Dial P for Procurement
Episode 39

Based on the facts currently available to us, BlackRock appears to use the hard-earned money of our states’ citizens to circumvent the best possible return on investment, as well as their vote.

- 19 State Attorney Generals in a Letter to BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink

Episode Summary

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs are at the top of many C-suite agendas, and they have held their place despite economic challenges and sustained supply chain disruption. And yet, in the world of investing, ESG Funds are starting to come under scrutiny – do they satisfy requirements for fiduciary responsibility?

Although most conversations about ESG focus on the environmental and social benefits they promise to deliver, it may be the G – Governance – that ultimately keeps everyone on the straight and narrow.

In this week’s Dial P audio podcast, Kelly Barner looks at recent news stories and lawsuits related to ESG investing and speculates what they may mean for other corporate ESG initiatives:

• How are ESG scores issued, and how closely do they mirror what is happening operationally?

• What kind of leverage does passive investing give influential funds over the companies they invest in?

• Can advancing environmental and social causes be done without forgoing expected returns?

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:01):

Welcome to dial P for procurement, a show focused on today’s biggest spin supplier and contract management related business opportunities. Dial P investigates, the nuanced and constantly evolving boundary of the procurement supply chain divide with a broadcast of engaged executives, providers, and thought leaders give us an hour and we’ll provide you with a new perspective on supply chain value. And now it’s time to dial P for procurement,

Kelly Barner (00:31):

The environmental, social and governance movement known to its friends. As ESG is one of the hottest areas of focus in business today. Now, by definition, it’s bigger than diversity. It brings together environmental concerns, social concerns, and governance concerns into one movement. And it really does seem to have staying power. ESG has remained on sea level agendas, despite economic challenges and sustained supply chain disruption. Now it isn’t necessarily the same worldwide. In my experience, European companies tend to be a little bit ahead on the environmental part while the us has a history of focusing on diversity and inclusion. So we’re a little bit ahead there, but with so many global entities working on ESG, everybody’s now getting the opportunity to learn from each other and move it forward. Now that’s in a corporate setting, but there’s also an ESG movement afoot in the world of investing.

Kelly Barner (01:39):

And it is starting to run into some issues that I suspect may eventually spill over into the corporate initiative space. There have been a number of pieces in the news. Recently, one that really caught my eye in the wall street journal titled the ESG investing backlash arrives and opinions are all over the map. What it really boils down to is the question of whether you can do good and do well at the same time, especially publicly traded companies have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders. And as you start to bring in additional constraints that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the bottom line, it gets complicated. Recently there was pushback from 19 states, attorney generals based on their responsibility for public pension funds calling out an ESG fund for maybe not abiding by what it said, its priorities were from a return perspective. There’s also a lawsuit making its way through the federal courts, challenging the legality of board level diversity quotas for companies traded on the NASDAQ.

Kelly Barner (02:58):

In this episode of dial P for procurement I’ll review, what is ESG investing and why has it been growing in popularity? The tension that’s naturally created when you try to satisfy multiple constraints, sometimes conflicting constraints at the same time and why things seem to be coming to a head. But before I go any further, let me pause and introduce myself. I’m Kelly Barner. I’m the co-founder and managing director of buyers meeting point. I’m a partner at art of procurement and I’m your host for dial P here on supply chain. Now I am constantly scanning the news for appropriately complex articles to discuss things that are interesting, but might escape. People’s notice, especially as with today’s topic. When we’re looking at something that’s crossing from the world of investment, into the sphere of corporate initiatives. My goal is never to lead you to a simple answer, but instead to provide you with the background and context, you need to form your own opinion.

Kelly Barner (04:07):

We release a new podcast episode or interview every single Thursday. So be on the lookout for future episodes. And don’t forget to check out past episodes as well. Before we get back to ESG investing, I have a quick favor to ask. I truly hope you find value in the time we’re about to spend together. If you do. I ask you to give dial P a review on iTunes, offer up some stars on your favorite podcast platform or share this episode wherever you found it on social media, you can also forward it directly to a colleague. I am always grateful for your interest and attention, and most of all, the continuing discussion and comments that I get from everyone who listens. So thank you for being part of the dial P community. Now let’s get back to ESG investing. So we’ve talked about the fact that it’s environmental, social and governance related concerns.

Kelly Barner (05:06):

It’s actually an extension of the corporate social responsibility movement. Also known as CSR that companies ran to make their operations and supply chains more socially responsible. Now I know we’re gonna have a lot of acronyms this week, so I’ll just apologize in advance. CSR is a term that was coined in 1953 by American economist Howard Bowen. But it wasn’t really until the 1970s that the whole corporate social responsibility movement started to gain traction and visibility. So ESG takes the good intent of corporate citizenship and it adds governance, metrics, measurement, and accountability. That’s going to be incredibly important as we go through this discussion today. Understandably ESG funds have been gaining in popularity as more individual and institutional investors want to do good with their money. We want all different options to be available in the free market of ideas and the best ideas should win out.

Kelly Barner (06:14):

But there’s a series of questions that have called the actual benefits of ESG funds into question they’ve been placed at odds with expectations, let’s say traditional expectations about oversight and returns. The question is whether ESG based investment funds are able to do what they promise, or if they just prey on investors who want to be good citizens, but don’t necessarily dig into the details. Is it possible to create a fund with a social agenda that also meets the fiduciary responsibility that fund managers have to their investors? Now, key to this is the question yes. Of politics, whose politics, whose social cause are these funds going to back? It’s a little bit like waiting into electrified waters, especially around social issues. My mainstream is your XStream and vice versa. Now some of the funds that we’re going to talk about today are involved in passive investing.

Kelly Barner (07:20):

So what passive investing means is that these institutional investors come in and they hold the shares for a long time. This also gives them a long time to influence how these companies run and the decisions that they make is what they ask of those companies and their boards of directors over that length of time in the best interests of employees and shareholders. That is an open question. ESG scores, that’s sort of a rating that each company gets that determines perhaps whether they’re part of an index or a fund that has an ESG related mission. They’re assigned by companies like Bloomberg S and P down Jones, just capital MSCI and Refinitiv. And what is included in those scores varies a little bit by company, but they really come down to trying to capture ESG risks and how well the company is managing them. So it might include things like worker safety, company, energy efficiency, and board diversity.

Kelly Barner (08:25):

And they’re called out as separate because those are not included in traditional financial analysis. Now there are upsides to ESG investing people that believe in them, talk about the fact that it makes a portfolio more resilient in multiple ways. They point to better long term risk adjusted returns. And those are wonderful things. But here at dial P we specialize in complexity, even when it comes to the, the environment and social acceptance, there is no singing kumbaya on this podcast. And that brings us to the controversy. In the one corner, we have fiduciary duty to investors and shareholders. In the other corner we have cause driven investing. The question is whether those two can coexist and also achieve their stated goals, questions, especially in the environmental sphere might come up around greenwashing. So are these companies actually sustainable or do they just manage to use the rating system to look sustainable on paper, Aaron Y an assistant professor of accounting and information at Northwestern university’s Kellogg school of management was recently quoted in a wall street journal article talking about the relevance between an ESG program and what the company does.

Kelly Barner (09:54):

So for instance, he brought up the connection between a product or service that a company provides and how they make the case that they’re investing in ESG. You might have a chemical company that reduces waste water or energy consumption. You might have a professional services firm that deliberately tries to create opportunities to promote from within, across the spectrum of the population. The question is whether doing these things advances the company’s mission and increases their value proposition, or whether it ends up diverting company resources to unrelated activism, just to please the general public of all the funds that invest in ESG. BlackRock is the best known. They’re one of those examples of passive investment. So they get the shares of a company and they hold them for a much longer period of time, certainly than you would associate with something like day trading. So once BlackRock invests in a company for its ESG fund, they’re around for a while.

Kelly Barner (11:06):

And in that article that I mentioned about the investing backlash in the wall street journal, they say that BlackRock is a leader in impressing ESG standards on the corporations it invests in. So that is definitely an example of activism. They may require that the leadership team or that the board of directors consider other requirements like net zero emissions requirements, right? This means, and as I had said, everyone’s politics are a little bit different. They clearly have a political and social agenda of their own, that they are working to advance through these funds. Now today, most ESG terms for most companies are voluntary, but at some point, if they become regulated, that’s going to completely change the playing field. Now, I mentioned that open letter from the 19 states attorney generals, they have responsibility for where the state public pension funds are invested, how they’re invested in what returns those people get.

Kelly Barner (12:14):

The question has arisen about when it’s appropriate to consider non-return based factors like ESG, more value oriented, social, environmental, longer term, bigger impact versus simply how much money did we put in and how much money are we getting back out. Now, some governments given the fact that we’re talking about state pension funds, some states are in parallel passing legislation that is related to companies pursuit of ESG status. So in that you may end up with a little bit of a conflict or a little bit of a circular error. If these interests come into conflict, BlackRock recently sent out a letter making the case that they focus solely on their fiduciary duty. And these attorney generals have taken issue with that saying that no, specifically in the ESG fund, it is not simply about fiduciary duty and maximizing returns. There are other things at play. And so it’s a question of what BlackRock has stated about the funds and the investment strategy, and what’s actually happening in practice.

Kelly Barner (13:26):

Now, let’s look at one industry specific example, you know, for this, we have to look at oil and gas. So BlackRock Vanguard and state street manage a combined 20 trillion in assets between them. They own 21% of ExxonMobil. This allows them to decide who gets onto the board of directors. And because they’re staying around for the long term, they have real leverage. This leverage takes the form of ownership. It takes the form of social clout, and they’re able to deter what happens at these companies makes me wonder at what point is this investment no longer, really passive? Now you can’t talk about something controversial without checking him with our good friend Elon Musk and yes, like many other things he has weighed in on the topic of ESG investing. So Tesla, his electric car company was recently booted from the S and P 500 ESG index while Exxon mobile, the company that BlackRock Vanguard and state stream owned 21% of collectively stayed on the list.

Kelly Barner (14:42):

Now the most simplistic view of this is how can an oil company stay while an EV car company goes naturally, Elon Musk tweeted his disapproval. And the response from the S and P actually went beyond the E of ESG to talk about the S and the G. So wonder S they cited poor board diversity and working conditions in the factories and around G for governance. They talked about how Tesla has handled some of the autopilot issues they’ve had with their cars. So it makes it very complicated, and certainly not apparent both how these scores are issued. And then also the judgment decisions around which companies get to stay and which companies go now, given the fact that Tesla’s board diversity became an issue with them dropping out of the S and P 500 ESG index. This gives us an opportunity to really focus in on this issue for a minute.

Kelly Barner (15:46):

I mentioned in my intro that NASDAQ has a new rule going into place over the next few years, that requires specific representation on the boards that will be listed on their index for trading for now. Companies just have to report on diversity. They have to fill out standard paperwork saying what their current diversity is. The intent over time is that they’re going to have to change the makeup of the board to meet the diversity requirement or sufficiently explain why they haven’t complied. Now it does seem notable. I know we’re talking about S and P as well as NASDAQ, but we can look at Tesla in both places. Tesla doesn’t have satisfactory board diversity S and P has already delisted them from their index. So once again, there’s all of this judgment involved around who has what expectations for what kind of change on what timeline the ultimate goal of NASDAQ’s new policy is to increase representation from women, racial, ethnic minorities, and members of the LGBTQ plus community in boards of directors.

Kelly Barner (16:58):

Now, my background in coming to ESG is truthfully through procurement and supplier diversity. And I find it interesting that the NASDAQ policy leaves out two groups from their diversity requirement. They leave out veterans and they also leave out professionals with disabilities. These are two of the main groups of both traditional supplier diversity programs and also workforce diversity programs. So I found those to be an interesting exclusion in the lawsuit that I’ve mentioned. It’s currently in the fifth circuit working its way through the federal court system. And this is ongoing opening arguments were heard on August 29th, 2022, the lawsuit questions, the legality of NASDAQ’s requirement, and it claims discrimination of candidates based on race, gender identity, sexual preference, et cetera. So the idea here is in order to advance a woman potentially, or a Hispanic professional, potentially to a board of directors, you may have to pass over a white male just to go with the most stereotypical example.

Kelly Barner (18:11):

Now there’s an interesting government involvement here. The security is an exchange commission, or S E C another acronym they’re involved in this lawsuit because they signed off on NASDAQ’s policy. So although NASDAQ is a privately held company, which does allow them more leeway constitutionally to make these policies, they are federally regulated by the C. And so the fact that the sec signed off on this policy may actually bring it into conflict with the constitutionally protected, right against discrimination. Now it’s working its way through the courts, but already the constitutional implications have people suggesting that this case is probably Supreme court bound. So regardless of what ruling we get out of the fifth circuit, it’s probably not going to be over. There’s one other thing that I’d like to bring into this conversation. We’ve talked about it a little bit, but it tends to get forgotten in conversations about ESG and that’s that poor third G for governance.

Kelly Barner (19:20):

Now it’s really important because G is ultimately the difference between CSR or corporate social responsibility and today’s modern ESG movements. That G is all about accountability. So on the sustainability side, greenwash is the term for when you claim to be environmentally friendly or have a sustainable process, but you don’t actually, you’re doing some funny math. You’re maybe playing a funny PR game to make the process look more sustainable than it actually is. I’ve never come across a similarly accepted version of that term on the diversity and social issue. Side fraud seems like a strong word, but it probably isn’t far off. Now at the same time as this case is working its way through the federal courts. We can see other examples of how the S sec is getting itself involved in ESG issues. For example, the S E C has brought charges against very large investment firms like BNY Mellon and Goldman Sachs.

Kelly Barner (20:31):

These are enormous influential resource, rich companies they’ve brought charges, not necessarily of greenwashing, but they’ve taken issue with their ESG reporting compared to what’s actually happening. Goldman Sachs case is still working its way way through the legal process. But BNY paid 1.5 million to settle their case with the S E C. So these are significant issues. And all of us, whether we’re interested from the investment standpoint, or simply from a corporate ESG standpoint, need to be following these cases. So what then is the takeaway? I do believe that multiple competing options should be allowed to exist in a free market, but this only works as long as everyone is being fully transparent. If BlackRock wants to offer a fund that prioritizes ESG ratings, in addition to investor return, fine invest in that, or don’t as long as they are totally clear about that in their disclosures.

Kelly Barner (21:34):

All investors get to make that decision with their money in cases, such as with the state pension funds, where investments and returns are expected to be more straightforward. I E focused on straight profits, maybe investing in an ESG fund, isn’t the right play, also fine. They need to understand what their goal is and appropriately select funds that meets that goal. We also, as we have in so many episodes of dial P, we have to come back to this idea of government involvement in business decision making. So you have the NASDAQ making decisions about policies for companies that will be listed. You have ESG funds and investment managers, making decisions or giving very strongly worded advice about who should be on boards of directors. And then we have the government potentially signing off on these policies or even charging companies who’s reporting they’re not comfortable with.

Kelly Barner (22:33):

And that comes from the S E C. So it stays complex. This is a question of does the right hand know what the left hand is doing and can all of us see both hands? My thought is that a potential solution comes to the difference between active and passive and direct and indirect. So for instance, don’t allow a distant fund manager to decide where you put your money. If you are a company and you wanna invest in ESG, find your own cause and invest in it directly, as opposed to allowing an institutional fund to get involved in a mix of different causes. For instance, there was an article in Forbes that I thought was insightful by George Al Strobel. The second he’s a partner and co-founder as well as the co CEO of Monarch private capital. And it was called how corporate boards can avoid ESG investing pitfalls.

Kelly Barner (23:33):

He advocates for title controls. So pick your own direct cause hold them accountable and hold yourself up accountable. Be transparent through the process. I also go back to the point from Aaron Y at Northwestern, make sure your ESG investments are relevant to your value proposition as a company. If you’re a manufacturer, look at your energy consumption, look at your CO2 emissions. If you’re in professional services, invest in hiring and training to foster diversity, we all tend to get in trouble when we have to make judgment calls. Now this is a big kid game. We can’t avoid all judgment calls, and sometimes they’re going to be tough. We need to take steps to mitigate the impact of potentially making a bad call and transparency and oversight. That’s that G and ESG. It’s not the part that we usually talk about, but it’s probably the part that’s going to keep us on the straight and narrow.

Kelly Barner (24:36):

The reality is adding more constraints to any decision, whether investing, choosing a supplier to work with absolutely anything is going to change the ROI. That’s not necessarily bad, but you need to be clear about what that impact is. If you know, your ROI has to be in dollars rather than social or environmental impact or vice versa, own that, be clear about it and invest accordingly. Now that’s my point of view, but I always advocate for you to not just listen to these episodes, join the conversation and let me know what you think. How do you feel about ESG investing or how is ESG working out within your company? If you found this episode of dial P on LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter, shoot back a comment I can assure you I’m watching. And I listen to no voice more clearly than that of my listeners. We all need to be part of this conversation to figure out what the best solution is. There are so many perspectives to bring into important issues like this, and just like the free market. The free market of equal exchange of ideas is truthfully what we need to get through challenging situations like this one until next time. I’m Kelly Barner, your host of dial P on behalf of the whole supply chain. Now team, thank you as always for listening and have a great rest of your day.

Intro/Outro (26:11):

Thank you for joining us for this episode of dial P four procurement and for being an active part of the supply chain now community, please check out all of our shows and events@supplychainnow.com. Make sure you follow dial P four procurement on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to catch all the latest programming details. We’ll see you soon for the next episode of dial P for procurement.

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Kelly Barner

Host, Dial P for Procurement

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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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Host, Veteran Voices

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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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