Supply Chain Now
Episode 634

Episode Summary

“It is the young generation that’s really going to define the market trends of the future. We’ve got a booming young population and global companies are realizing that they can tap into the talent that we have in Africa.”

– Gugulethu Hughes, Founder of Clinch

 

Many people that work in the supply chain industry never intended for their career to follow that path. Gugulethu Hughes, the Founder of Clinch and a procurement and supply chain professional with over a decade of experience across different sectors, can make an even bigger claim. He ended up in supply chain without realizing it was supply chain.

Throughout his career, he has had to work through some unique challenges because he is located in Africa: access to technology, access to education, access to data, and pressing human rights issues such as child labor. Fortunately, with a strong family upbringing – one that emphasized hard work and education – he now has a successful track record in supply chain and logistics.

In this episode, Gugulethu – known to his friends as Hughes – tells Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Enrique Alvarez and Scott Luton about:

· Why corporate social responsibility programs are falling short of their stated objective to eliminate child labor for the cobalt and other mining-related supply chains

· The huge potential that tech companies (and others) see in the young talent currently coming of age in Africa

· What Hughes sees as the number one challenge for the startup economy in Africa, and how it is likely to be resolved

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

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

Scott Luton (00:32):

Scott Luton and Enrique Alvarez here with you own supply chain. Now welcome to today’s show. We’ve got an excellent show teed up here today, but Hey, first off Enrique. And when this, this episode drops, it won’t be your birthday, but today it is your birthday. So happy birthday, my dear friend and partner in Enrique Alvarez. Thank you so much, Scott. It’s a pleasure being here. It’s going to be a really interesting conversation with an amazing guest and I’m just, uh, as always just kind of happy, uh, proud to be your co-host and, uh, ready to learn some more from Hughes, from you agree today. Oh, I and I did on my birthday. Ah, well, you know, that’s okay. You get the past today. And frankly it is like a birthday every day for me that I get to work alongside you and interview guests like, like we’ve got teed up here today. So wonderful episode, our guests has spent more than a decade in supply chain working in a number of sectors lately. He’s been working with investment firms, looking to partner with a startup community in Africa, which is really cool. You’ll also pick right up. I promise you on our guests passion for a variety of industry issues impacting the entire continent of Africa. So let’s welcome in Gugulethu Hughes’s founder at Clinch.

Gugulethu Hughes (01:51):

I mean, Scott, thank you for having me on the show and Rica like Scott Sage, you get a pass for letting the kids out of the bag. That’s your birthday present from me.

Scott Luton (02:02):

Thank you so much. Both of you. You’re so generous. Um, ah, I feel like a embarrassed now. Such an amateur. No, no, no. Hey that’s okay. We’ve got a great conversation. We’ve got teed up with Hughes now. You’ll notice when we introduced him, uh, his first name is Gugulethu which, uh, is, uh, is short or translated. It means our pride, which how cool is that to be named, uh, for, uh, his parents pride essentially, but he goes informally by Hughes and you’ll hear us refer to our guests like that throughout this outstanding conversation that we’ve got teed up. So Hughes. You’re ready to dive right in.

Gugulethu Hughes (02:43):

Definitely. You’re ready to dive right in Scott. All right,

Scott Luton (02:47):

Let’s do it. Let’s so before we get to the issues of the day, um, you know, let’s let our audience get a chance to connect with you and learn more about you kinda like we have through previous conversations and phone calls. So tell us where are you from and give us a couple anecdotes about your upbringing.

Gugulethu Hughes (03:03):

Yes, I’m from South Africa, Kenya, um, uh, I’ve got three siblings. I’m the first point in FMLA for basically raised by amazing parents, uh, in a very close knit family, typical African family for me put it that way. You know, the traditional African family it’s subsistence by nature. So it’s not only limited to your immediate family. You know, you’ve got the cousins, they’ve got the aunts that all from the broader church, if I may put it that way of the family and these are all the people that, um, I would say shaped my upbringing, uh, I must add that I wasn’t really born on a silver blade, but I was definitely born in a very, very disciplined family. And, and, and that discipline that I, I adopted from my upbringing. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s something that I look at now. Um, I realized that it’s having an impact in, in, in all spheres of my life, which is quite a great thing. I mean, obviously when you’re growing up as a child and you’re getting, you know, the discipline from the parents, it feels like abuse when you’re still growing up. Cause you’re, but now when you’re an adult, you look back and then you realize that, I mean, this is where the real meal is met and I’m very grateful for my parents.

Scott Luton (04:26):

I love that. So, so, so nothing if I’m hearing you, right. Nothing was giving given to you as a child, you had to earn it and work hard for it.

Gugulethu Hughes (04:36):

Exactly. I had to work hard for it. I mean, interesting enough, you know, um, my family in, in as much, you know, it’s, it wasn’t a rich family, but there was a proper family ethos in terms of, of, of putting certain things into a priority base number and being education. My family is, is, is you had a very active role even in society, like in terms of educating, um, children, in being leaders in education. So I always had pupil in my family to look up to, we had made it through working hard, uh, entertaining, good education over and above, uh, other soft skills that I gained from one’s upbringing. So I always had, uh, fecals to look forward to. And I think that’s what made me become what I have now, because I’ve always had those fecals. But if I’m in defied all the odds and hid met a big name for themselves.

Scott Luton (05:36):

Mm what? So, um, so Enrique, I think from here, and this is a wonderful start to a conversation, uh, I like how Hughes tells it like it is. And you can tell right away that the foundation, no, no wonder. You’re so passionate about some things we’re going to be talking about today. Uh, I love to hear any, any, any time someone references their ethos that, uh, impacted their upbringing

Enrique Alvarez (05:58):

And their family, kind of the culture that they grew up in, those are the folks that change the world. So Enrique let’s, let’s dive into his, uh, playing journey. No. Um, and once again, Hugh sings for being here with us, it’s always a pleasure to, to meet, uh, driven and committed and passionate people like yourself. And thanks to your parents. It sounds like so great. Um, tell us a little bit more about your professional career now so that our listeners can, can get to know you better, uh, on that, on that, um, dimension as well.

Gugulethu Hughes (06:30):

Right? It’s, it’s actually interesting. I’ve been itching to mention this to Scott after my last conversation with him, how I actually landed onto into the supply chain field. So I worked for this family as a, as a landscape designer. That’s offensive word for someone who does gardening. So I did get an internship. So I did gardening for this family a couple of years back. That’s more than a ticket. Yeah. Couple of years back. So now I was doing gardening, this family, they had a small business that they were running from one of the coverages. So they were into the business of essential oils. They were focusing on essential oils, two big oils that are popular in the world, tea tree oil and lavender oil all the way doing is pouring the oils into the bubbles and supplying to a couple of pharmacists. So there were days when they were very busy, then they’ll ask me, drop the lawnmower.

Gugulethu Hughes (07:28):

I can come and help us pack this. Uh, what goes into, in, into this small, uh, van here. So, I mean, uh, from there, the company, as it grew from being a garage based car, they got premises, uh, cause they were expanding. Now they’d got in a big contract with one of the big companies in essay to supply the same product. So they had to find a bigger premises. So I mean, I continued doing my landscape, designing with them until they called me again like, Oh, do you mind coming to help us for a week just to help us pack all this stock that we have in the warehouse. So I got, no problem. I’ll come through. So I went through for a week on a Friday, by the end of that week, then they asked me, do you mind coming again for the next week?

Gugulethu Hughes (08:13):

And then, you know, just help us sort out things out because it’s still a mess. I’m like, yeah, I’m getting mom in. We’re going to come through. I went through after the end. I mean, after the 14 days, they’re like, well, another week until I’m in the fourth week, I was asked, would you like to work for us? Full-time then? Yeah. I mean, that was my break into the supply chain. I’d never worked in supply chain consciously. I mean the world to the supply chain, but conscious life never be worked in a, in an environment that’s for my, the, uh, no one in supply chain. So my first break was in warehousing. So then I was given the role of, of, of being aware. I was assistant awake as well as a sustained for probably a year or so. They promoted me to being the whales manager, which, um, I did wait in that role. So now data as part of the executive committee for the company. And I was part of the decision-making

Scott Luton (09:09):

Really, really quick. Let me just interrupt you for a second because what’s cool here. Uh, many things, but number one, you kind of order fulfillment is what got you in. And it was the magnet that got you into the industry and also in a startup environment, which is really cool to be, to break into supply chain essentially, uh, in, in a startup environment and then to, and then clearly the company, uh, like to promote from within. So, you know, from a part-time to full-time to permanent employee, to warehouse manager, to eventually like you just described on a leadership team where you had input and could make decisions and, and, and it sounds like shape the strategy of the company. That is pretty cool Hughes,

Gugulethu Hughes (09:50):

Definitely. And just to check your back still on that point, I think when I mentioned my, my upbringing in terms of the discipline from the family, the family culture, family, ethos, I think it’s just the same element, but caught me rising from, from, from doing gardening too, to being, um, a Warehouser sustained, to being a warehouse manager, obviously something that they were seeing in me in terms of the discipline and the artwork that I was putting in, you know, though I wasn’t, because it’s something that’s has been embedded in me for like, since my upbringing. So it’s something that still goes back to my upbringing. And also, like you mentioned demand fulfillment at the time. I mean, cost was my first time waking in Wales and I didn’t know much about supply chain. What I use that I was working as a warehouse manager and I was doing my best, or I mean, with the opportunity that I had been given. So that’s how I actually met my first prac uh, into the supply chain field.

Scott Luton (10:53):

Is, is there something that you remember that your parents, your mom, your dad, or someone influential in your upbringing kind of kept telling you that you can kind of relate to when you were doing some of these warehousing, uh, activities and later on, as you kind of continue to escalate the, uh, the ladder, um, towards the executive group, was there something that you still kind of hold dear and it’s practical that you can share with our audience?

Gugulethu Hughes (11:18):

Definitely. Um, one person was very critical in my upbringing was my grandmother. Unfortunately she passed on, uh, two or three years back. She, she, she always told me when I was growing up that, um, I should never set boundaries for myself. I shouldn’t create any walls in front of me. The world is my oyster. So I’ve always ran with that. So even when I got the break into, into, into warehousing for me put it that way, it was the first for me. I could have been scared and said, no, I’ve never done this. I cannot do this, but I just went in there with all my heart. I mean, and this coming from, from that, um, advice, you know, like the words, but I still recall to this day from, from my grandmother and I carry it with me all the time.

Enrique Alvarez (12:06):

Yeah. Never, never giving up, never kind of settling, always trying to make a change and your surroundings. That sounds, it sounds like a great story. I’m glad that you shared it. I now know why you were actually, so as tend to tell us, cause, uh, cause it’s incredible. Is there, uh, during those times, and I now led you continue the, the, your career in a second, but during those times, while you were in warehousing cause warehousing and fulfillment, it’s always a pain in logistics, right? So always like tricky. It’s always challenging. Was there something there around that time that, uh, that you thought, well, this is an Eureka moment. It’s like, Hey, that realized this, I could do this differently. It could change things. How was kind of that progression for you as you kind of learned the industry a bit more?

Gugulethu Hughes (12:51):

It was very, very interesting. And I think one of the Eureka moments is I got to, to, to wake or liaise with, with different people. I mean, uh, we had a third party logistics combined, which was doing the actual collections and distribution to the distribution centers for our clients. Um, at the time when I started me being new that no, there was lacking big time and I hate to use the skills that I have naturally for my bringing to negotiation skills, collaboration, make them understand that we’re working together as a team, not against each other. I think through that, that’s how I ended up getting promoted to the position of warehouse manager because now I managed to put together a aware oil team. People were waking together instead of working against each other. And I mean, it did bear good results at the end, cause the company continued to grow up to this day. I went into work for that company for like, um, probably seven, eight years.

Enrique Alvarez (13:57):

What did, what did you do after that? And of course like, uh, I will also like you to, to tell us a bit more about your leadership style. Cause it sounds like you’ve put a very efficient team together and I completely agree with you. It’s really something, uh, critical, uh, having a strong team kind of supporting your growth and the growth of the company. But tell us, tell us more what happened afterwards and, and tell us a bit more about your leadership style as well.

Gugulethu Hughes (14:22):

Um, I’m a very people driven person. Um, that’s without the pupil, I don’t see any progress. So I’m the person that you might have good warehouse management system or transport management system or ERP. But if you, you, you’re not invested in, in your pupil, you’re not relating well to your staff, then you bound to fail. So my, my leadership style has always been, people-centric more focused on pupil. You get people on board, um, you, you are bound to, to, to achieve more in, in, in people. You’ll be surprised how much people really appreciate having a leader. That’s present with them in their daily struggles at work. You might not really help them on their personal issues. But just to know that they’ve got someone in leadership who represents them, who is on their side, um, they’ll give you a hundred percent effort. So I’m, I’m a people focused person.

Enrique Alvarez (15:22):

I completely agree again. It’s very powerful and, uh, definitely effective. Um, continue with your trajectory if you don’t mind. And, uh, tell us a little bit more. So what happened afterwards? Uh, once you were already part of the executive committee for this, uh, company, what else, what else did you do?

Gugulethu Hughes (15:40):

Yeah, so the other thing interesting that Japan, every time, so I’m working in, in, in this company in warehousing, um, I’m still not consciously aware that this is supply chain. And when I was growing up, I’ve always wanted to do law or I had to study for degree in law because of I’ve got a cousin of mine. She did well, she went on to graduate. I think she was in Russia. Now she’s a practicing investment lawyer. So I always looked up to her and we’re very close. So I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to start, you know, so much that I applied to one of the universities to study for it, to bring in lawyers, actually they accepted. Then around that time, my then employer, she, she offered me, she said to me, um, she had a, a brother young brother, um, that she wanted to sponsor for studies, but he wasn’t interested then say, you know what?

Gugulethu Hughes (16:33):

I’ve given someone in opportunity to study and, uh, I was going to pay for this person, but they’re not interested. Would you, like, I can pay for your status if you want to, to, to pursue anything that you want to study. I was like, yeah, definitely. Um, so like, okay, look for the courses that you want to do at that time. Then I was like, you know, now I’m very much aware that, okay, this is a supply chain. And really, I want to give back to the combine and that I’m waking for in the best way for me is probably to, to start to something that’s gonna directly benefit the company. You know, in terms of operations. I know lawyers audience coming in, uh, uh, strategic field as a strategic partner to the company, but I wanted the company to benefit from me operation it. So I started doing my research. Um, and then yeah, I ended up finding a good program with the chartered Institute of procurement and supply in the UK, but they branch out worldwide. So that’s how I ended up studying for procurement and supply chain. And, and I have the company pay for, for my studies.

Enrique Alvarez (17:41):

So Hughes, did I hear you say that lawyers do not provide any bottom line impact on businesses? Exactly what I heard?

Gugulethu Hughes (17:52):

Well, yeah, they’re good. They’re good. Strategic partners. You gotta, you gotta have their like insurance. You must have.

Scott Luton (18:03):

Hey. And of course any attorneys listened to us. We’re, we’re only having fun. You do have to have, especially if you, as you’re building a business, I love how, um, one of the elements you’re touching on the, I really love that that really appealed to me from a supply chain standpoint is it’s constant problem solving, miss making an impact it’s delivering on that order. That is it’s so tied into the results of the business and, and how you provide value to the consumers. It really it’s one of the best parts about being a splotch. And I think that, and in a, in a, in a related note, you know, you’re working together because there’s a, there’s a greater mission. There’s a more noble mission. There’s a bigger picture, uh, mission. And I think that for many folks, I’ve rubbed elbows with whether it’s in manufacturing or logistics or whatever that appealed to many of them. In fact, it really reminds me of my time in the military. I think there’s a lot of common elements there, but he uses that. One of the things that kept you, uh, you mentioned for seven or eight years working for in, in that, in that initial role, is that one of your favorite aspects about a supply chain professions?

Gugulethu Hughes (19:05):

Um, definitely. I mean, continuous problem solving. You never really know, or I mean, what my teacher next, you can plan as much as you want, do a demand planning, but the supply chain, you never know what’s going to hit you. It might be the weather that’s for now. It’s an exit. And that has happened in the stealing the truck from, you know, coming through to connect the code. So supply chain, you never really know what’s happening in one of the, of the interesting things I think with us this side, um, every time, obviously now we’ve gained a pace in terms of digitization, where you see, um, supply chain companies adopting, uh, supply chain systems like warehouse management systems, many are still lagging behind. So for me at the time, uh, when I started with the company, there was no way as management system. So we had to do everything on Microsoft Excel.

Gugulethu Hughes (19:54):

Remember at that time, uh, I actually lent Microsoft Excel was working with that company. I self-taught, so we’re just controlling stock via, um, Excel. Uh, and I’m in with Conchita now. And again, you go and count. There’s no systems or two. I look back now and I realize that the trust that the company had put in me to always, you know, I have the right quantities in time for this page manual. And without the system aging, you know, it’s quite a big task. And, and, and that’s still the case with most, uh, companies not only in, in South Africa, but in, in, um, in Africa, in general where the, the intake of technology systems, uh, it’s still a very low, but yeah, it does make systems do make the planning easier though. Like I say, supply chain, you never know what my teacher next. Like we had 19, like

Scott Luton (20:50):

A ship stuck in the Suez canal, uh, drought, a drought and Taiwan for the first time in 50 something years that’s impacting the semiconductor business. I mean, you name it, it, the curve balls are, uh, I’m not sure what surpasses major league curve balls, but that’s what supply chain curve balls are. Um, yeah. So Enrique, uh, I liked how you, you were asking huge to continue that trajectory. Um, here’s if it’s appropriate, can we talk about what you’re doing now?

Gugulethu Hughes (21:18):

Okay. So at the moment, um, uh, working with a supply chain consulting firm that I’m contracted to, um, weight-based scale working as a project consultant, quite an interesting field because now, um, unlike the other job that other previous jobs, that I’ve yet where I worked in warehousing, because when I left the company that I worked for for seven years, I started my own thing. And then I went back to the job market and I ended up in warehousing again, until I joined the supply chain consulting firm, which has been very interesting because they’re now, uh, waking as a project consultant, you get to, to work, uh, in interact with different companies with different pupil. I mean, over and above doing the systems work of implementing systems, you’re also growing your professional network and I’ve seen it with some clinics that I’ve worked with that, you know, they, they developed, um, very good connections. I’ve done the same with, with people that we work with, that we implement this, we implement the systems and they’ve gotten other opportunities and moved on. Some it moved to the UK is doing other big things, you know? And, and that’s one of the things about supply chain and that’s why it’s called the supply chain. There’s these, you know, this is the bass boats of notes and, and, and you never really know where the next one can take you.

Scott Luton (22:39):

Yes. Well said you do. You never know. You never know, even if you’ve got a crystal ball that the warranty on crystal balls these days, I think it expire after a couple hours. So, uh, things change so fast. All right.

Gugulethu Hughes (22:52):

Yeah. But just to, just to jump in there, Scott, um, another interesting thing that I’m doing at the moment I did mentioned it to you previously is, um, doing deal sourcing and business development for, for Cambridge capital that Ben got on. You already know him. I’d never done that before. Um, I actually, how we met with, with Ben also, it was via Twitter. We started chatting on the DMS, it went to an email. Then I met a proposal to, to work with them for me, the passion, because when I look at the developed a weld, um, and, and see the past that the developed world is growing, I need to, my passion is to then bring the people from the developing world, from the developed world to work with, with Africans, because we’re lacking behind obviously due to historical issues. But then, uh, that’s why I always find enough within my Twitter feed. Most of my contacts in supply chain, it’s people from the developed world from the U S from, from Europe. And I make sure that from those relationships that I build, I’m able to bring in, uh, those people into working with the, with, uh, different individuals or companies in, in, in Africa. So that’s how I ended up waking with Ben Gordon, which exposed me to quite a lot of things, uh, cause I something that I’d never done. And now I even understand the African justice sector more than I thought I did love it,

Scott Luton (24:24):

Love that. And of course, uh, Ben Gordon has joined us a couple of times here on supply chain now and tequila, sunrise, and he’s, he is quite the mover and shaker and business maker. Uh, but we’re going to talk more about the African logistics scene here, momentarily, Enrique, if you’re good, I want to dive into there’s three big topics that, uh, Hughes is very passionate about that we’re gonna dive into. Are you good with moving right along? Okay. Anything else you want to know? I think, uh, I think it’s, uh, it’s gonna be very interesting to hear Hugues, uh, take on some of these issues that we’re about to talk about. And I think, uh, he’s trajectory and successful career kind of allow him to, to have this view, like this macro view of things, because you have done so many different things throughout your career, and you kind of know all the different angles that you have become, uh, uh, I’m sure, a very successful supply chain consultant.

Scott Luton (25:20):

And I think that your experience is incredibly valued. So Knight, thank you for sharing your story with us today. And let’s definitely talk about this things that you’re very passionate about. And I will said, so, so first up here is we wanna talk about the enormous challenge of child labor, especially in Africa. So pulled some data and, and this state is about four or five years old. Uh, we’ll I’ll do, I’ll do, I’ll do better next time I promise. But this is a big, this is a huge challenge. So according to the internal labor organization in 2016, uh, one fifth of all children in Africa or involved are involved in child labor as of 2016, that’s twice as many as any other region in the world. And 9% of those children are working in hazardous roles, which unfortunately is also, uh, more than any other region in the world. So, so with that kind of as a backdrop, the enormous challenge that is child labor in Africa, give us some of your thoughts there.

Gugulethu Hughes (26:16):

Definitely a very, very big challenge. Um, Scott, um, it’s, it’s very sad. Um, I mean, there’s quite a number of countries that, um, leading the path and that in terms of, of, of reported cases of child labor, I remember even with the data that we can get from different sources, um, it’s only a reported data, but the issues of child labor, uh, more than what the fecals that we get. That’s for example, in countries like the democratic Republic of Congo, [inaudible], there’s many more other African countries where these serious cases of child labor. And if you look at the happenings, it’s such that the main culprits that are perpetuating that ill is it’s the multinational companies, because they’re the ones who are in, in, in, in these economies in most cases, it’s way of what extractive materials you call cobalt and so forth. That’s where it’s happening.

Gugulethu Hughes (27:17):

Uh, for example, with the democratic Republic of Congo, obviously they’re supplying the world with 70% of, of, of cobalt. So you’ve got kids there that are awaking in, in, um, in these actors, in our minds, there is no personal protective equipment, neither for the kids, nor for the adults. And, and this material ends up in, in, in, because also it goes to China in most cases, because now China is trying to lead, uh, the world just being the biggest manufacturer of, uh, Evy, uh, batteries. So that’s where most of the Copa is doing. They’ve got eight mines there that they own in the Jersey. And in almost all of them, these toddler buy cases, it’s the same with another big multinational company. Like GenCos, they’re involved in that. Yes, they do come with the, with, with corporate social responsibility programs, but, um, to stop that from continuing.

Gugulethu Hughes (28:10):

But I feel like, um, they’re not really doing enough because at the end of the day, they’re still buying. They’ve got their people buying all, all the proceeds from child labor, from the artisanal miners, which, which instills the future from those children, because they are not really getting anything back in return. Now I’ll give you an example. I mean, like the DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world yet. It’s, it’s probably the richest country in the world in terms of the minerals that it’s called those children that are waking them in the minds. Some of them have never seen as much for them. They will probably never see it. And, and all, all electronic products like smartphones and so forth, they all contain that mineral

Scott Luton (28:54):

Well, I’m, I’m glad you brought that up because I think for some of our listeners, they may not be aware of, of cobalt and, and how, uh, it’s penetrated so many different products. Of course, lithium ion batteries, cobalt is, is heavily used for those manufacturer magnetic, uh, high strength alloys, which of course aloe is, are used across across industries. You know, glass ceramics, inks paints a lot more, but it, it, it is a, is an end demand. And unfortunately, as you’re pointing out Hughes, that demand is being met partially at least by utilizing, uh, child labor and dangerous child labor that, right.

Gugulethu Hughes (29:31):

Yeah, definitely. So in, you know, just to, to add another, another entry to, to that debate. So also to understand child labor, you also to understand the various African cultures. So in most cases, African culture is such that, uh, the, the family unit also societies were subsistent by nature before colonialism, right? Subsistence, meaning that they, I mean, they could take care of themselves, but they’re now critical to the growth of an African child is for the child to be involved in all the lab activities within the family that the family teams fit at any given time, which is fine because then it builds character. It teaches skills, but then the, there has to be aligned that is drawn to say, in as much as my child can do this kind of labor, it must not interfere with their growth. It must not interfere with them acquiring education and other skills outside of the family.

Gugulethu Hughes (30:34):

So in most cases now what’s happening in, in, in, in these countries like the DRC is that you’ve got parents, um, they’ve gone through, through that same, same route of waking in mind. They’re not getting anything until they eventually get sick. Cause remember that I mentioned they in artisanal mining, there is no personal protective equipment. So you’ve got dust, you’ve got injuries and also forth. So you’ve got parents that are literally sick at home so much that the child now becomes the breadwinner. That child is forced to go in web in the minds. You know, when they’re not supposed to remit, it’s now a commissioner of mine. The child is not even supposed to be it’s, it’s, it’s wrong, it’s ethical. But now to keep the family alive, uh, the child now needs to literally become the, the breadwinner

Scott Luton (31:20):

I can for a second. Uh, and reggae would welcome your thoughts here. I know that that, uh, y’all do business. Uh, I know vector does business globally, but, uh, I’ve got team members, uh, across African continent as well. Um, question for you. He is, I think one of the cool things that we’ve seen with, uh, and cool doesn’t do justice. One of the wonderful, extraordinary and uplifting things we’ve seen as technology continues to transform how business has done globally is it’s brought a ton of visibility to some of our toughest, oldest and newest challenges. And, and whether it’s deforestation, whether it is, uh, slave labor, um, and hopefully child labor is put a visibility, put a spotlight on these things, right. And brought it, some of it at least to surface levels. So, so that organizations and countries and, and bad actors can be held responsible. Do you have similar hope that, um, the same spotlight will be used to drive change, uh, and that with this child labor issue that, that plagues, um, the African continent,

Gugulethu Hughes (32:23):

Uh, well, uh, it definitely, I mean, technology like mentioned it, it brings out the visibility, but I mean, for, for, for us in order to, to gain that visibility, it means we need to input something into the systems. And that’s where we are lacking in, in terms of, of, of, uh, inputting their data in cases of child labor. So that, you know, the reporting is, is very much extensive, but I think technology is doing a great job of, of changing the world and people have bought all those ills and so much that even the companies, these multinationals, when they now begin to, to, uh, come up with corporate social responsibility programs that, you know, try to address the ills of chocolate bites, it’s, it’s, it’s one coming from, from that visibility because it’s exposure now they’re being exposed for, you know, being participating or, um, in those activities.

Gugulethu Hughes (33:18):

Then, you know, that’s where technology has benefits us, but all the end above technology also, um, I think we’ve, we’ve got a number of, of, of, uh, non, for profit organizations and peer groups, uh, that, um, uh, actually focused on that area of, of addressing child labor by India. They are amounting that pressure on the corporates and governments in general, to, to look at that issue, you know, so that, it’s, it’s, I mean, it’s really just to the, the minimum. So I think technology is definitely going to be the biggest differentiator in terms of how do we proceed from here? How do we address the issue? Technology gives us the opportunity to create some visibility.

Enrique Alvarez (33:58):

It’s, um, it’s a little bit of a shame as well that we have to kind of rely on technology and accountability to do the right thing when leaders of those companies should be doing the right things, just because they are the right things to do. But, uh, but to your point, Hughes, I think technology and accountability and the new consumers that are coming up and growing quickly are going to make a difference. They’re going to demand their brands and their products to be sourced responsibly. And hopefully we’ll see that in the leadership of those companies as the, as time passes, right. I’m really hopeful. I’m very excited for the new generation. So I see it in my children when they’re old enough to kind of like participate in everything that’s going on from an economic standpoint, I I’m sure that they’re going to have a different approach towards, towards issues like this and, and this just child labor, no matter where, what the main reason it is like a poor conditions with the parents that kind of cause the parents to stop working.

Enrique Alvarez (34:54):

And then they have to go in to sustain the family or other ways it’s just wrong. It really is just wrong. And if companies don’t see that and if also society don’t see it, then, then there’s a big, big, bigger issue there. Excellent point. And, and as we’re seeing with a variety of industry issues and societal issues, consumers are demanding more and more of the actions taken. So, and that’s, that’s a great thing. Um, so I, I know that we could talk, you know, doing, you’re talking about child labor issues across the globe and 10 minutes never does it justice, but we’ve got a couple of the big topics use it. We’d love for you to weigh in on, but I want to give you the last word on, uh, on this topic. Um, yeah.

Gugulethu Hughes (35:38):

Um, I’m actually just going to add on to what I mentioned, reconvention that, um, it’s, it’s very sad, but we, we, I, having to pressure this, uh, big companies to do things right when they actually are supposed to be doing things right. I mean, in the first place we talked about technology, how technology gives us, enables us to have some visibility, but then also now if we dig deep into the supply chain of, of, of the same technologies that we are using, it said, because it ends up becoming ironical because the laptops and computers and smartphones that we use to somehow address the same issues of charred nearby, they contain the same, uh, materials that have been gained from, from, you know, unfair labor practices. So, um, and, and I think it’s a cycle that needs to be broken, like, and we can mention with what kids ending up becoming breadwinners it’s a site is sooner or later, this kids will gravitate to being a Dallas, they’ll have their own families.

Gugulethu Hughes (36:39):

Remember they’ve been working in the mines for years as kids, by the time they become adults already. Some were some are they, health is, is, you know, it’s, it’s affected because most of them don’t have the personal protective equipment. So then they pass on that to the kids will now end up having to wait for them. So it’s a sad cycle and in some, with some are, needs to be broken. And I think it’s the responsibility for us also is supply chain peopple because it all boils down to supply chain, like squatter really saves the world is a supply chain. We need to do a more wherever we can, you know, at different fields. And also, you know, in terms of question ties in the consumer, the modern day consumer, because, um, at the point of sale, I mean, mostly people are not questioning where the product is coming from, but we, we seeing that happen. We’ve got, you know, the new generation asking questions,

Scott Luton (37:34):

Agreed. And, and, you know, I know some folks aren’t yet believers in blockchain, but one of the best, most practical, uh, practical applications of blockchain is ensuring that we don’t source and we don’t support and blindly support some of these issues that are produced using resources that, that shouldn’t be used and taking advantage of people and, and governments and, and you name it. So, uh, it’s great to see blockchain, uh, be applied in such a meaningful, impactful way. And, and of course the use and application of blockchain is only going to grow so many other use cases.

Enrique Alvarez (38:08):

I just very quickly Scott, the responsibility that Hughes mentions. I think it’s something worth noting because, uh, this is all about supply chain, right? And you have a really big, broad audience when it comes to supply chain on something that you mentioned, Hughes, it’s their responsibility. It’s also in EV at every single step of the supply chain, right? So the consumers do their part by putting pressure, but why are the steamship lines shipping things that are, they know, are manufactured using child labor? Why are companies in logistics, trucking companies, or, I mean, I think we’re all part of the problem. And, uh, and we all have to be part of the solution. If we want this thing to end and Hughes, you pointed out something that I just realize it’s, it’s critical, right? I mean, there’s the manufacturing and the Purdue production, but the first truck that takes any of that material in this case cobalt or whatever, it’s also being part of the problem. I mean, they should stop shipping those products if they’re not sourced, uh, I guess responsibly.

Scott Luton (39:04):

Mm, excellent. Excellent points there. I want to, I want to shift gears on a much lighter note cause there’s some really incredible things happening, uh, across the, um, the continent of Africa, right. Uh, kind of across the market. Um, and I think, and, and Hughes correct me. I think there’s 55 countries that make up the African continent. I think some folks is

Gugulethu Hughes (39:27):

That right? Yeah, that’s correct. I think

Scott Luton (39:29):

Kind of like the States, I think we talked about this a few weeks back, you know, some folks don’t realize just how many different cultures within a culture or across the U S 50 States. They act very differently. They have their own governments, you know, there’s trade issues between them. And I think a lot of folks when they hear the word Africa that make the same assumptions, right. But there’s 55 unique, uh, countries. And of course, a plethora of countries, uh, of cultures and communities that even further beyond those 55. So the good news is the market is shifting for a variety of reasons. I like how Ernst young puts it here. They say, quote, global investors. Now come to Africa more often for the promise of its people, rather than for its physical properties in quote. And that’s, that is a, um, a wonderful, I can’t call it a trend because it’s happening now. It’s been happening for years. You know, the promise of the people, the workforce, the ideas, the innovation, you name it, that’s, that’s what is, seems to be making the, uh, the African market thrive. But what’s your take what’s, what’s some of the secret sauce that’s making the African economy.

Gugulethu Hughes (40:36):

Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a good report from instant young. Um, all, they ended up above the extractives that we in, in raw materials that we have, um, in Africa, we’ve got a warming young population and, and, and, and companies, our companies, uh, are realizing that they can tap into, into the talent that we have also in Africa, in, in, in the young, um, population, uh, I’ve seen big companies like Amazon Facebook, they’re setting up their Africa headquarters in different African countries, which is, you know, which, which shows the Promius, uh, I mean, uh, for Africa and you look at the e-commerce sector, I mean, it’s projected to grow by leaps and bounds in the next coming years in Africa, due to the booming population. Also mostly young people, because it is the young generation that’s really going to define the market trends of the future. So combined is, are now dropped by companies. I, you know, chipping into the area of services economy, you know, with a focus on after tapping into the child end and the young population that we have. It’s quite interesting. Yes. There’s going to be challenges, regulatory challenges, um, and you know, other instances of unfair maybe level practices, but, you know, it’s a step in the right direction. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Scott Luton (41:57):

Agreed. And that’s a great point that extractive industries, you know, that we’re, there’s been a, uh, such a reliance and, and for, for centuries, you know, on that only extract extractive side, but, but now it’s invest, it’s it’s everything, but which is such a, a warm breath of fresh air. It’s going to provide a lot of opportunity for many folks and bring a ton of ideas and innovation to the global industry, which is, is really cool. So Enrique before, um, we talked with Hughes about one of our favorite topics, which is startup and startup environment, startup communities. Anything else, any observations you’d like to weigh in on, on just kind of the bigger picture of the booming economy across Africa? Yeah, no, for us, in particular, at vector Africa, we consider a strategic strategic region. Uh, we’re growing extensively in Africa. It’s a, it’s an amazing continent full of really talented people, creative, uh, innovative and just advanced in many, many ways.

Scott Luton (42:57):

So, uh, no, I use second, everything that Hugh said and, uh, G I just have two companies, the big companies are realizing this and they’re moving towards this and they know that they have to shift their strategies from consuming materials in Africa and mining Africa to creating more than what you can when you’re consuming. Right? Yes, absolutely. Ton of opportunity. Okay. Let’s talk a Hughes. I love love, as you were talking earlier, earlier in that interviewed first half, kind of what you do now, you know, kind of helping to find deals and investments, and which is a win-win for all parties, oftentimes so focused on a thing you’re focused on the African logistics startup environment. And, and if you’re not, you’ll correct me, I’m sure. But tell, tell us clearly what the last topic we identified. Some reasons why the economy and opportunities are opening up for many folks, but what else would you add from a startup environment? And then, and then talk about if you have any examples of we’d love to, we’d love to kind of hear some of the stories.

Gugulethu Hughes (44:00):

Um, yeah, I mean, the startup environment in, in, in, in Africa, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s forming, um, coming up, right. Um, within the financial services sector is there’s lots of, uh, startup companies coming up, uh, mostly in Nigeria, which is, uh, biggest, uh, one of the biggest economies or the most populous African country is Nigeria. There’s a, the economy way where you find that in the economy to a larger degree, it’s still very informal, but then now it has created an opportunity for, for, for all the savvy young guys in the startup environment to come up with quite interesting solutions in, in, in logistics and payments and equal means quite a number of them that have come up with great things. But my focus, like you mentioned, uh, has been, um, the logistics sector in terms of, of startups that are coming up here. So, uh, the focus whilst doing the deal sourcing is only been on, on the startups.

Gugulethu Hughes (45:04):

It’s also been on the overall logistics sector in Africa is all. And what I’ve noticed is, is, uh, during the period that I’ve been doing, this is, um, there’s lots of young own startup companies that are doing great things so much that if they could get capital incentives or investments, they’ll definitely scale their operations and, and, you know, and become a force to reckon with in the, in the top world, capital is the main challenge for these startup companies. And then these big companies like Imperial logistics, uh, they are known globally that are doing well. Um, I’ve seen instances of them also using the services of startups. Most of the startups it’s in technology has to do with technology, um, systems for supply chain, they’re utilizing the services of, of those companies. So, yeah, it’s, it’s, um, very upbeat and bullish on the, uh, in inspire the future of the startup ecosystem is concerned in Africa and economies is the biggest differentiator.

Gugulethu Hughes (46:12):

These days, lots of consumerism as is the case all over the world. But, you know, we’ve seen guys doing breadth things. I mean, in terms of have we had COVID-19 strike the whole world, uh, see a guys pivoting into doing great things in terms of, uh, deliver the solutions and, and, um, you know, and also health systems. I see there’s, they have got a couple of clinics that are in the startup sector for medical deliveries. Um, and, and, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s quite encouraging. And, and when I, I, I had the conversation with, with Ben got on in terms of, of, of Cambridge capital investing in some of these companies we’re not there yet, obviously because the company has got an EBITDA that is looking at, but, you know, to get your time where, you know, we ended up getting to work with these companies to help them grow, because the biggest challenge in as much as we’ve got all these startup companies that are coming up here has been capital.

Gugulethu Hughes (47:11):

Uh, so [inaudible], I feel like the government is, is isn’t doing much to assist the startup companies. So they end up being at the mercy of the banks and so forth. Um, and I think it will be a good thing, you know, to, to have them get investments or not only investments, but, you know, partnerships in supply chain. So of companies was back to cooperation that I always talk about. Now, I’ve got a couple of, of, of people that I’ve met also in FITA, you know, that are doing quite bred things. And I always try to link them up with people in the international scene that I’m in touch with. Then always try to explore ways of collaboration, not necessarily capital, but it could be every news for them to have their products or their saying this, you know,

Scott Luton (48:00):

We had Kabir, Shakaya, founder, and CEO of Zippy logistics on the earlier livestream. Not sure if he ever rubbed elbows with Kabir, but what a remarkable story, you know, they’re, they’re building their logistics firm. I want to say they’re headquartered in, uh, Legos. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Have you ever, uh, have you ever connected with Kabir?

Gugulethu Hughes (48:22):

Yeah, I am. I have, like when you mentioned very interesting. Yeah. Um, small world. Yeah. Small world.

Scott Luton (48:34):

Well, you don’t have to, uh, let any skeletons out of your closet. I don’t want to give you the, uh, get you to share the secret sauce or anything, but he, he, he, that was just wonderful. He joined us for our safe picks, fueled livestream series, where we focus on own supply chain across the African continent. And, um, he perfect illustration. I mean, Zippy, I think is off to a, a boom, boom start, and gosh, as much you and you and him, both the passion, actually, I’m going to throw in Rica in there, the passion that emanates out of the, out of these leaders, like the three of you. I mean, that, that is stuff that, that moves mountains across the industry. And, uh, so anyway, if to any of our listeners, if you want to kind of a, a great, uh, case study of, of firms on the move based in, in Africa, this one happens to be in Lagos’.

Scott Luton (49:23):

You have to check out Zippy logistics. All right. So Enrique, when you, when you hear how Hughes kind of lays out the environment, especially the startup environment, I know that you’ve got team members there. What anything else would you add from what you’ve seen or your team has seen? I mean, there’s such an entrepreneurial spirit across much of the market there. I think it’s just, um, I would just summarize everything into one word and it’s just exciting. Right? It’s, it’s, it’s going to be very exciting. There’s a lot of opportunities and, uh, it’s funny that to such a small world, right. And it just getting smaller and smaller and technology is helping do that. And then also used, uh, just podcasts like this one, right. We’re kind of connecting the dots among all these different professionals around the world. And it’s just, uh, for me, it’s just exciting. Amen. I’m with you. Well, Hughes again, I know we’re just scratching the surface here. It’s, it’s tough to get too much accomplished in an hour, but I really appreciate your story. I love hearing your, your point of view on things are going on in an industry, the good and the bad stuff. And I know in talking with you, and as I’ve gotten a little better, you’re absolutely committed to helping change things and we need a lot more leaders and folks.

Gugulethu Hughes (50:37):

Yeah. I mean, um, definitely, but, uh, I just want to go back to what you mentioned about Kobe from, from Zippy logistics. I think previously when we had a conversation, I mentioned to you that I’ve, I communicate a lot. I have had a number of interactions with Jenny and she had the, the Sepik supply chain conference. Uh, some time, uh, could be edited this year or late last year that she gave me a free pass for. So I tried to that, that was, it was in that conference. Remember it was held digitally, but it felt very humane. So that’s how I got to know, uh, because [inaudible] session also where he was presenting on his company. And I mean, I find it interesting and I had a pimp was the, you know, joined to, to, to, to, to see the companies that are doing great things in Africa that, you know, I can then reach out to, uh, you know, for, for try to explore opportunities of countries invest in those companies. And I tried it. That’s how I connected with Cabera then, you know, we started chatting and then next thing went to email and ended up communicating. So, yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s one of the companies that we’ve actually looked at with Cambridge and yeah, it’s stayed on the horizon there.

Scott Luton (51:54):

Awesome, man. It is a small world. So folks Hughes, I expect you to get a few inbound inquiries of how folks can compare notes with you and get you to share your expertise with them and you name it. So let’s make sure folks know how to connect with you. What’s the easiest way to, uh, connect with Google led to huge,

Gugulethu Hughes (52:13):

Well, the easiest way is via email. So my email is collaborate and dash 24. [inaudible] a, um, yeah, that’s the best way to connect with me, give what my Twitter, my Twitter. And you said, uh, the real process, Evan and Joe, you can share that also I’m very active on Twitter. So Twitter and email is the best platforms to connect with me.

Scott Luton (52:36):

Agreed. And of course we’ll make it really easy. We’ll have that information in the show notes. So you’re one click away from connecting Hughes here. Well, such a delight. I’m so glad we finally had a chance to, to wrangle your schedule and get you own. And have you share your, your POV with our community and re before we shift gears and talk about one of your many projects, uh, what was your favorite part about what Hughes’s shared? Obviously you already said one word exciting, but anything else you’d like to add from what we’ve heard from who’s here today?

Enrique Alvarez (53:05):

Well, Jessie’s story, right? Like, um, it’s a, it’s a very interesting and exciting story of someone that’s been passionate about changing the world. Then that’s been committed to changing society and helping others and just like, uh, it’s refreshing to meet people like you who use. And I thank you as well for being here and for by example, I think that we need a lot more people like yourself to kind of fight against this issues like child labor and among others. So, thanks. I agree.

Scott Luton (53:35):

Excellent. Okay. Well, big thanks. And here’s, don’t take off just yet. We’re going to wrap up, uh, talking with Enrique, uh, about supply chain now in a spaniel, but big, thanks to Google, to Hugh’s founder at Clint for joining us on this episode of supply chain now, uh, Enrique Alvarez. Okay. So logistics with purpose is one of your projects. Supply chain now in a spaniel is one of your projects. Tell us on the ladder what’s what’s coming up next. Folks can look forward to

Enrique Alvarez (54:07):

Ask me the question in Spanish. Uh, I can’t, I can’t answer it and if it’s not in Spanish, but that’s

Scott Luton (54:15):

Well, uh, if you had w I guess what’s, uh, interesting interview, you’ll be publishing it’s actually,

Enrique Alvarez (54:23):

It’s been great, right? We just recently launched this new project. Uh, I think we’re like five interviews. I mean, we have more, but we have just dropped five and last one with Ignacio Alcalde and I was looking back at the ones that we’ve actually had Ignacio call the in Chile amazing interview. Really interesting. I think Sheila is one of those countries that is incredible for many, many different reasons. And it’s worth kind of like spending the time, uh, to, to, to learn more about same thing with the Juan Carlos in Panama. And then before that we had Powell and Nunez in Mexico. So it’s, it’s, it’s fun. And it’s interesting. And you’re starting to slowly kind of connect the dots among all the different, interesting things that are happening in supply chain around Latin America. And I think, uh, it’s, I’m excited about it. It’s always fun to interview, um, caring individuals and smart individuals that are shaping their supply chains in their countries. And as Hughes was pointing out, everything’s going to eventually be connected. And so I I’m looking forward to listening to those connections. Um, so pay [inaudible] our companion [inaudible] supply chain now in Espanol [inaudible] Como Ignacio [inaudible] Nunez or courseware Velasquez. [inaudible] Scott. Yes, sir. Thank you back to you.

Scott Luton (55:45):

Well, wonderful series, love logistics with purpose love supply chain. Now in a spaniel, really, as we mentioned, we’re loving our series. Of course, as Hughes mentioned, uh, Jenny Froom, uh, we’ve been fortunate to be friends with Jenny for quite some time. She’s an inspiration, love that the work that she’s been doing in South Africa and really across the African continent, supporting and spotlight and, uh, splotching and, and the folks that make it happen. So love that series. Uh, you can look for that once a month and, uh, again, big thanks to our featured guests. Big, thanks to my co-hosts here today to our listeners. Big, thanks for tuning in be sure to subscribe you. Won’t miss comp rate conversations, just like this one, uh, be sure to connect with Hughes. I’ll tell you he has a wonderful Twitter follow. Uh, I love the, uh, I love the passion and the views that he used throws out there, uh, across Twitter and beyond, but also y’all pick up the phone and connect with him because he is a quite a resource doing good things. So on behalf of our entire team here, we hope this finds you well, wherever you are, as we fight to get into that post pandemic environment, and we’ll get there on behalf of our entire team, Scott Luton signing off for now, also on behalf of Enrique Alvarez, but Hey, challenging, you do good. Give forward. Be the changes needed to be just like Mr. Hughes here and on that note, we’ll see you next time here at supply chain.

Intro/Outro (57:05):

Thanks for buddy. Thanks for being a part of our supply chain. Now, community check out all of our programming@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.

Featured Guests

Gugulethu Hughes is a Procurement and Supply Chain professional with over a decade of experience in the supply chain field across different sectors. He is currently involved with Cambridge Capital focusing on Deal Sourcing, targeting Africa-based logistics companies that meet requisite EBITDA. He is interested in enhancing collaboration between African companies in the supply chain field and broader value chain while connecting start-ups with opportunities for scaling operations and reach.

Hosts

Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

Enrique Alvarez

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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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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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.

Patch Reilly

Data Analytics and Metrics Intern

Patch is a fourth-year Management Information Systems and Marketing major at the University of Georgia. He is working with Supply Chain Now in data analysis, finding insights and best practices to increase company efficiency. Patch previously worked as an intern at AnswerRocket, a data analytics company where he gained invaluable knowledge about analytics, webpage SEO and B2B marketing best practices. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, going to concerts, and watching movies.

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Vicki White

Controller

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

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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

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

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Greg White

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

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

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

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

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

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

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Karin Bursa

Host of TEKTOK

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

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

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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Jamin Alvidrez

Founder & CEO, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now, Veteran Voices, This Week in Business History

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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Jeff Miller

Host

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

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

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

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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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Allie Krasinski

Marketing Coordinator

Allie is currently completing a degree in marketing with a certificate in entrepreneurship at the University of Georgia. She got her social media start through an internship with Shred, a personal training app, and she’s been hooked ever since. She works to optimize our following base while assisting the team with content creation, influencer outreach and other marketing endeavors. Allie can’t wait to keep growing alongside Supply Chain Now.

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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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Jada Carson

Marketing Coordinator

Jada is a recent graduate of Old Dominion University, having earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications with a media studies concentration and marketing minor. Jada got her start producing content at 16 years old, while attending a radio and broadcasting journalism program in high school, and hasn't looked back!  She is an asset to the Supply Chain Now team as a media specialist, podcast and media producer, and production coordinator.  Outside of Supply Chain Now, Jada is a big Lakers fan, and also a music journalist and enthusiast.

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Ben Harris

Host

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

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

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

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

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

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

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

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

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

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