Supply Chain Now
Episode 829

I think giving people access to you is hugely important. Because like I said, I benefited from people sitting me down and saying, 'These are the opportunities that you don't even know about.

-Tonya Jackson, Lexmark

Episode Summary

Recently recognized as a Notable Women in Supply Chain and Logistics by Inbound Logistics, Lexmark’s Tonya Jackson is leading the way in driving healthy tension between supply chain and R&D, introducing design thinking to the innovation process—and helping grow tomorrow’s supply chain leaders, today. Join Scott as he chats with Tonya on her vision for a more equitable culture of recognition, the beauty of a project meeting and the supreme importance of listening.

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 (00:31):

Hey, good morning, everybody. Scott Luton here with you on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s show. I’m so excited. We’ve got an outstanding conversation teed up with our guest here today, Tonya Jackson, Senior Vice President, Chief Product Delivery Officer with Lexmark. Tonya, how you doing?

Tonya Jackson (00:47):

I’m doing great, Scott. Thanks for having me. How are you?

Scott Luton (00:50):

Doing wonderful. I’m doing even better now that I finally get a chance to meet you and we’re getting to dive into your story. We’re excited here.

Tonya Jackson (00:58):

Great. Awesome.

Scott Luton (00:59):

So, on that note, Tonya, I want to just level set. We’ve done a little bit of homework on you. I want to level set on a couple things, make sure I got this right. So, for starters, for the three people, maybe in the world that aren’t familiar with Lexmark, leading global provider of printing and imaging products, software solutions and services, right?

Tonya Jackson (01:22):

Correct. Absolutely.

Scott Luton (01:23):

Okay. Check one. Make sure my homework’s right. Secondly, you’ve been in the company, get this since its inception in 91. Is that right?

Tonya Jackson (01:31):

That is correct, Scott. So, that means I’m pretty old. Yes. Yeah.

Scott Luton (01:36):

I wouldn’t – good [inaudible] say that, but –

Tonya Jackson (01:38):

All good, though. All good. All good.

Scott Luton (01:36):

I can only imagine the stories and I bet when y’all get together for this gathering or another gathering, I bet folks want to be around rubbing elbows with you ‘coz you got all the best stories. Is that right – is that fair?

Tonya Jackson (01:53):

We have good stories and there’s been a lot of travel. The best stories come out of the travel, you know. Strange things happen, you know, from travel.

Scott Luton (02:01):

We’re going to try to get into some of those with you here today. Also, folks should know that from 2016 to 2020, you served as a chief supply chain officer. And then, as if that wasn’t a big enough plate, your role expanded in 2020 to include – even more. Is that right, Tonya?

Tonya Jackson (02:19):

That’s right, Scott. So, what we did in 2020 was really reshaped a little bit of our strategy. And so, in addition to, as you said, we focus on the core imaging, but we also wanted to move more toward expanding in our adjacency. So, taking some of our core technology that we have in the imaging space, whether it’s heating technology, all kinds of scanning technology and then use that technology for different offerings. Right? So, to take the expertise, engineering expertise that we have and use it in a different way and then also to expand a lot. You talked about our core imaging. We’re also, you know, world known for our IOT and cloud-enabled imaging technology, right?

Tonya Jackson (03:01):

So, in order to get good focus across those three areas, we put R&D supply chain and service delivery for our imaging in one area. And it’s been an incredible strength, especially during the crisis, and we can talk a little bit about that but outstanding group of people across the board, whether they’re in separate organizations or not. But when we came together, we’re quite a force now.

Scott Luton (03:31):

It seems like it. And, you know, out of a little bit of you shared there, you know, powering information, moving at speed of a light, in an easier, more convenient way, you know, sharing the information that teams around the world need to make decisions faster, make better decisions faster. It seems like one of the things you’re powering. So, much to cover, so little time, but looking forward to learning a lot more with Tonya Jackson.

Scott Luton (03:55):

So, Tonya, I don’t know about you. I call myself a supply chain nerd and, and we got plenty of stuff to work through. You may be a fellow supply chain nerd like me, but before we get into that, I want to go way back. I want to learn more about Tonya Jackson, kind of maybe pre-executive practitioner. So, tell us, where did you grow up and give us a few aspects of your upbringing. What was inseparable from your upbringing timing?

Tonya Jackson (04:21):

Okay. Well, I’ll go way back to the beginning and I was I’m from North Carolina.

Scott Luton (04:25):

Okay.

Tonya Jackson (04:27):

I’m from Wilson, North Carolina. It’s in Eastern North Carolina. It’s a very small town. Most people say I’m from Eastern North Carolina, but I’m going to own it. I’m from Wilson. And, back in the day, it was wide awake Wilson because –

Scott Luton (04:42):

Wide awake Wilson.

Tonya Jackson (04:44):

Because it wasn’t wide awake. Right. And, I grew up in a same house. We stayed on the same, even when I go home today, I still go back to the same home that’s been sold now, of course, but the owner now welcomes me into the home. So, I have –

Scott Luton (05:03):

that’s cool.

Tonya Jackson (05:04):

I have three bro – I grew up with three brothers. My mother was a school teacher. My father owned his business as a brickmason. It was a generational, you know, kind of business. And, growing up with three brothers was, I think is a big part of who I am. I received no special treatment as the only girl. That’s probably fair because I was probably more of the instigator than them and so I was born through the shenanigans than they were, but love my brothers. I’m a big sports fan. If you have three brothers you –

Scott Luton (05:43):

Who’s your team?

Tonya Jackson (05:43):

Have to be. Well, it depends. I’m a – for football, for professional football, I’m a Steeler fan.

Scott Luton (05:49):

Okay.

Tonya Jackson (05:50):

And your next question may be, you’re from North Carolina, how in the world did that happen?

Scott Luton (05:55):

Right.

Tonya Jackson (05:56):

But back at –

Scott Luton (05:58):

You read my mind, Tonya.

Tonya Jackson (05:59):

I’m trying to do both sides of the microphone. So, you know, in those days there were three channels, right? It wasn’t cable. And so, the Redskins, Washington, the Washington football team now was our home team in North Carolina. And, my oldest brother was a Cowboy fan and, and I say he was an obnoxious Cowboy fan, but that might be –

Scott Luton (06:22):

Is there any, is there any, is there any con?

Tonya Jackson (06:27):

That’s fairly redundant, right?

Scott Luton (06:28):

I’m just kidding.

Tonya Jackson (06:29):

But he was – but we, yeah, Sunday was a big thing for us. We’d all gathered football and, you know, my youngest brother was a Dolphin fan and the middle one was a Raider fan. But the Cowboys were very good back in those days. And the Redskins though, the home team, that’s kind of – I like the Redskins, but they – the Steelers though, whenever it mattered, when it was a Super Bowl, they crushed the Cowboys. They destroyed them. So, therefore, I became a Steeler fan because it would silence my older brother. So, I am a diehard Steeler fan, even though, you know, they’ve had some tough times recently, but I love the Steelers. I even went to one of their training camps. They have a women’s training camp.

Scott Luton (07:12):

Okay.

Tonya Jackson (07:13):

That’s the kind of Steeler fan I am. Yeah. I went there.

Scott Luton (07:16):

Man, okay.

Tonya Jackson (07:16):

I did some drills recently, anyway.

Scott Luton (07:19):

Well, so one final question about your Steeler fandom. So, whenever you went to, you know, a home game, I’ve heard a lot – never been there. I had a cousin that spent some time with Electrolux in Pittsburgh and he told me, and of course what I see on TV, is it Primanti Brothers? It’s like a famous restaurant in Pittsburgh. They’ve got this smash sandwich.

Tonya Jackson (07:43):

I think so.

Scott Luton (07:45):

Yeah.

Tonya Jackson (07:45):

Yes.

Scott Luton (07:46):

So, okay. So, you and I will have to go up to Pittsburgh, take in a Steelers home game and visit Primanti Brothers. How’s that sound?

Tonya Jackson (07:52):

I’m in. I’m in as long as it’s, you know, not too cold. I like the Steelers, but, you know, I don’t want to be out there cold. Yes. That sounds good. That sounds good.

Scott Luton (08:00):

I bet it didn’t get too cold in wide awake Wilson. ‘Cause I grew up in South Carolina and all North Carolina, Northern, but, you know, we’re not used to that snow in the ground for a month and 10 degree weather, are we?

Tonya Jackson (08:13):

No. When we had big snowfalls or even a little snowfall, when we had a forecast of snow, we didn’t go to school because the philosophy is it will melt. Just give it time.

Scott Luton (08:25):

Right.

Tonya Jackson (08:27):

So, so –

Scott Luton (08:29):

We may be third cousins, Tonya. We grew up in a very similar, similar environment. So, we’ll have to investigate that after the fact.

Tonya Jackson (08:38):

Yeah. It didn’t so much, but yeah, weather was good. Weather still is good down there. Yeah.

Scott Luton (08:41):

So, let’s – one more, one final question about where you grew up, then I’m going to get, I want to get into your journey from Hampton University, you know, up through advanced degrees and supply chain and then the course in the C-suite that where you are today. But, food, in east of North – east of North Carolina, Wilson in east North Carolina, on barbecue, of course – you can’t say North Carolina without talking about barbecue.

Tonya Jackson (09:06):

I was going to say you got to talk about barbecue and you’re from South Carolina, so you probably have mustard barbecue, right? Yeah. We have the vinegar-based. Yes.

Scott Luton (09:13):

Yes. I find it all delicious. But Tonya growing up for you in Wilson, what was – like when you think of a barbecue dinner, build that plate force, what does that mean to you?

Tonya Jackson (09:24):

Well, it’s going to be vinegar-based barbecue, coleslaw, sometimes coleslaw on the barbecue, on a sandwich, something called, that I don’t know if many people know about called Brunswick stew, and that’s a big, big thing in North Carolina, hushpuppies, or corn sticks.

Scott Luton (09:40):

Oh, man.

Tonya Jackson (09:41):

Whatever your preference is there probably potato salad, collard greens.

Scott Luton (09:47):

Okay. We’re definitely going to spend some time and break bread together at some point soon. I would just add one last thing ‘cause we could have a barbecue pie if we blink here. But, when I grew up in South Carolina [inaudible], it was hash and rice, which is kind of a play on Brunswick stew but you know rice is really big. And, man, I tell you what, mustard-based barbecue sauce on top of pulled pork, hash and rice slaw, which is really important ‘coz you got to cut the, you know, kind of the fattiness of the barbecue, man. We’re going to break some bread together, Tonya.

Tonya Jackson (10:20):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (10:20):

You made me hungry.

Tonya Jackson (10:21):

For Sure.

Scott Luton (10:21):

Thank you very much.

Tonya Jackson (10:21):

Sure, sure. So, I mean that’s, like I said, I grew up in Wilson, still very close to a lot of people in Wilson. Many of us who went to school together, even though we’ve gone separate ways, very, very, still very close. And, we were raised about, you know, how I think it takes a village. I think we were raised that way before. That was a thing. It’s just, it was just a very close-knit community.

Scott Luton (10:50):

So, on that, you talking about folks you went to school together. You went – so, where is Hampton University?

Tonya Jackson (10:58):

Hampton University is in Hampton, Virginia, which is near Norfolk. It’s our tagline, if you will, is home by the sea, because it’s right on the coast. It’s a beautiful campus. I may dare you to find a prettier campus. It’s just a very, very pretty – it’s just a very pretty campus. It is a historically black college. My mother went to Hampton and so we would visit for homecoming and those types of things. So, I was familiar with the campus. I did apply to – I was headed to Chapel Hill, obviously if you’re in North Carolina, and I think we went to a football game at Hampton or something and right around that time. And, you know, I had like kind of I was making a decision and it was the atmosphere and I just made the decision to go to Hampton at that time. And my youngest brother, we’re about 18 months apart. So, we’re very close even still to this day. He also went to Hampton. So, quite a family affair force.

Scott Luton (12:00):

Sounds like it, family of alums from Hampton University. Let’s just coin it, the most beautiful college campus in the states. I would challenge you to find a prettier one.

Tonya Jackson (12:12):

I will send you a picture. Yeah.

Scott Luton (12:13):

Please do. All right. So, at Hampton university, bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Now, we established in the pre-show, man, I was bad in math, I was worse in chemistry and we’re talking – it wasn’t even a challenge. So, why chemistry? And then, I want to talk more about kind of your overall journey, get some of your highlights.

Tonya Jackson (12:37):

Sure. I guess, I’ll take you back to Wilson for a minute. I was always very good in math and science. I just really enjoyed it. I had a – it was very easy for me and in my generation, when you were good in math and science, people wanted to go into pre-med. And because engineering was a little more abstract, maybe, physical sciences were a little different, so it was steering toward pre-med. And, when I was in high school, I went to, it was called a governor’s program. A lot of states have governor schools and those kinds of things. And I went in science because I love science. And, one of the things we did was we went to Wake Forest Bowman Gray School of Medicine. See how – it’s still vivid in my mind. I remember the name, everything, and it was –

Scott Luton (13:19):

Love it.

Tonya Jackson (13:20):

We went to a – it was – there was a room and there were hearts on the table and it was supposed to be, you look at these hearts, you know, you start to understand the science behind it because you’re on a pre-med track.

Scott Luton (13:37):

Gotcha.

Tonya Jackson (13:38):

When I walked the smell got me first, just, you know, and then I never picked up the heart. You know, it just could – it wasn’t for me. And I said, boy, this is –

Scott Luton (13:48):

So, Tonya, hang on a sec, hang on a sec.

Tonya Jackson (13:48):

Just don’t it.

Scott Luton (13:51):

You’re talking real hearts. I was thinking shapes. You’re talking real hearts?

Tonya Jackson (13:54):

No. No, no, organs, real organs.

Scott Luton (13:57):

Organs.

Tonya Jackson (13:57):

Real organs. Organs. If you wanted into medicine, that’s a good thing. That’s a great experience. It was also good experience. And one of the lessons is that I think it’s always good to know what you don’t want to do or what you’re not capable of. In my case, I wasn’t capable of going down that path. And, and so right it was good. It was good. And, I still like science. And then, we also had like an astronomy section and we had a physics section and all those kinds of things. And, I was – I knew right away that, you know, okay, I like math and science, but you don’t want me operating on anybody, you know. So, when I went to Hampton, I was actually an engineering – I started out as a mechanical engineering major.

Scott Luton (14:42):

Okay.

Tonya Jackson (14:42):

And chemistry was one of the pre-reqs for any engineering school, as, you know, chemistry and engineering were almost identical, maybe first couple of years of base, the core curriculum. And there were some differences for engineering and that kind of thing. And, I took the first chemistry class and I just really enjoyed it. And I know that’s hard for you to believe, but I just really, I enjoyed it. And, I, you know, talked to my advisor and it was my freshman year so there wasn’t much lost time or anything, still had to take the same amount of math up through differential equations, Calc III, and all those kinds of things. But I really enjoyed the lab work. I just enjoyed the science behind it.

Scott Luton (15:31):

Love that. And I would stand, I would – you know, we need more folks from all walks of life, all academic disciplines in global supply chain, including folks that love chemistry. Right. You know, I had a show not too long ago, Tonya, with someone that majored in the fine classical arts. And he never thought he had found himself in supply chain, but he found supply chain. Still loves art, right, and that creative side, but now he’s applying all that to global supply chain. I’m like, that’s a beautiful thing. So –

Tonya Jackson (16:08):

I think the tie is the scientific method is similar. Right? You have different problems for sure. But I think if you think about problems as a hypothesis and how do you solve them, you can get there. You can get there.

Scott Luton (16:22):

Right. I’m with you, I’m with you. So, all right. Some bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Hampton University in beautiful Virginia, later advanced degrees from Vassar College and Ohio University. As we established, you started with Lexmark at its inception 91. And now here in 2022, you’re in the C-suite, incredible journey. Some of those travel stories that we may, I’d love to get into. We might have to have you back to talk more about that, but so much, so much to talk about so little time. As you look back on that journey, what’s a couple things that come to mind that really shaped who you are?

Tonya Jackson (16:59):

Sure. I think when I graduate – while I was at Hampton, I did two interviews with IBM in Manassas, Virginia, which is Northern Virginia and good – there were real jobs. I mean, it was a real – it wasn’t, you know, come and let’s introduce you to something. It was a real assignment, real project, and those kinds of things. And back in Hampton, you had to report, you had to present what you did for the summer anyway. So, it was in, you know, everybody’s best interest to have those things aligned. But I enjoyed IBM. And when I graduated, I had an offer from IBM Raleigh Research Triangle Park and Manassas and Poughkeepsie, New York.

Scott Luton (17:41):

You had three different offers from Big Blue.

Tonya Jackson (17:45):

Big Blue, and Big Blue was a big deal. It still is, but it was a really big deal in those days. Right. And so, if you listen to that story again, North Carolina, Virginia and New York, I chose New York. And, I can only say I – so I’d never been to New York and I thought it would be really an interesting thing. It was, it was – I enjoy New York. I love the people in New York. I have no problems, but the cost of living was insane. So, we transferred back. I got married during that time. We transferred back down to Kentucky. IBM Lexington at the time. And then we were sold, and became Lexmark, which was a liberating kind of experience. And we talked a little bit about the formality. IBM is very formal. I don’t think it is anymore, but it was very formal.

Tonya Jackson (18:34):

And, Lexmark became – it was a spinoff and we were just in the imaging space. We were – it was almost like a startup mentality. And, we started with a different printing technology. And I was in the new part of the printing technology, which was called Inkjet. Right now, we are focused on laser, but the lesson in that process, that’s when I probably grew up the most. And because you did everything, you were starting – they were starting a new business. So, you were R&D, you were procurement, you’re kind of supply chain. And I’ll tell you that why how I ended up in supply chain. So, it was very good. And, I’d say one of my lessons there is my all-time favorite manager there. His name was Russ Stewart. He really taught me a big lesson in leadership. And that was, you know, you kind of you put the markers out there and say, this is where we are going, but you don’t tell people how to get there. You don’t – you can participate, you can be a sounding board, but he really set big goals and gave everybody all kinds of opportunity to fail, which was often, but it was – there wasn’t a punishment for that. It was, okay that we learned from that. Let’s go try something else. And, over the course, he was a manager, but also a very good friend. And because of just the trust that he had in me from a very, you know, you know, young age, I tell the story about, he was a double – he was an electrical engineer.

Tonya Jackson (20:23):

And he asked me, ‘coz he knew my chemistry background and he said, I want you to go do all of this. It was a larger material, science job, a material engineering. I’m a chemistry major. And I said, “Russ, Russ, I’m not a material scientist.” He said, “I’m a double E. What’s the difference? Chemistry, material science, whatever. Just go dig, you know. You can figure it out.” But he didn’t just throw me at it. He also gave me a mentor and someone, who was many years, my senior, but he embraced the role to say, “Okay. I’m going to, you know, impart wisdom here. I’m going to, you know, you’re going to definitely learn, but I’m going to be passing you information. I’m not just, you’re not just observing here. I’m going to do – I’m going to start this and you’re going to pick it up.” So, it was set up very, very well from that perspective in terms of a big assignment and a very good support system. One of my –

Scott Luton (21:22):

So really quick, Russ Stewart, it sounds like to me – if I may interact just for a second, Tonya.

Tonya Jackson (21:26):

Sure.

Scott Luton (21:27):

It sounds like to me we need more Russ Stewart’s approaches to management and leadership in industry.

Tonya Jackson (21:34):

Absolutely.

Scott Luton (21:35):

Right. Just little bit of what you just shared there, just to enable and empower folks to fail. That in and of itself. That’s how we learn and innovate and grow and get outside of our comfort zone and have Eureka moments. Right?

Tonya Jackson (21:49):

Yeah. We talk a lot about it, you know, about trust and those kinds of things. And it’s easy words to say but it’s difficult to execute. But when you do, it’s real, and you get more and more confident. And I think as a young person, like you said, you know, going from, I’m a chemistry major, I did a lot of chemistry when I was in working in IBM in New York. But, the more different – I was able to do so many different assignments and get more confidence because nobody – and the other thing is, I’d say he believed in you. That’s a big part of growing up, too. And I think once – the more you are able to work in an environment where you can – you can’t – I mean, you have to have success. I’m not sitting here saying you continue to fail, but you stumble and there’s this, Okay. What’d you learn? Let’s go, let’s get it done. And that gave me the confidence to try different jobs. Because I’d say many people had more confidence in me before I had confidence in myself in terms of what I could do.

Scott Luton (22:53):

I love that. There there’s so much you’ve just shared in the last six minutes that I think a lot of folks can relate to and hopefully draw on. What else? When you look back at your journey, especially with a key Eureka, so clearly Russ Stewart was a big player in that journey. What else comes to mind?

Tonya Jackson (23:13):

Yeah. So, I’ll go back to my developing this Inkjet print head. One of the things, and I think many companies are doing it and I’ll give like smart all the credit in the world for really believing and putting plans in place to rotate people. So, we had a belief, and we still do, that to grow in the leadership ranks, it is important to look at, to sit in different parts of the business, right, because you grow your leadership. You never – your biggest growth is when you’re managing an area that you’re not familiar with. If you’re familiar with it, there’s a tendency to be – I’m not going to say everybody’s a micromanager, but they could be because you literally understand the space. But when you move to a different space, that’s when you learn, you know, how to lead because you can’t do stuff because you don’t, you’re not the subject matter expert.

Tonya Jackson (24:15):

And so, one of the things within Lexmark that we try to do is rotate people. So, I moved to the – first of all, moved to the sustainability group, which was super broad and internal and external, and probably one of my biggest growth opportunities, because I did not really know the space at all and I really had to rely on some key people who were willing to, you know, to take me on and teach me. And I think there’s a humility that you have to have when you switch jobs. Because unless you some insane – unless you have an [inaudible].

Scott Luton (24:51):

[Inaudible]

Tonya Jackson (24:53):

Exactly. you can’t go to a new place that you don’t really know and think and try to act like you do. You just can’t, right, because everybody knows the truth. And I think when you, what you learn from that, I like to say you learn how to learn. Because when you switch jobs or you go to a different rotation place, it is a very – there’s a feeling of inadequacy. And, I’m saying that from me. I can’t speak for other people. But you were, you knew what you were doing over here, and now you go to a new place and you just don’t and you think, you know, you should, you’re the leader of the organism, but there’s just, you know, things you don’t know. And so, the first time you do that, it is really, it’s hard. You’re excited. There’s this line between you’re really excited and there’s a fear thing. You’re going back and forth, back and forth. But you learn that, okay, this is going to get better every day, and next month’s going to be little bit better. And then you finally, you know, find your groove. So that the next time that you make a move, it’s just as bad. The feeling is just as bad. But, you know, I can get through this because I’ve done this. Right? I know what this process feels like. And so, the longer you delay doing that in your career, the harder it is when you finally make that move because it’s the first time that you really are back on your heels. Like, oh my goodness, what are these people saying? I don’t understand, you know, kind of thing.

Tonya Jackson (26:16):

So, when – after sustainability though we wanted to say, okay, R&D, there’s this always this tension, right, between R&D and supply chain. There just this healthy tension but there’s a tension.

Scott Luton (26:30):

So, why is that?

Tonya Jackson (26:32):

Well, I think there is – the design stage and then there’s a manufacturing. So, the design, you can build – you go from 10 to 10 million. Right? And so, what does that handoff look like? How do you sustain it? And all of those types of things. The challenge is that many people – the people on one side are never on the other side and the people – so there’s this, why don’t they do this thing that goes on both sides. So, we move –

Scott Luton (27:04):

It’s a healthy tension, as you said.

Tonya Jackson (27:06):

It’s a healthy tension, but, but neither side. I mean, well, it’s possible, but you get, you gain more empathy for both sides, if you rotate, because there’s some real good reasons, for example, as to why things are designed that may be difficult to support from the supply chain side, really good reasons. There’s also good reasons that maybe you don’t need to do some things on the design side in order for the supply chain side to support. But until you rotate, you don’t have that. You just don’t have that empathy. I wouldn’t say you don’t, it’s harder to have that empathy. So, I move over to –

Scott Luton (27:45):

You know, really quick, Tonya, what, as you described that, it takes me back to my metal stamping days in a manufacturing plant where I worked with some of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with. Brilliant, innovative. Problem, they’re going to find a way through it. And in particular, as you’re describing that kind of that practical, the supply chain side and that product development that, you know, we’re going to make tools to make certain parts. We’re still figuring out what the parts look like. Man, to be a room full of those folks as they’re having and marking up drawings and kind of figuring out what has to happen, what needs to – and just having that tension, that healthy tension play out, it’s one of the best parts about what I would call manufacturing global supply chain innovation, but practical innovation, so we can make what we come up with, or we can produce what we come up with. It’s really – it’s a wonderful part about industry. So, thank you for sharing that tension between those two sides and no wonder where the rotation comes into play. No wonder you got organizations can gain so much from that.

Tonya Jackson (28:49):

Sure, sure. Because you see it’s almost like you finally say, “Oh, I see why they did it that way. I see why, or I see why they’re asking me instead of, I don’t know why they’re bugging me with this.” It’s like, “Oh, I get it ‘coz if I, you know, done this differently.” So, when I moved over to supplies, I’ve moved over to what we call supplies operations, which is our cartridges or, you know, we have hardware and then we have the supply portion of that. So, I was on the R&D side on Inkjet supplies. So, developed the supplies, now moved to manufacturing. And so, keep in mind when we did that, it was a startup, we kind of did it all, but now it ballooned to millions and millions of cartridges. Right?

Tonya Jackson (29:33):

And when I saw what I had developed, it was the ugliest supply chain you can ever imagine. It was just stuff. It was just – and I did it for, you know, it was like, when you’re designing something, you’re trying to find something that works. And if a supplier is here, there, it’s like, you know, this works, right. And so, you go with it. But I had a better appreciation when I went to try to support that of – because supplies live along time. You continue to use supplies. I had a better appreciation of, okay. I think I got it. You know, this is – they’re different – I could have made different decisions. Or, could I? In some places you can’t. That’s the thing though. You can’t. But then, then how do you build something? Okay. This is the decision I need to make for this technology, but what’s the best way to put it in an operation so that it can be sustained?

Tonya Jackson (30:29):

So, that was kind of how I ended up in supply chain from operations side. And then, I stayed after that and I’ve been here since then, and now we’ve combined the organizations together. But it gives you a little bit of a, you know, bilingual a little bit because sometimes the other problem that people, organizations have is they just don’t speak the same language. They’re not angry. They’re not – they want to, but there’s like, I don’t know what these people are saying to at me kind of thing. So, that has been a key thing for [inaudible] leadership program.

Scott Luton (31:09):

And especially, as you’re talking about kind of those language barriers, not just functionally within a global enterprise, but the geographically, you know, skill set. I mean, there’s all sorts of areas that can present themselves when we’re talking about communicating key information, even within the same organization. So, it sounds like to me, part of your background that has served you well is – and has helped enable you to build those bridges amongst all the different aspects organization that you lead is having experienced a lot of that, and finally seeing the other side of the coin and then helping others see both sides of the coin so we can communicate, be on the same page more often and get more done.

Tonya Jackson (31:56):

Absolutely. And, you know, because listening is a key part of that.

Scott Luton (32:02):

Yes. I’m with you. Man, if we could, all, all of us, listen just a little bit more. Right? So, I want to share – there’s so much I want to ask you and I know you’ve got a thousand things going on. I want to move forward a little bit to talk manufacturing. It’s one of my favorite aspects of global business. You know, my granddad retired as a machine operate with Kimberly-Clark way back in the day. And I never, because I didn’t have an awareness of manufacturing, you know, I never sat down and talked about that as a high school or even a college student because it just wasn’t part, it was a blind part – it was in my blind spot. Right? It wasn’t until after college that I toured a manufacturing facility. We got to change that.

Scott Luton (32:45):

But, let’s talk about Lexmark, the culture, 10 straight years, and I got that right with the manufacturing leadership award from the Manufacturing Leadership Council, which for folks may not know that’s affiliated with the National Association of Manufacturers, which does a good job of creating more awareness for the manufacturing industry, which I love what they do there at NAM. So, let’s talk. What -To win the award once, much less 10 times, what aspect of the Lexmark culture enables that to happen, Tonya?

Tonya Jackson (33:18):

That’s a great, great question. I was thinking about that as I was preparing for this because I don’t – because as you said, it’s been 10 years. And so, now I don’t think we even think about what we – it’s just kind of normal. And I’ll tell you how we got here, which just I’d say stay with me on this one. But in supply chain, in manufacturing, there’s a lot of firefighting, just facts. Nobody’s fault. It just is. Right. And so, as a leader of the organization, I was always informed, visible people – project firefighting things were visible to me. The projects that were planned, that were either strategic, or that were just – the were continuous improvement that were happening weren’t so visible to me because they worked. Everything was working.

Tonya Jackson (34:12):

And that’s a good thing, right, for sure. But what we were unintentionally communicating is that if it is something on fire, then it’s going to be, you know, I’m going to have visibility to it. And if things are working, I’m not. So, what we implemented several years ago now around that time, that’s why I said it did occur to me that this is part of it, we started what we call a project meeting. We’re simple people here that we don’t have fancy names as project meeting. So, and what it was was we put a shared file out there and anybody that had a project could sign up it. Well, my direct staff, they would – I said, you know, if you’ve got somebody working on something in your area that you want – not if something’s on fire and it’s an employee led project.

Tonya Jackson (35:07):

This isn’t a management update. This employee’s coming in and presenting. It’s a one-hour meeting once a month, 30 minute – two projects, 30 minutes each. So, because there’s a learning and presenting your project and, you know, being saying, “Okay. Knock this out in 30 minutes, and this is what we did, this is why we did it. And, you know, those are the next steps.” And so, there’s a – any project there’s no – it doesn’t have to be a certain criteria. It doesn’t have to save X dollars. It just, you want to talk about your project.  And so, through that process, the projects that are winning are from that process. The staff listens to all of the projects throughout the year. And, there are things that are really moving the business forward. Things we said, this is what we want to go do strategically. They are working. There’s more work to do for sure. But that’s how we – that’s the funnel, if you will, of the key projects.

Tonya Jackson (36:07):

So, as part of the project reporting tool, what we were doing is taking output from those key projects and then we would meet as a staff and say, okay, what do we want to submit for the manufacturing leadership award? And at the beginning, it was very central to what we were doing as an organization. But the cool thing lately is, they are very cross-functional. They include some collaboration in terms of, let’s say, product allocate and those kinds of things with the sales team. They include things like inventory management and those kind of things with finance. They include some of the IOT work that we’re doing with our connected technologies team.

Tonya Jackson (36:49):

But all of them are just coming. What we really – we have to fight fires. We have to run the business. We have to serve customers. And, unfortunately, you know, people who are in supply chain, no matter what you do, how good you are, something’s going to, you know, happen, and you still have to manage that. But the people in the organization need to know that’s not the only thing that is rewarded and that we want to make time to hear. So, that’s our culture, if you will, is basically a shared document, sign up, first come first serve, and we get some really good projects out of that.

Scott Luton (37:29):

I love that. Quick follow up, and then I want to talk more about supply chain, some of y’all’s priorities this year and beyond. You mentioned a couple times in your last response that, you know, firefighting problems, curve balls that comes with the territory here in global supply chain.

Tonya Jackson (37:45):

Yes.

Scott Luton (37:46):

Do you think that consumers – do you think one of the silver linings in the last couple years, maybe prior to the pandemic and prior to the last few years, consumers may not have realized how much heroism, I’ll call it, and brave from frontline across industry, a variety of different aspects, all that has to get done for us to conveniently walk into a store with reliability probably far too often than we deserve, pick whatever we need, whatever flavor, what, you know, all kinds of different variety and choices, pay for the price we want. I mean, it really it’s remarkable. I would argue – I love to get your take. These last few years hopefully the consumers are very savvy, educated consumer. That’s one more thing that they’ve gained perspective-wise in the last few years to understand and appreciate what supply chain folks have to do.

Tonya Jackson (38:42):

I think it depends. I think –

Scott Luton (38:44):

All right. Good, good.

Tonya Jackson (38:46):

I think people – the one thing I’ve noticed, and I’ll go with my own, I have three daughters. And one of the things is the, what do you call it? The delivery time or the – before it would be, if I can’t get it tomorrow, I’m not ordering it. Now, it’s like, “Oh, okay. I can deal with it in three weeks, four weeks.” You know, so that the expectation has changed. But I do think it’s still – the complexity of the supply chain, like, meaning something happens in this country and, you know, I’m not sure people understand why does it impact this over here and for how long. I think that’s still – you know, there’s still some understanding there. But at the end of the day, Scott, I think people just want their stuff and, and it doesn’t really -they don’t – it’s up to us –

Scott Luton (39:37):

All the rest, all the rest –

Tonya Jackson (39:37):

To try to figure out that.

Scott Luton (39:38):

With non-value added is what you’re saying, Tonya. All the rest is non-value added. They don’t care about it. They want their stuff at the price and the time. Right?

Tonya Jackson (39:47):

They want their stuff. And, you know, it’s funny you talked about, I think the other thing that is changing perhaps more internally than to the consumer and part of the organization that we formed together, what we are learning is the leverage internal, the things that we can influence to help with that disruption, so meaning a lot of the design work that we can do to have more commonality and design, to have somewhat more simplification, to have more sources of the same components. because something is going to happen in some country. It just is. So, the more versatility we can have internally to overcome some of that so people can get their stuff is really, you know, what we are learning internally. But I wish I could say people are more tolerant. I’m not so sure. And I don’t know that that’s wrong. I mean, because, you know, we got to rise up and meet the, you know, hit the bar.

Scott Luton (40:47):

That is true. That is true. We’ll come back. We’ll circle back on that. The jury is still out maybe in some regards. But I like one – many of the things you said, but one of those in particular, you having those more options, more sourcing options, more trust-filled relationships that you can go to when those things that you’ve pointed out happen. Inevitably, they do. And it’s tough to, as we’ve learned, I think one of the other things we’ve learned the last couple years, as my dear co-host Greg White puts it, it’s tough to -what does he say? It’s tough to start a friendship when you need it, rather than kind of invest in it before you need it. Right? And then, you know – but we’ll save that for another time.

Scott Luton (41:31):

I wanna talk about supply chain priorities for your global supply chain operations at Lexmark, and you’ve been leading that aspect and more of the business, but that in particular, since 2013, so much. We could really nerd out on all things supply chain. it’s an intriguing time, challenging, but intriguing time to be in that. When you look at your priorities for your organization this year and beyond, what are some of those things that you can share?

Tonya Jackson (42:00):

Yeah. The first, I think is a priority -it could be a priority for any organization, but certainly for our organization, especially given the year, we talk about last year, but this has been going on for a long time, this disruption, is to care for our people. They have been pheno – especially people in this space, as you said, people, you know, the stress that’s been in that, you know, kind of supply chain part of the organization. The stress that’s been on individuals has been incredible and we’ve weathered some storms. The people have been incredibly resilient, resourceful, and just amazing. And, I would say from my organization our competitive advantage is the people, and that’s a complete sentence, and they they’ve been phenomenal. And that’s the whole product delivery team, which is the supply chain is a portion of that.

Tonya Jackson (42:56):

So, we have to figure out this year, that’s one of our key pillars this year’s employee experience, and we have to figure out. We have to communicate and talk and listen, because we know we need to do more, but it’s different. I mean, what people – different – different people need different, you know, initiatives around recognition around wellbeing, around growth, and those types of things. So, our focus this year, like our number one is – now, me be clear. We know we got to go get cost out and we know we have to do availability. I’m not – that’s like, yes, of course. But what we’ve done to your point, what all companies and what all companies have done over this past two years, the people have been incredible. You can talk about digital trans transformation all you want, but there’s just people that have just been figuring things out because every – nothing’s normal. Everything is, you know, chaotic.

Tonya Jackson (43:55):

So that’s one of our key focus areas. What do we do from an employee experience and how do we – especially from a, I’d say career development, are there rotational opportunities? Are there cross-training opportunities? Those types of things. Because there’s a burnout situation. And so, can we move someone to another area that is more – that where they are learning as part of their professional development as well? I mean, obviously it’s both ends, you know, company opportunity as well as the person. So, what do we do there and what do people need in terms of recognition in this virtual world? We used to do a lot of gatherings and those types of things, and globally now we can maybe do a little bit better virtually, but, you know, there’s a limit as to how long people want to be on a teams’ call. The second one, I’d say, no doubt –

Scott Luton (44:47):

Wait a minute. You mean, folks or teams re zoomed out? Is that what you’re telling me?

Tonya Jackson (44:53):

I get that. Yeah.

Scott Luton (44:54):

So, Tonya, do you ever – are you like me, and maybe some of our listeners can relate to. Do you ever kinda, after your 27th zoom or teams or whatever video call of the week, and then you’ve got just a cell phone call, you kinda, it’s almost like a silly luxury these days, but where it’s audio only. Is that – do you feel that same thing, Tonya?

Tonya Jackson (45:17):

Yes. It’s great. Yes, I do. I do.

Scott Luton (45:19):

I’m with you. I am with you.

Tonya Jackson (45:23):

I do.

Scott Luton (45:23):

All right. So, you were talking. So, folks are, you know, they have conference call, they remoted out. What – continue [inaudible]

Tonya Jackson (45:30):

Yeah. I think – so we’re focused on what do we need to do as an organization to improve our employee experience. And again, we don’t have. I don’t have the answer for that. I think I’ve got thoughts, but they may not be relevant to a particular group. So, we’ve got to do some listening there. And, the other one which you talked about is, I’m going to put it in a big bucket, that’s just improve our agility and flexibility. That could be look like, you know, how we manage risk. That should be- it could be the normal operational type things. But it’s also, as I said, it’s a combination of the design and the operation to the customer, any kind of return back from a service perspective. You know, what do we need do differently?

Tonya Jackson (46:14):

And, it kind of looks like, you know, concept that’s out that’s called design thinking. And you think about design thinking in terms of either UX or you think about it in terms of designing products, but it is much broader than that. And, what it means, you know, for us is that there may be some obvious solutions for that are right in front of us, that we have mental barriers that we can’t do. So, just kind of taking a step back and saying, “Okay. We’ve got these problems. Let’s really think about it differently.” Because I can tell you during the crisis, we did a lot outside-of-the-box thinking as did everybody. And, there were many things that we said we couldn’t, but when you are like at the end of the rope, you do it. And, you know, you live through it. And so, institutionalizing that good behavior without a crisis is something that we want to do, but it’s really is – the world is the world. And, the expectation is that people just want their stuff. And so, we have to do better with agility and flexibility, and we just have to, and that means that that’s there’s a lot of bullets underneath that, but that’s kind of what we’re thinking.

Scott Luton (47:27):

Outstanding. I love that. Especially going back to your first part of your answer, that employee experience. I know that employee experience, user experience, customer experience with all these X’s. But, you know, even if they are cliches, the actions behind them and the fact that they are priorities like they are at Lexmark, that is a wonderful thing. And, I look again, that’s part of the silver lining with the pandemic and, you know, it’s been a lot of pain and heartbreak for a lot of folks. But if industry can learn from these last couple years and then act on it, like you are doing, we’re going to be stronger and our workforces will be in a better spot moving forward. So, I appreciate that, Tonya.

Scott Luton (48:10):

I want to – you strike me, and maybe I’m wrong, we don’t go back. You know, we may be third cousins, but we don’t go that back [inaudible].

Tonya Jackson (48:18):

I thought we were cousins at the beginning. Are we separating now?

Scott Luton (48:22):

Well, so you strike me as a pretty humble leader and maybe I’m wrong. And usually when I interview humble leaders, they don’t like talking about themselves and their own recognition, but let’s face it. Industry has recognized you with a lot of different accolades and awards, including here at late recently notable woman in supply chain and logistics. Tell me, Tonya, from where you sit, how can we as an industry, global supply chain, how can we do better to provide opportunities and advancement, not just opportunities, but once you give ’em the opportunity, kind of like what Russ Stewart did, you know, challenge you with the opportunity, but then help you, but even if you fail, he’s going to help you fail, succeed, move forward, advance. How do we do that better?

Tonya Jackson (49:16):

Yeah. I’ll go back to my own kind of how I got here, if you will. There were – like I said, there were people who believed in me and gave me opportunities that I didn’t know even existed. And so, I think the first, one of the things we can do better is recognize, I’d say, you know, mileage difference, right. People get their different ways and they start at different places. And so, just because someone hasn’t demonstrated something. It could be that they’re unaware of the opportunity. They haven’t had someone talked to them about, “Hey, did you think about this? Did you think about that?” So, I think this whole, if you call it equity, like where do you start? Where is everybody starting from? And, making sure that we don’t exclude someone because they haven’t demonstrated something. Give people a chance.

Tonya Jackson (50:14):

And, but you got to be patient, right? Because if they haven’t -if they they’ve been going down this track, and now you say, “Hey, let’s go try this.” You have to – you have to give people some grace here and let ’em, you know, get there on their own, get their own their own way. And I think as a leadership team, we have to -what I’ve started doing is we had an initiative called chat it up with an executive. So, it was a team’s global teams call. Right? And, people – and you could talk about – you talk more about – that it was an introduction of me, or as an executive, as a person. Like asking about product availability was out of bounds. You couldn’t -they couldn’t do it. But there were questions –

Scott Luton (50:57):

You could talk Steelers, though, right?

Tonya Jackson (51:00):

You could talk Steelers, but you couldn’t say, you know, what are I going to get my stuff? But there were some people who had some really good questions related to opportunity and those kinds of things. So, afterwards, you know, I chat like virtual chat chat, and then follow that up with a phone call, you know, a virtual phone call. So, I think for the leaderships, some people are hungry for information and they don’t quite know where to go. I think it’s up to us to try to connect with those folks and then help them connect, you know, with where they want to go to kind of navigate if you will, for, you know, to help people. And, part of that is making yourself available and accessible because there’s a – you want to make sure that -I always want to make sure I’m accessible. I not be available because of time, but that’s a different thing. You don’t want to be viewed as not accessible.

Tonya Jackson (51:52):

So, I think giving people access to you is hugely important. Because like I said, I benefited from people sitting me down and saying, “These are the opportunities that you don’t even know about and why don’t you try this, and pushing me in many cases to go do something. And, I try to do that with people as well. The other thing I try to tell people is when you’re – we are looking for authenticity. We’re looking for people who, you know, I like to say everybody has a thought bubble over their head, you know. And so, when I ask somebody a question, I’m like, I want to hear a thought bubble. I don’t want to hear – ‘coz people, you may say what you think somebody wants to hear and what you’re really looking for is what you really think. And, that takes trust as well. That doesn’t just happen. And so, I think making sure that as, especially as you’re building an organization that you’re – I’m trying to make sure people understand. They can say what they want to say. Because we all need to hear it. And so, try to make sure that people are really communicating and making sure that people are communicating in a way that they believe is speaking truth.

Scott Luton (53:11):

So much there. So much there. I really appreciate your time here today. Again, we didn’t get to some of those travel stories. I bet you’ve got quite a few but we’ll have to have you come back next time. So, let’s make sure folks know how to connect with the pride of wide-awake Wilson, North Carolina, Tony Jackson, and of course, Lexmark organizations sit on the move. I mean, the culture you describe and kind of you paint a picture of, it sounds like it’s a pretty rewarding experience to be part of Lexmark team. But how can folks learn more and to connect with you, Tonya?

Tonya Jackson (53:46):

Sure. So, I would give you my LinkedIn profile. I mean, my LinkedIn address. We could certainly share that. lexmark.com also has a social media aspect of it as well that we can make sure that you get. So, I think those are probably the primary avenues, would be something on LinkedIn and something in from a Lexmark social media campaign.

Scott Luton (54:10):

Wonderful. And we’re going to make it really easy for folks that one click that we’re all after. We’ll load that up into show notes of the episode so that you can connect and learn a lot more about what’s going on over in the world of Lexmark. Tonya, you’re going to add?

Tonya Jackson (54:26):

Yeah. You talked about wide awake Wilson. What part of South Carolina are you from?

Scott Luton (54:30):

I am –

Tonya Jackson (54:31):

Are you from Aiken?

Scott Luton (54:32):

Aiken. Yeah. How’d you know that?

Tonya Jackson (54:34):

You said it. So, you’re from Refrigerator Perry’s hometown.

Scott Luton (54:38):

That’s right. In fact, I’m a big Clemson fan. And so, you had Fridge.

Tonya Jackson (54:42):

Okay.

Scott Luton (54:42):

Right. And then you had Michael Dean Perry. He’s younger brother who went by the name Ice Box. He was just a little bit smaller and his little brother had a great career with the Cleveland Browns, which some folks may not remember.

Tonya Jackson (54:55):

I don’t remember him.

Scott Luton (54:56):

But we still pa –

Tonya Jackson (54:56):

Okay.

Scott Luton (54:57):

Yeah. We still passed by his house where he grew up and his home that he built when he made it big with the Bears. They’re in Aiken County. So, yeah.

Tonya Jackson (55:08):

Okay. So, we’re going to have to compare. It sounds like, you know, every once in a while, Tonya, we’ve got a show here, Supply Chain Nerd Talk Sports, and, it’s supply chain’s not allowed. It’s kind of like maybe your chat it up sessions. It’s all about, all that’s going in sports because we need, as, you know, we need take close email for a second, take a deep breath and enjoy each other’s company. Talk about things that aren’t work related to protect that, you know, that psyche, so then we can go back the next day and make it happen. So, Tonya Jackson, I couldn’t imagine. It’s got to be cool to work with you, work for you. Thanks so much for carving some time out with us here today. I really appreciate your time here today, Tonya.

Tonya Jackson (55:50):

Thank you, Scott. I appreciate it. I had a good time.

Scott Luton (55:53):

We’ll have to have you back. We’ve been chatting with Tonya Jackson, Senior Vice President and Chief Product Delivery Officer with Lexmark. We’ll talk with you again very soon, Tonya.

Tonya Jackson (56:04):

Thank you.

Scott Luton (56:05):

You bet. Okay. So, folks, hopefully enjoyed this conversation, this wide ranging, frank, authentic, passionate conversation we had here with Tonya Jackson. There’s lots of – whether you’re breaking into industry, whether you’re leading people, first time manager or a senior manager, senior leader even, there’s so much to learn here from Tonya Jackson’s story and journey.

Scott Luton (56:27):

If you like conversations like this, be sure to find and subscribe Supply Chain Now, wherever we get your podcasts. And, folks, whatever you do, do like this. Be like Tonya. Do good, give forward, be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time right back a here at Supply Chain Now. Thanks, everybody.

Intro/Outro (56:49):

Thanks for being a part of our Supply Chain Now Community. check out all of our programming at supplychainnow.com and make sure you subscribe to Supply Chain Now anywhere you listen to podcasts, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next time on Supply Chain Now.

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Featured Guests

Tonya Jackson, With over 30 years of experience, Jackson is responsible for Lexmark’s award-winning imaging technology product delivery. She leads the combined hardware and supplies development, supply chain, manufacturing, and service delivery organizations. Jackson helps Improve the customer experience by integrating product lifecycle management strategies across the very talented Lexmark organization. Connect with Tonya on LinkedIn.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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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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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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

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Greg White

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

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

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

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

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

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

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Karin Bursa

Host of TEKTOK

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

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

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.

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Jeff Miller

Host

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

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

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

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.

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Billy Taylor

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.

An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.

A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.

A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning.  He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.

Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.

Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.

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Katherine Hintz

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

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

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Ben Harris

Host

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

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

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

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

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

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

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

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

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

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