount of planning that goes into it, the various planes, the various routes, the care with which they say, let’s make sure we cover all these islands. It’s a hats off to the Air Force. We’re doing that and for providing participants a really good thing that they do every year in the Pacific.

Mary Kate Soliva (45:01):

Oh, thank you again for mentioning that. It’s definitely a highlight for those and for my family and friends, I mean the rotary clubs, the local schools, the students, everybody’s getting out there to help and volunteer and put the packages together. So yeah, definitely a shout out to the Air Force for allowing us to even participate in that operation. So thank you again. I just would love to, I know I could talk to you all day, I’m a rambler, but I’m grateful that your stories are way cooler than mine. And I would love to, again, if you had any parting words for our listeners who are going through this time in their lives and their transition. And I like to highlight always that we can continue to go throughout transitions throughout our life. It may feel like the big one coming off active duty, but any last thoughts?

Gabe Soltero (45:51):

Sure. Thank you. I guess a couple of things I would say is, as I said earlier, network, network, network. The earlier you start, the better off you’ll be. Number two, if you have family and family members, remember that transition is about them as much as it is about you. And if you bring them into the conversation and you make them part of your decisions, I think that’s going to lead to better decisions overall. It’s something that it’s easy to internalize as a military member, and we tend to grow up thinking, I got this. I don’t need help. But if you make yourself vulnerable, as you said earlier, I think that will lead to better outcomes. Otherwise, you’re kind of going to get stuck in a rutt and it might not work very well. And number three, smile. When you introduce to yourself, to people and you tell your story, if you learn how to do it while smiling, you’re going to be more likable. And you know what? People who are more likable are likely more likely to get that job. So it’s hard for many military members to do because we’re all rigid and set in our ways, and we’re tough and we’re mean, and we don’t smile, ask any Marine who’s had a service record picture taken, right? They just don’t smile. It’s part of the thing. As you transition out of the military, it’s a different world and you want whoever you’re talking to like you. And when you smile, I find it helps. So I’ll leave you with that.

Mary Kate Soliva (47:10):

Oh gosh, I love that last one. I think you’re the first guest to add the advice. We do get the networking, but yes, smile, oh gosh, how many DA photos of military photos that they don’t smile and they’re shout out to the Marine Corps. Smile more. But thanks. No, thank you so much, Gabe, for your time and for sharing about your experience as a Navy pilot, a career Naval pilot. Thank you for your service and for, again, for Home Depot, for what they do for those in transition with the DOD Skill Bridge program and taking that charge there to again, show how important it is to be able to support one another through this time. And for our listeners to know that you’re not going, you don’t have to go through this transition alone. There’s those of us who have been there, done that, and happy to help you along the way.

(47:58):

So as Gabe said, smile, take hold of the journey and include your families in the process. So again, thank you all for joining us on Veteran Voices. Hope to see you here again next time. Again, veteran Voices is part of the supply chain now family. You can get our podcast wherever you get your podcasts from, and we are also a proud partnership with the Guam Human Rights Initiative. Again, you can learn more about them@guamhr.org, and we hope to see you here again next time. Be good and be the change that’s needed. Thank you. We’ll see you next time. Take care.

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Featured Guests

Gabe Soltero, Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Gabe Soltero joined the Navy after college and spent 25 years as a pilot, flying missions all over the world. He retired from active duty in 2019 and moved with his family to Atlanta, where he became deeply involved in the veteran transition space. After working on veterans’ employment issues with the U.S. Department of Labor, he took a role with The Home Depot, where he currently works as the Program Manager for Military Relations. Connect with Gabe on LinkedIn.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.

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Mary Kate Love

VP, Marketing

Mary Kate Love is currently the VP of marketing at Supply Chain Now focused on brand strategy and audience + revenue growth. Mary Kate’s career is a testament to her versatility and innovative spirit: she has experience in start-ups, venture capital, and building innovation initiatives from the ground up: she previously helped lead the build-out of the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific and before that, MxD (Manufacturing times Digital): the Department of Defense’s digital manufacturing innovation center. Mary Kate has a passion for taking complicated ideas and turning them into reality: she was one of the first team members at MxD and the first team member at the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific.

Mary Kate dedicates her extra time to education and mentorship: she was one of the founding Board Members for Women Influence Chicago and led an initiative for a city-wide job shadow day for young women across Chicago tech companies and was previously on the Board of Directors at St. Laurence High School in Chicago, Young Irish Fellowship Board and the UN Committee for Women. Mary Kate is the founder of National Supply Chain Day and enjoys co-hosting podcasts at Supply Chain Now. Mary Kate is from the south side of Chicago, a mom of two baby boys, and an avid 16-inch softball player. She holds a BS in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more.  In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.

Donna Krache

Director of Communications and Executive Producer

Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys.  She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.

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Vicki White

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Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.

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Ben Harris

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Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.

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Katherine Hintz

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.

He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.

A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).

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Adrian Purtill

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics.  He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.

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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.

She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.

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Billy Taylor

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.

An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.

A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.

A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning.  He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.

Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.

Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.

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Amanda Luton

Vice President, Production

Amanda is a production and marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Amanda currently manages, produces, and develops modern digital content for Supply Chain Now and their clients. Amanda has previously served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah, and founded and managed her own successful digital marketing firm, Magnolia Marketing Group. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now production team, you can find Amanda in the kitchen, reading, listening to podcasts, or enjoying time with family.

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Constantine Limberakis

Host

Constantine Limberakis is a thought leader in the area of procurement and supply management. He has over 20 years of international experience, playing strategic roles in a wide spectrum of organizations related to analyst advisory, consulting, product marketing, product development, and market research.Throughout his career, he's been passionate about engaging global business leaders and the broader analyst and technology community with strategic content, speaking engagements, podcasts, research, webinars, and industry articles.Constantine holds a BA in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA in Finance & Marketing / Masters in Public & International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.

He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog.  He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community.  Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include CiscoMicrosoft, Citrix and IBM.  Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane UniversityO’Reilly MediaLinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.  Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems EngineeringCarrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.

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Tyler Ward

Director of Sales

Tyler Ward serves as Supply Chain Now's Director of Sales. Born and raised in Mid-Atlantic, Tyler is a proud graduate of Shippensburg University where he earned his degree in Communications. After college, he made his way to the beautiful state of Oregon, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.

With over a decade of experience in sales, Tyler has a proven track record of exceeding targets and leading high-performing teams. He credits his success to his ability to communicate effectively with customers and team members alike, as well as his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.

When he's not closing deals, you can find Tyler on the links or cheering on his favorite football and basketball teams. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing pick-up basketball, and traveling back to Ocean City, Maryland, his favorite place!

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.

Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.

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Greg White

Principal & CMO, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise

When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.

Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.

From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.

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