Veteran Voices
Episode 60

Try to be grateful. Try to be content. Appreciate what you have and strive for more. Don't miss out on the blessings of today simply because you're looking in the wrong place.

-Josh Atkinson, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

Episode Summary

Each of us goes through life making choices, and some of those choices have a more significant impact than others. When your cumulative choices prevent you from fitting ‘the mold,’ especially in the Marine Corps, the path won’t be easy, but it will be truly unique.

In this interview, Mary Kate Soliva welcomes Josh Atkinson, a Marine Corps Veteran. Josh was fortunate enough to attend Annapolis, and because of the disciplined household he grew up in, he didn’t have to overcome the culture shock that many of his classmates did. He ultimately decided to join the Marines because of the wide range of options they could offer him. And, as he points out in this interview, once you are a Marine, you are never NOT a Marine.

Josh shares his unique story into, through, and out of the Marine Corps, including:

• Why each obstacle in life is an opportunity to get to know yourself better, and to know what you are capable of

• How he faced up to some of the most challenging times in his military career, when he made the choice to do what he felt was right even though he knew it would not be popular

• The impact that having his transition timing decided for him had on his professional journey

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:02):

Welcome to veteran voices, a podcast that 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 (00:49):

Hello everyone. Mary Kate Soliva here with you on veteran voices. Thanks for joining us today. As we’ve got a wonderful conversation teed up with a great veteran, an advocate, stay tuned for a great discussion. Quick programming note before we get started, this program is part of the supply chain. Now family of programming and today’s show in particular is conducted in partnership with our friends at vets industry near dear favorite of mine. Learn more about this powerful nonprofit that is serving so many folks@vetstoindustry.org, an initiative that’s near and dear to my heart, the Guam human rights initiative. You can find them on LinkedIn and at the university of Guam under regional center for public policy. Okay. Without further ado waiting for several weeks to talk to this guy, but let’s introduce our guest today. He is a veteran of the us Marine Corps. He’s also a huge advocate, probably a LinkedIn celebrity. Some might call him project management, expert professional, but let’s welcome in Josh Atkinson. So thank you for joining me today, Josh.

Josh Atkinson (01:57):

Hey, Mary, I’m so glad to be here. I’m not sure I’m a LinkedIn celebrity. I’m just a shameless networker. And therefore I think people know me love me or hate me. I’m not sure is it NA, but really glad to be here and awesome to get to know you, you know, enjoyed the friendship that we built last, you know, couple years and for all the work that you’re doing, you know, with PMI and so many advocacy groups out there like vet industry and others, really trying to help, you know, I think share the same passion we have of how do we help veterans prepare earlier, become more aware and have the tools and resources they need, you know, farther out before transition so that you’re not tripping off the cliff. I think in transition and really can, can set yourself our success. So, oh yeah. Really

Mary Kate Soliva (02:42):

Excited. Yeah. Thank you. Uh, I mean you, you couldn’t, I couldn’t have sent it better myself. Definitely went to take that opportunity here, to talk about how you continue to serve beyond the uniform and obviously representation. I think I was getting a little bit heavy on interviewing the army unit since I am an army veteran, but can’t forget about my brother and sisters. So glad to have you on here. Um, I’m gonna take our listeners today, like way back. I dunno how far back we’re gonna go, but we’re gonna go way back and get to know you a little bit better, but I’d like to start off like pumping us up with some motivation. Do you have a favorite, uh, motivational quote song lyric? You can sing if you want to.

Josh Atkinson (03:24):

Oh, you don’t want to hear me saying that would break some windows? No. So my favorite quote, I think hit me when I was, you know, at the academy in college is that my greatest weakness is relying on my own strength. Right? And I think, you know, I saw a lot of good leaders, a lot of good mentors that were out there saying you can’t do it alone. You know, in recently hear people say, if you wanna go fast, go alone. If you wanna go far, go together, you know, and just kind of going back to that, you know, we need people in our life to help us get to where we really want to go. And so often in leadership, I think we, we get isolated. We don’t know how to relate to people when you’re in transition. You feel like there’s no one that you can talk to.

Josh Atkinson (03:58):

And we carry a burden that we are not meant to carry by ourself. I don’t think God built us that way. Right? We needed to have other people around us to help out. So it truly became something I’ve learned it’s hard to live by, but that our greatest weakness really is trying to do things alone and we need to reach out and help each other. So that is my, my motivation, my, my mentorship strategy, quote, whatever you wanna call it for today, uh, is that, you know, we are here to help one another. And that is my passion.

Mary Kate Soliva (04:26):

I, I love that. And I definitely think that this that’s apparent in the work that you’re doing now in so many different arenas in the veteran military space. Uh, so I thank you for that. And that was definitely one to, to pump us up, cuz I think that that’s what veteran voice is all about is about giving back. So that, that’s a fantastic quote in the first time I’ve heard, I’ve heard that once. So thank you. But I am, I am going to take us, uh, back, as I said, can’t let the listeners down <laugh> uh, but let’s talk about where you, where you grew up.

Josh Atkinson (04:57):

All right. I am a SoCal boy at heart. I grew up in Chino, California. Yep. About an hour east of LA. And when I was a kid, they were disconnected cities and now it’s become like all the megatropolis the loss of San Diego, where it’s just one massive entity of houses, you know, all over SoCal. So my life growing up in Southern California is very different, I think, than it is today. You know, spent time dirt by riding in the high desert and shooting and blowing up stuff all over the flatland out there in the training areas, you know, out near Yuma and Arizona. And I remember riding dirt bikes through, you know, the, the bombing ranges, uh, and some of that stuff as a kid long before I even knew really much about the military and spent a lot of time out in the desert, but loved what I got to do.

Josh Atkinson (05:39):

Growing up, spent a lot of time, you know, outdoors a lot of time in community, you know, volunteer work with church and missions and really kind of said, I think the framework and foundation of service that I think has carried with me, you know, long through my time in college, in the military and not even beyond, and it’s defined my why, which is really about leading and helping people. So, you know, I was blessed, had a great, you know, family life growing up, got to do a lot of good stuff, you know, SoCal from beaches to mountains and deserts and exploring a lot of different cultures too, that I think, you know, can exposed me to the value of people into never dig a book by its cover. But to try to get to know people, you know, allow people to be who they are, be free to be, who they are, get to know them. And then once you’ve known them then assess, but it takes time and it takes energy, but it’s worth it.

Mary Kate Soliva (06:27):

You talked about a lot about the, the desert and the sun and the heat. So no snow, I’m guessing,

Josh Atkinson (06:33):

Uh, limited snow. You know, four seasons did not exist in my childhood. I mean, we used to drive out to, to big bear and, you know, uh, places in the mountain to go tubing or snow skiing. But snow is a very infrequent part of my, uh, childhood. Uh, it is not that way anymore now in Virginia, but I do like snow. I did go to Minnesota. My cousins lived when I was a kid and I think they had a high of zero one day in winter and I still could not comprehend how zero became a high, you know, on the weather chart. <laugh> I was like, this is, this is

Mary Kate Soliva (07:05):

Interesting. Oh goodness.

Josh Atkinson (07:07):

And I think me and my infinite wisdom showed up on the plane wearing board shorts and bomber jacket. And it was like negative 15 outside. And I was not prepared to, uh, go from SoCal in Minnesota in winter, but it’s not a great time, but I had some learning to do.

Mary Kate Soliva (07:24):

Oh gosh. And, and you mentioned, I’m trying to, trying to picture you with on a dirt bike as well, but you talk about like the different, uh, facilities with bombing areas. So did you seeing that, did that sort of get you the, that drive of, oh my gosh, I wanna do something hardcore. Join the military kind of thing. Was that, did you have a lot of exposure to the military at that age?

Josh Atkinson (07:48):

Um, so I didn did air shows growing up something I’ve always had a passion to wanna fly and kind of being in and around and supporting the military. Um, my dad was an air force vet, but he did, you know, three years in as an MP. And he was never in uniform when I was alive. So it wasn’t like a mm-hmm <affirmative> family thing. But one of my biggest mentors growing up guy named Billy book was a Marine infantry and men back in golf one. And again, he wasn’t serving when I knew him, but I think my dad’s leadership style was very military based, you know, from how he grew up. And then my mentors I learned later on were also just seemingly connected to military. So it wasn’t a plan of mine growing up to say, Hey, I’m gonna go, you know, to the Naval academy, I’m gonna go into the military, just became an opportunity literally later on in my life, that was a great fit.

Josh Atkinson (08:31):

So I actually told him I wanted to go to west point, you know, to your army connection. And my mentors said, I wasn’t allowed to go to west point. I had to go to the Marines academy and I had no idea what the heck he was talking about. So he told me about Annapolis and I decided to apply, you know, my senior year and, you know, except by God’s grace, I got the chance and privilege to go there and I can’t take credit for it or just who I was and what I was doing fit within that community. And it allowed me the opportunity to go. And I think it’s been a great blessing, you know, as I’ve gone now through my crazy career and not being successful by military terms, but everything I’ve been able to do and experience has now led to my ability to help people today, you know? Yeah.

Mary Kate Soliva (09:11):

So it sounds like it started early age for you, you know, even coming from, you know, the fact that your dad was a veteran too, but having those different, uh, mentors along the way during that time in your life, were there sort of any anecdotes or two from your upbringing that you, you clearly remember from that time, any kinda lessons learned before you, uh, graduated high school?

Josh Atkinson (09:34):

I think the biggest one is always that, you know, life is what you make it right. And life isn’t fair. And I try to teach that to my kids. That’s a tough

Mary Kate Soliva (09:41):

One, you know? Yeah.

Josh Atkinson (09:42):

I remember a story. My dad, you know, it’s, we’re getting served ice cream or whatever we were having. And my sister walks up and complains that I was getting more than she was. So my dad took her bowl, scooped it into his own and gave her none and said, well, at least you could have had some and now you get nothing, you know, and that, <laugh> just kinda always my goodness. It’s like be grateful for what you have realize that life will never be equal to everyone, but we’re all blessed and you can still make the best of whatever you get. Right. And, you know, I, I did a similar thing with, you know, we thought junior high later on and I was like, look, this is how it’s gonna work. If y’all complain it you’re getting done. So learn to be appreciative and trying to teach that is obviously harder sometimes than to experience it.

Josh Atkinson (10:20):

But I think it really just kinda set the framework of, you know, try to be grateful, try to be content, appreciate what you have and strive for more. Right. You don’t have to settle for what you have, but always be aware of how much you really do have. And don’t miss out on the blessings of today simply because you’re looking in the wrong place. Right. And I think that really, you know, set the framework, you know, my, my mentor who was a Marine, you know, was, you know, eat it now, tastes it later, you know, a lot of his anecdotes of being in the infantry and how hard it was and how much it kind of sucked once in a while. But you know, he kind of exuded the same thing of, you know, always appreciate what you have if you don’t have it make, do you know, and, and improvise. Um, so that’s probably the, the one that kind stands out for my upbringing and just,

Mary Kate Soliva (11:05):

That’s great, you

Josh Atkinson (11:05):

Know, keep fighting, you know, it’s never gonna be fair. Never gonna be equal. Life is gonna be hard, but it’s what you do with it that counts not complaining about it.

Mary Kate Soliva (11:14):

Yeah. That, that journey. Right. And now I’m just imagining your, your sister’s face when your dad took her ice cream. Oh,

Josh Atkinson (11:23):

She was, this is not fair. Like you are correct, but life isn’t fair. Oh

Mary Kate Soliva (11:29):

My gosh. And I, yeah. So I think I’m gonna see that next time I see a ice cream on a cone, <laugh> like, knock it off the kids cone and there’s a life lesson for you. Thanks. Thanks to your dad for that. So, yeah, that’s a great segue in, uh, imagining that scoop of ice cream when you entered the, and that opportunity that you had to serve in, in a very unique environment, you know, it’s not like your typical, uh, commissioning route. No, very unique. So it, you talk to us a little bit there about, um, you know, I wanna talk about the, the branch that you served in, but I know that there, that was a pivotal time too, being at Annapolis before you even figured out which branch you were going into.

Josh Atkinson (12:19):

Yeah. I mean, Annapolis is a unique place, right? It’s absolutely beautiful. It is a leadership laboratory, as they would say, cuz you’ll experience all of the goods in all of the bads of leadership while you’re there. But for me, you know, it’s sad or good or whatever, it felt like home. Cause my dad was very disciplined, you know, very structured. So going there was not the culture shock. I think that for some, it can be, for me, I think was a really good fit for me. I am kind of a D D and I get scatterbrained. So having that structure around me in college is actually a really good fit to help stay focused and stay disciplined. And really again, expose you to a lot of other responsibilities early on. I remember being

Mary Kate Soliva (13:00):

Your hospital corners were perfect. Huh?

Josh Atkinson (13:02):

Oh yeah. 45 degrees. And you learn how to make sure they stay that way. But it’s, it’s funny when you’re there, you can almost tell who’s gonna be a Marine and who’s gonna be Navy because those are the Marines I always had, like, you know, uniforms, repressed and your shoes were shiny, you know? And you could just kind of tell, like there was a different personality of people that kind of lended towards wanting to go Marine Corps, spec war versus those who wanted to go surface war for the other communities, but you still worked. You still played, you still did a lot of stuff together. It was great to build that camaraderie and learn, you know, but as you’re there, you know, I, I had Marines as my senior enlisted advisors, you know, I just was kind of always still drawn to the Marine Corps community.

Josh Atkinson (13:38):

And in some aspects I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. And I felt like the Marine Corps had more options because you still had the aviation side, you still had, you know, supply logistics in the ground side and right. It gave you a breadth of choices where I felt like in the Navy, you’re either like, you know, surface warfare, aviation or subs and you kind of that’s it. And I was like, well, I don’t know what I want. So I’m gonna lean towards Marine war because if this one doesn’t work out, I have more options at the anti hedging or bets. Right. If this doesn’t work, I have more, more choices in the end, but I loved it. I loved where I started, you know, I loved choosing Marine and going through training, you know, getting to experience and challenge yourself physically and emotionally and mentally.

Josh Atkinson (14:14):

I mean, going through sea, you know, Arctic warfare, the basic school, I mean, a lot of the trainings you go through are really unique and they really teach you a lot about yourself. They show you what you’re able to handle, which I think breeds a level of confidence and character. Right. You know, in service. Yeah. But really beyond that, you’re able to know that, you know, I’ve been through worse, I can handle this. And there really is a brotherhood, you know, in a sisterhood, as I know you experienced in the army, you know, when you go through difficult times and you go through hard training, there’s a bond you create that you cannot build outside of adversity. Right. You know, and I think as much as we, we don’t like pain, we don’t like hard times, right. Character is forged, right. And the chance to go through that training, the chance to go through those things really helps build a bond and a character that I am forever grateful for. And you know, you are never not a Marine. You can never UN brainwash yourself. You know, they’re good

Mary Kate Soliva (15:10):

At that’s the truth. No true statement.

Josh Atkinson (15:13):

They’re building that identity.

Mary Kate Soliva (15:15):

Any challenges that you faced at that time was like, it, it is a unique place compared to any other commissioning leadership program out there. But whether any times that you can recall that you, you experienced a challenge at the academy. And so how you, how you overcame that

Josh Atkinson (15:33):

Chemistry freshman year and calculus. Sorry. No, I

Mary Kate Soliva (15:37):

Think, oh yeah. Well, I mean freshman year is not like any other freshman year at any other university, right? You’re

Josh Atkinson (15:43):

No, I mean, I was always good academically, you know, in high school I was always good at math and I was able to advance ahead into three dimensional calculus in a freshman year. And the first day in class, the teacher starts talking and I had no idea what he was talking about. And I raised my hand going, like, I don’t know what you’re really saying right now. And he just blew me off and is like, we’re moving on. And I think I never felt so like, oh. You know, like what are those? Like, what the heck is happening to me now? Um,

Mary Kate Soliva (16:09):

Foreign language, huh?

Josh Atkinson (16:10):

Oh yeah. You know, but it’s just, again, it was my first time in some ways to be really put out of my comfort zone and I’d been in circumstances as a kid, you know, I was always, you know, able to, you know, be confident in who I was, you know, and you know, not always the popular kids you deal with, you know, typical childhood adversity, but you know, being at the academy, going from California to Maryland, you know, couldn’t have a cell phone, no one to really call at the time, you know, back before cell phones were even really a thing, you know, dating myself a little bit, you know, and being put in environments where there wasn’t that community to fall back on. You didn’t have, you know, immediate friends, you didn’t have people to reach out to. And you’re kind of having to discover who you are and learn how to deal with adversity.

Josh Atkinson (16:52):

Mm-hmm <affirmative> without a safety net, right. I mean, you weren’t completely alone. You had peers and, you know, classmates, but from an emotional perspective, you were really kind of on your own for the first time. So there was a lot of trial for me emotionally that first year, all my friends growing up were older than I was. And yet, you know, the academy, you can’t fraternize with anyone. Who’s an upper class as a freshman. So I couldn’t make friends with the upper class. I couldn’t go to the people. I would probably normally grad, you know, gravitate towards to make friendships. Interesting. So that became hard, you know, and in that kind of silence, you have to go introspective and start seeing, you know, who am I, can I make this, you know, can I do this? And you know, everyone’s journey is different, but it really did challenge me a lot emotionally, you know, at that time to say like, this is really where I want be, is this really what I wanna do?

Josh Atkinson (17:38):

Can I make it, you know, can I handle this? Because it was challenging. It was academically challenging for me, you know, like an over 4.0 student, like all through high school. And I think I had like barely a two, five freshman year, you know, I remember hoping for a D in my calculus class and just to get it done. And I was like, I’m not one of those people, you know, like I’m failing, I’m, you know, really struggling. And it, it challenged me a lot, but again, it set a, a character foundation that says you can get through it. Right. You know, when you go through the end and you persevere, you build confidence and you realize what you’re made of, and you start learning how to build a network around yourself. You start how to, how to self care in some ways, what is it that you need to take the breaks that you need to have and you know, how do you find the right friends and loyalties and things like that. So it, let me learn things that I would never have been able to learn otherwise in any other environment. Right. And I, I think a normal college for me would not have been a good fit.

Mary Kate Soliva (18:30):

What was your extracurricular, Josh

Josh Atkinson (18:32):

Extracurricular? I played racketball in band. Right. I am a band nerd through and through I with

Mary Kate Soliva (18:37):

The symbols,

Josh Atkinson (18:38):

No drum line. I’m a drum line guy.

Mary Kate Soliva (18:40):

Drumline. Oh, drum line. Very cool.

Josh Atkinson (18:43):

A drum line guy. And then I was a golfer in high school, again, the nerd sports, but I got into racketball. Um,

Mary Kate Soliva (18:49):

No fast running at all time.

Josh Atkinson (18:51):

Oh no. I, I hate running. I, I ran three miles a year.

Mary Kate Soliva (18:55):

Yeah. You joined the Marine Corps. Oh yeah.

Josh Atkinson (18:57):

Hey, it’s

Mary Kate Soliva (18:58):

For those that, no, that’s the Marines do and keep running. I run like here’s a 10 mile warmup.

Josh Atkinson (19:05):

Yep. Uh, running. We did a lot in the Marine Corps, but, uh, you know, I got into racketball. Racketball was extracurricular. You know, I lucked into, uh, some friends that worked at the academy that used to coach and, and teach rack ball. They were sponsored by various tenants companies. And I got exposed to that sport and it was very similar to golf. It was, you had nine rackable courts at the academy. It was right down below my dorm. So it was something I could go do to be physical and build a friendship. And we actually built a club team. I ended up getting sponsored by ECEL and rackets, you know, so we actually built an entire team sport out of it. We used to travel all over the DC area, going to tournaments. And for me, that became a really big outlet for me, was getting into competitive sports in college. So I probably played, you know, 10 to 15 hours a week, you know, down downstairs. But it gave me time again to coach and to teach and

Mary Kate Soliva (19:51):

Something about getting trapped in a room with a ball flying around bound to get hit in the head or the, oh, you get

Josh Atkinson (19:58):

Hit, you’re gonna get hit. And it hurts

Mary Kate Soliva (20:00):

Like the big Noggles. That’s why I keep thinking like the minions, like the giant goggles, you don’t get smacked in the, take an eye out.

Josh Atkinson (20:08):

Yeah. But there’s a lot mean again, it’s knowing yourself. Right? So part of the thing I loved about golf and racketball is sports is that you have to know what you’re capable of, because if you try to be somebody you’re not or play the game in a way that isn’t how you play it, you’re gonna lose. Right. So we saw it all the time. You know, sometimes when we’re growing up in golf that, you know, some other smaller player could hit a club and he could hit it farther than me and your pride comes in and you’re like, I can do that too. And then you try it and you screw it up and it hurts you when you’re not noncompetitive. And same thing in Racker ball. Like you play against somebody who had a shot that was, you know, kicking your butt. And you’re like, I can do that too, but you haven’t practiced it.

Josh Atkinson (20:42):

You don’t know it that isn’t who you are. And if you try to be somebody you’re not in sport, you will never win. You have to know you, you have to know your skills, your strengths, and your weaknesses, and play to those right. And play with those. And if you don’t, then you’re gonna lose. So I think it was just a really good again, starting point on know yourself, know who you are, be comfortable with that and stay in that realm, stay in that lane. Right? Not that you can’t learn and expand yourself, but you have to know yourself first and be comfortable with that. You know, first and foremost,

Mary Kate Soliva (21:12):

That’s great. You find a life lesson in, in racketball too. Cause <laugh>, I mean, it’s well, these little life lessons and anecdotes along the way. Um, but I do want to, to talk about your time when you did become a Marine Corps officer, when you graduated commission, where did you end up, end up going and, and tell us a little bit about your career from there.

Josh Atkinson (21:35):

All right. Where did I end up going a little bit everywhere. So started out in aviation. I was in aviation contract. I went all the way through flight school. So the basic schools where everybody starts in Quantico, Virginia, then down to Pensacola, we had a huge backlog in time. So it was six months wait before I even started flight school. So I volunteered and became an exo at a signal school across the way. And

Mary Kate Soliva (21:54):

Corey, you volunteered, oh my goodness, what are you doing, Josh?

Josh Atkinson (21:58):

I would go nuts if it was like, Hey, just go to the beach and do nothing for, I was like, I did not become an officer to do nothing. So I volunteered to go become the XO at Corey station. Great. You know, first humbling experience when I walked in and the master guns had been in service longer than I’d been alive, you know, and it was, you know, humbling to say, Hey, you know, he’s calling me, sir. And it’s like, you know, I don’t deserve that. Right. You know, I should call on you, sir. And learning the culture and respect that I saw from the senior enlisted to help build, you know, the identity of an officer in the Marine Corps, um, you know, to start there. And then, you know, six months later started flight school, moved out to Corpus Christi, you know, out in Texas, which was great.

Josh Atkinson (22:37):

And then due to weather got delayed there. I mean, so my, my journey to flight school was really long, eventually finished in Meridian. Uh, had a crazy mountain bike accident, separated my shoulder, added more months to my journey to becoming a pilot, which that part, I think was hardest for me going through that because when I, you know, got delayed, I lost my class. Right. So normally you go through with a single class and you’re always training together. You’re kind of this team in camaraderie. And when I separated my shoulder, I got detached from that class. And when I finally got back into cockpit, you’re kind of just shotgun all around. Right. So I think that started a framework for me. I just kinda get it done rather than do it. Right. Um, I then went to the hairier community when I showed up, they had just had a class, a mishap and it shut down student training for about six months.

Josh Atkinson (23:19):

So there was another massive delay, again, getting into training. And as we started getting back into training, they were trying to accelerate and make up for a lost student production. And then since I was a class lead, I was a senior ranking officer in the class, you know, my class voice that they felt unsafe. So I did what I thought was right. And I spoke up about it and that became kind of the beginning of the end from my aviation career. You know, I liked it or not. So, you know, I finished, I graduated, got to the fleet, made some normal, I think, new guy mistakes. And all of a sudden, my co says, you know, you’re grounded depending an investigation. I did not realize it, but he had railroaded me out of that community through the investigation process. Um, so that was a really painful time for me.

Josh Atkinson (24:01):

Uh, the board, the investigation board came back unanimously that I was a good pilot and I should be kept flying with my co had disagreed, but didn’t tell me until the paperwork had gone all the way through the chain of command. So felt really betrayed. It was really frustrated at that time, but I then transitioned to ground logistics, uh, served with the infantry as an S four. I deployed with NATO doing air logistics, you know, had a great time. And then again, more adversity I was with Victor one nine. Uh, if you go look up Hawthorne, Nevada 2013, uh, there was a mortar mishap that killed eight, eight Marines. And since I was a vocal advocate against some of the things that the command was doing, uh, the co pinned on me. So, you know, again, it was just a rough, some rough years in my career.

Josh Atkinson (24:43):

And yet I was so truly blessed to be a Marine. You know, I deployed after that with SOCOM doing human intelligence, I came back and got into division plans, you know, got told about project management and lean six Sigma when I was in uniform. And I saw the blessing and benefit that those had, you know, inactive duty and little did. I know that that would then create the foundation for me to build a company, you know, three years later, that’s now, you know, five years old called PM pro learn where I’m able to take all of that experience, you know, all of that struggle and pain in some ways, but now be able to help and relate to so many people who have been down so many different career tracks in every MOS and every branch of service to achieve the vision of helping people that we have now of integrating, you know, certifications as PME so that people can have a better transition than I did.

Josh Atkinson (25:32):

Right. So at the time it hurt at the time it sucked and I can look at it now. And I, I told my best friend this morning, as I was talking to him that, you know, I would not be effective today. Had I not been on the journey I’ve been on? And you know, when you look at what’s right in front of you, it doesn’t make sense and it hurts and it’s hard. And yet the character being forged in you is still being built. And now, as a result, we have a, you know, successful company with, you know, 20, 19 to 20 employees and we’re helping thousands of veterans a year learn through the blessing that I had, you know, in uniform. So

Mary Kate Soliva (26:06):

Did you end up having, um, you, you said you spoke to your, your best friend this morning. Did you have a couple people at that time in your, your career that you, you could turn to? Do you have any sort of mentorship guidance that stick out to you in your time in the Marine Corps?

Josh Atkinson (26:22):

So my best friend, James, uh, chair pitch is who I talked to. I mean, we’re still friends, he’s my best man in my wedding and, and me for his, and he’s about to take over command of a VA Q squad and actually up in, in, uh, wi and I’m flying out to, for a change of command, uh, this summer. So, I mean, he was just a really good friend for me, you know, as a confidant, but the, the thought of a mentor, you know, role model, like it’s one of the things I think I had as a gap in my career, um, along the way, right. I don’t think I really had any mentor until my last CEO Colonel Simmons right at the G4 was I think one of the first people who kind of took me under his wing is like, I want to try to help you, you know, but that point I’m, you know, nine years into service, you know, so because I think of the aviation career path and how it works, you know, how long it is in the pipeline.

Josh Atkinson (27:04):

Like you wanna get that traditional mentorship of, you know, someone to come alongside you, but he was a tremendous resource for me and a really good mentor. Um, Gary bergs, another one, he was Lieutenant Colonel when I was with NATO, you know, kind of the first time I felt like somebody listened and cared and wanted to guide me, you know, in my career, he was instrumental in me getting to choose, uh, logistics as my second career choice, you know, after aviation and to have someone kind of believe in you, regardless of the, you know, what’s on paper,

Mary Kate Soliva (27:30):

Right.

Josh Atkinson (27:31):

Was really impactful to me. You know, I still look back at that time with him and say, I really needed someone like that. You know, when I was going through that transition to, to believe in me and say, you know, I think you have a lot to offer. So Colonel Oberg, Colonel Simmons, I mean, those two were probably the biggest active duty mentors that I have, my friend James, you know, my friend Travis Hale, you know, he went through some stuff later on, but those are guys from the academy that were my sponsor brothers, you know, have always been kind of just key pieces for me, you know? And, and my last is my, um, my spiritual mentor, I guess, you know, Ron Kohler was a Bible study leader that I had from the navigators back in college, you know, and he was always someone I could call and ask for, you know, kind of that spiritual advice, you know, as a Christian to say, Hey, like I’m struggling with this and have someone who would never judge, you never look down on, you had no knowledge of the military whatsoever.

Josh Atkinson (28:12):

So it was never a career thing, but it was just a life thing to say, you know, I need someone to talk to, no matter how bad it is, no matter how much it hurt or what you’d done, that would never judge you and always give you some advice. So, you know, I was blessed to have key people that were able to be there with me along the way, but, you know, a military mentor was something I never felt like I really had. And I think that’s a huge value in getting that early, you know, in your active duty career.

Mary Kate Soliva (28:37):

Right. Great, great. I, I think that’s interesting about you highlighting the aviation track and, and that career journey there and the lack of mentorship, cause I’m sure that maybe some more listeners stay, they, they may have been in the same boat where they didn’t have a mentor, but looking back on it, just how pivotal that is. And even during that time where you made a decision to help out your, your buddies and to speak up and speak out, and that’s not something that in this career field is something that’s always looked as a positive. It can definitely be a career under, at the same time. So I think even just having mentors to bounce off, sometimes when we have ideas like that, where we are looking over the cliff and we’re like, we are gonna be the hero. And, uh, <laugh> this story, uh, the military, uh, you know, doesn’t always take that too well.

Mary Kate Soliva (29:28):

So I think it, it is something that, you know, looking back, but as you said, you, you were forged from the experiences that you had and it helped lead you to where you are today. And I think that’s really powerful. And so with that, you know, I really wanted to talk about your, your transition, cuz you did have that time in a different, you didn’t have like a direct career path with Marine Corps. You sort of bounced in different areas and, and had a long haul there, but especially cuz you, you said you didn’t get a mentor really until you’re almost at the halfway mark. So what did that look like for you decide making that choice to transition from active duty?

Josh Atkinson (30:08):

I mean, it wasn’t really a choice that I had, right. I mean, my choice for transition was made for me. I was a nons select major, right? Because of the crazy career path that I had and the Marine Corps was looking to downsize for, you know, 200, 2000 down to 184,000 at the time. So I was kinda looking for anyone that didn’t fit the mold. Right. So I think I was an easy, easy pickings when it came to who don’t you pick for major? So my transition was not desired. I did not leave because I wanted to, I, I left because I was told you I have to get out, you know, and that I didn’t really have a transition mentor, which I think also driven my passion to help others, you know, mentor or navigate transition better. It was kinda, Hey, go to a job, fair, figure it out.

Josh Atkinson (30:46):

And again, the one gap is most of the people you wanna turn to were still in active duty and have never actually been down that road before. So there’s no one, you know, this was back in 2000, you know, 14, 15 not slept the first time. It’s like, you know, who do I turn to? Well, my peers have never been through it before. They’ll try to help and give you advice. But there wasn’t the same value. I think of like, you know, V two I and the networking community. I didn’t know what LinkedIn was or how to use it. I didn’t know how to network. I did not know how to reach out to and find the mentors that are there now to be able to figure out how to navigate it. So I turned to head hunters. I mean, I, I talked to Bradley Morris originally.

Josh Atkinson (31:21):

They’re the ones that told me about PMP. You know, thankfully I already had lean six, you know, I was talking with O’ Ryan, you know, and Lucas group and the Cameron Brooks. And I ended up using Alliance careers myself, you know, which I thought was just the thing to do. It was the easy button on some level because I didn’t know how to navigate transition. So having someone kind of do it for you seemed like the best decision to make hindsight being 2020. I learned a lot in that process and the journey I’ve been done showed me a lot. Right. I think it could have possibly done better, but now that’s framed my hunting versus fishing analogy where, you know, I just equated a trout fishing, throw your resume into the water, hope to catch a fish and you want guaranteed fish go to a trout farm.

Josh Atkinson (32:01):

And that’s a head hunter that just throws your resume in front of starving fish, you know, and you’re guaranteed to get one, you know, so that the music stopped and I got to take a job home and I was grateful to have the job, you know, and I love the field of project management, but I quickly learned I could have been probably more, you know, happier and better suited in a different company or earned a lot more as well. Right. If I would’ve known how to network, what I was really worth and how to talk to people, which I try to teach those now or how to hunt, right. How to use LinkedIn, how to find veterans inside of companies. But first and foremost, and I just talked to the USO earlier today to do some classes with them on how do you identify who you are and build a foundation of your identity, your passions, your skills and your strengths when the uniform comes off. Right. And I think that’s so hard for us to do as bets, cuz we are given a new identity, you know, in uniform that we don’t know how to shed and we don’t really want the shed, but then you leave the family and you kind of get this like floundering, you know, foreign orphan space of wanting to be adopted and yet not really knowing how to go about that.

Mary Kate Soliva (33:10):

Yeah. I really appreciate what you’re saying about the transition and the importance of networking because that’s something that I don’t think that, but at least I know from my transition off active duty, I didn’t really know about networking until I started putting myself out there reaching out to the different platforms like that, the industry Andrate and LinkedIn. And that’s where I really learned about networking. But did they even have SFL tap during your time? Did you have a transitioning class you had to go through?

Josh Atkinson (33:43):

Yeah. And I think it was only slightly worse than it probably is today. I mean it was a five day mandatory class to tell you about, you know, writing a resume and, and how to do an interview. And they kind of had bring a suit and wear it in and see if it fits right or something for the little bit. And most of it was about how to get enrolled in the, you know, VA and teaching you about, you know, disability claims and other stuff, but it was not enough at all. Right. And again, my passion is that you spend years, years building a new identity and give you five days. And you know, in a, you know, slap on the back saying thanks for your service, go figure it out. And it really takes a lot more than that. And it takes time, you know, and, and my passion is trying to help build a transition educational continuum that starts three to five years out, right?

Josh Atkinson (34:28):

Give, you know, our vets time to explore and deconstruct the identity they’ve been given, identify their own passions and requirements, explore a little bit through, you know, training in things like certifications, to touch industries and network with, you know, mentors in various industries to find out where do you really want to go? What do you really want to be doing? And to, you know, in some ways, take the mask of pretend off because you don’t just have to suck it up anymore. You don’t have to tolerate, you know, Hey, I don’t wanna work out in the mornings. Well, you, sorry, you’re gonna work out anyways. Say no, I don’t have to have that part of my life anymore. So when you stop pretending like everything’s great and start evaluating what you really want. It’s gonna take some time to try it a little bit, taste it, touch it, see it, explore it so that when transition finally comes, it’s just a step, right? It’s not a cliff that you trip off of. You know, it’s what I felt like. You’re kind of just, you come to the end and you trip and you’re falling and you know, hopefully something catches you,

Mary Kate Soliva (35:27):

You know, your time at the academy. When you mentioned about your fi figuring out, you almost alluded to it, finding your why, even while you’re at Annapolis like that, you wanted to be a Marine. And, and just feeling that scene, that knowing that you wanted to be a Marine. And so that helped drive you throughout that, that time of the academy. And then this is a little bit you’re going through another. So you did that transition that first part, figuring out, getting into your PLE year, first year academy, and then you transitioned again, cuz now you’re learning this whole new thing about being a Marine Corps officer. Now you’re going through another transition. And that’s why I think I learned too is like the multiple transitions that we go through throughout just our life in general. But you alluded to even certifications. But I think that that was really valuable from what you mentioned earlier in the episode about finding your why, and no, at least at that point wanting to be a Marine. So, and I, I think that even for me, like I didn’t realize my why until much later than that. So I think that in that sense, you were lucky to be able to figure that out. And I’d love to know. I know you speak to service members, transitioning service members all the time, but if you were to, to speak to a room of them now, what, what’s your advice to them? As far as you, you lose certifications starting early. Do you have any kind, a key highlight there that you’d give them as advice

Josh Atkinson (36:50):

Other than the start early start now, you know, kind of a concept. I really think it’s that you have to understand that every journey is unique and it’s a journey. It is not a destination. Right? And in that journey, there are every emotion you ever think you’re gonna feel. And all of those emotions are okay. I was sharing with a, you know, retiring chief, one officer outta Hawaii, you know, just volunteering, mentoring, you know him. And one thing that came out is he felt guilty because he wanted to leave. And I said, you should never feel guilty wanting to do what’s best for you. Right. And you’ve served, you’ve done your job. Like it’s okay to want something different. And I can see the weight of emotion, like fall off of him, you know, almost come to tears, you know, like, wow, like you’re the first person that told me it’s okay to have feelings, you know?

Josh Atkinson (37:37):

And there’s kind of, you know, some joke you watch like major pain, you know, and other movies out there in Hollywood about, you know, just suck it up and tolerate it. But emotion, you know, emotion is going to happen, especially during transition and it’s gonna flood you. And in some ways overwhelm you, so allow yourself to feel, allow yourself to have passions, allow yourself to have your own desires and explore those, listen to those, talk to people, right? Don’t just do what you think you’re supposed to do. You know? And I think that’s, that’s so hard for us in uniform. Cause all we’ve been taught is to do what you’re told, right? This is gonna be your MOS. And it’s given to you and you’re gonna go to this school. And when you get to your unit, this is how you’re supposed to behave. And this is how you do the job.

Josh Atkinson (38:14):

And this is the S SOP, this is the training. This is the rock, you know, lock step track. You’re supposed to go down and then transition. It’s, you’re kind of waiting for someone to say, go do it like this. And yet that can’t happen because everyone’s journey is their own. And we start grasping onto things that we want to make it feel like it used to be, you know, the family’s supposed to guide you and direct. And yet it’s kind of the first time where look, you need to start exploring and allow yourself to run through who you are. Right. What is your, why? What are your strengths? What do you really want to be doing? And then how do you build up the capability in yourself to let you go do the job you really want to have? And you know, so I think as a, you know, start early, but allow yourself the freedom to explore beyond what you are told to do, or you think you are supposed to do and start exploring what you want to do and map that out first.

Josh Atkinson (39:07):

And then, yeah, that’s great. Yeah. You know, choose the path that lets you get there. So I, I used the analogy. I said, fishing earlier, hunting is the counter to that. And the first I’ve been hunting is what and why are you hunting? And to do that, you know, songs who know your enemy know yourself, you have to know who you are. You have to know what you want in life from, you know, pay a salary, location, expectation. Responsibility’s so many things you have to start exploring, but that frames then what do you hunting after? What kind of a job do you need to have? That’s gonna satisfy who you are and your life requirements. And it starts with knowing your requirements and knowing yourself. Right? So explore that right. Simon has a great veteran discount. It’s a $250 program called find your Y that’s 25 bucks for vets. It’s tremendous strengths finder, 2.0, the Gallop CIN strengths finder assessment

Mary Kate Soliva (39:53):

Did that one

Josh Atkinson (39:55):

Tremendous way to know your strengths. And again, neither one of those tell you a job title, but they let you know what you bring to the table. And you can assess if I take this job in this industry, am I gonna be able to use the gifts that I have? Am I gonna be able to do a job that fits my why? And if it’s not gonna be that way, don’t go after it. I’ll tell you, you’re not gonna be satisfied. You’re gonna miserable quickly. But if you know your why, if you know your strengths, if you know your requirements, you may have so many more opportunities or job titles that you never even considered before. Like right now I’m the chief strategy officer, you know, director of business development, whatever, doing sales. And when I first transitioned, I said, I never ever want to do sales because my perception was wrong of what that looked like. But I’ll tell you 4:00 PM pro helping veterans up skill and transition better. I love my job and I love what I get to do every single day to help people. And I get to leverage my strengths and strategy and thoughts to build and grow a company. So with this company and this purpose and this mission, this job title works for me, but for another company it might not. So the job title is not the foundation who you are and knowing yourself and your requirements is the foundation.

Mary Kate Soliva (41:15):

And I, and I think that one thing that really sticks out to me, Josh, with your journey, especially is I have come across veterans who don’t want to identify as veteran when they get out. Like, uh, when they, when they make that transition, they don’t identify as veteran. It’s like, yes, I served, I did my time, but that’s it, I’m wiping my hand. It’s clean of it. And, and I would almost think that with the experience that you had, that things weren’t always sunshine and rainbows during your time in service, um, and that you could have easily, you know, just walked away and, and been done with that, just done with the veteran community. But the fact that you continu continue to just show up every day and, and continue to reach back, especially directly, you know, you have companies that they may touch the military once in a while, but you literally do it every day, uh, that you’re meeting with different military installations, different, uh, veteran groups, uh, even some of the veteran service organizations that you volunteer with.

Mary Kate Soliva (42:11):

Uh, I think that’s really commendable that you continue to do that, um, and, and share, you know, that things weren’t always great in, in your military career, you did serve and, and you do love the Marine Corps and you love giving back to, to veterans so that they can learn from your story, your experience. And so I did wanna give this opportunity for you to touch a little bit on the veteran service organizations that you do volunteer with, or even some of the other great ones out there. I know you talked about a suit earlier about SFL taps teaches you about a suit, but we know a good, great guy out there that suit

Josh Atkinson (42:47):

Saw the suit. I, yeah. Salute to suit. I gotta give total credit to Arod in salute to suit. I’ve been a brand ambassador with them now for, I don’t know, almost two years, I guess. And I still talk to him frequently and try to give him some insights and entrepreneurship and understanding the veteran community so he can better serve the fellow vets. Right? So I love what he’s doing. If you’re looking for a wardrobe, his dress for success. Class is amazing. The coaching will get from him on how to look like a professional and whether it’s supposed to be, you know, double breasted, single breasted, how many buttons are supposed to be. I mean, all the things you never really know how to ask, because

Mary Kate Soliva (43:18):

I did not know until I talked to a, I didn’t even know how to dress myself to

Josh Atkinson (43:23):

Like, um, that’s what he doing. So cowboy, I remember the first time I said, this is a formal dinner. I said, what’s that mean a button down, you know? And it was like, oh, it’s semi-formal. I was like, so jeans and a t-shirt not polo. You know, I had no idea how to dress whatsoever. So I love what a ride’s doing. I volunteer a lot with him. Um, I do a lot of volunteer with which opportunity, you know, somebody like, why do you volunteer with a competitor since they take students away from you? And it’s like, why? Because I think I can still help them improve their product and help their veterans that they’re touching and do it in a better way. So I volunteer my time with O twoo. I teach an empowered transition class with them. I just talk to USO today. I think I’m gonna be invited out to Fort hood after one of their mega career fairs that they’re doing to teach that class about identity, uh, with the USO and, and, you know, again, I volunteer with anyone and everyone I possibly can.

Josh Atkinson (44:12):

I’m an ACP mentor. I’ve then free webinars with ACP. I volunteer with MOA, um, to do classes on translating military to project management. You know, why veterans make it project managers, you know, again, so, you know, that is my, my passion is helping to educate and empower vets so that they are aware of and can make the right decision for themselves. Right. And again, I love Arod love what he’s doing. You know, I love the team I get to work with. You know, Tim dollhouse, the CEO, who I went to church with on active duty, we sang in the praise team together and we were both in uniform. He became my PMP trainer. And now he’s a big

Mary Kate Soliva (44:43):

Shoulda had someone here to, so you guys could sing and do a demo for us.

Josh Atkinson (44:47):

Oh, and I’m a drummer. I don’t, I don’t,

Mary Kate Soliva (44:49):

I think you’re like a, almost like a walking fact sheet, Josh, like I see with a lot of the work that you’re doing, it’s debunking the myths and debunking the, the gray area. Like all these questions that we have when we’re transitioning, you just go down the line and you answer those questions, uh, for the military veteran community, you’re like, well, you’re walking fact sheet. Well, you like you cuz you really just take the time to understand those answers, but like to your fishing analogy, your hunting analogy, knowing the audience that, that the veteran in military community, that we are special in the sense that we’re, we’re different. We’re not your average student. We’re not your average college kid. We’re not your average person, civilian going through a transition. There’s unique differences about us in our community. And you take the time to create those analogies so that we can better understand and really, really take that time to identify what we wanna do next. And it can be scary if we don’t have that direction. And I think you put it in the most simplest terms. So I, I know I I’m sure that our listeners are gonna wanna get in, in touch with you and um, ask more questions, all these answers. So I wanted to, if you could tell us a little bit about how our community, our listeners can get in touch with you.

Josh Atkinson (46:04):

Absolutely. So I am on LinkedIn. You can look me up Joshua J. Atkinson with a T. So it’s a K IM S O N. Joshua is spelled like Joshua. Go figure that out. If you wanna send me an email, you can J Atkinson PM pro learn.com. Go to our website at PM pro learn, right PM pro learn.com. Send a note, fill a request out, go on chat and say, I just wanna talk to Josh. You know, again, my, my, my phone number (443) 716-5614. Just don’t spam me out there. I don’t care. I answer calls from everybody. I, I take calls all night sometimes. You know, I’ve talked with folks in Korea and Italy and Guam, and I set up time to be available when I can meet, because you know, again, all I’m doing is sharing what I wish I would’ve known. And the, the metaphors and the things I’ve been able to come up with are because I experienced them. And I just wanted to find a way to make it better. So, you know, connect with me. I am at that like 30 K limit on LinkedIn. So I have to delete people to add people. So I’m always kind of going through and cleaning out my connections so I can add more connections and keep helping more people, you know, but that’s part of who I am. So

Mary Kate Soliva (47:07):

See, that’s what I saying. I was like LinkedIn celebrity. And you’re like, no, I’m not. I’m like, I don’t have 30,000 nearly, but, um,

Josh Atkinson (47:14):

It’s just all the doors I knock on. So I mean, people don’t follow me and haven’t really come to me. It’s in me going to find a bunch of veterans and say, can I help you? Right. And that’s how we grew pro learned from the beginning was, you know, the time I had 500 connections, I went and started adding any veteran I possibly could and saying, Hey, I’m trying to help vets. Here’s what I wanna do to help them. Do you know anybody I can help? And if it’s you great, if it’s somebody else, can you please connect me with that person? If that’s what

Mary Kate Soliva (47:38):

I, well, that’s great. Cause we’re not. Cause sometimes we’re, we’re not in the position. You know, especially with many of us having type a personalities in the military, we don’t wanna ask for help. And we think that we can figure it out on our own. And so I think even just having someone reach out and I had folks reach out to me on LinkedIn, that they ask me a question and it’s a question that I didn’t stop to think about. And they get me thinking and I’m like, you know what? I actually don’t know the answer, but you know, I, I could use your help or I’d like to schedule a virtual cup of coffee with you and talk more about it. So I, I really appreciate you throwing out every way that they can contact you even smoke signals. So connect with Josh to learn more, um, you know, whether that’s just the veteran organizations that he mentioned today, volunteered with, uh, volunteers with.

Mary Kate Soliva (48:25):

And I think you, you know, Josh brought up a great point. Volunteering is, is so great. It’s so great to give back. You receive so many blessings tenfold in, on, on the return end, but even just growing out your network, uh, growing out those opportunities and opening doors, uh, through volunteering. But I wanna thank you today on behalf of veteran voices for joining us. And we invite you to find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcast from a big thanks to our partners at vets to industry. This is Mary Kate saliva wishing all of our listeners, nothing but the best stay motivated as Josh says, do good and give forward to be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time. Thank you everybody.

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Featured Guests

Josh Atkinson is a US Marine Aviator and Ground Logistics officer who now works as the Chief Strategy officer for PM-ProLearn, a veteran-focused Project Management training company. He has worked as a Project Manager in the Heavy Rigging/Construction industry, and as a consultant in the Federal space doing life cycle analytics and change management. He is passionate about helping veterans understand how to prepare for transition earlier and to build a foundation while active duty that builds on military planning and also creates job opportunities in the future. Connect with Josh on LinkedIn.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

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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 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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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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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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Greg White

Principal, 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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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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Karin Bursa

Host of TEKTOK

If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.

With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.

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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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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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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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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. 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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Jeff Miller

Host

Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business.  Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM.  When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Ben Harris

Host

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.

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