In this episode of Digital Transformers on Supply Chain Now produced in partnership with TNS, host Kevin L. Jackson welcomes Praveen Rao, Managing Director with IBM, to the podcast.
Welcome to Supply Chain Now, the voice of global supply chain. Supply Chain Now focuses on the best in the business for our worldwide audience, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and today’s critical issues, the challenges, and opportunities. Stay tuned to hear from those making global business happen right here on Supply Chain Now.
Kevin L. Jackson (00:33):
Hello. This is Kevin L. Jackson presenting Digital Transformers from Washington D.C. Thank you for joining. Today, we’re going to be spending some time with Mr. Praveen Rao from IBM Blockchain Analytics. He’s a Managing Director of Blockchain Analytics and Partnerships.
Kevin L. Jackson (00:55):
But before we start, I want to first thank our sponsor, Digital Names by Total Network Services. If you enjoy today’s conversation, be sure to find us wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe so you don’t miss a thing.
Kevin L. Jackson 01:14):
So, now, without any further ado, hello, Praveen. Thank you for joining us today.
Praveen Rao (01:21):
Hi, Kevin. It’s my pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me on your show.
Kevin L. Jackson (01:25):
No, I tell you, we’ve been working together for quite a while and it’s great to have you here on the show. I know you well, but, please, can you introduce yourself and your role at IBM to the audience?
Praveen Rao (01:40):
Yeah. Absolutely. So, again, my name is Praveen Rao. I’m a Managing Director, predominantly deal with supply chain solutions for Blockchain. And, also, I’m responsible for convening the ecosystems around our blockchain solutions and putting together all the partnerships around the solutions that we have.
Kevin L. Jackson (02:00):
Wow. That’s sounds like a huge role. How did you get that? I mean, when you’re in elementary school, did you say, “Well, one day I’m going to be running Blockchain for IBM.” What’s a bit of your background?
Praveen Rao (02:16):
I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. [Inaudible] ask me. But, you know, my background has always been in the technology space. And I consider myself having grown up in the supply chain space as well. So, I came from an engineering background and then into the business background. So, naturally, I gravitate towards harder problems that involve supply chain manufacturing, essentially the procurement side of it as well. So, I’ve always played throughout my career in this space where the technology and business kind of meet together.
Praveen Rao (03:00):
So, the technology is a great tool to solve business. And it all boils down to how much value we can generate per person by leveraging technology in some of the things that we have done, like from the business perspective. Because blockchain, you know, it’s been there since the inception of humanity, right? But we can do wonderful things by leveraging technology, especially the cloud, analytics, blockchain, and IoT. Things that we could never do before. And what it really means is, we are increasing the amount of productivity and the value we can generate per person who is kind of working in this space.
Praveen Rao (03:45):
So, that’s kind of how my journey started. I was always involved in large business transformation. I’ve done numerous global SAP deployment. I have a good grip on many of the end to end processes and how it has done in a global setting. Some of the nuances around that, that led me to leverage more and more technology in big data and analytics and, now, as the blockchain came into play. So, that’s where I was nominated to kind of help lead and bring some of the newer solutions, specifically for supply chain and procurement. That’s kind of how my journey started. And I’ve been kind of leading the solution core, plus through our supplier from its inception, which you guys are also part of the ecosystem. I’m very happy to have you guys part of that ecosystem as well.
Kevin L. Jackson (04:38):
Yeah. So, it’s connected. I’m really proud to be a part of TYS. But before we go to that, you know, you mentioned blockchain and how it’s important to supply chain. But, you know, most people say blockchain, the only thing they can think of is Bitcoin, right? Bitcoin, Bitcoin. So, why is blockchain so hot outside of Bitcoin?
Praveen Rao (05:06):
Blockchain – it’s a very interesting question – it’s one of the unique technology where the use case became more popular than the technology itself.
Kevin L. Jackson (05:17):
Yeah. Kind of backwards.
Praveen Rao (05:19):
Yeah. Bitcoin is essentially a use case of the blockchain technology. It went way ahead before people could figure it, “Hey, there is more uses to this technology.”
Kevin L. Jackson (05:29):
Yeah. Sort of ran away before everybody can catch it, right?
Praveen Rao (05:32):
Yeah. Right. I mean, certainly IBM is one of the early adopters or innovators of blockchain too. So, there’s a wonderful history behind that, I won’t go into the details of that. But why blockchain matters? Blockchain matters for mainly four reasons. One is, it basically saves costs. It removes inefficiencies, and it reduces risks, and it increases trust. So, the four main tenants what is really helping blockchain increase the blockchain adoption in the market. The way it does that is, essentially, if you think about it, throughout the history, the commerce try when there is better trust between parties. And better trust comes with better transparency among the different parties. That’s kind of what –
Kevin L. Jackson (06:29):
That’s what’s going on.
Praveen Rao (06:31):
Yeah. That’s kind of what blockchain does. Because what you have is, you have a shared ledger among multiple parties, and that is immutable. So, it’s almost like it’s etched in stone. So, even the person who wrote in it, you can’t edit it. You can always enter it. So, that brings the level of trust saying you always know the history of what happened. Nobody just snuck behind you and changed the story. And there is a provenance of chronology. So, it means, you know the timeline of when it happened, how it happened, by whom, and all that. And above all, it’s also cryptographically sealed. So, that means only the people who are concerned or need to be intended would have access to that data. So, it also brings in addresses, many of the privacy and the data security concerns that exist in business in general. So, in general, procurement supply chain is a multi-party conversation. So, wherever there is a multi-party conversation, there is some amount of trust deficit. And that’s kind of where blockchain really helps because it helps address that trust deficit, thereby fostering better transparency, trust, and better commerce.
Kevin L. Jackson (07:55):
Well, you’re talking about having this information where people can see. And blockchain is also often referred to as a shared ledger technology. And when you talk to people about putting something in a blockchain and say, “Well, I don’t want to share my information with anybody. I don’t want to do that.” Can you tell us a little bit about the difference between? I understand there’s a lot of different kinds of blockchain, like permissioned blockchain, permissionless blockchain. How do you know that nobody else sees this shared information?
Praveen Rao (08:36):
Yeah. That’s a great question. Because anytime they say shared, the first and foremost thing that pops up in your head is security and privacy, right? Like, you don’t want anybody accessing my data. And you brought up permission, that’s a very key concept here. There are two kinds of blockchain networks that you see. One is exclusive or permission. Another is non-permission, that open, that means anybody can access, like the crypto space – we won’t go into that. But supply chain procurement, I mostly deal with the permissioned blockchain network. So, that means it’s like an exclusive group of participants. That’s why we use the word ecosystem. So, that means you are part of a network. So, that means we know who is accessing the information, where, how, all of that. So, let’s say, think of this as you’re part of a Sam’s Club or a Costco, so that means you get certain privileges being part of that exclusive club.
Kevin L. Jackson (09:42):
So, like having a card, right?
Praveen Rao (09:45):
Yeah. Right. Having a Costco card. Kind of somebody will watch you before you go in so you can avail, you know, some of the benefits.
Kevin L. Jackson (09:55):
So, before you can see the information on the blockchain, you have to be like a verified member. You have to have that –
Praveen Rao (10:01):
Verified member is one. Another thing is there’s another concept, channels. That means if you and I are part of the blockchain network, you and I can have a channel. So, that means it’s similar to what we do now, like phone call, it’s a connection between you and me. So, you share information with me knowing you give me access, you know I’m accessing it because you gave me that permission. But you haven’t given permission to my neighbor. Even though he’s part of the network, they can’t quite access it. And the information is sealed in all states of data, whether it’s address, transit, consumption. That means there is a level of protection that happens at every state your data is in. So, it’s not like I can just hack into the backend and then access it all while you’re using it. So, it’s only intended between the parties that have permission and, you know, you have certain rights and it is protected at all states of data lifecycle.
Kevin L. Jackson (11:07):
Right. So, it sounds like whoever puts information on this blockchain has complete control over it at all times.
Praveen Rao (11:16):
Yeah. Absolutely. Right. And complete control in terms of who you want to share this data with as well. Yeah.
Kevin L. Jackson (11:24):
Now, in today’s world, we talk about technology. You can’t get away from cloud computing. Does blockchain have anything to do with cloud?
Praveen Rao (11:34):
Yeah. I mean, certainly it has everything to do with cloud too. Cloud is kind of making the blockchain accelerate in terms of that option. Because earlier, you used to have servers sitting in a room. And in fact, the interesting thing is, the blockchain, the concept – even though the blockchain technology is new, the concept is not new. It is well over 20 year old concept. Because if you think about it, earlier days, they used to have different storage servers. And any time you had licenses for the software, you would do a level of full tolerance by putting that license on multiple servers so that you can always ping that server, make sure that you have access to that license before you make it. But it was all setting in kind of a storage servers.
Praveen Rao (12:28):
But, now, with the advent of cloud, you can do a lot more than managing licenses. That’s the whole procurement supply chain thing. Almost all blockchain solutions are born and built on cloud. Certainly, it leverages many of the cloud technology when it comes to storage, integration, presentation of the blockchain data. And then, it allows us to scale in terms of having multiple nodes, because, essentially, since it’s on cloud, you can have your own node if you so choose to have a shared ledger in your premise, per se.
Kevin L. Jackson (13:14):
So, I guess cloud computing is sort of foundational to –
Praveen Rao (13:18):
Yeah. Blockchain is built on it, right. I mean, not that it has to be cloud, but cloud certainly helps accelerate because it helps you interoperate with other solutions that are on cloud and also integrate with other data providers and consumers. So, certainly the scalability, the performance, would be much better if you adopt blockchain on a cloud.
Kevin L. Jackson (13:46):
All right. Great. Thanks. So, you know, you had mentioned earlier, also, about Trust Your Supplier. Earlier this year, we actually had Gary Storr, the General Manager of Trust Your Supplier on the show. I understand that IBM is on the TYS governance board. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Praveen Rao (14:06):
Yeah. So, Trust Your Supplier, it’s a journey that we have undergone with a partner, Chainyard, that Gary Storr works for. So, certainly, we have a joint patent for the solution too. So, IBM provides the thought leadership, and the domain knowledge, and the process knowledge when it comes to building the blockchain, and our expertise in bringing blockchain solutions to market. Chainyard brings in the development expertise and the development resources needed to realize this solution, and they also operate the solution. IBM is also a governance board member and also a buyer on the network, so that means we leverage trustier supplier solution in our own procurement to essentially discover onboard, qualify suppliers, so that, you know, we can always continue to improve the supplier pool that we engage with within IBM.
Kevin L. Jackson (15:10):
So, this is more than just information technology though, isn’t it? Doesn’t IBM use blockchain in different industries?
Praveen Rao (15:22):
Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, blockchain is huge. We have a number of blockchain solutions. We have trade lands, we have food trust. Certainly, we talked about Trust Your Supplier, which I focused a lot of my time on. So, blockchain is just getting started. And I think IBM has our services group well over a thousand networks that they’re operating because we also have a blockchain engine called BPS. Basically, that engine can be leveraged to assemble your own network if you are dealing with a specific problem and if you want to leverage blockchain technology to solve any of the trust related challenges, neuron company with your partners and suppliers. By all means, you can leverage that engine and start your own network. A lot of our clients have done that.
Praveen Rao (16:16):
And we also have massive industrial solutions like our cross industry solutions, like Trust Your Supplier, where there is almost a commingling or a merger of the social media kind of play along with the blockchain play, where, essentially, suppliers can maintain their data on a digital passport and share with any number of buyers of their choosing. So, that way, suppliers still control their data, but they can’t choose who they want to do business with. The buyers get to choose, you know, they can constantly discover suppliers. That’s why it’s kind of a nice merger of social media and a blockchain plane.
Kevin L. Jackson (17:00):
Oh, wow. That’s scary. That can be scary, social media for supply chain. One thing that kind of gets confusing, you know, are there many, many different blockchains and are there different technologies? Like, when you get stuck on one blockchain, if you select it, you know, do you build your own blockchain? How does that work? How many — there? Like, how many clouds?
Praveen Rao (17:30):
Yeah, that’s a great question. Blockchain is still in its infancy. I see blockchain going the same route as cloud technology, because, earlier, there was just one Rackspace kind of a cloud. And then, large cloud players came in. Certainly IBM have a cloud, there are other peers or competitors who also operate clouds. So, similarly, blockchain is also going to evolve, in my opinion, because IBM has a blockchain platform called IBP, IBM Blockchain Platform, which is built on an open source technology called Hyperledger. So, Hyperledger provides the blockchain. And IBM is one of the founding and governing partner of the Hyperledger foundation, which is an offshoot of Linux Foundation, by the way. And then, there is also ETDM, that is multi-chain, there is corridor, there is a bunch of other blockchain technologies that are out there. And, certainly, they’re all at different levels of maturity.
Praveen Rao (18:41):
Some of our major competitors are also planning to bring their own blockchain technology in the future. But as we go into the future, you know, I see more of a hybrid model, just like how we have hybrid cloud now. Hybrid cloud is kind of a norm right now where a company operates multiple clouds, whether it’s IBM Cloud along with Azure and AWS. But they all work together to solve a harder business problem. I see blockchain going the same way, where there is essentially an interoperability between different networks. Because, ultimately, what we are trying to solve is the trust and transparency and we need to make sure that these proper handshakes happen between different networks, and the data can flow for various reasons, so maybe has different use cases.
Kevin L. Jackson (19:34):
Right. On this show, did you just coin a new term, hybrid blockchain? Is that what we’re going to be talking about all next year?
Praveen Rao (19:43):
I mean, it seems natural evolution as we go in and as more awareness builds up around blockchain. But I think that’s an inevitably beat. Because the world it is too big for one company and one —
Kevin L. Jackson (20:01):
And this is coming from IBM, the world is too big for one company. Wow. IBM is changed.
Praveen Rao (20:09):
That’s my personal view. But, anyway, I think there are many interesting problems that, I think, blockchain can solve. And I know that the world also has an abundance of talent and talented people, they’ll always figure something out. But, I think, looking at the analogs like the past evolution. So, I do see that blockchain is a network of network already, but a hybrid version of that, too, in the future.
Kevin L. Jackson (20:45):
So, sort of getting back to our knitting, I guess, supply chain, blockchain seems to really be focused on addressing a lot of the risk around supply chain, and procurement, logistics, distribution. Can you talk a little bit about the different risks and how blockchain helps with managing those risks?
Praveen Rao (21:07):
Yeah. I mean, the risk is an inevitable part of billing, you know, when you’re engaged in a multi-party conversation, right? All it takes is a few bad apples to spoil the entire carton per se. So, if you talk to any chief procurement officers, risk and compliance are what keeps them awake. Because everybody wants, you know, cheaper, faster, better — Companies, most CEOs goes to their CPOs, you know, whenever they need cost savings. But at the same time, the last thing they want is do a business that would essentially put them out of business. Because that’s kind of the risks that we are dealing with considering almost 60 to 70 percent of your revenue comes through the product and services that you purchase, transform, and then market. So, it’s even more prevalent when it comes to procurement, because, you know, you’re dealing with different players, and different industries, different geographies. Many of them, you are doing business for the first time.
Praveen Rao (22:17):
So, that’s why, if you look at the supplier life cycle management, you start with discovery, and then you go into qualification, and then onboarding. There are a number of different risks you deal with, both from the operations and also from the onboarding, like the inception of suppliers into it. So, the way some of the leading companies, including IBM, is solving is through, essentially, a network. I mean, this is a concept that existed from the beginning. So, if I know you, and if you recommend somebody, and two other people said, “Hey, this person is good.” Then, my risk level goes up because there’s ten people watching for this person that I’m trying to do business with, because there’s a track record of excellence. So, you can reasonably predict the future is going to be consistent with that track record.
Kevin L. Jackson (23:15):
People do business with people they know, right?
Praveen Rao (23:17):
Yeah. So, that is one aspect blockchain brings into the network. Because you’re part of an exclusive community, so people know each other. They give feedback about these. There’s a 360 degree view of the supplier. So, the new business, new engagement. And then, there is also a huge number of partners that we engage with, the data providers, right? If you are dealing with, let’s say, a financial liability. There are people like rapid rating who will give you FHR score, Financial Health Rating. You’re compared to the peers in the industry. So, that would give you an indication of, you know, how likely that I can continue to do business with our sustainability. We have people like Ecowater, who gives you the sustainability rating.
Praveen Rao (24:04):
So, essentially, what we do in a blockchain, it’s all provided directly into the blockchain. So, what IBM and many of our peers do is, essentially, we look at the supplier data in the context of the data from the trust anchors per se. So, all of these data providers, so that way you have one consolidated view of various risks. And then, you can, essentially, action on it, whether you want to onboard them or whatnot. And we also have other providers to deal with resiliency and operational risk. For example, you know, a COVID-like situation happened or like the Fukushima that happened in Japan. So, the first thing that comes to any CPO’s mind is, “What does it mean?” I know the cases in India were rising like last two weeks ago. What does it mean to my supply chain? How much of an impact? When China was locked down, there was no toilet papers in the thing — Similarly for businesses here, much bigger issues to deal with. What kind of impact you would have on your promises to your clients?
Praveen Rao (25:14):
We have partners like Resilinc, who can put your entire supply chain on a world map, and then kind of show you the suppliers who would be impacted in that particular scenario. Also, help you figure out an alternate route, because the last thing you want to do is single source everything to one place, and then, essentially, have a bottleneck in our supply chain. So, those are the views that you would get along with, you know, the trust from the trusted partners.
Kevin L. Jackson (25:48):
You say, you know, if you’re talking about supply chain, there’s a problem, right? So, be quiet. So, I know we’re running out of time here, but one thing I did want to sort of understand more is, you know, last year, a lot of people were talking about smart contracting and how smart contracting was going to revolutionize and change supply chain. But, now, we’re talking about blockchain, aren’t they sort of similar?
Praveen Rao (26:18):
Yeah. I mean, I glad you brought it up because that’s another salient features of blockchain. It comes out of the box, free of cost to you. So, what it really means is, think about the different things, like who thinks that you can do it? Because right now, the that’s one beauty of blockchain, it can completely disrupt your current business model. Right now, a supplier does the work and gets paid. Because availability to promise date, and that’s the date they should do. It also kind of brings in a level of complacency, both in the supplier and the buyer as well. So, what blockchain can do is incentivize by having innovative contracts. So, what if you can bring product to market faster than your competition by working with your supplier? So, it means the more to you, you get much better market penetration or gains. So, you can structure that, all those scenarios, into your supply contracts. Either you can reward them for delivering early or penalize them for bringing you down or delaying you. So, those things is something you can build it right into the contract and track them throughout the supplier life cycle contracts.
Kevin L. Jackson (27:39):
It sounds like you’re gamifying the supply chain. Is that really what you’re doing?
Praveen Rao (27:45):
Yeah. I mean, the kind of things that you could do now, it’s mind boggling and things that you could never do before. The best part is, it’s all transparent. You know, I mean, we’re also reducing the conflict and need for excess audit. I read the article where it said, in U.S. alone, we spend about $600 billion in all the internal audits and auditing the systems that we do. So, in blockchain, everything is audited every single second. So, you don’t really need to spend. You can use that time, that money for something more higher value added for your company.
Kevin L. Jackson (28:26):
So, you mean I don’t have to pay for auditors anymore? Hooray.
Praveen Rao (28:30):
At least not the internal auditors.
Kevin L. Jackson (28:35):
All right. Wow. Wow. You’ve taught me so much in the few minutes we’ve had. So, we’re coming to the end of our time. But how could my audience actually reach out to you if they want more, if they want more?
Praveen Rao (28:48):
Absolutely. So, I’m available on LinkedIn, Twitter, you know, certainly please do connect with me. You know, also you can send me an email at raopr, my last name, R-A-O-P-R, @us.ibm.com. So, if you have any questions, I’m more than happy to engage with you.
Kevin L. Jackson (29:08):
Wow. Well, thank you very much for spending the time with us. And on that note, be sure to check out a wide variety of industry thought leadership at supplychainnow.com. You can find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. So, on behalf of the entire team here at Supply Chain Now, this is Kevin L. Jackson, wishing all of our listeners a bright and transformational future. We’ll see you next time on Digital Transformers. Thanks everyone.
Praveen Rao (29:42):
Thank you, Kevin, for having me on.
Thanks for being a part of our Supply Chain Now community. Check out all of our programming at supplychainnow.com, and make sure you subscribe to Supply Chain Now anywhere you listen to podcasts. And follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next time on Supply Chain Now.
Praveen Rao is a seasoned Digital Technology executive with progressive experience in applying complex emerging technologies to multiple operational domains. Praveen has a proven track record of shaping organizational strategy, digitization of business visions and operational execution. Extensive expertise in cutting edge technologies such as Advanced Analytics, AI (Watson), Blockchain, ERP and Internet of Things (IoT). Praveen has leads GTM initiatives and solutions development in multiple sectors. Praveen has over 20 years of industry experience in aligning technology with business needs to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and governance. Expert in leading multi-million-dollar initiatives involving cross-functional global teams. Prior to his current role, Praveen has worked with leading management consulting firms and adopted industry best practices. His education includes BS, MS & MBA from top-tier schools including the University of Chicago (MBA) & Michigan Tech. Praveen has won several awards including service excellence and CEO recognition awards. Connect with Praveen on LinkedIn.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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 Cisco, Microsoft, 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 University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier 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.
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!
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.
Principal & CMO, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
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.