Supply Chain Now Episode 511
Blockchain is one of the most exciting technologies to hit the business scene over the last few years, and yet, very few companies truly understand how it works or what value it offers them. Enter DLT Labs, with “blockchain for the people.”
As Sergei Beliaev, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer with DLT Labs, explained to Scott Luton, “A person with a single watch is always on time, while a person with multiple watches is always late. Companies are created to work together, but their systems are not. Blockchain is a single shared version of truth, and the fact that it’s immutable means that everyone is always looking at the same watch. We also know that the clock is right, and nobody actually moved one of the hands up or down.”
Drawing on his experience as a competitive cross-country skier and his career in technology and leadership, Sergei shares his experiences from Moscow to North America solving problems and delivering results by “growing your own (technology) children”. He talks about transparency, trust and agility as he covers topics in supply chain and blockchain. He also shares lessons learned from an embarrassing story about how you can save time (and avoid embarrassment) by performing an equipment check prior to real-life deployment.
It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things, supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts. Hey, good morning, Scott Luton, the supply chain now welcome to today’s show on today’s show.
Scott Luton (00:33):
So we’re going to be continuing our collaboration with the wonderful folks over at AIAG the automotive industry action group and especially their 2020 supply chain summit. So stay tuned as we’re going to be working hard to increase your supply chain acute. Uh, more to come on that and just a moment. Hey, quick programming. Before we get started. If you enjoy today’s conversation, fondness and subscribe, wherever you get your podcasts from, you can look up supply chain now and make sure you subscribe. So you don’t miss conversations. Just like this one on that note with no further ado. Let’s welcome in our guests here today. Sergei Belisle EVP and chief strategy officer with a firm on the move. D L T labs Sergei. Good morning. How are you doing good morning, Scott. Very good. Great to have you, as we were chatting a little bit pre-show we’ve been tracking you and your organization a bit doing some really big things.
Scott Luton (01:26):
Uh, I’m sure. In a w in a variety of other ways, but in particular in retail, in particular with blockchain, which is really neat, but, um, but today we’re going to, this is going to be a, um, a fast moving interview, uh, but, uh, great to finally Rican, uh, connect with a leader over at DLT labs and learn more about you and your organization. Yeah. Happy to be here, Scott. All right. So Sergei, before we get into the hard stuff, let’s get to know you a little bit better. So tell us, w where are you from? Where’d you grow up and give us a Eureka moment from those formative years, I grew up in Russia in a small town between Moscow and st. Petersburg, loving family. My father was a doctor. My mom was a math teacher with everything that comes with this. So moved to Moscow in my late teens, went to university there.
Scott Luton (02:13):
Then my wife and myself, we kind of, we moved to New York in our early twenties to pursue pursue career in management consulting. And while in New York, we actually had an opportunity to travel to Toronto, Canada, and we just fell in love with the city. As they’d gone to this magazine, put it back in the day. Toronto is like New York run by the Swiss. So I guess what, in 1997, we moved there and have been there ever since. So I’m going to steal that from yet New York. That’s what sold me on the city and then turned out to doing really well and really good. So we had a 19 year old son. He is pursuing a math and computer science degree at the university of Waterloo here in Ontario. Right? So very excited about him. Good place to be
Sergei Beliaev (03:00):
Career wise. I spent about the JK and management consulting globally. And then I held a number of senior leadership roles in technology, mostly in financial services and consumer retail. And most recently, before joining DLOT labs, I served as the CIO for the Walmart Canada.
Scott Luton (03:18):
Let me go back for a second. Before we talk more about what DLT labs is up to. So growing up in Russia and especially living in Moscow, what do you have a bunch of families still there?
Sergei Beliaev (03:31):
Yeah. And so my parents are still there and my sister
Scott Luton (03:34):
Outstanding. What’s one thing, whether it is a food dish or whether it is just an aspect of the Russian culture, what’s one thing that you really look forward to when you go back and visit.
Sergei Beliaev (03:44):
Yeah. It’s probably the culture, right? Just going, watching the movies that you like, chatting with the friends that share the same kind of memories, always. That’s the main part, right? It’s the human interaction. And you also asked me about Eureka moment. I already want to tell his story about the Eureka moment.
Scott Luton (04:01):
These are my favorites. So please, by all means.
Sergei Beliaev (04:04):
So when I was at school, I did competitive cross country skiing. So imagine when I was just starting up, I was on my kind of not too expensive wooden skis, everything else, oftentimes after some time I started doing okay, and then a magic moment of big upgrade came. Imagine I’m sitting there in my hands with a pair of talk, nudge plastic skis that were just eating the market back in the day, and like having all those pictures of myself, getting first prizes, other things. So the next morning I take those new plastic skis right onto the ski trail, put them up, feeling proud, try to push off. And they just don’t move. Right? Because basically they kickback back into my feet is amazing. And I can’t make a single step. My friends around me are laughing their heads off and eventually after they laughed and laughed, and now they basically explained to me that I’m like the wooden skis last excuse required the kind of the grip wax to be applied for the problem before. So for me, for my luxury and technology, after that, that has been a huge lesson that I remember all the time, because the kind of the gist of it was she took you a year before you track it, take it on a trail and it’ll save you some time and potentially quite a bit of embarrassment.
Scott Luton (05:21):
I love that. And, and you know, what I draw from that, um, is you can have the latest and greatest technology, but if you don’t know exactly how to use it out of the gate, be prepared for some headaches, maybe right.
Sergei Beliaev (05:34):
Or embarrassment or
Scott Luton (05:36):
Embarrassment, even worse. Uh, what a great story. I appreciate you sharing that. So do you still ski a good bit in your whatever free time?
Sergei Beliaev (05:44):
Yeah. Trying to, but I switched to Downsville skiing. It’s a bit more fun.
Scott Luton (05:48):
I bet. And fast. I bet. Yeah. Okay. So now that we’ve, we’ve kind of learned more about Sergei the individual, let’s learn more about some of the really neat things you are doing at DLT labs. Um, so first off let’s set the table a bit. So what does the company do? And then let’s find out where you spend your time as EVP and chief strategy.
Sergei Beliaev (06:10):
We are, we deal with your labs are a software development company with deep expertise in blockchain. And the unique thing about us that instead of just focusing on the blockchain itself, we have repackaged it into a configurable application platform. So this allowed us to make it much, much easier for enterprises to size from small companies to large enterprises, like Walmart, to benefit from the value the blockchain brings to the table, which has single shared version of truth, kind of tamper-proof history and tamper-proof execution. And I can say that as a company, which democratized and uncomplicated blockchain for the use in real life,
Scott Luton (06:48):
I love that it’s like blockchain for the people Sergei
Sergei Beliaev (06:53):
Let’s steal that one from you. And I’ll use blockchain for the people as the tagline. Yeah. And now both me. So my role is chief strategy officer. So I work as a key member of the executive team in defining and executing on our strategy for the products that we offer our global market positioning and the internal structure,
Scott Luton (07:13):
A couple of followup questions here. So first off, what is know in your role and in, in those, um, those activities that you have, where you spend your time, what is your absolute favorite part about what you do in your role at DLT labs?
Sergei Beliaev (07:26):
Honestly, the most favorite part it’s meeting with customers or partners and looking into the problems that they have and seeing how can we apply thanks to make it better. And it’s like, I don’t like growing your own children. You see something that was almost nothing in the beginning. And then eventually it becomes beautiful. It delivers right. That has a life of its own. That gives me the biggest pleasure.
Scott Luton (07:48):
Wow. Well, I can see that you’d be painting centralized picture with that. Um, a lot of folks really do enjoy the problem solving component. I know when I, in my time in manufacturing, that was one of my favorite, sometimes most painful days and hours, but certainly most rewarding. And especially when you’re working with people with, with different, in, from different walks of life, different points of view, and you’re learning as you solve what can be really challenging problems. Um, before we go broader with this next question, I want to ask you a quick follow up question with blockchain. You know, we were kidding around before we kicked off the interview that, you know, when some folks still, when they hear blockchain, because I think it is required to be a part of every supply chain conversation by federal law still, um, you know, some folks kind of roll their eyes because maybe they haven’t yet uncovered the big improvement and innovation and, and the big transformation that blockchain is driving and, and, and different parts of industry in the world. So whenever you maybe sit in a subway by someone that might, you know, roll, have that blockchain, roll the eyes, or share an Uber, or what have you, what w what did, what is the response that you offer to folks that may not be aware of the, of the, of the real bottom line innovation that blockchain is driving?
Sergei Beliaev (09:05):
So we had an interview and one of our great partners actually used a good, good example on explaining that what he said is that a person with a single wash is always on time. A person with multiple watches is always late, right? And to me really, that was like, wow, that, that is definitely the summary of blockchain, because what blockchain is, is a single shared version of truth, because companies are created to work together, systems are not. And what happens is that each company updates their own system, their own application, their own database, blockchain now gives you this out of the box capability of using something shared so that you and me would be looking at exact same watch to tell the time, right? Plus on top of this kind of sharing component sharing aspect of it, there’s also the fact that it’s immutable so that we look at the same clock. And we also know that the clock is right, and nobody actually moved one of the handles up or down
Scott Luton (10:01):
Love that. And if I can, if I can share a quick experience that, uh, because in this day and age of 2020, you know, consumers expect transparency, supply chain partners, upstream and downstream really are coming to expect transparency. And I had a, um, an insurance claim not too long ago. And the insurance company sent out in a very competent third party expert to my home and did some inspection. And he spent two or three hours here and gathered a bunch of observations and photos and data and measurements, you name it. And I assumed incorrectly that I was gonna get a copy of, of all of that information so that we could understand exactly what we were facing well, much to my chagrin as he departed. And as I learned in the, in the weeks that followed, I had no access to that information. So I had no basis. The biggest lesson learned is just how that even if that adjuster and that insurance company made every single decision by the book up in my favor, still the lack of data and transparency immediately caused distrust. Right? And that’s where of all the different advantages that organizations and enterprises are gaining by implementing blockchain, meaningful blockchain solutions, how that enhances trust amongst all parties upstream and downstream is a, is a really beautiful byproduct of blockchain. Would you agree? Absolutely. Because with trust you can move mountains, right? Yep.
Sergei Beliaev (11:31):
And I liked the fact, the fact that you’re using the word trust, because sometimes it becomes kind of a blessing in disguise because try first by itself is quite ambiguous. Right. And sometimes people add some additional meaning to it. Sometimes it’s not. And I found myself initially, when I got excited about blockchain, how it gets applied, everything else, using the word trust all the time. And eventually I dropped it and started providing something a bit more specific so that people really get it and don’t get kind of confused by the way, the ambiguity of it.
Scott Luton (12:02):
Right. Yeah. And I love the watch example, by the way. Um, all right, so let’s go broader, right? I appreciate you sharing some of, some of the expertise that DLT labs is providing and, and some of your thoughts around blockchain, but when you really look at the global world of end to end supply chain and business in this historically challenging year, that 2020 is, as we all know, what’s, what’s one thing that you may be tracking a lot more than others right now. It’s got your attention.
Sergei Beliaev (12:31):
Yeah. Where do I start? As the look at the world today, it has been a perfect storm for the supply chains globally, right? So between the COVID and the social distancing, coupled with kind of trade sanctions, trade Wars, global politics, and everything else, trends participants at all stages, basically they have been challenged in their confidence and trust using this word again, of the things that they did, particularly for granted up until this moment, right? Things like delivery, delays on my parts here at my shop floor on time, things like that, financial viability of suppliers, especially as we move down the tiers in our multi tier supply chains, and also things like quality and compliance, viability of products and services that we are acquiring once we had to really do it rapid shift from one supplier base to a different supplier base. So although all these have always been kind of a critical importance, the current situation, but significant additional stress on it, which pushed those issues right into the spot Mainstage spotlight. So interestingly blockchain addressing these concerns is really like the best way to address those concerns is through better transparency and the geology of the end to end supply chain. And what is the best. And coincidentally was the best technology to work on transparency and agility is the blockchain technology. Like the one that DOD labs offers, right. And using this technology out of the box allows us to address those issues faster, cheaper, and better. That
Scott Luton (14:08):
Those are beautiful words to any business leader in this environment right now, uh, faster, cheaper, and better. I love that. Um, and more visible and with more trust. Uh, and, and yes, and that trend, you know, w we’ve talked a lot here, as you might imagine in recent months about these blind spots. And it’s interesting how many blind spots really weren’t blind spots. It was just organizations that despite all the, some of the previous non pandemics, but sicknesses, they just refuse to put a plan together. And then of course, you’ve got all the real blind spots that have become visible all of a sudden in a painful way here in 2020, but it seems what you and your team are doing. And the technology is really helping organizations prevent themselves to some degree of being in that situation where they’re not only is his lack of visibility, lack of transparency, lack of information. And of course, these in 2020 in the information age, you got to move faster because the rate of change has just, has just increased so rapidly. So to move faster, you got to have better information at your fingertips, right?
Sergei Beliaev (15:21):
Yeah. And you have to have better technology to deliver upon those promises and objects.
Scott Luton (15:26):
That’s right. And the shiny is technology. You got to make sure you’ve got the wax ready to go to get you out out of the blocks. Right.
Sergei Beliaev (15:32):
Hey, and by the way, technology is out there. And that’s a good one. Good connection back to my story, right? What we provide as DLT labs is the wax and the know how that gets what it needs to be applied. And we take care of you so that when you take your shiny new top-notch blockchain technology based solution out there on the ski trail, you will not be embarrassed.
Scott Luton (15:53):
That’s a great way to put it. And I would encourage folks to do a little homework. If, if, if you’re one of three people that haven’t been tracking, DLT labs, they’ve done some really neat things, uh, up in the retail space here in North America. And it’s really neat to finally make the connection, uh, with you Sergei and your team, uh, big fans of what you’re all doing. Let’s make sure folks can connect with you and, and DLT labs zone. How can they do that?
Sergei Beliaev (16:15):
Yeah, so basically there is many ways of connecting with us. We have quite a significant following on LinkedIn. So please join, join the group, join the crowd. Second one, we’re active on Twitter. And also you can go on our website. So DLT labs.com to see the most up-to-date news and what’s happening in, in, in our projects, in our thinking, the interviews, we’re giving all those kinds of things. And finally, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and our fearless commercial team will direct it to the appropriate associate to address your questions.
Scott Luton (16:50):
Love it. Uh, Sergei, a pleasure to connect with you today. What the reconnect down the road a little bit Sergei, BLI of EVP and chief strategy officer at DLT labs. Thanks so much Sergei.
Sergei Beliaev (17:03):
Thank you, Scott enjoyed being here.
Scott Luton (17:04):
Definitely. And enjoy the supply chain summit. So to our listeners, hopefully you enjoy this conversation as much as I have. Um, if you enjoy conversations like this, be sure to find us and subscribe at a supply chain. Now, wherever you get your podcasts from, you can also find email@example.com. We’ll wrap this up with the same challenge week that we challenge our team with every single day. Hey, do good give forward and be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time.
Would you rather watch the show in action? Watch as Scott welcomes Sergei Beliaev to Supply Chain Now through our YouTube channel.
Sergei Beliaev is EVP and Chief Strategy Officer with DLT Labs (www.dltlabs.com). Sergei is a seasoned C-level executive with deep experience leading enterprise technology and innovation. In his current role as EVP and Chief Strategy Officer for DLT Labs, he guides the global growth of an emerging leader in applying blockchain to enterprise data management. Prior to joining DLT Labs, he served as CIO at Walmart Canada, led IT Strategy at the LCBO, and held technology leadership roles at Easyhome, Canadian Tire, and RBC. Over the course of more than 25 years leading change across multiple industries, Sergei has cultivated a nuanced understanding of the ways in which technology innovation impacts our teams, cultures, and society. Sergei has a Master of Science Degree in International Economics and Finance from Russian University of Cooperation (formerly Moscow University of Consumer Cooperation). He is a competitive cross-country skier and earned a black belt in taekwondo.
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