Veteran Voices
Episode 57

If something feels right to you, go for it. If you're on the fence, then take some time. Don't let people pressure you; it's your life. They don't live your life. You live your life so do what is going to feel right to you.

-Kai Henderson, U.S. Navy Veteran

Episode Summary

While there are many resources available to Veterans transitioning to the private sector, knowing which ones will be the best help for you can be a challenge. From housing to education to advice and counseling, there are plenty of people willing to help along the way.

In this interview, Mary Kate Soliva welcomes Kai Henderson. Kai was working as a police officer in Arkansas, but he wanted to see more of the world. When he made the decision to enlist, he selected a branch of the military that he knew would not send him back to Arkansas: the Navy.

Kai and Mary Kate compare their perspectives on:

  • Why transitioning out of the military is so different from leaving a typical job to take on a new role
  • How education – just like the military – can often be the best thing to help people get ‘unstuck’ in their lives
  • The importance of investing in mental health, and the reality that many people struggle with anxiety and/or depression

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:02):

Welcome to veteran voices, a podcast that dedicated to giving a voice to those that have served in the United States, armed forces on this series, jointly presented by supply chain now, and vets to industry. We sit down with a wide variety of veterans and veteran advocates to gain their insight perspective and stories from serving. We talked with many individuals about their challenging transition from active duty to the private sector, and we discuss some of the most vital issues facing veterans today. Join us for this episode of veteran voices.

Mary Kate Soliva (00:49):

Hello everyone, half a day. This is Mary Kate Soliva with you here on veteran voices. Thank you for joining us today. As we’ve got a wonderful conversation teed up for you today with a veteran and an advocate, stay tuned for a great discussion. Quick programming note before we get started, this program is part of supply chain. Now family of programming today’s show is in partnership with near and dear friends of mine at bets to industry. Learn more about this powerful nonprofit that is serving so many folks. So many veterans, the military community around the world@vetstoindustry.org, an initiative dear near and dear to my heart, the Guam human rights initiative, find them on LinkedIn and at the university of Guam under the regional center for public policy. So without further ado, let’s introduce our guests today. Our guests is a fulltime student. He’s also a veteran of the United States Navy. Super, very excited to welcome in Kai Henderson. Thank you so much for joining me today. Kai.

Kai Henderson (01:56):

Thank you for having me here.

Mary Kate Soliva (01:58):

I will super excited to talk to you today. Um, I really want our guests to get started and pumped up. I don’t know what time of day it is in their side of the world, but I’d like you to pump him up with some motivational talk today. So could you share with us a little bit motivation and, and perhaps your favorite quote?

Kai Henderson (02:17):

Absolutely. So my favorite quote is from Dwayne Johnson often and is the rock. I really resonate with his, he came from poverty and, um, struggled with mental health. And when he was asked about his success, he said, be humble, be hungry and be the hardest worker in the room. And I’ve adopted that in my day to day life and have seen a lot of success from that. So yeah, he’s my go-to for inspiration.

Mary Kate Soliva (02:42):

I love that. And like Sue of we’re flying, cuz like we talk about with Dwayne Johnson, the rock, you know, he’s Pacific Islander, I’m Pacific Islander, but he’s Polynesian. Whereas I’m like what about the Micronesians, man? Don’t forget about the Micronesians. Like are we at Moana low and stitch I’m like, come on now. So, uh, love, love, love him is big family guy. Love that quote. Yeah. Yeah. So you, you touched a little bit on the quote, why it’s important to you, but I’m gonna take it way back now for our listeners today to get to know a little bit about you. And I’d love to hear a little bit it more about where you grew up.

Kai Henderson (03:22):

Uh, so I grew up in a little place called Palmville Arkansas. It’s about 300 people. You can blink if you’re driving like past the interstate, you can blink and miss it. It’s just, it’s such a small town. It’s a place, everybody knows everyone. And um, I grew up on a farm there. My parents had a, a chicken farm group for Tyson and um, yeah, super small place. We didn’t even have a public school. It was so tiny. And uh, we had to go to,

Mary Kate Soliva (03:46):

I don’t even think I heard of that.

Kai Henderson (03:48):

Yeah. Super small place.

Mary Kate Soliva (03:50):

So with the, with that being said, it was one of those where you only had like one traffic light or did you not even have a traffic light?

Kai Henderson (03:57):

We didn’t have a traffic light now we just had stop and dirt roads <laugh> yeah, we had, we have

Mary Kate Soliva (04:02):

One. So if I was to ask for directions to like the nearest grocery store, what kind of, what would, what would you say is like turn left at the stump on the road?

Kai Henderson (04:13):

<laugh> just about, yeah, you’d have to go over to the next city. Uh, you could get groceries, like some small things that the local country store, but outside of that, if you wanted get like, you know, stuff or a full meal, you’d have to go either to the next city or you could also find a lot of people had farms and they grew their own food and did hunting that kind of thing. But, but yeah, you’d have to drive a little bit.

Mary Kate Soliva (04:35):

So in a, in a town like that, where everybody knows everybody, what were some of the past times that you did? Like, did you play music sports or what was there to do around there?

Kai Henderson (04:47):

I played with dirt rocks and sticks a lot. I had, um, and I got some like little doc truck toys whenever I was a kid. So I, I essentially just like haul dirt around and built little things out of dirt. Yeah. Very, very poor. Uh, we didn’t have a, you know, a lot of money. So you kind of use what is around you. And I grew up out in the country in woods and stuff. So I play like that. And then we had, you know, farm animals. I had a farm dog. So you go play with my dog or ride my bike, go fishing, that kind of thing.

Mary Kate Soliva (05:20):

So you actually, you had water near by then where you lived

Kai Henderson (05:23):

A little bit. We had a little Creek that ran through our property. It was very small, but enough to get weed and play in some mud and um, catch some Carl dad. So

Mary Kate Soliva (05:33):

Carl dads.

Kai Henderson (05:33):

Yeah. They’re, they’re really, I hate to touch them. Cause that feels really weird. And I got, I went for a fishing recently with my friend and um, I was telling ’em how I don’t like to touch fish. I like to go fishing, but I don’t like to touch the fish cuz how they feel. And but yeah, I, um, I, so usually I play with them like with a stick, but I’m not a fan of picking ’em up.

Mary Kate Soliva (05:55):

Oh my goodness. So it just sounds like a bunch of, you know, playing around and dirt. Well, you started mentioning the critters and like I’m wondering what kind of critters come out of the Creek. That’s what I’m trying to think of now.

Kai Henderson (06:06):

Yeah. The snakes you had to really watch out for snakes. Uh, there was this one time I went fishing and I accidentally caught a snake instead of fish. It was very terrifying. And um, whenever I was five years old, I actually almost got bit by a, um, a cotton mouth. It’s very, very scary. And even now to this day I have an aversion of steaks. I respect them, but I want my own space. It’s very scary. But yeah, you can, um, you can get in trouble decree, go be careful.

Mary Kate Soliva (06:34):

Well, yeah, it sounds like there’s, there’s friendly things and deadly.

Kai Henderson (06:38):

Yeah, absolutely.

Mary Kate Soliva (06:40):

Um, I really love the idea though, of small town living and simple living and everybody kind of knowing everybody else. Is there, there a time about you all experienced where you all came together as a community to, to support or help one another out?

Kai Henderson (06:56):

Yeah. So a lot, lot of the people who lived in the town, um, also had chicken farms or some type of farm cattle horses, and we were always helping each other and a lot of bartering and trading those kinds of things and yeah, if you needed someone, oh yeah, they were just a phone call away. It was really nice to have that sense of community too. Growing up.

Mary Kate Soliva (07:15):

I love that. And I think that’s what it, it’s all about. That really sounds like you can’t get more American than that. I’d love to hear a little bit about an anecdote or two that you may have from your up upbringing, sort of some lessons learned.

Kai Henderson (07:28):

Yeah. So I grew up very poor. Uh, there was a, a long stent of time where actually lived in a camping tent. All my parents could afford was a small lot of land and there was my stepdad, my mom and myself. And we lived in this tiny little tent for like a year and a half, two years. And during that time, uh, my parents started to build a house on the property and we had the, the shell of it up and you know, there some walls on it and enough where we could live in it and have some shelter and uh, on the property they drill the well. So we could have some water mm-hmm <affirmative> and they ran the pipes on top of the ground. Cause we weren’t able to dig into the ground and set the pipes where they needed to be just yet.

Kai Henderson (08:08):

So I remember it was summertime and we didn’t have hot water in the house. It was just a cold water from the ground. And uh, I went in to wash my hands and the water was warm and I was so excited and I like bolted out the house to go find my mom. I was like, mom, we have hot water. We have hot water. And I was like five, six years old at the time. And um, my parents started laughing at me and I didn’t didn’t realize what was going on, but what it was is the sun had heated up the pipes there on top of the, the ground. And that’s why the water was warm. And I remember whenever I found that out, I was so disappointed cause I was like, I thought we had hot water and I kind of going back to my quote where Dwayne Johnson talks about being hungry. That was the day I became hungry for success. And I promised myself that I was not gonna live like that when I was an adult. And you know, just trying to, to make my way into life right now and just be successful and yeah, I will never forget that day.

Mary Kate Soliva (09:10):

Wow. That is so powerful. And uh, thank, thank you for sharing at, I can actually just imagine your sort of your reaction. I can kind of visualize that about how excited you were just to feel the warm water, but then to find out that it was from the sun on, um, you, and again, I, I love back to that, go back to that simple living, but the fact that you said like that was when you decided that you wanted more for yourself and that’s probably, that’s a great segue, I think for, uh, to talk to our listeners about what led you into the Navy and you know, your, your time in uniform. Was it something where the recruiters just happened to bump down the down the road in a truck and <laugh>, does anyone wanna join the Navy? I mean, you I’m imagining a small town here, but what was the, was there even a recruiting station near, near your house?

Kai Henderson (09:59):

There was one about 30 minutes away. And so what piqued my interest in the military was one of my neighbors, neighbors was actually a Marine veteran and I, uh, hung out with him a lot. We did shooting practices together and stuff and just hearing about his experience. And I also have know with family members who have served in the military as well. So I I’ve always kinda had interest there. And I kind of explored that interest a little bit as a like 17, 18 year old, but I decided I wanted to wait and see if I could, you know, maybe do something different with my life. So I established a really good career. Um, I was actually a police officer before I joined the military and um, at out of Arkansas and I enjoyed my time there, but I, I felt like I was stuck.

Kai Henderson (10:51):

And most of the people that I grew up with and had known in Arkansas, most of ’em never left. They just stayed. And I wanted more for myself than that. And I loved where I worked, but you know, that desire to, to do more, to be more, to see more and explore the world. So I knew the Navy wouldn’t station me back in Arkansas. And uh, so that’s why I picked the Navy and yeah, I went out and I didn’t do a lot of traveling. I didn’t get to go overseas, which I was kind of hope and forth at the time, but I traveled out to Chicago for uh, boot camp. And then after boot camp, I went to a school out in Florida, which was amazing, the best food I’ve ever had, I think up there. Yeah. And then I got stationed in California, which is what I ultimately wanted. I wanted to be out in California to experience the food, the culture near the community out. And yeah, I stayed after I got out and plan on putting some roots down here.

Mary Kate Soliva (11:43):

Yeah. I love that. What was it, had you seen the ocean at that point before you joined the Navy?

Kai Henderson (11:50):

I thought once and I actually went, I flew out to California for a friend’s wedding and I just fell in love with the place. And I was like, I gotta come back and not just a visit, like I want to come to stay here for a while. And yeah. So I, I lucked out, I got orders to California. I was so excited. Everyone. I read my orders, it said LA more California. I was like, I don’t know where LA more is, but I’m excited. That’s California. So

Mary Kate Soliva (12:14):

I mean, cause California’s a pretty small state, right?

Kai Henderson (12:17):

Yeah. Just

Mary Kate Soliva (12:18):

<laugh> no, not at all. Anyone listening that doesn’t to California, that’s really huge. But um, yeah. It’s

Mary Kate Soliva (12:26):

Gosh, it takes me back to like when, when I got my orders from my first duty station and it was like Fort Dietrich and I’m like, where the hell is Fort D trick at like this little tiny little base, but it was, um, I, I can’t say that I had the look of happiness, like you did in getting California as your first station. I swear like everybody in my, a I T V advanced individual training class got really cool these stations. And then I ended up out here in Maryland. Yeah. Um, so I mean, we just talked a little bit earlier about the sunshine and the heat that you’re getting. So I’d appreciate you to package some up and send it my way up.

Kai Henderson (13:07):

You’re welcome to all of it. <laugh>

Mary Kate Soliva (13:09):

Yeah. Right. I’m ready for, for summer. But you, you touched a little a bit about, oh, where, where you got to go and, and what you got to do. What were you doing, um, in Florida at the time? Cause now when you’re imagining, when you talk about food, I’m thinking like, did you eat Gator for the first time?

Kai Henderson (13:28):

Oh no, no, no. So, uh, Florida principal of Florida actually had the best Navy gal, um, in the higher branch. So I felt really lucky. Like you get like fresh omelet, like they’ll crack the eggs in front of you and they make your food fresh. So you don’t have this, like, I don’t know, egg powder and water type of eggs, you know, it’s especially if you coming from boots camp,

Mary Kate Soliva (13:48):

That’s fine. You know, what is, what is the Navy doing over here? I feel like the army, we still get powdered eggs. Y’all get fresh eggs over there in the,

Kai Henderson (13:56):

And Pensacola, nowhere else that I found, but Pensacola yeah. You get fresh eggs. So it was, it was so nice coming from bootcamp cuz you know, bootcamp, you get all like the water log food and it’s no telling how long it’s been frozen. And so yeah, it was so nice to go to Pensacola and get some fresh food, like fresh fruit and it was so good.

Mary Kate Soliva (14:15):

You did didn’t mention sausage gravy once at all. That’s like the premier premier cuisine. Once you also sent it over to the army guys. Oh my goodness. Um, that’s that’s I, I actually, I think that’s fantastic. You got to experience the east coast, you got to experience the west coast and you also really stayed out in California. And during that, that time, uh, in your career, are there, is there anybody that really sticks out to you that was, uh, paramount to your, your growth during that time or someone that really took you under their wing that you wanna give special shout out too?

Kai Henderson (14:52):

Yeah, absolutely. So whenever I first got to my, uh, duty station in Lamore, uh, petty officer Blake was my first point of contact and they were my mentor during my time there. And um, they just kind of took me under their wing and showed me the ropes and um, and they were like, they had so many resources, you know, if you needed anything, you know, with like mental health or just navigating base or, you know, what’s, what’s around to eat or, you know, just absolutely anything that you were the go to person. And they were kind of known as like a, like a mother figure around the entire squadron and like they were just so motherly and caring and like it was genuine. Like they actually cared about your wellbeing. And um, I remember that making all the difference.

Mary Kate Soliva (15:33):

I really, really love that. Was that something that you felt like you were able to pass on to the sailors that you worked with?

Kai Henderson (15:40):

Yeah, I did my best too. So petty officer Blake actually worked in maintenance admin. And whenever I first got to my duty station, I started out in the line chat and um, cause had a aviation rate and I worked in line check for a little bit. And then I got to go to work in maintenance admin, which is a luxury, especially if you’re a junior enlisted person, like you don’t going to maintenance. Admin is like very rare. And so I, I felt very blessed that I got picked and um, she actually became my supervisor too. And um, but yeah, I be maintenance avenue have access to a lot of resources for the squadron and um, a lot of networking and I also worked or volunteered for a staffer, which is via sexual assault prevention and response department. And being in there, you meet a lot of people and you get to, there’s also for the Navy, there’s a fleet and family, which has a lot of resources. And um, I gotta work with the people that in fleet and family a lot. So I had access to a lot of resources and being able to pass those on to incoming sailors was a really good feeling. Cause I remember what it was like to be in their shoes and you’re just, you know, you’re like bright eye bushy and you’re just like, oh my God, I dunno. What’s happening in a new place. And <affirmative> yeah, that’s actually a

Mary Kate Soliva (16:55):

Great way to

Kai Henderson (16:55):

Describe.

Mary Kate Soliva (16:56):

Yeah, that’s a great way to describe it. Brian had a pushy tale cause I’m thinking like something straight outta all these Disney references, but I think you’re you’re right. Uh, we were talking, I was talking to someone recently about even the, the DVDs of the videos that they show at the recruiting center. You’re trying to figure out what job you wanna do. And it’s like, and then the videos are just so cool. And so when you join, you’re just like, yes, and you’re just ready to take onto your career. And then you can start slowly seeing how salty the, the sea start getting. But I love that somebody stepped up and, and took you under their wing. And, and even of more than that, like actually told you where the good places were to eat. Yes. But I guess of what I, we, I sort of missed that part cuz now, now I’m curious, like what made you actually pick the job that you ended up getting in, in the Navy?

Kai Henderson (17:48):

So that’s kind of a funny story. So whenever I joined, I did the aviation apprenticeship. I forget exactly what it’s called, but I went in and I got, I was UND designated. I didn’t have a, like an assigned rate. So you, for your first two years that you’re in, you try different aviation jobs. So you can try like the aviation, um, avionics, et cetera. Um, but what ended up happening and for other people who also did the aviation apprenticeship is you get stuck in the line check and the line check does all the grunt work for your squadron and you don’t get a lot of experience in the areas that you’re supposed to get experience in. So at the end of my two year, I gotta put in for a rate that I wanted and you can list your top three that you wanna have. And based off the needs of the Navy, you get assigned a rate. So I ended up getting aviation, structural mechanic. I never did anything with it my whole time I worked in admin. So yeah, that’s a, it’s not what I was expecting, but it was an interesting journey.

Mary Kate Soliva (18:52):

I love that saying needs of the Navy. That is not

Kai Henderson (18:57):

<laugh>

Mary Kate Soliva (18:58):

Listeners. That basically makes that you do not get anything that’s on your wishlist. Um, if you were able to pick one that you wanted, what would you, what would you have picked

Kai Henderson (19:10):

Out of like any rate

Mary Kate Soliva (19:12):

Mm-hmm <affirmative>

Kai Henderson (19:13):

It’s a tough one.

Mary Kate Soliva (19:15):

You’re starting to make me think you wanted to pick cook. So just you get that fresh eggs anytime you wanted.

Kai Henderson (19:20):

You know, I, I actually was interested in being a cook until I, um, I found out kind of what goes on with being a cook. And I was like, absolutely not. Um, I think if I had to pick anyone, it would probably be something with like an it or admin or maybe cyber security.

Mary Kate Soliva (19:37):

Yeah. Those are AB absolutely great ones too. And I, I love that you, you did the Sapper program as well, cuz even for those specialized ones, not everyone gets an opportunity to step in those roles or step up for those roles. So I think that’s great that you did that. Were there any other, uh, any sort of training or certification opportunities that you did and took advantage of while you were on active duty?

Kai Henderson (20:04):

So while I was on active duty, I, I didn’t. So I got a lot of certifications. My job at maintenance admin was actually man, all the qualifications for our squadron. So I gotta see what was out there. And um, yeah, before I left I had probably 20 different ones and um, wow. It was, it was nice cuz you could, you got out of it, what you put into it, you could, you know, essentially this, it obviously if you had the time, cause you have to take care of your job first and then training in a second. But um, yeah, there’s unlimited opportunity. I think every branch has one, but um, ours is called Navy. Cool. So you could put in so many hours and get an apprent apprenticeship or like certification and yeah. There’s endless opportunities for education, which is amazing.

Mary Kate Soliva (20:48):

Absolutely. I’d definitely take advantage of those if you’re still on active duty for those tuning in today, but I really, you actually mentioned the word networking earlier and I think that that was sort of a foreign word to me when I was on active duty. I think I was just doing it without knowing what it really was and it wasn’t until I was transitioning out of the military that I really understood the value of networking. So could you touch a little bit on, on what you did in, in that aspect and how you even came to know the, the importance of networking?

Kai Henderson (21:23):

Yeah, so I, I didn’t understand the importance of it until I taking my classes to transition out of the military and in those classes they talked relentlessly network network network. Yes. And I was like, well, how do I do that? I didn’t know how a LinkedIn account. So I, I got a LinkedIn account and I just started like following people that I knew and you know, following people that they knew and eventually over time you can, you know, build a pretty good network of people, but yeah, it’s, you don’t know what you don’t know. Right. If you don’t know to look or you don’t know to network, then chances are probably not happening. So I, if you know, the people listening to this, if you get an opportunity to network, do it, if you don’t have a LinkedIn account, make one, you know, reach out to people and there’s people out there that wanna connect with you and help you and support you.

Mary Kate Soliva (22:10):

And that’s abso that’s wonderful advice. And um, those sort of good cuz I was just thinking about if you were in a room of transitioning service members, what you would say to them, and I think that’s really amazing advice leveraging your network, but for those who maybe tuning in, I think one of the unique things about us is we sort of programmed and wired to be afraid to put ourselves out there. And we are continuously thinking about the team and those to are left and right. Uh, but this is a timely, you said transitioning that it’s focusing now on yourself. So for what would be your advice for those who, who still be afraid to put themselves out there? Like even putting a last name on LinkedIn, for example.

Kai Henderson (22:56):

Yeah. So I was actually that person, um, yeah, I’d put my first name at last initial and you know, for the longest time I didn’t have a photo of myself either, but it’s hard to connect with people if you don’t know who they are. So take that step, take that leap. It will pay off. And whenever you’re transitioning out of the military too, it is never, ever too early to prepare to leave. Cause it is whenever I went into the military, I thought, you know, when you left, it was similar to leaving any other job. It is not. Um, my contract was only for three years and I didn’t reenlist whenever I transitioned out, it took a solid year of prepping and looking back on it, I kind of wish I would’ve started a year and a half in cuz there’s so much to transitioning outta the military, but you know, just take that first step is my advice.

Mary Kate Soliva (23:46):

That’s great advice. Uh, I was also guilty of that and, and many of my mentors still reference and laugh at me about they remember when I was just Mary S and then Mary Kate S and I was like, you know, catfish. I was like, they probably think that I’m some fake person in my mom’s basement and don’t even know what I look like. Or if I’m a real person, so surprise, nobody was connecting with me before I really put myself out there. And I was, I’m wondering because, uh, you mentioned about how you just did the one contract and this is something that I really, you know, wanted to bring you on to veteran voices, because I think there’s a lot of service members out there that may only want to do one contract and they’re sort of on the, on the fence about whether they want to stay in or not and, and maybe make a wonderful career out of it. But did you sort of get that where people were saying, you know, stay in, you know, keep sign another contract. Did you experience that and sort of like, how did you process like this is the right decision for me?

Kai Henderson (24:49):

Yeah. So I actually received a lot of pressure from my command to reenlist. And at one point it was presented it to me as I didn’t have a choice that I was gonna have to, and I remember just feeling disheartened and at the time, like, I’m, you know, even now, like I’m trying to, to grow my family and with being on active duty comes deployments, you know, you’re not home very often. You have long work hours. And I really wanted to take time to focus on my family. So I knew like I felt really solid in that and knew that this one contract was all I was gonna do. And for some people don’t know, you know, if you don’t have kids, if you don’t, you’re not married, there’s so much opportunity and you don’t have, you know, you’re not like attached to people back home so much.

Kai Henderson (25:36):

So going out and being on, you know, six to six plus month deployments or detachments, isn’t so emotionally straining. So if you know, you’re in a place like that and I see, go for it, you know, if that’s something that feels right and it feels solid to you go for it. And if you’re on the fence, you’re not sure then take time. Don’t let people pressure. You it’s your life. They don’t live your life. You live your life and you go to bed with yourself every night. So do what is gonna feel right to you.

Mary Kate Soliva (26:05):

Wow. Well, like how do I, I even follow that. That was really powerful. And gosh, I, I could feel, I could feel every word that you were saying there. Cause I think that that was something that I struggled with. I got out at the halfway mark. And so the pressure there of, you know, you’re already over the hill push you, you know, much further to go and, uh, really taking that step back to do an assessment of your, your goals and where you see yourself. And, and so I think that, especially for those who are tuning in that only did or on the fence, they only wanna do one contract. I think this was really valuable conversation to really do that self-reflection assessment because sometimes I think we do stay out of, out of fear though. You know, there’s nothing wrong with staying in and it’s honorable to stay for the long haul, but I think that there is nothing wrong if you are wanting to take a step back in, in look for something else. So I really wanted to, to touch on that as well with regards to what you’re doing now. Yeah. I mentioned it. So I gave our listeners a little glimpse into the fact that you’re a full-time student now. So if you could talk about a little bit what that looked like for you, your first coming out, maybe your first few months coming off of active duty, what did that look like for you?

Kai Henderson (27:29):

Yeah, so I actually utilize the steel bridge program. And for those of you who are not familiar with it, the last six months of your active duty contract, you can do an internship with a civilian company. So I found a, a software company based out of Georgia and I gotta do three months of my, you know, at the end of my contract, but I did those three months, this skill bridge and transitioned. And at the end, it wasn’t a good fit. And I, if I felt really solid in the fact that if I was going to establish myself somewhere with the new career, it had to be a good fit, like organization had to have the same values that I have. And so my next step, I was just like, I don’t know what to do. And I reached out to a veteran organization that’s local here and the, I got connected with the rep veteran representative.

Kai Henderson (28:16):

And he was in a, a similar boat that I was whenever I got out. And his job is solely to help veterans find employment. So it was a work with him and I got hired on, or did an apprenticeship at a local, uh, tech company. And I did that for a little while. And while I was going to school, I started going to college and, uh, there’s a com there’s a college out of San Francisco called golden gate university. And the veteran representative, I was working with the unemployment I was at actually going to school there. And he is like, Hey, this college is amazing. They’re very veteran and military friendly. If you get a chance, check them out. And, um, I checked them out and yeah, they’re just fantastic. And I, I stopped working in January, which is very weird for me. I’ve worked, I don’t know, since I was like eight or nine, so I was working on the farm. And so like the last 20 years or so I’ve been working and now I am not working. And it just, it feels weird, but it is such a good way. Like now I can focus on my education and, you know, through my veteran resources, you can get, you know, like your di bill, you can get a housing allowance, so that helps pay for stuff. And you can just focus on school. So the, if, uh, if you get the chance to focus on school, just that I highly recommend it. It’s very rewarding.

Mary Kate Soliva (29:32):

Fantastic. And did you find help with your, your application for college or did you end up doing it on your own?

Kai Henderson (29:40):

I ended up doing it on my own, but was, was really cool. Is the veteran certifying officer at golden gate university. She helped so much. She just kind of like held my hand through the process and, um, I, I really wish her more people like her in the world. She’s amazing. But she told me about her program called the veteran rehabilitation program. So, uh, just kind of a brief, uh, summary of what they do is if you have, I believe it’s 30% or more disability, then they pay for a employment program. So what that can look like is if you need a bachelor’s degree to get a job, they’ll pay for that bachelor’s degree. So she told me about the program and actually qualified for the benefits. And if you get a chance, look, ’em up. They’re they’re phenomenal. Um, and I didn’t realize like how beneficial that was gonna be for me moving forward with my education.

Kai Henderson (30:31):

So instead of getting three years of my school paid, I’m getting seven years of my school paid. And during that whole time I’m getting a, a housing allowance space, the zip code of a college. And that that’s huge, absolutely huge. So you’re more than doubling the years that you’re getting for school. So, you know, you can get a, a doctor degree in eight years, right. You have seven years of schooling, so you’d only be out of pocket for one year. And then even at that, there’s other resources that you can use to pay for school. So, and that kind of goes back to like, whenever you’re transitioning out of the military, there’s so many resources, like just infinite amounts. And if you, again, you don’t know what you don’t know. So if you don’t know to look for them or even what they are that exists out there, you’ll miss out on them. So yeah. Highly recommend connecting with other people who have gone through this process or yeah, just reach out.

Mary Kate Soliva (31:25):

Oh, I love that, that you’re taking advantage of that. And you even mentioned about the housing allowance, which I think is, is huge. And it’s an incentive that we have coming from the military. So take advantage of that and another opportunities, even the yellow ribbon program, uh, being able to help with that, that gap is say, if you do run out of the, the funding, a lot of these universities across the country, part of the yellow ribbon program. So thank you for sharing that aspect of it. Um, big proponent as a student veteran myself, to really take advantage of that and sort of like my plug to look up your, uh, veteran organization and at your school, like the student veterans of America, uh, there’s just so many different, uh, clubs and organizations out there that can help support you to achieve, uh, your goals, whatever they may be in higher education. And I know we had talked off one about this ki, but I really, uh, would love our listeners to hear a little bit more about what you’re hoping to do with your education and, uh, sort of what led you to that as well.

Kai Henderson (32:32):

Yeah, of course. So whenever I’ll go back to one, I was a little kid. I, um, my parents called me doctor nurse, and, uh, I was, yeah, yeah. Um, anytime like a, a pet or one of our farm animals would get injured. Like I was a like first one to go doctor them up. And even when they didn’t have injuries or boo boos, I was like, you know, trying to, I was active. I would act like they did, they’d had injuries. And I would like, um, you know, administer first aid to them. And, um, I wanted to be a doctor and I wanted to go to medical school, but coming from such poverty, I was like, it’s not in the card to me. There’s no way even like, if I try to pursue this, I would ever have the money to attend medical school, which is not, it’s just not for me.

Kai Henderson (33:16):

And I, it’s kind of always been in the back of my mind. And that was part of the motivation for joining the military outside of just being stuck, where I was. And I was like, I wanna go to school. And I know that the military can help me do that. So I’m on track now to start medical school in two years. And it’s, it feels like a dream come true. Like I’ve just, I’m just in shock in the best of ways. Like I, I put in the work I put in the effort and it’s paying off and now I’m on track to be a doctor and I’ll be the first person in my family to be a doctor. And it’s just, it’s so exciting and I couldn’t have done it without the military and my VA benefits. And, um, just the people who have helped me along to know what was out there to, you know, the resources that I could utilize.

Kai Henderson (34:06):

So I’m so thankful to all of them and it feels good. It feels good to invest in yourself. And I know like, you know, if I would’ve stayed in the military, like I wouldn’t be on the track that I am now, and this is where I’m meant to be. So kind of going back a little bit to like, if you’re not sure if you should get out or not just, you know, think about your future long term. And, um, what you wanna do with your life is anything, anything is possible. It doesn’t matter where you come from the color of your skin, your race, you know, your economic status, you can be successful and I’m living proof of the, you know, anyone can be successful.

Mary Kate Soliva (34:45):

Wow. And I really appreciate you saying that, Kai, because what you just said about how you, you were entering medical school in two years, I just think about if you had reenlisted where you would be at, in your, in that contract, um, you know, in the Navy and, and sort of, kind of like the parallel lives of those who had joined at the same time as you, and kind of seeing, um, you know, where you took a step to the left or the right where you pivoted. But now you’re about to do this in incre be on this incredible path, uh, towards medical school. And I love that you are a doctor nurse. So I get wondering, like, once you pass medical school, you’re like, I just keep calling you doctor, nurse. Um <laugh> and I keep thinking

Kai Henderson (35:26):

Animals.

Mary Kate Soliva (35:27):

So I’m like, Kai, you did say medical school with humans, right? Not like veterinarian school with animals

Kai Henderson (35:35):

About you, like, let

Mary Kate Soliva (35:37):

Tell you about a story from the farm when I was you helping the animals. And I’m like, but you sit medical school, you go a little bit different, uh, routes here, but yeah,

Kai Henderson (35:46):

Yeah. That inspired my interest to, you know, anti-medicine initially, so yeah, I am. I’m excited. I, I don’t, again, it feels like a dream come true. Yeah,

Mary Kate Soliva (35:57):

Absolutely. Absolutely. That, do you, you see yourself staying out in, uh, California to pursue that?

Kai Henderson (36:04):

Maybe, maybe, um, I love it out here, so there’s a really good possibility I’ll stay.

Mary Kate Soliva (36:10):

And I know we had talked about too, but maybe the opportunities that you have, I mean, just being a, a full flood medical doctor, the opportunities for you, there’s such a great need all around the world. So really admirable the path that you’re going on. And you’re absolutely right. I mean, stemming from the motivational quote that you, you amped us up with in the beginning, right. Between Johnson, uh, but now to now about how really you can do that. And I love that are still, you can, you can hear how Huit is in, in the story that you share and just in the conversations we’ve had about how humble you are. And I think that that’s just, you know, you’re setting yourself up for such success. Uh, you really, I, I think some people they’re three times older than you, and they’re still trying to figure out what they wanna do when they go up. So I think it’s really impressive, uh, where you started and where you are now. It’s amazing. Yeah.

Kai Henderson (37:05):

I feel so blessed. I do. And I, I, again, I couldn’t have done it without the people, um, that have helped me along this journey and, and it’s very grateful for them and just, you know, grateful for recognizing the potential that I had in myself and, uh, acting on that, you know, just again, investing in myself. And I remember whenever I first started, I’m wanna touch on mental health a little bit whenever I first started, yes, please. Experie anxiety. I was in the military and, uh, my mentor at the time I had a couple throughout my, um, contract, but she was telling me like how she has anxiety. And I was so shocked. I was like, you have anxiety. It’s like, does anybody know? And, um, cuz I was taught like it was shameful. Like you can’t tell anybody you have anxiety or you’re depressed.

Kai Henderson (37:49):

Like you can get, I was told you could get kicked out for that. And I was like, well, how do you get help for this? If you can get kicked out for it. You know? Like, and I didn’t realize how common anxiety was or depression. And I, I started to like talk to more people and I was realizing, oh, most people here experience some kind of anxiety or depression or you know, something and you know, it’s, it’s okay to get help. It’s okay to invest in your own mental health. And I feel like a lot of times in the military, it’s, there’s a lot of shame around having like poor mental health. But I think if this shift like in my squadron, for example, I wish the leaders would have put a little bit more of an emphasis on like it’s okay to take care of yourself. And I really appreciated that. Like when I worked at the police department, um, mental health was huge. It was a huge component. And if you needed a mental health day, that was okay. You know, and, and I think our military leaders could do a little bit better of a job about like, here are the resources, if you’re struggling, it’s okay. You can go get help. And just knowing that investing in your mental health is gonna set you up for success.

Mary Kate Soliva (39:06):

Absolutely. That whole, um, making sure that you fill your cup up before you pour onto others. Yeah. Um, really, really I important, uh, thing to talk about mental health is just so it’s so important that we take care of ourselves, but that we also sort of do those buddy checks. You know, I think that when, even when we come in the service, you talk about battle buddies and we always gotta go in yeah. In pairs at least. And I think that’s one of the things that I’ve take a step back as, as well is, uh, when I have my mentors checking in on me and saying, you know, are, you know, are you okay? It looks like you’re getting a little frazzled over there. So <laugh>, and then just taking a step back, taking a deep breath, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with, with seeking out that help and know that there’s so many people out there that are advocating for us and for our mental health, that there’s resources popping up.

Mary Kate Soliva (40:01):

I, I keep, I feel like I’m continuously learning about new resources, new veteran service organizations out there that are really making this a center point of focus and conversation. And I mean, that’s really like what we’re having now. Now I think it’s important to just be able to have that conversation about mental health and that it’s okay to ask for help and to lean on one another. And I, I would love to ask it with the, with regards to mental health, uh, for the disability rate, you even mentioned it that you using the, the vocational program now for call, at what point did you decide to start filing and start, you know, really taking ownership of your, um, your disability claim?

Kai Henderson (40:48):

Yeah. That’s an excellent question. Um, and kind of like going back to, it’s never too early to prepare to transition out same thing with your, your disability. Like it’s never too early to prepare. And so I, um, reached out, I write, what was his name? I can’t remember. Anyway, the veteran service office, um, there’s, they’re all over the place, reach out to them. They will actually do the paperwork for you. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and they will help you. It is, there’s so much paperwork. It is such a long process. It takes so many, much, um, it took me almost a year to get my VA discipline rating and I started seven months before I got out. So yeah, again, it’s never too early to prepare. And even in the military, they’re like, if you hurt yourself to just suck it up, right. Don’t be a big baby.

Kai Henderson (41:36):

Um, go to the doctor. If you hurt yourself, go to the doctor, go to your medical doctor on base or, or whatever, and cuz all of those injuries or, you know, whatever you’re going through, it adds up on your disability and you’ve earned it. You know, if you you’ve injured yourself, say something. Um, and it kind of goes back into self care a little bit. Like if, you know, something happens to you, like it’s okay to take care of yourself. And with mine, I, um, I claimed I over 37 things online and most people only put like five or so on their disability claim. But what’s important is that you’re putting everything that’s happened to you. And some things you won’t get a rating for or some things they’ll give you zero for. Um, but what’s important is that it’s documented is so important documentation with the VA. So yeah, it start a minimum of six months before you get out, if you can. Um, and if not, that’s okay too. Um, just reach out to your veteran service office, it’s local to you and they can help you get started.

Mary Kate Soliva (42:38):

Yes. And for free, I mean all capital letters, F R E E right.

Kai Henderson (42:43):

It’s free.

Mary Kate Soliva (42:43):

So it’s money that you’re leaving on the table without. And, and I really appreciate that. You said you’ve earned this, you’ve earned it. You deserve it. You, you, you raised your right hand. You take advantage of the help, uh, from the veteran service organizations from your rep representatives and get that help to file your claim. And even if you haven’t now, uh, I have a dear friend of mine, Vietnam veteran. He didn’t file his claim. He, he finally got his rating in 2016 and he fought in, in Vietnam. So it just is a goes to show that if you don’t have your claim, that there’s still resources for you to file now so that you can get well, you and your family deserve for that. And so really that self care piece. So thank you for sharing and touching on that mental health. Again, it’s not an easy topic.

Mary Kate Soliva (43:42):

It’s not a pleasant topic even over dinner, but it’s something that’s very important to talk about. And for those who feel like they’re struggling alone to just know that you’re not alone. And I think one of the things with the Miller that I love, we, we talk about one of the top things that people miss is the camaraderie. Uh, but we really reference one another as brothers and SI sisters. I, I, and I have veteran sisters that I’ve never actually met in person, but this world that we’re living in, where I can just have a zoom session or have this virtual, like we’re doing now to be able to reach out and check in on one another, get to know one another. And they’re, they’ve just been so such an important part of my transition into the civilian side of the thing. So really value that. Um, I, I wanted to, to see if there was anything else that you’d like to share. Uh, I know we’re about coming to a close today, but I really wanted to you, you shared so many golden nuggets today with us, Kai. I really appreciate that. But was there anything that you wanted to leave our listeners with today?

Kai Henderson (44:51):

Uh, I would say just keep investing in yourself, you’re worth it and you deserve it. You know, growing up, I, I was taught kind of, I wasn’t enough, you know, and it took me a long time to find myself worth. And I just, you know, I wonder like if I could have invested in myself a little bit sooner, how far would I be now? And I’m, I’m very happy with where I am, but you know, just if you get an opportunity to invest in yourself, whether it’s your physical health or mental health or financial health, any aspect, do it

Mary Kate Soliva (45:21):

Love that really love that. Uh, so for our listeners today, invest in yourself, you’re worth it. Uh, know that you’re not alone. You got two veteran is I just say two disabled veterans here that are just talking about, I sometimes say about, I feel like Mrs. Potato had like, I’m just gonna have to pull a limb off and, you know, trade it in for something else. But I, I mean, I’m very, very grateful for the support that I have received. It’s sounds like you’ve had incredible, uh, mentors, a along the way in your journey. So our listeners want to hear more about you and your incredible journey. What’s the best way that they can reach, reach you.

Kai Henderson (46:02):

So I’m on LinkedIn. I’m always set me up there and I’m also on Bera as a mentor. So, um, you know, look me up and look, I’m meeting with me. I’d be more than happy to talk with any of you

Mary Kate Soliva (46:12):

Be that sounds awfully familiar. Kai was like a little bit about where you and I met.

Kai Henderson (46:18):

Yes. Yeah. We met there. Yeah. And I I’ve made some amazing connections there. There’s such a, a vast amount of people on berate from different backgrounds and different experience. So if you haven’t checked it out, um, go check it out. It’s, it’s very, um, rewarding.

Mary Kate Soliva (46:33):

Yes. And, and for our listeners who may not know about Vetro, it’s a free resource available, uh, to our community that you can sign up for a mentor. You can, you can register as a mentee and then you can see this vast database of mentors that are volunteering their time to have a conversation with you. This system will connect you for about a one hour call and you can just go take the conversation from there. You can read a little bit about their bios, uh, where they’re from their background and they’re from a vast number of industries. So I’m sure that somebody out there on Erra. So thank you, Kai, for being able to, for lending, uh, your support there, signing up. Cuz I think when we just initially spoke, you weren’t sign up as a mentor and I was like sign up for as a mentor. Cause even if you’ve only done one contract, you have learned so many lessons during your journey, a transition that you already have a wealth of knowledge to share with those coming behind you. So I really appreciate you taking the time to join us today, Kai.

Kai Henderson (47:35):

Yeah. Thank you for having me it’s honor to be here.

Mary Kate Soliva (47:38):

Yes. And on behalf of the entire team here at veteran voices, thank you for tuning in today. We invite you to find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcast from big thanks to our partners, my faves vets industry@bestindustry.org. And th this is Mary Kay saliva wishing all of our listeners an incredible day and nothing but the best stay motivated. Do good, give forward and be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time. Thanks. Every everybody take care.

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Featured Guests

Kai Henderson started out working in a steak house when he was 16. Since then, he has worked on various farms, for a mechanic parts store, a rock quarry, and was a business owner. The two roles he is most proud of our his time as a police officer and as a U.S. Navy Sailor. Currently, he is a full-time student working towards becoming a doctor. Connect with Kai on LinkedIn.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

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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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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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