Isabelle Szott is a behavioral researcher at APOPO in Tanzania. In this episode of Logistics with Purpose, Isabelle joins host Enrique Alvarez to talk about how humans are studying animal behavior to better understand how they are impacted by different conditions in their environment. She also describes the work being done to train African giant pouch rats as landmine detectors, as rescue search animals, and as scent detection animals to monitor the contents of shipping containers.
Welcome to Logistics with Purpose presented by Vector Global Logistics. In partnership with Supply Chain. Now we spotlight and celebrate organizations who are dedicated to creating a positive impact. Join us for this behind the scenes glimpse of the origin stories change, making progress and future plans of organizations who are actively making a difference. Our goal isn’t just to entertain you, but to inspire you to go out and change the world. And now here’s today’s episode of Logistics with Purpose.
Enrique Alvarez (00:34):
Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of Logistics with Purpose. I’m generally excited today cuz we’re gonna be talking about topic that’s very unique, uh, and with someone that knows a lot, a lot about, uh, this animals that I’ll she’ll tell us a little bit more in a second. But before, before I do that, let me just introduce you all to Izzy Szott behavioral researcher at apopo, and she’s in Tanzania right now. Isi, how are you doing? Good morning.
Isabelle Szott (01:05):
I am good. Good afternoon. How are you? <laugh>?
Enrique Alvarez (01:08):
Well, thank you. Good afternoon to you. Morning to everyone in this side of the world and, uh, could be evening, morning, or uh, um, yeah, afternoon for a lot of people listening to us, so thanks for coming to the show. This is amazing.
Isabelle Szott (01:23):
Thank you for having me.
Enrique Alvarez (01:25):
Well, before we deep dive into what your do and what your organization does, which is amazing, could you tell us a little bit more about, about yourself? Tell us a little bit more about where you grew up and how was your childhood like?
Isabelle Szott (01:36):
So, I am, uh, based in Tanzania, in Morogoro. Um, but I am originally from Germany. Um, I grew up in Heidelberg, which is a, a small-ish town in the southwest of Germany. Um, and, um, you know, grew up, um, always loved being outdoors and, and, and, you know, always had pets. Um, but I did a lot of dancing growing up, um, and horseback riding. So really enjoyed those things. Did school cuz I had to <laugh> <laugh>.
Enrique Alvarez (02:08):
We all did that, I guess.
Isabelle Szott (02:10):
We all did. Um, but yeah, and, um, when I, when I finished school, I, I was a bit lost in, in terms of what to do next. Um, there were many, many opportunities and, and none of them seemed particularly right. I did a lot of internships and volunteering and travel. Um, and during my travel I did a lot of work with animals, um, and really, you know, discovered that that is what I wanted to do for a living. Um, so then
Enrique Alvarez (02:37):
I the love, the love for pets. And you said that you had some pets? Yes. Were there like dogs? Mm-hmm. Cats or you had other types of animals too?
Isabelle Szott (02:43):
I, um, we mostly have cats. Um, you know, lots of my best friends had dogs. Um, but the horseback riding, you know, growing up in stables, you’ve got lots of dogs and obviously the horses and donkeys, uh, around, um, so yeah. Um, alsos and, and I used to follow my cat around neighbor’s gardens, um, which <laugh> an odd thing to do as a kid. Um, but yeah, you’d encounter all sorts of things there. Um, well,
Enrique Alvarez (03:09):
It sounds like, yeah, it sounds, well it sounds like you’ve always had something like a connection, like a special connection, special bond with animals. Uh, do you remember something like a cool story, uh, when you were younger, um, that kind of started to give you some hints about, well, this is probably something I should do the rest of my life,
Isabelle Szott (03:27):
<laugh>? No. Um, so nothing young? Not, not really, no. It was, it really, I came to, I, I, you know, when I was very little, I wanted to be a vet, um, and then realize that that, you know, comes along with, uh, having to put animals down and, you know, a lot of heartbreak. And I was like, no, actually I don’t really wanna do this. So, um, you know, I think having animals in my life always sort of fulfilled that need for me to not actually question it much further. Um, and then, you know, when I traveled I, I and did all these internships and I did internships and hotels and with the radio and, um, all of that stuff, and it just wasn’t right. Um, and I never felt like I was getting the same thing back that I was getting when, when you’re interacting with an animal. Um, and, you know, traveling and seeing animals across the world in the wild was just so fascinating. And, and, you know, of course, um, having that passion for it, you know, getting involved in conservation and, and, you know, trying to do more there, um, really was something that showed me that’s, that’s where I wanna go. I really wanna do this full-time, um, and not just, you know, have it on the side.
Enrique Alvarez (04:35):
And it sounds like you not only kind of like the animals, but the behavior, I mean, you were very interested in, in their behavior. Right. Tell us a little bit more about that side of the, uh, I guess your, uh, interest in, in animals in general.
Isabelle Szott (04:47):
I think it’s a funny thing because often, you know, when you have pet pets, um, it’s very clear to you when your pet wants something. Um, and, and you know, when your pet looks at you a certain way and you’re like, mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it’s time to go outside. Yes. Or you, yes, absolutely getting hungry. Um, but actually it’s quite, you know, pets can’t speak human. So it’s, it, it’s quite interesting when you try and quantify these behaviors into something that you know, is valid across species or even, you know, for, within a species. Um, so, and, and of course, you know, if you’re surrounded by people who share your opinion, that’s, you know, everything, of course they have a personality, but then at some point you’ll meet people who are like, no pets, don’t, animals don’t have personalities, and you know, we should, we don’t need to care so much. And, um, they’re so wrong and they’re <laugh>. Yeah,
Enrique Alvarez (05:36):
<laugh>, I, I have a dog. I love animals too, so I’m biased like you. But, uh, yes, they definitely have personalities. How can they say something like
Isabelle Szott (05:45):
That? Absolutely. Um, but that’s I thing where, where, where the science comes in and, you know, like doing the, the job doing it as a job is, you know, we are able to prove that animals have personalities now because, you know, really got gone down in the numbers and testing it over and over again and saying, well, look, here are the hard numbers. If you don’t believe in the, you know, emotional, you’re making this upside, um, then, you know, here’s the data. Don’t argue with the numbers. Exactly. Um, so I think that was something that, that, you know, going into animal behavior as a, as a topic really brought these two together. Um, I love to argue, um, <laugh> <laugh>, um, that’s a good thing to have as well. You know, you, you’re now arguing your point and your passion. Um, and, and yeah, that just really sort of fascinated me. And I, you know, after school when I took this time to travel and do internships, I, I came to university a little bit late, but, um, throughout my degree, I never had a doubt that I was doing the right thing. Um, so what did
Enrique Alvarez (06:47):
You, what did you, uh, study? Where did you
Isabelle Szott (06:49):
I studied, um, I did a bachelor’s degree in animal behavior. Um, so I did, um, all my university degrees in the uk, um, in, in England up in Liverpool, which is an amazing city. Um, and from that bachelor’s degree, which was quite broad, and it was more about, you know, how do we quantify animal behavior, how do we measure it, how do we record it and observe it and, you know, what experiments can we do and everything that goes in with that. Um, I then did a master’s degree where I studied, um, Reese MCs, um, which are a monkey. They’re, they’re quite commonly used for research, for biomedical research. Um, if you’ve ever been to Thailand or Southeast Asia, you will probably have encountered them in the temples. Um, and I worked with these monkeys and, um, trained them to look at different pictures to see how the attention to these images changes depending on how they were feeling. Um, and that was all part of developing a tool to measure welfare changes, to be able to pick up on when does my animal, uh, start to not feel so well and, and be able to tell that earlier enough so that we can,
Enrique Alvarez (07:56):
Based on the pictures that they were looking at.
Isabelle Szott (07:59):
Yes. Um, so basically what we didn’t, we showed them two pictures at the same time, and one of them was, um, uh, con specific. So another monkey that they didn’t know with a relatively neutral facial expression. And the other one is a threat face. And based on how you are feeling, it’s kind of re humans have this as well. Uh, it follows the principle of if you get up on the wrong side, um, you know, everything goes wrong that day. Yes. Everything, you know, from there it’s just downwards. And it’s because if you are in that mindset, you are more likely to focus on these negative things and it just spirals from there. And we all have this, and, you know, it changes between days, but if, you know, if you are not able to get out of this spiral, your, your welfare state will deteriorate know,
Enrique Alvarez (08:45):
But that’s what they’re saying, that you’re bringing up all these negative things to you, but you’re not really bringing them to you. You’re just the mindset and then you’re focusing on the things and making them
Isabelle Szott (08:53):
Enrique Alvarez (08:55):
Isabelle Szott (08:57):
Exactly. So that’s what we looked at with the monkeys is like, which of these pictures are you focusing on today? And is it different tomorrow? Or, um, is it the same? And can we use that to pinpoint when there’s a change? And can we use that to say out that something’s happening here, we need to pay more attention to this animal, um, and, and do something now before it gets too late. Um, so that was a, a really interesting project. Um, and, and, you know, very, very interesting to work with a wild animal in captivity with these monkeys and captivity. Um, and, and, you know, click or train them like they loved us because we just came in with these pictures and all they had to do was sit there and look at them. They got lots of peanuts and raisins for it. Um, so for them it was just like a game that they would do with us. And, and, you know, it was very, very rewarding work.
Enrique Alvarez (09:44):
Um, do you, um, do you feel like the more you study all these different animals, the more you understand humans <laugh> is that they’re like, oh, maybe I can extract this from them and now I have better understanding of me as a person or some friend of those or someone?
Isabelle Szott (09:57):
Definitely. I think there’s a lot of concepts that, you know, apply across the board. Um, you know, understanding how our hormones affect us and, you know, how our cognition and and intention affects how we are coping with the world. And you know, what, like what, what does it mean to cope and when is it a good thing? And, you know, when is that influence of having to cope all the time actually getting bad? Um, it definitely helps you understand. Like, I had situations where I was like, ah, this is why I like to tidy up when I’m stressed.
Enrique Alvarez (10:27):
<laugh>. That’s awesome.
Isabelle Szott (10:29):
Um, yeah, so definitely, uh, I mean my, I I used to work at a restaurant and my boss there used to, um, call me an animal psychologist. Um, and you know, um, there are so many things in our lives that we share with animals, uh, and so many experiences that we share with other animals that, um, of course there are, um, things that you can, you know, relate to yourself or to people that you know, you know, the whole alpha <laugh> thing,
Enrique Alvarez (10:55):
That that could be a completely, uh, new episode. Right. I mean, we’ll probably have to reschedule another session for you to talk about that. Yes, absolutely. The pills. So after, after you were starting this monkeys, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what brought you slowly to the position with a PPO and kind of what made that connection?
Isabelle Szott (11:13):
So after I did my masters’s, I did a PhD, um, and there I actually went the opposite direction in terms of size of the animal and studied elephants. Um, and I was looking at, um, safari tourism. So if you were to go on a safari in Africa and you go down like in a big game drive vehicle and you’re taking pictures, what does that do to elephants? Um, and is, is the number of tourism that is happening in the area, does it present a stressor? Is it, you know, can it be stressful if there’s a lot of this happening? Um, so that was very different because it was with wild elephants. Um, so I didn’t interact with them or tried to train them. Um, I was just out there observing what they were doing, um, um, tracking their movements across the reserve. I collected a whole lot of elephant pill for hormone analysis,
Enrique Alvarez (11:59):
Isabelle Szott (12:01):
Um, a whole chest freezer fault, um, to look at their stress hormones, um, and all of that. So that really was, you know, working like in, in a game reserve in South Africa and, and being based there and, and working with a wild animal in the wild. Um, but I mean, I think all of it came together with, you know, trying to do something that has a purpose and that, um, you know, is meaningful work, uh, that results in, in learning something that can, that can help in, in some kind of way. And of course, like for my, for my study degrees, it was very much focused on how can we help these species? Whereas what I am doing now is more how can these, how can this specific species I’m working with now help us, um, or help other animals? But yeah, I think that that’s, that’s a theme that that was always quite present and something that was always personally important to me to have this purpose, um, in, in my job,
Enrique Alvarez (12:58):
Which that switch is kinda like what connected, uh, us, uh, with you and your organization. And you’ll see everyone that’s listening so far, they’re like, well, supply chain, where is this coming <laugh>? And to play. And, and it will, I mean, just give us another second, uh, Easy’s gonna take us there. And, uh, so, and now apopo, right? So you went from the monkeys, you went to the bigger animals, the elephants, uh, in South Africa. And so you’re getting closer and closer. Did you know at this time that you wanted to shift gears a little bit and start helping humans as opposed to animals? Or not yet?
Isabelle Szott (13:34):
Enrique Alvarez (13:34):
<laugh>. <laugh>. That’s awesome. Well, please go
Isabelle Szott (13:37):
From the beginning.
Enrique Alvarez (13:38):
<laugh> go, go on. Cuz I would like to hear a little bit more about how that happened.
Isabelle Szott (13:42):
I think, um, I finished my PhD, um, just about as like a little bit before the pandemic hit. Um, so it was a tough time to try and find a job. Um, so I was there and I, you know, I had my passion for, for Africa and for conservation and, and you know, seeking for this position that fulfills some kind of purpose. Um, so in, in all my jobs seeking that I did, I came across the, the, the position of behavioral researcher at apopo, um, and AK for, you know, I don’t think we’ve mentioned this, yes, but
Enrique Alvarez (14:16):
No, please. Purple is a ahead. Tell us more about what it is
Isabelle Szott (14:20):
<laugh>. So we’re a Belgian ngo, um, and we are, um, mainly based, uh, our biggest base is here in Tanzania where I am now. And we train African giant pouch rats for a whole range of humanitarian purposes. So we’re most famous and known for our rats that are detecting landmines, um, and, and other explosives. Um, a lot of this work is done in, in Cambodia, for example, but we are also working in, uh, Zimbabwe. We have been in Mozambique, which is now landmine free. Um, so, you know, that was the, the original, the original rat, um, was detecting t and t. Um, and since then, over the past few years, Apocco added things to this because really what we are working with is training these rats as scent detection animals. Um, and they have an amazing sense of smell. Um, it’s, you know, very comparable to that of dogs. Um, but our rats are a bit smaller and lighter. So for the landmines for example, that means that they can safely walk across this field where the landmines are buried and they are too light to set any landmines off. So, you know, instead of a human going in with a metal detector and the metal detector, you know, indicates every piece of scrap metal, uh, it’s, it’s tedious work. Our rats are only going for t and t and they can happily walk back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, extendable
Enrique Alvarez (15:42):
Area exploding or anything like that, which is
Isabelle Szott (15:45):
Enrique Alvarez (15:45):
Dogs would probably set this line, mines off as well, right?
Isabelle Szott (15:48):
Yes. So we also work with dogs, um, in, in areas that are more overgrown and bushy. Um, so of course for our rights, you know, we need to be able to access it with them. Um, but dogs are usually trained that if they’re detected, they will sit, um, near it. They, you know, um, and with dogs again, you are, you’re very, very careful at keeping their body weight right. Um, at, at that limit where they are safe as well. Of course. So, yeah.
Enrique Alvarez (16:15):
Well, so you, you, you ha you saw this, uh, announcement there were, there was a potential opportunity there to work with ’em that you just immediately jumped in. Did you talk to someone? I mean, how did you started to shift your mindset from animals to rats? I mean, it’s like another big shift, right? Mm-hmm.
Isabelle Szott (16:31):
<affirmative>, I think I, you know, obviously, um, you know, did a lot of research on the organization and, and Glassdoor and <laugh>, all of these things and, you know, trying to figure out like, what, what can I learn and, and where would I fit in? Um, and, and the position very clearly advertised for the innovation department, which I’m a part of now. Um, so, um, we have this active program with our rats detecting the landmines. Um, we also have an active program with our rats detecting tuberculosis, which until very recently was, you know, the biggest disease factor here in, in, in the world. And it’s only been overtaken by Covid. Um, so, uh, you know, our rats scan sputum samples from, from humans. Um, and when they detect the bacteria, um, of tuberculosis, they tell us about it. They indicate it to us. Um, so we are working with
Enrique Alvarez (17:21):
How, how they indicate, I mean, do they, I mean, dogs said, you mentioned that dogs sit next to the line. How, how do rats tell you? <laugh>
Isabelle Szott (17:28):
Indicate it depends on the project. Um, so our landmine detection rats, um, will scratch the surface when they detect a landmine buried, they will scratch on the surface. Whereas our tuberculosis rats work in a, in a, in a cage that a purple has custom designed for this, where we have the samples placed in the bottom in the holes, um, and the rat evaluates one after the other by sticking its nose in the hole and sniffing it. And if it detects tuberculosis, all it does is hold its nose there for a certain amount of seconds.
Enrique Alvarez (17:59):
And then you So that’s all the sample.
Isabelle Szott (18:01):
Exactly. And then we go and double stream the sample. Uh, if we find it to be positive, we send it back to our partner clinic to then inform the patients and say, Hey, you know, we’ve, you know, we’ve detected tuberculosis and, and, and that’s it, and we can now treat you. So that’s the other active department. Um, but then the innovation department and, and what I applied for was to, I mean, for one, help these existing departments and, and do research into how can we make this even better and what else, you know, can we do to improve it? Um, but also what else can we do with our rats? Right. You know, um, what, what other options are there? We, you know, um, my boss is inundated with emails all the time about people suggesting things. Yeah. Can, you can do <laugh>. Um, and you know, that there are, that a lot of projects that are running and that are up and running. But um, we are now doing this research on to see, you know, where, where can we go next? Um, what could be our next program? Could
Enrique Alvarez (18:56):
You, could you share a little bit of those, uh, projects or I projects don’t want you to disclose anything that you cannot disclose, but it sounds like they can do so much more. It’s already incredible what they’re doing with both tuberculosis and detecting landmines, but it sounds like they’re smart, they’re capable, they’re curious, you mentioned.
Isabelle Szott (19:16):
Yes. Um, I think as long as something has a, a unique scent profile or odor profile and we can figure out how to bring it to our rats and train them, they’ll do it. Um, you know, the challenge is really on us to figure out the best way to train our rats and, and, and support them, um, in their learning. But some of the projects we are running, um, and and developing is, um, for example, training our rats to detect survivors in collapsed buildings, um, following natural disasters. Um, so what you’ll find often is that, you know, the buildings collapse and you have these small little crevices that we can’t really access. And what we envision is that our rats can access these, um, we’ve got a whole high-tech backpack that they are wearing, um, with a camera and tracking them and hopefully two-way audio and all these things to go in and tell us if they find a person in debris so we can rescue them.
Isabelle Szott (20:15):
So that’s one of the projects. Um, and then we’ve got the next project, which is training our rats for wildlife detection. Um, so there’s a lot of illegal trade of poached wildlife. Um, and a lot of this happens through international shipping ports and shipping containers. So traffickers will be, you know, concealing, um, ivory or rhino horn, um, pangolin scales, you know, protected hardwoods, um, in those shipping containers and then trade them internationally. Um, and, and the idea is that again, that our rats are small, we can send them into a packed container without having to unload all of it. Right. Um, and we’re also exploring the opportunity for our rats to, um, be lifted to the ventilation system of these containers and actually just sniff the vent and tell us there’s something in there or not. So it removes the need to open this container in the first place, um, which would immensely help screening those, you know, billions of shipping containers, right. That are going back and forth all across the world. And it’s such a race to try and keep up with it and, and, and screen them.
Enrique Alvarez (21:23):
I believe a lot of ports are already trying this, right? Oh, I’m sorry. Oh, there, he’s
Isabelle Szott (21:28):
Enrique Alvarez (21:28):
Perfectly fine. Who, who’s that little guy?
Isabelle Szott (21:31):
That’s Maisie, that’s that Maisie, yeah, I’ve got a cat and a giant dog. I’ve lost one of the dog outside <laugh>, um, in hopes that there wouldn’t be any havoc, but there we go.
Enrique Alvarez (21:41):
Well, I, I just prompted another question for you, but it will probably dera us a little bit from where we’re going, so I’ll ask it later. Uh, Macy living among all those different rats, I wonder if that’s <laugh>, how that’s working? <laugh>, but, uh, so could Yeah, I, I’ve heard ports are actually using this cuz it’s uh, it’s very accurate. It’s a lot cheaper to maintain, uh, I guess a rat than scanning the containers. And I think that could be the future, isn’t it?
Isabelle Szott (22:08):
Yes. Um, so, you know, the existing methods to scan these shipping containers, um, are x-ray machines, um, where you have the issue that first of all, they’re expensive mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, and, um, you know, they can tell you that the material inside is organic or not. Um, but it, you know, if somebody, you know, traffic would like to hide stuff, so they will do things like, um, ceiling, elephant ivory inside wooden logs. Right. Um, and you know, yeah.
Enrique Alvarez (22:37):
The x-rays would never really get it.
Isabelle Szott (22:39):
Right. Exactly. And then of course you’ve got detection dogs, which are doing amazing jobs, um, but you know, they can’t really access the, the vents of containers higher up. And then if you imagine a big shipping port where the containers actually placed, often they’re stacked on top of one of another, you know, to these like really, really high levels. So that’s where we think our ads can come in and help, um, and be added to, to that team, um, you know, to, to fill that gap, um, and, and, and offer another, you know, way of screening these containers.
Enrique Alvarez (23:10):
Absolutely. And, uh, and a very practical way of doing it as well. I mean, I imagine at some point we’ll have a lot of rats in the port basically working nonstop, crawling around, trying to detect all this. They could also do it, I guess, with, uh, drugs, right. And certain other materials. So it’s you’re smuggling drugs Yes. Or anything like that?
Isabelle Szott (23:30):
Yeah. Um, I mean, you know, we already know that our rats can be trained on t and t for the landmines. Um, and so far what we’ve seen is that if a dog can be trained on it, so can a rat. Um, and of course there are narcotics dogs, um, you have wildlife, you know, there’s also a lot of human trafficking happening with these shipping containers. Um, so the opportunities are endless. Um, I think, you know, right now we’re focusing on wildlife, um, and, and we’ll see where it goes from there. You know, a lot of this is also developing the methodologies of how to deploy our rats. How, how do we bring them into the port safely? How do we build something that then brings Myra up to this cement, right? Um, right. Yeah. All of these things.
Enrique Alvarez (24:13):
How much time does it take to, to train a rat from the time they’re born or, and how, how long does a, a rat live? I don’t even, I’m like, I’m clueless when it comes to, to rats. And you have really opened my eyes, and I’m sure you have open everyone’s eyes to the, to, to consider rats in a different way. I think they have like a negative connotation in our society sometimes. Yeah. But it seems that they’re amazing animals and, and they can be incredibly helpful. We could work with them, uh, probably a lot more than with dogs even.
Isabelle Szott (24:42):
Yeah. Um, so the, the species of what we work with is called the African Giant Pouch Rats. It’s native here to East Africa. Um, and one of the reasons we work with them is because they have a long lifespan. So the average lifespan of these rats in the wild is seven to eight years, which means once we’ve invested in, you know, training them for some time, they then have a working lifespan ahead of them. Um, and of course that’s an important point. You know, you don’t want to invest all this time training them and six months later you’re at, you know, dies of, of natural causes because that’s just the lifespan of it. Um, they, they’re called pouch rats because they, they’re quite closely related to hamsters actually. They’ve got these big cheap pouches that they will stuff their food in. So it’s very, very cute.
Isabelle Szott (25:26):
Um, and, um, yeah, so, so that’s the, the species that we work with. Um, in terms of how long it takes to train them, it kind of depends on the project. Um, it also depends a bit on the rat. Um, we have rats that are super fast learners and rats that are average learners <laugh>, um, or that take a bit longer. Um, um, you know, with the new projects we don’t know yet because we are still developing this. So a lot of it is, you know, we are coming up with this method and we’re like, okay, I think training them that way is gonna work. And then of course, whilst you are applying these methodologies, you realize, oh, actually this doesn’t work and we need to change it over. So, you know, the, the, the end result is hopefully gonna, you know, be one that’s very effective. But right now we are developing this, so there’s a lot of trial and error and um, also, you know, dif different avenues and different groups of like, okay, here with this, this group of rats we’re focusing on this part and this group of focusing on this part. Um, yeah,
Enrique Alvarez (26:24):
It’s, it’s exciting. Right? It sounds like they’re, the, the future is bright. It sounds like you, we haven’t really uncovered much of what they can do. So the potentials out there, it sounds like, and I wanted to tell you, ask you a little bit about, uh, three particular, uh, characters, Barack running and Carolina. How, how can, can someone a, adopt a rat? Well, first and foremost, what, who are they on, uh, <laugh>? How can someone adopt? Why are you promoting this at all?
Isabelle Szott (26:52):
So, Barack Roo and Carolina are our, um, adoption rats. Um, so the, these are rats that are out there and doing the work. Um, and you can adopt them by sponsoring them. Um, which, you know, as an NGO o um, we, we rely on funding from, um, government organizations as well as private donors. Um, and, and one way to support our work is by sponsoring rat. Um, which you can do on our website. You go on our ppo.org. Um, makes a great gift <laugh> if you absolutely, you know, surprise someone. Um, and yeah, and you can follow them along and get some updates on how they’re doing and what they are finding and, um, how they are helping
Enrique Alvarez (27:34):
In your mind. And, um, changing gears a little bit here. Um, and of course we’ll put all this note, all these comments and links on our, on our notes section, so the people that are listening to us and want to help you make a possible impact in the world, please go ahead, check it out. I’ve been to the website, the videos are incredibly interesting and very cute. And, uh, why wouldn’t you just sponsor a rat and then have that rat help, uh, so many people around the world. So we’ll put all that so that people can visit your website as well, and hopefully we’ll, we’ll be, uh, helping you as well. In your mind, what has, I mean, it’s basically a project that you’re leading. What do you think has been the biggest challenge launching such a unique application for, for our rats? I mean, what some of the things like have really been challenging. There
Isabelle Szott (28:23):
Are lots of different challenges related to different areas. Um, you know, one of them is that we are developing something completely new. Um, we haven’t worked with shipping ports before, so creating those relationships, you know, we’ve got some operational trials scheduled actually at the Seaport and Darris alarm here in Tanzania. So setting up these initial, um, not just relationships, but also connect, you know, letting people, um, getting people to agree to let you into the port with
Enrique Alvarez (28:53):
Rats. Right, right. <laugh>. Yeah. Sounds like
Isabelle Szott (28:56):
We would like to bring all of our rats in and then, you know, people are like, okay, <laugh>,
Enrique Alvarez (29:00):
Yeah, wait a minute.
Isabelle Szott (29:01):
So, yeah. Um, so that’s definitely something that, you know, we, we had to work on. And that, that was new to, to me personally. Um, um, but you know, luckily APOPO has worked with a lot of different government organizations in the past and, um, you know, we are based here at the, um, seko University of Agriculture. So we are integrated really well, um, with the uni here, um, which, which definitely helps, um, and, and is a great relationship that we have with them. Um, something else that I think is quite challenging is to try and think, um, with, you know, the purpose of a sense of smell. Um, humans, we, we rely on our sight a lot and of course we can smell, um, but it’s not our primary sense. So to now come up with training and, and consider potential problems of a sense that isn’t our primary sense can be difficult. Um, you know, we have to, and our rights are so sensitive that, you know, even touching one thing and then touching the other means, you could have brought over this contamination of scent of the molecules. Um, and our rats will pick up on that. And then you’re looking at like, why are you indicating this one? It’s not the right one.
Enrique Alvarez (30:09):
Oh, I touched it.
Isabelle Szott (30:10):
I’ve touched it. Yeah. So there are a lot of things that we are just not so primed and used to considering. Um, and, and that takes some, you know, getting used to and, and, and training and getting into the material of, you know, this is what you’re working with now and you always have to think with your different sensors. Um, so that’s, I never,
Enrique Alvarez (30:31):
Never thought of that. That seems, uh, seems like an incredible challenge to have. Cause you gotta train all those, the rats, uh, without you really being able to do it. I mean, you don’t understand how deep their sense of smell is. I mean, we, no, we’ll never get it, get it. Uh,
Isabelle Szott (30:44):
Enrique Alvarez (30:45):
No. So that’s interesting. Well, th this, I mean, thank you so much. This has been an amazing interview. What you guys are doing is incredible. I definitely think that the future of, um, preventing some of these things and helping, uh, people through surveillance and through, um, just landmines and tuberculosis and maybe tons of other potential applications in the future will be very impactful. So thank you so much for what you’re doing, and thank you for giving me the time to connect and talk. Um, how could our listeners connect to you and, and learn a little bit more about what you do?
Isabelle Szott (31:20):
We can learn lots and lots and lots on our website. Um, you can learn about the different projects. You can adopt the rat there. Um, you, we are also on social media. Um, so you can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Um, there’s lots and lots of very cute content of our rats stuffing bananas into the cheek. Poaches <laugh>, um, if you, if you need to pick me up. Um, and, you know, also updates about our project and how they are going. Um, so yeah, that’s the best way.
Enrique Alvarez (31:49):
Perfect. And um, so for you, you mentioned it before, I mean, sponsoring, uh, one of these acute little rats is a really good way of helping. What, how other ways could people out there help a popo? Uh, you need the money, you need, you need the funding to do this. And I think it’s a very, very good return on anyone’s investment cuz you’re helping save lives basically. So, um, how, how else can people help you?
Isabelle Szott (32:17):
I think just spreading the wood. It is always a good one. Um, you know, you said it yourself earlier, right? Don’t always get the best rep. Um, so, you know, creating this awareness of actually they, they’re, they’re doing really good stuff, um, is, is a great thing, you know, to appreciate them a bit more. Um, especially if we’re, you know, thinking about things like our search and rescue rats. We’ve had some reactions of people being like, I quite imagine you in this collapsed building and, and trapped and now a rat turns up in your face. This is the last thing I wanna see. <laugh>. You know, so just, um, you know, just this awareness of this is what you wanna see. Like, you know, you, you’re not gonna be dreaming and del delusional <laugh>, I’m, I’m seeing a speaking rat now. Um, you know that, that awareness and just spreading the word and sharing our posts, um, that that always helps.
Enrique Alvarez (33:03):
Absolutely. And, uh, we’ll definitely make sure to help you kind of promote and also help you in any other way we can. Cause this is an incredible organization. It has been a delightful conversation. And for everyone that’s listening out there, just go to the website. Once you see these riots wearing the backpacks and, and the cameras, you’ll see that they’re a lot cuter than you imagined they’ll be. And, uh, cuter not, they’re saving lives. So, uh, let’s definitely support if we can. Thank you. Easy so much. Thank you. For everyone listening, if you enjoy conversations like the one we just had with easy, please be sure to subscribe. Thank you so much and have a good day.
Isabelle Szott (33:42):
Thank you so much for having me.
Isabelle Szott completed her Ph.D. at LJMU studying the effects of non-consumptive wildlife tourism on free-ranging African elephants in South Africa. Her research included behavior observations in the field, non-invasive hormone analyses, and tracking of collared elephants in the reserve. Before this, she was awarded a M.Phil, investigating the effects of underlying genotypes on cognitive biases in rhesus macaques in order to develop new welfare assessment tools for captive primates. For this research, she analyzed monkeys‘ DNA, used positive reinforcement and clicker training, and carried out behavioral observations and non-invasive research. She is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, has worked with children and teenagers in Germany, the UK, France, South Africa, and Ukraine, and has mentored and supervised university students in Tanzania, South Africa, and the UK. She joined APOPO in 2021 as a researcher in the Innovation Department. Here, she leads the project training rats to detect illegally trafficked wildlife in shipping containers. Connect with Isabelle on LinkedIn.
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.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Director of Sales
Tyler Ward serves as Supply Chain Now's Director of Sales. Born and raised in Mid-Atlantic, Tyler is a proud graduate of Shippensburg University where he earned his degree in Communications. After college, he made his way to the beautiful state of Oregon, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.
With over a decade of experience in sales, Tyler has a proven track record of exceeding targets and leading high-performing teams. He credits his success to his ability to communicate effectively with customers and team members alike, as well as his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.
When he's not closing deals, you can find Tyler on the links or cheering on his favorite football and basketball teams. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing pick-up basketball, and traveling back to Ocean City, Maryland, his favorite place!
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, 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.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, 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.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
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.
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.