Veteran Voices
Episode 80

We have to have violence because we live in a world where people will abuse and take advantage of people that don't have the ability to defend themselves.

-John Renken, CEO of Sales Platoon

Episode Summary

The difference between violence and competition is the willing participation – or not – of the people involved. When UFC fighters step into the ring, that is a competition. Everyone is a willing participant, which makes it a sport. Unfortunately, there will always be abusive people in the world who will take advantage of people who are not willing participants in the fight, and because of that we need violence – and a well-trained military.

John Renken is the CEO of Sales Platoon. He spent three years in the Army, and was a member of the national Taekwondo team, ranked third in the nation. He then spent 20 years training Special Forces in hand-to-hand combat. Today he helps transitioning Veterans apply their skills to a different kind of combat: sales.

In this interview, John speaks with host Mary Kate Soliva about:

• The added challenge of transitioning out of the Army during a time of low public awareness and understanding about the value of military training

• How he connected with the team at Sales Platoon and became their CEO

• His advice for transitioning Veterans that are wondering whether they have the characteristics to be successful in sales

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 (00:41):

Hi everyone. Uh, thank you for coming and joining us today on Veteran Voices. I’m the host today, Mary Kate Soliva, and we have a great guest teed up. So stay tuned. I’m just gonna do a quick, uh, programming note here. Uh, veteran Voices is part of the supply chain now family. We’re in partnership with the Guam Human Rights Initiative, and you can check out what they’re and that great nonprofit as well as in partnership with a nonprofit. Near and dear to our hearts, the Military Women’s Collective, started by Marina Rabbinic Navy veteran. So you can check out what they’re doing at military women’s and just seeing the great things that they’re doing. Um, big shout out to Marina and her team. Um, and now, so without further ado, again, here on Veteran Voices, we interview veterans who are serving beyond the uniform and who are doing great things and continuing their service. Uh, so we have here with us today, uh, John Renken. John, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank

John Renken (01:45):

You for having me on.

Mary Kate Soliva (01:46):

Super excited. This has been a long time coming, uh, to get you on here. I see you out there on LinkedIn just crushing it, and I know that that’s just the, the tip of the iceberg for all the things that you’re really doing out there in the world. Uh, so, you know, I was hoping that you’d be able to kick us off our episode today with some motivation. Get us all pumped up, wondering if you could share a motivational quote with us today. Sure.

John Renken (02:10):

Uh, people, people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand by ready to do violence.

Mary Kate Soliva (02:19):

Oh, yes. George Orwell, this is George Orwell and pretty, pretty motivational you to a s me <laugh>. So,

John Renken (02:28):


Mary Kate Soliva (02:28):

They’ll sleep with one eye open.

John Renken (02:30):

Yeah, it just, it, it so speaks to what, what we’re talking about and helping veterans, um, these are our tribe.

Mary Kate Soliva (02:39):

Absolutely. And, um, and, and to go with that, that’s one thing I love about being a veteran as the, the community that we have. Right. And just regardless of what we’re going through and knowing that those, there’s good men and women that are abroad and at home that have signed up to, to protect us, keep us safe at night. So just thank you again for being on here and really want to take our episode a bit back and talk about where you grew up. So if you could share with us where, where, where did you grow up?

John Renken (03:12):

Everywhere. Um, starting everywhere in Illinois. Uh, lived there for, uh, basically from first to sixth grade, then moved to Texas. Um, spent four or five years in Texas, then moved back to Illinois, then joined the Army and came to Kentucky. Um, served three years in Kentucky, then got out and went to college in Minnesota, then came back to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and I’ve been here, oh goodness, I think 23 years now. Something like that.

Mary Kate Soliva (03:41):

Do you have, did you grow up in a military family? When you say that you grew up everywhere?

John Renken (03:45):

Well, no, uh, a lot of my family served in the military, but I didn’t move that much because of the military. Uh, my dad was a factory worker and in the early eighties, um, with kind of like what was happening around the country, there was a lot of moving around.

Mary Kate Soliva (04:03):

Right. Wow. So, yeah, that’s, well, and as far as your upbringing goes, did you grow up in like, in a, when it was everywhere? Do you have a big family, siblings?

John Renken (04:14):

No, I have two siblings. Uh, uh, a younger brother and a younger sister. Um, just one cousin. Uh, I mean, I have a couple more, but only one cousin that I was close with. Um, so pretty, pretty small family, so.

Mary Kate Soliva (04:28):

Well, that’s one thing that I, you know, I found with the veteran community, I didn’t grow up with any brothers, so I feel like as soon as I joined the army, like I got like instant so many brothers <laugh>. Right. And so I, I definitely want to, to hear a bit about, um, some of kind of those, those, uh, lessons learned. Like what, what was it that led you to say, I want to join the military? Like, do you remember that, that moment or experience?

John Renken (04:53):

Yeah, so for me, when I was younger, I was quite the, um, quite the aggressive, rambunctious young person. And I actually joined the Army in the early nineties because I wanted to kill somebody. So not a great, oh my goodness. Time in my life, uh, came out of a real abusive background and, um, that, that ended up becoming my outlet, which never ended up happening. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But that was my motivation for joining. And then my family’s pretty patriotic. Everybody. Um, my, all my uncles served, my cousins served, you know, so that was kind of my, well, uncles on both sides served. So it was kind of a normal path for my family.

Mary Kate Soliva (05:36):

Was that something they were cool with you joining when you told them? Or was it kind of like, no, stay, stay away, go the other

John Renken (05:42):

Direction? Yeah, no, my, my entire family was very pro-military. My grandfather Oh, nice. Actually cried when I told him I joined <laugh>,

Mary Kate Soliva (05:50):

So. Oh, that’s awesome.

John Renken (05:51):


Mary Kate Soliva (05:52):

That’s pretty awesome. And, um, so yo, how, so how old were you then when you, when you went in?

John Renken (05:58):

So I was 20, I was a little bit older. Um, okay. And the reason I was a little bit older is cuz I actually joined the Air Force when I was in high school on the delayed entry program. And then they found something in my blood work that’s actually spelled like a terminal disease that would’ve killed me. But I don’t have the terminal version, I have the other version. And so the Air Force like kicked me out before I ever came in. And then the Army got a waiver and got me in <laugh>. So,

Mary Kate Soliva (06:27):

You know, I keep, I jokingly say that, I was like, oh, you’re missing an eye, you’re missing a toe, don’t worry, the Army will take shoes.

John Renken (06:34):

Yeah, that’s right. <laugh>.

Mary Kate Soliva (06:36):

So, well the Air Force is like you, or they’ll be like, oh, the, the Army broke you, they’ll keep you, we don’t want you as the Air Force. Yeah. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had guests on this show too, where they’re like, oh yeah, I thought about the Air Force first, but the, the door was closed or they were on a extended lunch and, uh, no one at the recruiting office. So right across the hall and the Army’s like, welcoming me with open arms. Here you go. Right

John Renken (07:01):

Here’s some

Mary Kate Soliva (07:01):

Go. So I didn’t love that. Now as far as the, the job goes, did you have like a plethora of choices that you were choosing from as far as like what you wanna do? Were you initially like, I wanna be infantry? Yeah,

John Renken (07:14):

So I actually did, I scored, uh, pretty high on my, on my asvab. Uh, my GT was like 1 23 or something like that, 1 24. Nice. So they gave me an assortment of, uh, positions to pick for. And all I wanted was Airborne Ranger. Um, of course they tried to talk me out of it and they tried to tell me it wasn’t available. Then I said Airborne school, airborne school wasn’t available. And no matter what I did, they just would not, uh, and I didn’t know any better at that time. I should have just walked out. Uh, cuz I would’ve gone to Ranger regiment with my score. I was in great physical shape. I, I mean, I came into the Army at a 300 PT score. Um, wow. So, um, they finally said, Hey, we can get you jumping outta helicopters and, uh, repelling outta helicopters. I was like, great, sign me up. Um, and so I, that’s why I went to Fort Campbell.

Mary Kate Soliva (08:06):

So definitely more the excitement right off the bat. Just like the recruitment videos.

John Renken (08:12):

Yep, yep. Adrenaline and, uh, adventure. My drugs.

Mary Kate Soliva (08:16):

Oh gosh. Well, did you end up, um, well at that time, at the, did you have, uh, did you get to go anywhere? You said you were at, started out at Campbell. Did you have to never you never

John Renken (08:27):

Got, I never gotta go anywhere. So, um, I missed, oh goodness, Cini by a couple of months. They, they went in January. I got to the unit or they went in like April May timeframe. I got there in August. Uh, I missed Scotland. They went like the next year, but picked one of the other companies. Uh, I missed the Gulf War completely. Uh, and it wasn’t until I got out of the army that I started traveling. I got out of the Army in January and was was in, um, sorry about the laughter. Um, no, please. Was in Guatemala within a couple of months, uh, as a civilian in their middle of their revolutionary war. Um Wow. Then went,

Mary Kate Soliva (09:08):

You’re like finally some action as a civilian.

John Renken (09:12):

Yeah, but then I didn’t have a gun, so it wasn’t the action animal. Oh,

Mary Kate Soliva (09:15):

Goodness, <laugh>. Oh no. Well, I ask for the, the best way as far as like, I, I mean even if we don’t go anywhere, cuz we have so many brothers and sisters at arms that end up not going anywhere, so to speak or overseas. But we definitely have have mentors, right. And just great leaders that we end up emulating or even the bad ones that we never forget that they’re just ingrained in our heads and we’re like, don’t be like that guy. Um, so yeah, for sure. You know, this is a, I’d love to hear your, from you about, um, some mentors or anybody that you wanna give a shout out to and, and probably a highlight story of what made them so great.

John Renken (09:52):

Yeah, so my squad leader was actually from Ranger Regiment, which is why I ended up getting into ranger school in the first place. Was a great leader, took me under his wing, um, really invested in me so that as a private in the army, I I actually graduated from Ranger school. Um, and it was funny because you brought up both bad and, and good. So my squad leader was the, the kind of like highlight reel of what you wanted to be in the inventory. And my platoon sergeant hadn’t done any of that, had hadn’t, didn’t have anything. So I got to see both sides of that equation. And my squad leader was amazing.

Mary Kate Soliva (10:35):

Oh, I love that. And is it, is it as far as the, in the sense of they really took you under their wing when you were or in or in what way?

John Renken (10:42):

Well, I mean in every way. So he was taking me to church, he was training me. Oh, nice. He actually got me started in mixed martial arts. I mean, everything that my career has been, I can really point to him as the stardom.

Mary Kate Soliva (10:56):

Isn’t that incredible? I think that’s why you just like to show about that, um, leadership, servant leadership, especially of just having your subordinates and how much they look up to you and how they care for the, to some extent about what you say or what you, what you think about them and what they’re doing. So I love that he was there for you at that time. Yep. And h how many years total did you end up serving in the Army? So I

John Renken (11:21):

Did three years, um mm-hmm. <affirmative> in the Army as active duty. And then as a civilian I did 20 years with fifth Special Forces group as their combatives instructor.

Mary Kate Soliva (11:33):

No, that’s pretty cool. How does one end up, how, okay, now I gotta know the pathway. What made you say I wanna be a Combatives instructor? So you like got the beating for the three years in the Army and you’re like, let me be a glu, I’m glutton for punishment, I’m gonna continue on.

John Renken (11:49):

Yeah, so I’ve been in martial arts since I was a kid. Um mm-hmm. <affirmative> started when I was 15. Um, right before I joined the Army, I made the national TaeKwonDo team. I was ranked third in the nation and that would’ve been, would’ve been 80, let me see here. 90, 91, something like that. Um, 90 or 91, I was ranked third in the nation in TaeKwonDo. Um, and then he started training me in judo. And then the first UFC came out in 1993 and I got to watch the first ufc and then I started professionally fighting when I got out of the army. Had 70 pro fights, six world titles. So when I moved back to, uh, Fort Campbell, I was invited over to help those guys train and I went over and started training with them and um, they put me in with this just behemoth of a guy and I ended up knocking him out and then I knocked out another guy. They said, Hey, you want a job? And I was like, sure, uh, I’ll take a job. And that’s, that’s really how it started.

Mary Kate Soliva (12:53):

Oh gosh. Well I I’d love to hear your thoughts cuz you some folks that are thinking like, okay, what, what is, um, you know, they may see it as like a very violent sport, um, very aggressive and, and not really in a positive light, but what, what has, have you seen with like martial arts, TaeKwonDo and whatnot as far as how that helps people? Like in, in life? Yeah. Like some of the positives that come out of it.

John Renken (13:16):

Well, the, the first and most obvious positive is self-confidence and discipline. You know, I’m, I’m, I’m 50 years old now and I’ve never been in a street fight since I started doing combatives and training and those kind of things. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, I mean, my last fight outside the cage was when I was a kid. I mean 16 years old. Um, and I was jumped. So I didn’t start that fight. Um, and uh, to the, to the kind of nomenclature that it’s violent, well, football’s violent, I mean mm-hmm. <affirmative> hell, we’ve got jokes about hockey that I went to a fight in a hockey game broke out. It’s violent, right? So, and I disagree with the, the characterization of violence simply because violence is what we do to others that are unwilling participants. It’s actually the definition is to violate, uh, it’s a sport. And me and you get in a ring and we say, Hey, we’re gonna go to blows and the best man winner, now we have women fighters. So the best woman wins and it’s competition, pure and simple. Um, now from a military perspective, it’s the single greatest way economically, physically, and mentally to prepare military members for the rigors of war period. If that’s violent, so be it. But we have to have that thing because we live in a violent world where people will abuse and take advantage of people that don’t have the ability to defend themselves. To me, that’s honorable.

Mary Kate Soliva (14:49):

Do you, do you have um, sort of a success story that you’ve seen, um, like you said about the confidence piece, which I think is huge cause it’s not something that gets issued to you when you join the military and we get a lot of folks that are wet behind the ears. They don’t even have facial hair yet, you know, they’re still like Yeah, very, very, you know, they’re scared and then now you’re giving them a weapon and they’re still learning how to use it and just have, have you seen a success story of that with any of the, the folks in special forces group or over you’ve worked with that you, that you wanna, do you have one in particular that, that you could share? Yeah,

John Renken (15:23):

So I, I won’t use his name, but I, I have a, uh, a really good friend of mine who was a part of the initial invasion in both Afghanistan and Iraq in the two thousands. And he actually double laed and then rear naked, choked the number two bad guy in all of Iraq and captured him instead of killing him, uh, through the training that he received through combatants. He’s a great guy. Great story. Um, would have he been able to do that if that, if that altercation had happened in 99 instead of 2003 or four? Probably not. Wow.

Mary Kate Soliva (16:00):

No. And and just like, I think you said, like being able to do that in a way that doesn’t actually kill the individual. Um, that’s right. You know, it’s just also just a, a very, very powerful skill. Um, so I really appreciate you sharing on that one. And then just, you know, I really want, you know, I was so excited to bring you on today to talk about your organization and, and just some of the things that led up to that. Um, but I do wanna touch on when you transitioned and ended up becoming an instructor. I, I know for a fact like based on like timeline that there was probably nothing in existence. There was no duty skill bridge program, there weren’t internships, nothing, there wasn’t leadership sitting you down to say, did you do your disability claim? So nothing, what, what was your transition like for you? Even though I can probably guess horrible.

John Renken (16:47):

Yeah, so I’ll just give you a couple of examples. So first of all, I didn’t even know about disability. I fell 60 feet out of a helicopter in 1994 and they gave me nothing. Um, oh my gosh. As a matter of fact, my squad leader pulled me off the objective and uh, said, get in your car and drive yourself to the hospital because we were in the middle of a training exercise, <laugh>. Um, so I mean, uh, in hindsight I wish that I had known the things that I know now because it could have made a lot of my life a lot easy. Um, so, but it wasn’t, uh, the other thing is because I did Airborne school and I did ranger school and I did all these leadership schools, I thought, because everybody told me that when you get out of the army with everything you’ve done, you’ll, you’ll have jobs lining up for you. And I remember doing my resume and ranger school and Airborne school and talking about all the two things I did and getting to my first job interview and the interviewer looking at my resume and going, so what park did you serve in? And I, and I remember looking at him going, what park? What do you mean? Says, well, it says here you’re a ranger. What, what national park were you?

Mary Kate Soliva (17:59):


John Renken (18:00):

Yeah, it’s a true story. And I was like, oh

Mary Kate Soliva (18:03):

My goodness.

John Renken (18:04):

I was like, everybody in the army lied to me. Like none of what I’ve done makes a difference to anybody.

Mary Kate Soliva (18:10):

Be done. You could have been a ranger at a ra at a national park. Yeah.

John Renken (18:16):

Yeah. So

Mary Kate Soliva (18:17):

Probably like one of the most elite things that you can do, go be a ranger and they’re thinking National park

John Renken (18:21):

And they thought National National Park. Yeah. Now this is in, you know, 1996, right? Um, you know, so we didn’t have a 20 year war at that time. I mean, even though our culture was positive towards military at this point, right. Unlike some of our, our previous veterans from the Vietnam era, you know, they still were mostly uneducated about what the military does

Mary Kate Soliva (18:44):

Right now. So with regards to that, like now, now like you say, you summed up your transition in one word as as horrible now when I went through my transitions during the pandemic, so I wouldn’t quite see it was horrible in the sense of it was still limited access to resources at that time. Sure. But at least we, we’ve got, uh, light years ahead right. With what’s available. And so just with this, um, with, would love to hear now about, um, your advice to those that are going through transition. Cuz we still have so many thousands of service members transitioning every year from all different components, active guard reserves, and would love to hear your your thoughts for them. We may even have some listeners, uh, tuned in that are transitioning now.

John Renken (19:29):

So first thing is document, document, document. Um, you know, the, the bottom line is, is that military service, even if it was in the chair force, you know, there are probably injuries that they cause to you. And you should document all that and, and get really what’s owed to you, not just for you, but for your family. Because there’s educational benefits that can be passed on to your kids to alleviate the burden financially of what it takes to put a kid through college. So document everything. And even though you’re probably younger now when you’re 50, you’re going to pay for what the military did to you. I promise you. There’s mornings I wake up and my body hurts and it’s because of, of what the military did, you know? And I don’t, uh, that’s not said in a negative light. It’s just the bottom line is, is when we’re young men and women, we don’t feel the same way.

John Renken (20:20):

So document those things now. Take advantage of it now. And I say take advantage in a positive way, not a negative way. Um, so document, document and document. The other thing I would say is to have a clear path to where you want to be in the next five years. Um, transitioning is crazy. Uh, the world is changing at a very rapid pace. Covid accelerated some of that change in some areas and delayed it in others. Um, so have a clear pathway forward of what things are gonna look like for you so that you can make educated decisions now on where you’re going to go five years from now.

Mary Kate Soliva (20:58):

No, absolutely. I think that’s such an important, uh, note to make because you said five years, there’s so much we, we kind of put ourselves on this timeline that we need to have it figured out. So we get our DD two 14 in hand and the next day Yep. Come Monday we gotta figure it out. But as we know that, and, and so much research has been done on this that we end up leaving our first job or even our having a second job within the first couple years. Uh, so to, to know that you can, it’s still okay and it’s normal that people are still transitioning even the, the years following tr the actual transition. That’s right. So appreciate that a lot. And, and now I know that you are helping folks who are in transition and, um, great segue to your organization now. C could you tell us a bit about how, how Thao got started and how what you got involved with that? Yeah,

John Renken (21:51):

Really funny. So Covid ended my 20 year career at Fifth Group as the Combatives instructor. And I started looking at the market and you know, I’d been so specialized for so long. There were not really a ton of opportunities for me. I was either too qualified or not qualified in the realm of civilian stuff and Right. Um, I was getting job offers for $12 an hour after running, uh, arguably the largest combatives program in all of the Army. And, um, I just wouldn’t accept that. And so, um, started sales coaching cuz I’ve been in sales my whole life. And then in May of last year, Fort Campbell reached out to me and asked me to look into starting a skill program because a skill bridge program, because a lot of the veterans were getting offered $28 $30 an hour to be on top of Ruth to be underneath the floor or to patrolling the highways as law enforcement.

John Renken (22:48):

And I was like, well, let me look at it. They didn’t have that when I was in, I don’t even know anything about it. And I looked at it and I came back and I was like, hill, no, I am not taking two years of red tape to start this program without pay. I was like, there’s no way. Right? Um, I said, but what I’ll tell you what I’ll do is I’ll find somebody else who’s already doing it. I’ll bring ’em to Fort Campbell, I’ll network them in with you and then let you guys do your thing. So I ended up finding Sales Platoon, uh, which was already existing. Uh, the founder, Raleigh Wilkins, uh, was in charge at that point, brought him to Fort Campbell, got him introduced to everybody. And unfortunately, like what happens a lot of times in our tribe is he ended up taking his life, um, and uh, kind of put the kibosh to sales platoon.

John Renken (23:35):

And I reached out and um, w was communicating with, uh, the silent partner of the company, Jim LaFell. And, uh, just, Hey, if you need anything, let me know. Um, just stayed in touch. And then he told me they were looking at, uh, offloading sales platoon and I said, well, if you’re gonna do that, I’d like to throw my name in the hat. And in, uh, October last year I got named the interim c e o and then in January as we moved through Pro of eight, I got announced as the, the full-time c e o of the company. Um, and what we do is, oh, congratulations to that. Yeah. It’s a pretty, pretty crazy story. Right? Um, so what we do is we take transitioning active duty members, we teach them how to do sales, and then we get them placed in companies that have B D R S D R account executive roles or commission only roles. Cause some people are more geared for that and want that challenge. Um, some of the companies we’re working with is like Verizon, T-Mobile, United Rentals, um, and some other great companies, Toshiba, where right now trying to figure out a pathway into Toshiba. Uh, we’ve been meeting with their national recruiter, uh, you know, and so these, these, uh, young men and women will get out of the military and they’ll have an opportunity to have a great bass play plus commission and make between 37 and to 50 to $60 an hour.

Mary Kate Soliva (24:58):

Wow. I mean, and, and to know that that resource is there for them because you’re, you are there as a mentor, as a guide, and you have a team of folks that have sort of have been there done that. So I think that that’s really commendable and, and huge to be able to teach them that skillset. And when you say transition, is this like their last hundred 80 days? So you have them Yep. Their last six months coming in?

John Renken (25:22):

Yeah, we have between their last three to three to six months, whatever they end up getting.

Mary Kate Soliva (25:27):

That’s great. And you have folks that are, are coming in from wanting to relocate anywhere in the world? Just mainly. Yep. Us. That’s amazing.

John Renken (25:37):

Uh, I’ve got one gentleman right now coming from Germany, so I mean pretty much from everywhere.

Mary Kate Soliva (25:42):

And how long’s that the training take is, is it really 12 weeks? Especially depending what route? 12 weeks, 12 for everybody, no matter which route they they’re going. Okay. Yep.

John Renken (25:50):

And then, uh, if they intern, so if they get six months, which is more the Navy and the Air Force that are doing that than they intern with me and I actually take them and show them how to sell ’em multiple venues that I’m selling in. So they now these, these

Mary Kate Soliva (26:05):


John Renken (26:05):

Intern directly with me.

Mary Kate Soliva (26:07):

Oh, wow. Well that’s great to have that, that one-on-one as well. Do they, you have pretty big class sizes?

John Renken (26:13):

Uh, we keep on about 20 to 30 people max. We do it three times a year.

Mary Kate Soliva (26:18):

And what would you say sort of makes a, a great salesperson? Like are you able to tell kind of right off the bat which ones are gonna be s really successful?

John Renken (26:27):

Yep. They have to be self-starters motivated, disciplined ability to work on their own with nobody micromanaging them, and they have to be hungry for more in life. They, they really, you know, this is one of my other favorite quotes. I was not meant I was not born to grow up pay bills and die. That is not who I was meant to be. And I don’t think that’s who many of our tribe were ever meant to be, but we have a system in place in our education and the way that we train people to where that’s what ends up being a lot of people’s lives. And so if you are a person who, who fights against that and you know that you are meant for way more than that, sales is probably for you.

Mary Kate Soliva (27:07):

No, I think that, like you said, being that self-starter, being driven, being hungry for more and it’s so timely. Right. With, especially with the pandemic. A lot of companies have moved online, they’re not planning to go back into an office anymore. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So like you’re completely changing that or shifting that way of sales as well has, has evolved. Right. And Yep. I think like the old school door to door, uh, sales salesman with this, the products and the trunk of their car, but now, you know, we’re way beyond that now. So I, and I do, do you find as far as like industry goes, I know you mentioned to some of the companies that you’re working with, but is this all across all different industries?

John Renken (27:44):

Across all, all industries? Everything from construction to HR to recruiting,

Mary Kate Soliva (27:50):

Which goes to show that you can apply those skills anywhere. Right. Which I think is really what our, um, our service members are looking for, um, right now. So it’s great, especially because we tend to to move around a lot. So is there something right now that as far as the way that we can help you or any of our listeners on the call, you know, we’d be able to to support you all? Yeah.

John Renken (28:14):

If you’re in a sales role, would love to talk to your company. If you’re hiring salespeople, if you’re not in a sales role and, you know, transitioning veterans connect us, uh, I’m super easy to find. I’ve got a pretty big, uh, digital footprint. If go to my sales, that’s our website or you can just find me on LinkedIn.

Mary Kate Soliva (28:34):

I know, I I really love that. And, uh, as far as with the, you mentioned active duty now, are you, are you planning to grow it out more for like spouses as well and including

John Renken (28:44):

Everybody? Yeah, we we’re fully any, if you’re a veteran and you served or you were a dependent, you can come

Mary Kate Soliva (28:51):

Oh, dependents as well. Oh, great. Yes. So talk a little. Oh, I love that. Do you have any, um, as far as like success stories now with the spouses? I just wanna give them a special shout out too. Sure. Because we often, we tend to leave them out and we shouldn’t because they’re taking care of the home front and I’ll and doing so many great things. So we’d love to hear about what you’re doing with the spouses. Yeah,

John Renken (29:13):

So I have, uh, one spouse in our cohort right now, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and she wants the freedom to raise her children while still making a great income. She is a veteran and a, I don’t know how that works, who’s the defendant, but they’re, they’re both active duty, but she’s already gotten out. Um, yeah, so we have one right now and um, I would love for her to be, um, successful here in the next couple months, which she’s really super sharp, so I think she will be, and then I can share that story when it happens.

Mary Kate Soliva (29:44):

That’s fantastic. And, um, a and are they getting, are they getting a specific certification or floral certifications?

John Renken (29:52):

Yeah, so everyone that comes through our course gets, uh, Salesforce, HubSpot and project management certified as well as 140 other hours of certifications.

Mary Kate Soliva (30:03):

That is a lot in 12 weeks. Yep. Goodness.

John Renken (30:07):

Full-time <laugh>

Mary Kate Soliva (30:09):

Full-time. So, um, a I really, I really love that and appreciate that. Um, you know, and I I just want to say, you know, to our listeners know that you’re, you’re not alone in this if, if you’re even doing a career pivot, right? So John, it sounds like you did scoop these people up as long as they have some of those things, the self starter, that drive, they could have come from Absolutely. A non-sale background, uh, wanting to do a career pivot and they can just hop right in. Um, so John, could you, uh, remind us again about how they could get ahold of you directly in your team?

John Renken (30:43):

Yep. Just go to my sales, you can fill out the form there or send me a message directly through the website.

Mary Kate Soliva (30:50):

Oh, great. And that was Sales Platoon. So really appreciate John, um, your time today. Was there anything that you would like to say to our audience that I may have missed?

John Renken (31:00):

Yeah, you’re worth more than you think. Don’t settle.

Mary Kate Soliva (31:04):

Don’t settle. You’re worth more than you think. Don’t settle. I love that you can still be in transition <laugh>. So, um, yes, absolutely. And John, thank you so much for your time today and for sharing your story, uh, how you came in into the army of all branches. I’m a little biased. We’re talking about the best branch here, but, uh, yeah, go Army. Um, but thank you again so much for <laugh>. I know we should have been decked out in our, our Army gear today. Um, but thank you so much again for sharing more about Sales Platoon and, and as c e o, the direction that you’re taking, uh, the organization and being there for Veterans Service members and their families at such a critical time. Uh, I know that they’re dealing with so much so it’s so important that they know that they’re not alone and that we’ve got their back. Uh, so again, thank you so much and thank you to our listeners. Uh, you can tune into Veteran Voices wherever you get your podcast from. Uh, and today’s episode is in partnership with, uh, G Guam Human Rights Initiative and the Military Women’s Collective, and we are part of the supply chain now Family of programming. So again, without further ado, we hope to see you all next time here on Veteran Voices. I’m Mary Kate Saliva, your host, and I’ll see you all next time. Be good and be the change that’s needed.

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Featured Guests

John Renken is the CEO of Sales Platoon.He has spent the last 30 years in business and sales. He is a Veteran and spent 20 years training Special Forces in hand-to-hand combat. He is looking to spread the word about Sales Platoon and the opportunities out there for our transitioning military members in a sales career. He believes he would connect with your audience and be able to offer a lot of value to them. One of the things he would share about Sales Platoon is the similarities between sales and Special Forces, or whatever you feel would bring value to your audience. In return, he would be happy to share your podcast with his audience of over 30,000 on our social media platforms. Here are just a few of the media outlets he has been on and just a few of his accomplishments: the New York Times, Fox and Friends Megan Kelly Show, Fight Church (Documentary), and The Saint (Documentary). He is a  6 time MMA world champion with over 60 pro fights and a 1st-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was Awarded the Honorary Title of Kentucky Colonel.  Connect with John on LinkedIn.


Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

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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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Katherine Hintz

Creative Director, Producer, Host

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

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Kim Reuter


From humble beginnings working the import docks, representing Fortune 500 giants, Ford, Michelin Tire, and Black & Decker; to Amazon technology patent holder and Nordstrom Change Leader, Kimberly Reuter has designed, implemented, and optimized best-in-class, highly scalable global logistics and retail operations all over the world. Kimberly’s ability to set strategic vision supported by bomb-proof processes, built on decades of hands-on experience, has elevated her to legendary status. Sought after by her peers and executives for her intellectual capital and keen insights, Kimberly is a thought leader in the retail logistics industry.

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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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., which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).

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Adrian Purtill

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Vicki White


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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Allison Giddens


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

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

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Billy Taylor


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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Tandreia Bellamy


Tandreia Bellamy retired as the Vice President of Industrial Engineering for UPS Supply Chain Solutions which included the Global Logistics, Global Freight Forwarding and UPS Freight business units. She was responsible for operations strategy and planning, asset management, forecasting, and technology tool development to optimize sustainable efficiency while driving world class service.

Tandreia held similar positions at the business unit level for Global Logistics and Global Freight forwarding. As the leader of the Global Logistics engineering function, she directed all industrial engineering activies related to distribution, service parts logistics (post-sales support), and mail innovations (low cost, light weight shipping partnership with the USPS). Between these roles Tandreia helped to establish the Advanced Technology Group which was formed to research and develop cutting edge solutions focused on reducing reliance on manual labor.

Tandreia began her career in 1986 as a part-time hourly manual package handling employee. She spent the great majority of her career in the small package business unit which is responsible for the pick-up, sort, transport and delivery of packages domestically. She held various positions in Industrial Engineering, Marketing, Inside and On-road operations in Central Florida before transferring to Atlanta for a position in Corporate Product Development and Corporate Industrial Engineering. Tandreia later held IE leadership roles in Nebraska, Minnesota and Chicago. In her final role in small package she was an IE VP responsible for all aspects of IE, technology support and quality for the 25 states on the western half of the country.
Tandreia is currently a Director for the University of Central Florida (UCF) Foundation Board and also serves on their Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Previously Tandreia served on the Executive Advisory Board for Virginia Tech’s IE Department and the Association for Supply Chain Management. She served on the Board of Trustees for ChildServ (a Chicago child and family services non-profit) and also served on the Texas A&M and Tuskegee Engineering Advisory Boards. In 2006 she was named Business Advisor of the Year by INROADS, in 2009 she was recognized as a Technology All-Star at the Women of Color in STEM conference and in 2019 she honored as a UCF Distinguished Aluma by the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems.

Tandreia holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Systems from UCF. Her greatest accomplishment, however, is being the proud mother of two college students, Ruby (24) and Anthony (22).

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Marty Parker


Marty Parker serves as both the CEO & Founder of Adæpt Advising and an award-winning Senior Lecturer (Teaching Professor) in Supply Chain and Operations Management at the University of Georgia. He has 30 years of experience as a COO, CMO, CSO (Chief Strategy Officer), VP of Operations, VP of Marketing and Process Engineer. He founded and leads UGA’s Supply Chain Advisory Board, serves as the Academic Director of UGA’s Leaders Academy, and serves on multiple company advisory boards including the Trucking Profitability Strategies Conference, Zion Solutions Group and Carlton Creative Company.

Marty enjoys helping people and companies be successful. Through UGA, Marty is passionate about his students, helping them network and find internships and jobs. He does this through several hundred one-on-one zoom meetings each year with his students and former students. Through Adæpt Advising, Marty has organized an excellent team of affiliates that he works with to help companies grow and succeed. He does this by helping c-suite executives improve their skills, develop better leaders, engage their workforce, improve processes, and develop strategic plans with detailed action steps and financial targets. Marty believes that excellence in supply chain management comes from the understanding the intersection of leadership, culture, and technology, working across all parts of the organization to meet customer needs, maximize profit and minimize costs.

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Laura Lopez

Marketing Coordinator

Laura Lopez serves as our Supply Chain Now Marketing Coordinator. She graduated from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente in Mexico with a degree in marketing. Laura loves everything digital because she sees the potential it holds for companies in the marketing industry. Her passion for creativity and thinking outside the box led her to pursue a career in marketing. With experience in fields like accounting, digital marketing, and restaurants, she clearly enjoys taking on challenges. Laura lives the best of both worlds - you'll either catch her hanging out with her friends soaking up the sun in Mexico or flying out to visit her family in California!

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Jake Barr


An acknowledged industry leader, Jake Barr now serves as CEO for BlueWorld Supply Chain Consulting, providing support to a cross section of Fortune 500 companies such as Cargill, Caterpillar, Colgate, Dow/Dupont, Firmenich, 3M, Merck, Bayer/Monsanto, Newell Brands, Kimberly Clark, Nestle, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Sanofi, Estee Lauder and Coty among others. He's also devoted time to engagements in public health sector work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. At P&G, he managed the breakthrough delivery of an E2E (End to End) Planning Transformation effort, creating control towers which now manage the daily business globally. He is recognized as the architect for P&G’s demand driven supply chain strategy – referenced as a “Consumer Driven Supply Chain” transformation. Jake began his career with P&G in Finance in Risk Analysis and then moved into Operations. He has experience in building supply network capability globally through leadership assignments in Asia, Latin America, North America and the Middle East. He currently serves as a Research Associate for MIT; a member of Supply Chain Industry Advisory Council; Member of Gartner’s Supply Chain Think Tank; Consumer Goods “League of Leaders“; and a recipient of the 2015 - 2021 Supply Chain “Pro’s to Know” Award. He has been recognized as a University of Kentucky Fellow.

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Marcia Williams


Marcia Williams, Managing Partner of USM Supply Chain, has 18 years of experience in Supply Chain, with expertise in optimizing Supply Chain-Finance Planning (S&OP/ IBP) at Large Fast-Growing CPGs for greater profitability and improved cash flows. Marcia has helped mid-sized and large companies including Lindt Chocolates, Hershey, and Coty. She holds an MBA from Michigan State University and a degree in Accounting from Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay (South America). Marcia is also a Forbes Council Contributor based out of New York, and author of the book series Supply Chains with Maria in storytelling style. A recent speaker’s engagement is Marcia TEDx Talk: TEDxMSU - How Supply Chain Impacts You: A Transformational Journey.

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Luisa Garcia

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Luisa Garcia is a passionate Marketer from Lagos de Moreno based in Aguascalientes. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes, Mexico. She specializes in brand development at any stage, believing that a brand is more than just a name or image—it’s an unforgettable experience. Her expertise helps brands achieve their dreams and aspirations, making a lasting impact. Currently working at Vector Global Logistics in the Marketing team and as podcast coordinator of Logistics With Purpose®. Luisa believes that purpose-driven decisions will impact results that make a difference in the world.

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Astrid Aubert

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Astrid Aubert was born in Guadalajara, she is 39 years old and has had the opportunity to live in many places. She studied communication and her professional career has been in Trade Marketing for global companies such as Pepsico and Mars. She currently works as Marketing Director Mexico for Vector Global Logistics. She is responsible for internal communications and marketing strategy development for the logistics industry. She is a mother of two girls, married and lives in Monterrey. She defines herself as a creative and innovative person, and enjoys traveling and cooking a lot.

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Constantine Limberakis


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

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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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Greg White

Principal & Host

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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Tyler Ward

Director of Sales

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

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

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

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

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Amanda Luton

Vice President, Production

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

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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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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

Director, Customer Experience

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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Mary Kate Love

Chief of Staff & Host

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

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

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

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

Donna Krache

Director of Communications and Executive Producer

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

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