Supply Chain Now
Episode 1129

When people ask what we do, I say we free up supply chain and procurement and folks in sourcing to go be rockstars.

-Dan Reeve, Esker VP of Sales

Episode Summary

COVID-19, the Great Resignation, inflationary pressures … Supply Chain leaders have had to maneuver several disruptions in recent history. Chances are they will continue to have to do so far into the future. Navigating the current business landscape is confusing and downright exhausting, and, as a potential recession looms, controlling costs and freeing up working capital are paramount in boosting supply chain resiliency.

Dan Reeve is Esker’s VP of Sales and Alun Rafique is the Co-Founder of Market Dojo. In early 2022, Esker acquired a majority stake in Market Dojo to strengthen their procure-to-pay (P2P) automation capabilities and address key C-suite concerns.

In this episode, Dan and Alun join hosts Scott Luton and Greg White to discuss how companies can stay ahead of the curve:

• How procurement is evolving from a reactive back-office function to a proactive strategic resource

• How successful organizations are amalgamating S2P and digitizing the pathways between procurement and finance

• How to drive supply chain resilience and tackle inflationary pressures with the power of eSourcing

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

Welcome to Supply Chain Now, the voice of global supply chain. Supply Chain Now focuses on the best in the business for our worldwide audience, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and today’s critical issues, the challenges and opportunities. Stay tuned to hear from those making global business happen right here on Supply Chain Now.

Scott Luton (00:33):

Hey. Hey. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Scott Luton and Greg White here with you on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s livestream. Greg, how are you doing?

Greg White (00:41):

And it is evening here in Zurich, so on the road. I’m doing well. I’m sorry we’re a little late, folks. We’ve had some technical challenges. It’s cutting into your lunchtime. It’s cutting into my dinnertime. So, let’s get going.

Scott Luton (00:56):

All right. Hey, we got it great. But right before lunch, right before dinner, we got a great show lined up here today, Greg.

Greg White (01:01):

Yeah. No question there.

Scott Luton (01:02):

Navigating the current business landscape can be confusing, frankly, downright exhausting. And as a potential recession looms over the global economy, controlling costs and freeing up working capital, that’s good news because it’s paramount and boosting supply chain resiliency. We’re going to talk about that. Proven practices, proven ways you can do just that. Greg, it should be a great show, huh?

Greg White (01:27):

Yeah. For sure. I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve got some trained professionals.

Scott Luton (01:35):

That’s right. So, stay tuned as Dan Reeve and Alun Rafique will be joining us momentarily. And, folks, we got a bunch of folks already in the chat, from Vinket – great to have you back – Brent, Prince, Kirsty, Josh, Jonathan, and then some, Jonathan from New Jersey. Great to see you, Jonathan. Well, folks, since we’re late, we’re going to jump right in. We’re going to jump right in. And, you know, Murphy’s Law is live and well in global remote program and we’re going to check this out. We’re going to welcome in Dan Reeve, Vice-President Sales with Esker, and Alun Rafique, CEO and Co-Founder with Market Dojo. All right. Alun, how are you doing?

Alun Rafique (02:15):

Yeah. I’m very well. Thank you. Good to see you.

Scott Luton (02:17):

Great to see you as well. And let’s see if we can hear Dan. Dan, how are you doing? We still are working on that connection with you, Dan. But, hey, stay tuned. Our team behind the scenes will be working with you to bring you in, in just a moment. So, that’ll pop Dan out. And, Alun, we’re going to start with you here today. So, great to see you.

Greg White (02:38):

You get to fly solo today, Alun.

Alun Rafique (02:40):

Yeah. Am I the trained professional? I’m not sure.

Greg White (02:42):

Yes, you are.

Alun Rafique (02:44):

I might need to call a friend.

Scott Luton (02:46):

We’ve got that option. We got clues. We got phone a friend. We got whatever I want to be a supply chain millionaire. We got all those tips and tricks. And we’re going to work fast and furiously to get Dan back with us. But, Alun, I want to start —

Greg White (03:02):

With the speed of a thousand gazelles, Scott.

Scott Luton (03:04):

That’s right. Not one second slower. Alun, I want to start with this, with you and Greg here. A few days ago, as y’all might know, Manchester City won the 2022-2023 Premier League, which makes their manager – I might get this wrong. Let me try it – Pep Guardiola – I think – number two all-time and titles one behind Sir Alex Ferguson. So, with that as a backdrop, before we jump into our content here today, what is one of your favorite soccer or football players or moments of all time, Alun?

Alun Rafique (03:36):

Well, you found a British guy who’s – I mean, I like football. I’m not a huge watcher of the game. I support Newcastle because that’s what my dad supports. But my favorite moment, easy. I was working in Brussels for the European Commission a long time ago doing some modeling of pollution for the European Aircraft League, and I was in this bar in Brussels, and it was the 1998-1999 Championship League Final, Manchester United by Munich. And I think they were by Munich, went up one mil, I think in the first half and it was on the 90 minutes. And I remember there were lots of German, French, Italians watching out saying, “Look, it’s not over until it’s over.” And not only did Manchester United score an equalizer, and then everyone was kind of like, “Oh, it’s going to be extra time.” And then, they came in with another goal, just both in the injury time to win the game. And it was utterly a fantastic game.

Scott Luton (04:39):

Man, and the celebrations ensued, Alun, I’m sure. Right?

Alun Rafique (04:42):

The next day, I remember a couple of German friends wouldn’t turn up for work, so they were so gutted by the way that they’d lost in the injury time, both goals. It was awfully fantastic.

Scott Luton (04:54):

Hey. Greg, I’m coming to you next here. Josh probably shares with both of y’all, and certainly Dan. “I don’t want to talk about this, Scott,” says Josh from Seattle. But Jonathan says, “Pep is a tactical genius.” That’s high praise, high praise. Greg, so Alun’s memory’s going to be tough to beat, but one of your favorite plays memories of all time.

Greg White (05:13):

Well, my favorite memory of all time is probably the most famous play of all time, and I’m going to stay away from Arsenal and Tottenham because I wanted to remain friendly with Josh while we’re here. But it’s mano de Dios, the Hand of God play with Diego Maradona. Of course, Argentina, one, good enough for me, so we don’t need to rehash the past. Let’s just put it that way.

Scott Luton (05:40):

So, speaking of, I got to share it. And I’m not sure if Katherine, Amanda, or Chantel can share who this is. But this LinkedIn user says, “That was one horrible night of football that I watched.”

Greg White (05:52):

I’m guessing they’re from Germany, right?

Scott Luton (05:56):

They must be. All right. So, folks, we’re getting some news that there’s some updates across the social platforms that may be interfering. We’re working fast and furiously to get Dan back because we got a great conversation teed up that I think is going to help lots of business leaders. And, Alun and Greg, that’s where we want to dive in. All right. I’m sure we could have supply chain sports center over the next hour, but we got some big topics we want to get into. So, Dan, this is your first time here at Supply Chain Now, and as we —

Greg White (06:22):

Alun.

Scott Luton (06:23):

I’m sorry. Alun. Alun. Thank you.

Alun Rafique (06:25):

I could be Dan if you want.

Scott Luton (06:26):

That would be dangerous.

Greg White (06:28):

Yeah. That it’s going to be treacherous for the next couple minutes.

Scott Luton (06:31):

Man. So, Alun, Alun, Alun. So, you’re new to Supply Chain Now. Dan has been a repeat guest, been with us countless times. He’ll be back by proper demand shortly. But, Alun, you started your career as a procurement practitioner – try to say that five times fast – in 1999 with Rolls-Royce and founded Market Dojo in 2010, which has provided a critical market intel to thousands and thousands. So, Alun, it’s got to be pretty rewarding to look back on that journey and especially with what’s to come, right?

Alun Rafique (07:02):

Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, my background is an aeronautical engineer. I started working from Bristol. I went to work for Rolls-Royce as an engineer and then fell into procurement. And I think that’s a common story about people falling into procurement for one of the buyers for one of the assembly shops. And since then, I’ve done a lot of different things in my career from consultancy to sales, marketing. I sold engineering simulation software, so fluid dynamic simulation software across Europe. And I ended up at a boutique consultancy selling what you might know as managed reverse auctions. And it was there that myself and a few friends, we came up with the idea to develop an easy to use pay as you go online solution called Market Dojo. And since then, we’ve broken the barriers around licensing models, and procurement models, and eSourcing, and supplier engagement. And now we’re part of Esker to embrace the whole S2P journey. So, yeah, it’s been very — last 12, 14 years or so.

Scott Luton (08:06):

Now, Greg, I saw your eyes light up at the beginning of his response there. What do you know that we don’t know maybe?

Greg White (08:13):

How many people have fallen into procurement and supply chain? There didn’t used to be degrees for it. It was one of those sort of, “Hey, we have a problem in this area. You seem like somebody who could take it on.” So, it’s a very common thing and I think we need to think about that and continue to consider that as we try to evolve the practice going forward. Because so many people didn’t study for this. They got all of their training on the job.

Scott Luton (08:43):

Excellent point. Excellent point. And one last follow up to that, Alun, relating to your background and the earliest part of your journey, today is Aircraft Maintenance Technician Day, where we’re celebrating all the brilliant, extraordinary people that make special things happen to keep global supply chain fleets moving forward and then some, passenger aircraft, military planes. Greg, special day, huh?

Greg White (09:08):

Intentional scheduling, let’s just go with that, knowing that. And by the way, aeronautical engineering not only is very impressive, obviously it has a huge impact and it’s a lot of fun. So, where I went to school had a huge aeronautical engineering school, and I was not an engineer but I had friends who were, I spent a little bit of time in the wind tunnel.

Scott Luton (09:33):

I love it.

Greg White (09:34):

Trying to make sure that cars were aerodynamic and aircraft models, new designs, maybe the occasional beer hat at what speed it would blow off your head, but things like that.

Scott Luton (09:47):

More to come at 11:00. I bet there’s some great book writing adventures, Greg, we’ll have to dive more into. But, Alun, man, what a great career that led up to founding Market Dojo. And I love transforming procurement on demand. So, we’re going to learn more about Market Dojo. But I want to start with this, because, Alun, you and your team work with leaders around the globe, as we mentioned, providing that critical market intel to thousands, tens of thousands, you name it. I want to get a couple observations in terms of what some of the current priorities that you’re seeing out there for business leaders, really, regardless of the sector, Alun.

Alun Rafique (10:24):

Yeah. I mean that’s a really interesting question. I’ve been thinking about that. And you know what, I think it’s really around the drivers for change have gone up a notch. So, I was in my garage the other day and I’m making a coffee table. And to make the coffee table, I need to make a workbench. And to make the workbench, I need to cut some wood. And, generally, I’d get a saw round and I’d cut some wood. But with so much timber to cut, I got myself one of those miter saws. I don’t know if you know the ones that would kind of come down and chop? Quick, efficient, wow, why didn’t I get this beforehand?

Alun Rafique (10:58):

And it was a driver for change that it’d always been there and I instigated based what was going on. And I think after Brexit, COVID, glooming recession, financial, ESG kind of things, it’s really stepped up the driver for change for procurement in a lot of ways to start looking at better training, better processes, better technology. So, I think to summarize up, it’s that impetus for change has just gone up a notch to drive that forward. I think that would be the main thing that I’m seeing there. I mean, there’s a lot of things going on.

Scott Luton (11:33):

That’s such a great one, because a lot of folks, a lot of leaders, a lot of organizations, Greg, they don’t have time to stop what they’re doing to embrace that better way. There’s a meme out there that Alun’s response brings my mind. But, Greg, what’d you hear Alun say? And what are you seeing as parties out there across global leadership?

Greg White (11:52):

Yeah. Well, we’ve had a few other things happen. One, as an outgrowth of COVID was people now know what the hell procurement and supply chain is. So, as much as we’ve wanted to be brought into the spotlight and have equal footing in the executive suite, we got it. And now, there’s nowhere to hide because everybody understands how these things work, and the impact that they have on supply chain, and, ultimately, the availability of goods that they want, whether they’re a consumer or whether they are an airline or whatever, they get it now. That awareness is incredible.

Greg White (12:26):

And maybe, you know, this little thing that has been, I think, a global issue, but certainly an issue in the UK and the U.S., this little thing called inflation has accelerated the imperative to start to take on technology and do something about this to be able to source better or more broadly, and to be able to pull goods through your procurement process, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, have better relationships with your vendors. All of that sort of thing is really important now.

Scott Luton (12:57):

Yeah. Excellent point. And they certainly add up to more and more overwhelming impetus for change, going back to what Alun shared there. All right. We’re still working on getting Dan Reeve back with us, y’all stay tuned. But, Alun, we want to keep driving here. When we think about one area in particular to drill a little bit more on, source to pay, S2P, the source to pay landscape, identify a couple trends that are taking place there that maybe more folks should know about, Alun?

Alun Rafique (13:25):

Yeah. I mean, I’ve been in this game a few years now, and what we’ve really seen is people haven’t really been receiving the benefits that they want from the larger ERP systems or the larger S2P systems. And what we find is that the S side of S2P tends to get a bit forgotten about. And we’re very fortunate to be part of Esker. We’re very similar now in terms of mindset and in terms of methodology. And we’re really working collaboratively to focus on the procurement side of S2P. So, I think what’s really important and what we’re seeing on the S2P side is that focus on amalgamating S2P from a procurement and finance perspective, and digitizing the kind of pathways between them.

Alun Rafique (14:19):
So, procurement and finance together can tackle supply chain resilience, tackle the cost pressures that we’re seeing from inflation, and really turning the procurement from a reactive function to more of a strategic role within the company. I think companies have been quite disenchanted with investing in larger systems. And the procurement side of it, the S side of it, hasn’t been up to scratch. So, I think that focus on the S2P side from the procurement perspective is really important.

Scott Luton (14:57):

Greg, I think that squares with a lot of what we’ve been seeing. I’m going to try to say these seven syllable words that Alun just dropped on us there, amalgamation. Did I say that right, Greg? Was that close?

Greg White (15:12):

Very good. A little slow, but very good.

Scott Luton (15:16):

We got to slow down to go faster, right? Digitization, the function becoming more strategic, we heard that amongst other things. Greg, respond to what Alun just shared there.

Greg White (15:25):

Well, I think the awakening that Alun talked about, that regardless of what anyone tells you, your ERP cannot do it all. There are certain tasks, that I think we’ve all recognized, in aspects of the business that deserve to go deeper than a generalist transaction system like an ERP can really afford to do. And that’s why they bolt on to so many of these other S2P type solutions and other solutions. Warehouse management is a great example, demand forecasting, planning, allocation, replenishment. All of these things, they’re way too deep, way too scientific, way too much combinatorial analytics – there’s another long word for you to try later, Scott – for a generalist technology to go deep in these areas. And there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to bolt some of these solutions on top of your ERP, really go deep into the intricacies of a very complex process, and get an incredible additional value out of these specialist solutions, like what Alun’s talking about.

Scott Luton (16:33):

Well said, Greg. And we’re going to dive more into the how and a lot of what you just finished there in just a second. Alun, anything you want to respond to there that Greg dropped? Go ahead. Yeah.

Alun Rafique (16:44):

Yeah. I think, look, it’s a really interesting conversation. I have many conversations about this, about the trends, and I think it’s all about change, come back around to change management. And what we’re seeing now, I think, is more of a driver from procurement to enforce the proper processes in technology. And what I mean by that is, when organizations and companies start, they always have a salesperson, they always have a finance person. They never start with a procurement person. So, you don’t get a procurement person until you’re what? Ten million? A hundred million? And it’s always change in procurement about grabbing the localized procurement, centralizing it. And that applies to the systems as well. So, you always have a CRM system when you start. You always have a finance system when you start. Do they use the word mandating? No. Not really. But they need to. You need to use it.

Alun Rafique (17:36):

But in procurement, we’ve traditionally been very happy to say let’s use emails and spreadsheets. And we’ve got a sourcing system and you can use it, if you want to. But I think now, companies are realizing to get the competitive edge. They need to drive an adoption of these kind of professional systems so you can react in times of crises. And as you say, procurement is now at the forefront. They can’t hide their heads over the parapet. And you need to drive that change. And it’s always about that. So, I think what we’re seeing in the S2P on the other kind of side is that, obviously, you’ve got adoption on the finance side, but more of adoption from the procurement side of these systems, especially if they integrate with the finances on an S2P level.

Scott Luton (18:20):

Where I want to go next, Alun and Greg, now that we’ve really set the table a good bit, remember the good old Venn Diagram? Who would have thunk that what we learned there with the Venn Diagram in fourth grade was service for the rest of our lives? And this may be too simplistic, but between the trends that y’all are talking about, the challenges that’s the backdrop, and then the opportunities in the middle, that’s the core that businesses are working their way through. Some really well and some very poorly. Alun, my next question to you, at that level, at the higher level, how are business leaders navigating that center part of the Venn Diagram given everything that we’re fighting through?

Alun Rafique (19:00):

I think it comes down to something we touched on earlier, we need to find the right people, the right training. Or you’ve got the right people, we just need the right training. We need to look at the processes within procurement. We need to look at the technology that they use. And we look to use that with respect to improving the business agility, coming back around to supply chain resilience and inflation pressures. Are you going to be ahead of your competition if you can react more quickly? They’re embracing better technology stacks and future proving them with best of breed systems. That’s where I think that’s at.

Scott Luton (19:36):

Greg, your thoughts?

Greg White (19:39):

Yeah. I think we have to acknowledge that times have changed. And the technology or your approach to the process and the technology has to change as well. First of all, the discussion that you started, Alun, with falling into procurement and then happily accepting spreadsheets and email – or probably if you fell in it long enough ago, spreadsheet was an advancement back then, right? – that there are not these targeted solutions or were not these targeted solutions for this business problem is. It’s still a drag on how people perceive the process, not just technology, but also the process. There’s a lot of that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, what’s wrong with the way we’re doing it? This is the way we’ve always done it – all of my favorite words, Scott – a spreadsheet can be a solution, silly, ridiculous things like that.

Greg White (20:42):

I think we have to acknowledge how much of a drag that has been on the advancement of the practice. And that the practice can be accelerated and accentuated, not just efficient, but more effective with technology out there. And I think more and more people are coming to that recognition. Sorry, that’s a long way around to answering the question, but I think it’s important to recognize why so many business leaders have had difficulty, as you said, so many companies are challenged, and to improve their practice or embrace technology or whatever. And I think that’s the recognition that so many business leaders have had forced on them since COVID and in the turbulent times that have been subsequent to that.

Greg White (21:35):

The COVID effect lasted a long time, and then we went right into a highly inflationary timeframe, which governments denied and central banks denied, which just exacerbated the problem. And then, they had to slam the brakes on, which will unquestionably – I don’t know about the UK, Alun, I don’t follow it that closely – cause a recession here in the States. We have no idea, just like the economists have no idea how long or deep the recession will be. But it is already starting to slam the brakes on the economy. So, you know, we have to acknowledge that we’re going from one crisis to the next to yet another. And we’ve got to be aware of how to solve that for the long term, not just incrementally in this moment.

Scott Luton (22:24):

Alun, your quick response. And in particular, I think part of an element that y’all both maybe have been speaking to was a gigantic push on that impetus for change is in making things easier for your team to succeed, and do things better, and focus their time on more valued work. And I imagine that’s going to make up some of the practical examples we’re going to dive into here in just a second. But, Alun, at a high level, your response to Greg’s thoughts, and then we’re going to get into some practical examples here in just a second.

Alun Rafique (22:57):

We’re in a very unique position in terms of we can help these issues that are being faced in the supply chain. And we’re equally in a very interesting proposition that, for example, as part of our offering, people can run a reverse auction from us for £500 or $700 or so. Which means that, actually, if you want to negotiate cost down or you want to mitigate cost rises, you can use an auction to get really fast ROI from a particular activity, which is really important. And, also getting, the data helps you address supply chain resilience. So, actually, the market that we’re in is an opportunity for us to help.

Alun Rafique (23:35):

But I did have kind of a further question back for Greg actually, in terms of why do we think that, you know, the emails and spreadsheets are still really a number one tool? As I mentioned, I think the step, the driver for change has changed and it’s pushing the change forward more rapidly, but there’s still a lot of reluctance within procurement to truly embrace the tools they need other than the kind of a carrot approach. You know, well, if you get success, try a bit more. We’re still not seeing as much impetus for that change as the industry seems to need.

Greg White (24:11):

So, that’s an excellent question. And I can tell you what I’ve seen from selling my own technologies or other people’s technologies or even see with helping guide companies that are in this space today, and that is, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. Nobody sees – I shouldn’t say that. The reticent don’t see that the way that they’re doing things is going to destroy the company. And in the absence of destroying the company, it’s very hard to break the inertia and overcome what you perceive as potential catastrophe to move on to another method, process, technology, group of people, whatever. I think that’s what holds us back and has always held people back when it comes to technology adoption.

Greg White (25:04):

And this is no different in this case because it’s like a frog in a pot of water, you don’t realize that it’s killing you until you’re dead. The slow sort of burn is where a lot of companies are. But I think that we’ve reached, and the reason – let me augment the answer even though you didn’t ask this, Alun. But I think that the impetus that we keep talking about, it’s still not for a lot of people, it’s still not compelling enough. And they’re hoping for the good old days that allows them to go back to the way that they’ve always done things without making a big transition. I mean, who in their right mind would not hope for that, for us to not have the challenge of shifting gears or changing paths dramatically in order to keep the business going? I think everybody wants that. Humans are programmed for that.

Scott Luton (26:07):

So, for the sake of time, I need to move us forward because I want to get into one of my favorite parts, I think, of this conversation. We’re going to learn more about Market Dojo in a few minutes here. We’re going to get some great resources. But, Alun, practical examples, I think, really help folks see the light and they speak to some of the folks that Greg’s speaking to where maybe they haven’t reached that tipping point, that’s not become compelling enough for them. So, Alun, I really want to pick your brain here, so in this current environment we’re all speaking to, and for a multitude of reasons, a multitude of levels, give us some practical examples of how that S, source, in source to pay can help you tackle rising inflation – that Greg – the temporary economist was talking to, and reinforcing your ability to go out there and grab supply chain resilience and put it in a headlock and help your organization.

Alun Rafique (26:58):

Yeah. It is fantastic tool to help people. I’ll give you an example. I remember a slightly different start, maybe you start a different springboard moment, is, I remember we were selling to a company and they told me a story about them running to the IT department to tell them to not delete someone’s inbox who was in procurement who has left because they had 30 years worth of purchasing data in it. And it was like, “Wow.” If that data sat in someone’s inbox and not doing anything, I think that’s where I’d start off on the answer. You start off very simply with the data. The first thing that eSourcing gives you is helping to manage the data. And we all want to talk about AI and we all talk about the next big thing. But if you’re not doing the basics, you can’t do much. And so, what we saw during COVID, for example, is a lot of people wanting to manage their data to be able to react to the oncoming kind of issues that were happening around supply chain resilience.

Alun Rafique (27:57):

Now, inflation, so we found our customers who were using eSourcing, first of all data. And the next thing it gave them by using eSourcing applications – the fantastic thing about eSourcing – is the ability to scale at very little extra kind of cost in terms of your time. Emails, and spreadsheets, you know, if you send out to three suppliers, it’s easy. To send out to ten suppliers, nightmare. You know, everyone asks different questions, different formats. It’s crazy. And so, when you use an eSourcing tool – we’ve had people run tenders on our tool with 500 suppliers. You don’t need 500 suppliers necessarily – by doing that, you’re not only get a market price or a better price, but you also get more information. So, if something happens later on and you need to change your strategy, nearshore and offshore, should we make versus buy, you have the information back to the data to be able to react more quickly, which we saw a lot of during kind of COVID, et cetera.

Alun Rafique (29:04):

And in these inflationary times, the ability to source more effectively was key to react faster than the competition. You know, we’ve had tenders run on our tool, but pre the inflationary side where an OEM manufacturer spent £500, actually, ran it on auction and saved $50 million, saved $50 million. But then, again, we’ve got large multi-enterprise customers who have hundreds of users who want to make sure that they’re embedding the right processes across all their users so they have visibility about what they’re spending, so they can have better relationships with their suppliers and encourage better supply chain resilience through the transparency and through the openness that sourcing can give you.

Scott Luton (29:54):

Hey, Alun, can I interject for just a second?

Alun Rafique (29:57):

Yeah. Please do. I could talk for hours on it.

Scott Luton (29:58):

Well, no, this is golden. I mean, I’ve just captured a four point list. I want to get Greg to respond, and then we’re going to go back to the well and get more goodness from the one and only Alun Rafique. And I think I kept up, but I may have missed a couple things. What else is new, right? Starting with the data, better management of data, better able to scale successfully, react more effectively. I know we’re pushing things proactively, but, still, things happen. We still have surprises in the industry and we got to react accordingly. Spend visibility, and I heard a $50 million savings number from Alun, that certainly got my attention. But, Greg, react to some of those things that Alun just shared there.

Greg White (30:37):

Well, in 30 years of emails, first of all, it’s hard to imagine that we’ve been using email for 30 years, but we have, haven’t we? Lord, we’re old. But I think that the data is the key thing. That is part of the challenge. One of the other challenges that we really haven’t talked about since COVID, and it was already impacting the workforce even prior to COVID, and that is baby boomers retiring. They’re leaving the workforce at 10,000 a day in 2021. An additional 3.1 million above what we expected to leave the workforce left the workforce presumably forever. We’ll see if any of them come back after the recession hits. But presumably forever, right?

Greg White (31:22):

And the data went with them. Why? Largely because it was tribal knowledge. A lot of the processes that were undertaken in those days had evolved from paper into spreadsheets, and then into this amazing thing called email. So, it was tribal knowledge and that data is incredibly valuable and needs to be captured. And the way to capture it is to get hold of technology that can impart all the knowledge where in you can impart all the knowledge that’s kept in the heads of those who are now exiting the workforce, and teach the technology or give the technology the data to be able to do the job as well or even better and probably more consistently. With all that knowledge imparted, to me, that is the most important thing and one of the most important catalysts, or should be one of the most important catalysts for taking on a technology initiative right now.

Greg White (32:22):

Because the subsequent generations, Gen X, we have survived a period where there were no computers and there wasn’t this big abundance of data or the ability to process it. But we’ve also been spoiled by having experienced that entire transition and yearning for the day when exactly what we’re talking about could happen. And then, our children, millennials and Gen Zs, they were raised on technology so they expect technology to do technology things, and it takes data to do that. So, we have to enable the enterprise for the next generation, the current generation, of course, mostly Gen X, but the next generation that expects technology to do technology things and for humans to do human things. And we better do it quick because, as Alun pointed out, a lot of that expertise is leaving the workforce.

Scott Luton (33:16):

Our hair’s on fire. And if it’s not, it should be on fire. Hey, really quick, Greg and Alun, back by pop demand, I think we’re ready to go, let’s bring Dan Reeve with Esker back into the conversation.

Dan Reeve (33:28):

Hey, gents. How are you?

Scott Luton (33:29):

Dan, great to see you. How are you doing?

Dan Reeve (33:32):

Well, you know, Greg’s there talking about different generations and their ability with technology. I’ve just been walking around my house today trying to find a pigeon. I’m trying to send messages into your conversation. I can’t find my pigeon.

Scott Luton (33:44):

Oh, gosh. Hey, it’s great to have you back.

Greg White (33:46):

But you made it.

Scott Luton (33:46):

You made it. That’s right. You overcame upward and on. Hey, really quick, we’re going to put you right to work. You jumped in, we’re going to put you right to work. We were just getting some great practical examples when it comes to how the S in source to pay can help business leaders tackle inflation and many other challenges and reinforce that sought after supply chain resilience in a real practical, meaningful way. And we got a list of things from Alun. And I bet if we kept Alun for a couple more hours, we would have encyclopedia proven ways. But, Dan, what else would you add in terms of those practical examples?

Dan Reeve (34:19):

Well, one of the things I’ve been asked as a result of Esker and Market Dojo teaming up, I’ve been out on the road a lot recently visiting CFOs and CIOs and finance leaders, many of them are using Esker for accounts receivable or payables. And so, what I find is that I say to them, “Hey, look. We’re hearing a lot of folks are trying to improve visibility on spend, control costs. Well, how about you folks?” And to be honest, I find most folks say, “We have something. It’s limited. We’ll take a look because anything that can help us improve visibility or save some money is really important.” But – there’s a but – I think many CFOs, as much as they’re very driven for technology adoption and change, they’re also equally petrified.

Dan Reeve (35:07):

And I think I can use that. There’s many projects that have failed. Or one of the big things is, Are the users going to adopt your technology? Because what I’m seeing is finance leaders saying, “Okay. People want to work from home, I’ve got to make it really easy so they can do. I’ve got to store, manage, and track their performance. I’ve got less people than I did. But maybe I put in a technology in the last three years, now everybody’s left. I’m hearing that.” And so, I think what I’m hearing is – back to your sourcing question – folks want technology and sourcing tools that are really easy to use fundamentally. And I’m going out on the market and hearing folks say, “We’ve got some things. They do some capabilities. But you know what? It’s not that easy to use. Maybe we even spent some big money on a big application. You know, there’s a couple thousand pound grillers out there, but people aren’t using it.” So, you know, the reality is simple things. You’ve got to make sure people can use the tool and will use it, and that we’ll actually go out and do some sourcing events versus just go buy from folks they used to. So, it’s interesting that dynamic, user experience and simplicity seems to be key.

Scott Luton (36:08):

Right. You know, you could give people Michael Jordan’s suite, free throw shot, turnaround J, you name it. But if they didn’t adopt it and use it, they’d play basketball just like me, which is very poorly. Adoption is critical. All right. I’m going to just bring in a couple quick comments. I know we couldn’t get to all of them. I got a ton here. Matthew says, “I heard the phrase building a plane while we’re flying it more times at Apple than what’s necessary.” Hey, I’m with you, Matthew.

Greg White (36:36):

Think about that at a company like Apple saying things like that.

Scott Luton (36:40):

That’s a great point, Greg.

Greg White (36:42):

The most valuable company in the entire world. The largest market cap. It can happen to anybody, right?

Scott Luton (36:52):

So true. Koray says, “Listen to the relevant data and have it tell you the story of actionable insights.” I love that. It’s a little poetic. And then, I’ll go back to – Jose, great to see you – Jose, “The lack of adoption of new tech is not only from the consumer side, but also from tech companies that are not able to connect and sell in -” and I would add lock in “- their value.” Excellent point there, Jose. Okay.

Scott Luton (37:15):

For the sake of time – and, Dan, great to have you back. Great to have you back – Alun, I want to make sure we unpack all the cool things that Market Dojo is up to. And it’s really exciting to see what Esker and Market Dojo, how y’all have combined forces to do more and help more organizations and to keep moving the bar upward, maybe. But in a nutshell, Alun, tell us what Market Dojo does.

Alun Rafique (37:39):

Yeah. We believe in a better way to help companies manage their data, mitigate their risk, and minimize their costs. And we do it through very carefully designed user-friendly software, focused on eSourcing and supplier engagement. And I’ve got to be honest with you, when I tell people the story about how we now work with Esker, they’re impressed with such a great bit, both culturally and from a technological standpoint, the ability to grow the S2P solution. And really, honestly, it’s been an utterly brilliant experience with Esker. I can’t thank them enough for the support and the direction that we’re going on. And in terms of we feel that a change is taking place, there’s certainly a new role for procurement. There’s a new breed of procurement professional and it’s evolving procurement from a reactive back office function to a strategic enterprise resource. It’s truly an exciting time for procurement.

Scott Luton (38:35):

Alun, completely agree with you. And we’ve been banging that drum for years here at Supply Chain Now, Greg. Dan, we’ll get you to weigh in. He touched on just the great fit-ability – I think I just made up a word – between Esker and Market Dojo. I didn’t mean to make you lose your water there, Alun.

Greg White (38:52):

Your own five syllable words, Scott. That’s good.

Scott Luton (38:56):

That’s right. Hey, Dan —

Dan Reeve (38:57):

Don’t Scrabble with him because he’s going to cheat.

Scott Luton (38:59):

Yeah. Oh, only with help from my friends. But, Dan, speak to that match between the two organizations and, man, where the future’s going to take the art of the possible.

Dan Reeve (39:10):

Well, I think that the match you described is what’s going on in the market. And I agree with Alun, that both focusing payables, procurement, sourcing, many of those leaders want a more front and center opportunity to improve visibility controls, spend, mitigate risk for the organization. So, now is a great time for them. And what we hear folks saying is, “Look, we may need AP automation or we don’t have it. We may need a bit of procurement.” But, increasingly, now folks are saying, “Okay. Now, I need to join it all together. Can I have a sourcing event?” And then, once we’ve found a vendor, “Okay. I might want to create contracts and start trying to encourage people to cut down on that maverick spending and use that particular vendor but we want it all combined.”

Dan Reeve (39:59):

So, if I take the time to do the due diligence to find a vendor to do a sourcing exercise, great. Does that data and that insight now feed into my procure to pay software so that my folks, again, I’ve got to get them to change? So, I ‘ve got to make it easy. They don’t want to be jumping from three different systems, sourcing, procurement, accounts payable. You know what I mean? I think folks are saying make it easy, make it holistic.

Dan Reeve (40:21):

And I would agree that some of the procurement folks I’ve spoken to when I say, “Hey, you know, what caught your interest?” And they’ll say, “Look, we’re tactical right now and I want to drive us.” People will say, “My objective is for us to bring more value, bring more insights.” My elevator pitch when people ask what we do, I say, “Look, we free up supply chain staff, procurement staff, folks in sourcing to go be rock stars.” People are like, “What does that mean?” I’m like, “Reality is they don’t want to be doing them mundane. If you leave them doing mundane in data entry or manual boring processes and you don’t free them up to go and do other things, they’re not going to stay anyway. And it’s hard to get people and that’s going to get harder when you look at our population demographic trend.” So, it is about finding technology that sort of spans across those three areas and makes it easy.

Dan Reeve (41:07):

You know, what Alun hasn’t said is, Alun’s got a secret sauce. I’m going to age myself now. You go, like, 25 to 30 years, I used to mail a CD to the potential customer. And the procurement of the IT group would get it and say, “Oh, great. Yeah. We’re going to load that and play with it and see how it works.” That was 30 years ago. And your hope was that people would take the time to install it and try try and it was really easy. That was the easy button. What Alun’s identified, I believe, with his technology is folks go in and play with it and try it and they’re like, “Hang on a minute, I can do a sourcing event myself, and I have. Whoa. This is like shadow IT on steroids. This stuff, it works. It’s easy and I’ve saved money. Great.” So, that’s some of the trends I’m seeing. And that’s why it made sense to work with Alun. I was going to accuse Alun the ability to talk a hind leg off a donkey. I’ve just done that myself.

Scott Luton (42:05):

No. And what we heard here today, spend 750 bucks on a reverse auction and save 50 million. We’re talking big mountains that are being moved. Greg, I’m going to get your take here before we unpack a couple of resources for folks. Koray says, “Fit-ability and strategery walk into a bar and meet Scott.” Thanks, Koray. We try here. We try. Greg, expound just a second on what we’re hearing here and where they’re headed. And then, I’m going to share some resources for folks.

Greg White (42:34):

We’ve been talking about a couple things. One, I think, I would argue this until the day I die, and that is that technology is a necessity. And that the more that you automate the processes, and this generational shift has accelerated the need for that, aside from all of the other crises that we’ve talked about on the show today, but you need a technology and you need a technology that – Scott, as you have so much empathy for people in the workplace – makes it easy for people and more over meets their expectation. And the expectation of people in the workplace is that technology does technology things and people do people things. We’re really good at crisis management and at critical thinking, but terrible, frankly, terrible at repeated processes, whether they are mundane or not, because we don’t always consider all the data. And sometimes we insert emotion or bias into the process. And you can completely eliminate that. You can streamline the process by using the technology to do that for you. And then, let us, we, people, handle crises and personal relationships and evaluating the best vendors from something other than a data-driven perspective. And then, evaluating the ongoing relationship outside of the data-driven – whoa, that’s hard to say – data-driven aspect of the relationship.

Scott Luton (44:00):

Well said. Well said despite all challenging. All right. So, let’s do this for the sake of time. Folks, we promised you resources, and thanks to Dan and Alun and their teams, we’ve got them and there’s a lot more. We’re going to give you two, y’all check out. We’re going to make sure y’all know how to connect with Alun and Dan in just a second. But first of all, we’re going to be dropping in the chat and in the show notes The Integrated Source To Pay Suite at Esker, so y’all check out that link. And then, secondly, check out more information on the sourcing management automation tool there at Esker, which will enable you to optimize – I love this – how you engage, select, and negotiate with suppliers. And those links are getting dropped right there. You’re one click away from checking those out. Alun, speak to maybe one of those resources, or if not, let’s make sure folks know how to connect with you and the Market Dojo team.

Alun Rafique (44:52):

Yeah. I mean just on LinkedIn’s great. You can message me on LinkedIn, I can pass it on to the team. We’ve got such a fantastic time at the — with Esker and the S2P, all the resources there are great. Love to help anyone out there who is thinking about embracing sourcing S2P, please connect. I’ll do what I can to help.

Scott Luton (45:14):

And you don’t do yourself justice, Alun. As Greg and our team has seen, and Dan as well, in all the pre-show conversations, you are a walking breath of fresh air for how things are being done across global supply chain. And there’s a ton of passion there and you’re just down to earth and welcome folks to come meet you and talk shop. We need more of that. That’s the kind of leadership that speaks to me and I bet a lot of other folks, so I really appreciate what you’re doing.

Scott Luton (45:41):

Dan, I tell you, you get to work with Alun and his team regularly. Big things, current state, big things ahead. We dropped a couple of those resources. If you would, just anything you want to touch on those two resources and let’s make sure folks know how to connect, Dan, with you and the Esker team.

Dan Reeve (45:58):

Well, one, I think Alun’s going to go to tell his wife tonight that he’s a walking breath of fresh air because Scott said so. And we’re going to see what happens there. See if his wife agrees or — off.

Alun Rafique (46:10):

Don’t bring her —

Scott Luton (46:11):

Invite her on the show next.

Alun Rafique (46:14):

And here is my wife.

Dan Reeve (46:17):

Okay. Joking aside, you can connect with me, daniel.reeve@esker.com. Or you can find me on LinkedIn under Esker, so Daniel Reeve, VP of Sales from North America. Now, you were talking about cricket a minute ago.

Scott Luton (46:32):

Yeah.

Dan Reeve (46:33):

And, again, I wasn’t great at that and I was forced to play it. A bit like softball. Now, here’s where I’m going, if folks anywhere happen to be in procurement, supply chain, folks happen to be in Boston, I’ve got an event I’m running with the Red Sox on August 9th. Here comes my shameless plug. So, I do have an event going on August 9th. I realize Boston’s a big city, there might be people who live up there, anybody’s interested, give me a shout. Because they’re in their financial transformation with Esker for procure to payment. I’m not going to swear, but Liverpool – who’s not my chosen soccer team because they beat my team regularly – Liverpool are in process of using Alun’s sourcing applications. So, even premier lead teams, Liverpool and Chelsea – I can’t believe I said those two teams.

Alun Rafique (47:19):

Sorry.

Greg White (47:20):

We know where you’re from.

Dan Reeve (47:22):

I’m from Norridge and I get destroyed anytime I play those two teams. Anyway, where I’m going with this is, I’m going to be in Boston, August 9th, and if anybody is there and interested in a conversation or even interested in the conversation before the game, we’re going to have a little event. Boston, we’ll talk about what they’re doing, sourcing, procurement, digital transformation. Then, we’ll go watch a bit of batting practice and watch the game. People could reach me if people are interested in that. Just drop me on LinkedIn. We’ll have a chat.

Scott Luton (47:45):

We’re coming. Greg, you and I, we’re going to send a link to Dan and join him in Boston. Hey, let’s make it easy, folks. Dan, dropped his email there, but we also want to drop his LinkedIn because I bet he welcomes if you want to connect with him, and then check out that Boston event, or just compare, talk notes or talk shop via comparing notes and whatnot. Dan’s one of our most popular repeat guests here at Supply Chain Now.

Dan Reeve (48:11):

I have have one point. Can I have one point?

Scott Luton (48:13):

Yeah,Dan.

Dan Reeve (48:13):

Here’s what I see going on in the market – and I’ve been nagging my sales reps to get on the road the last three to five weeks. I don’t know if I had an itch I needed to scratch, but I’ve been on the road visiting lots of customers. I find most folks are going to change ERP even now or over in the next two, three, four, five years. Well, most folks, when you think about their sourcing, their procurement, their payables, their manufacturing, what I find is most companies are going through this exercise where they’re thinking about change the ERP. And what that means is, all the tools they use for sourcing, procurement receivables, processing orders, inventory management, it’s all up for grabs.

Scott Luton (48:53):

I knew we were going to try to pack too much in because there’s so much goodness here. So, Greg, this is what I want to do, before we wrap the show – we’ve come a long way in an hour between Alun, and you, and Dan, and a lot more – give us the one key takeaway that folks have to leave this conversation with front and center.

Greg White (49:13):

Yeah. I meant to comment on soccer on Dan’s behalf at the beginning. So, when we were talking about Manchester City winning the Premier League, his words were disgusting, and I agree. And on the other front, the whole notion of changing out your ERP – which we established early in the show – doesn’t go deep enough, certainly, not into source to pay, but into a ton of different areas. And undergoing a $10, $2,000, $400 million project, when you can use an ERP for what it is effectively built for, which is finance – predominantly finance and transactions – and layer on these point solutions, these targeted niche, whatever you want to call them, but very, very deep solutions that really solve a problem simply and, as both Alun and and Dan have talked about, with a single solution rather than jumping from screen to screen and that sort of thing, that is exactly what this generational change is going to demand.

Greg White (50:18):

So, don’t – I hope, hope that’s where you were going, Dan. But don’t feel compelled to change out your ERP. Just layer new technologies on top of it and kernelize it. Use the ERP for what it’s great at, internationalizing your company and your finance processes and that sort of thing. But put technologies on top of it that focus on these problems that they will never get to a solution for and focus your efforts. And eliminate a lot of that risk of the devil you don’t know by not having a huge implementation. Just expand on your capabilities without an a huge technological disruption in your company.

Dan Reeve (51:02):

Is kernelization a word? I bet that was.

Scott Luton (51:04):

We’re making up.

Greg White (51:05):

It is now.

Scott Luton (51:05):

That’s the theme of the hour. That’s right. It is now. But what a great chat. I always really appreciate when Dan Reeve with Esker joins us and brings friends. I want to thank everybody here. Dan Reeve, Vice-President Sales for North America with Esker. Dan, thanks so much for carving some time out here.

Dan Reeve (51:21):

Thank you for putting up and waiting for me. And f we started late, that was my fault. I apologize.

Scott Luton (51:27):

Ah, no big deal.

Greg White (51:28):

More time, big impact. I appreciate it.

Dan Reeve (51:30):

To be honest, Alun was bringing the real value today.

Greg White (51:32):

He was. He brought it today, didn’t he?

Scott Luton (51:34):

And we’re keeping it real today. And August 9th in Boston, y’all reach out and make sure if you want to join up for our Red Sox game and meet great people, reach out to Dan. And, Alun, your ears have been burning. You did bring it today. Alun Rafique, CEO and Co-Founder of Market Dojo, thank you so much, Alun. We had a blast with you here today.

Dan Reeve (51:53):

Yeah. Absolute pleasure. You’re going to make me blush.

Scott Luton (51:58):

Well we hope to have you back. We really appreciate what you do and how you approach it. And, Greg, always a pleasure to knock out these conversations with you. Safe travels where you are.

Greg White (52:08):

Likewise. Thank you. And welcome aboard, Alun. and great to see you again. Dan, as always.

Dan Reeve (52:14):

Yeah. I enjoyed it. Thank you.

Scott Luton (52:15):

And to all the folks that showed up in the comment, hey, apologize, we were a little bit late. We always try to be on time and full — right? But, hey, really appreciate all the comments. Y’all keep them coming. We’re back live again tomorrow. And most importantly, take some of this brilliance you heard from Dan, Alun, and Greg, put it into action. Deeds, not words. And on that note, for all of our friends here at Supply Chain Now, Scott Luton, challenging you to do good, to give forward, and to be the change. We’ll see you next time right back here at Supply Chain Now. Thanks everybody.

Intro/Outro (52:46):

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

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Featured Guests

Dan Reeve- As Vice President of Sales North America, Dan Reeve is responsible for recruitment, training, and direct sales for Esker, supporting a team of excellent Sales Managers. Having operated in this capacity for 10 years, he was previously a Sales Rep, successfully developing the American Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, and establishing Esker’s Denver office in 2017.

Dan joined Esker in 1999, spending the first few years in Business Development for the Benelux and Scandinavian countries, building up channel and direct sales paths for those regions, then moving into large enterprise accounts while assisting in leading direct sales in the UK. After obtaining an Economic Development degree from the University of Derby, England in 1997, he completed a Courts Furnishers Graduate Managerial Program, which allowed Dan to discover his passion for Sales and the importance of great Customer Service. Dan is a veteran of the British Army and the Wisconsin National Guard and deployed to Iraq in 2003 as part of Operation Telic. He has actively promoted the hiring of veterans into various roles within the Sales team. Connect with Dan on LinkedIn.

Alun Rafique, Co-Founder of Market Dojo, started the business alongside Nick Drewe and Nic Martin. The founders of Market Dojo have backgrounds covering purchasing and software development as well as sales and marketing. This has been obtained through experience with consultancies, blue-chip organizations, and many varied software industries. Connect with Alun on LinkedIn.

Hosts

Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

Greg White

Principal & Host

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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

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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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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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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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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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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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Amanda Luton

Vice President, Production

Amanda is a production and marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Amanda currently manages, produces, and develops modern digital content for Supply Chain Now and their clients. Amanda has previously served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah, and founded and managed her own successful digital marketing firm, Magnolia Marketing Group. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now production team, you can find Amanda in the kitchen, reading, listening to podcasts, or enjoying time with family.

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Constantine Limberakis

Host

Constantine Limberakis is a thought leader in the area of procurement and supply management. He has over 20 years of international experience, playing strategic roles in a wide spectrum of organizations related to analyst advisory, consulting, product marketing, product development, and market research.Throughout his career, he's been passionate about engaging global business leaders and the broader analyst and technology community with strategic content, speaking engagements, podcasts, research, webinars, and industry articles.Constantine holds a BA in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA in Finance & Marketing / Masters in Public & International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Mary Kate Soliva

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.

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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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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Tyler Ward

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!

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

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

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

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Greg White

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

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

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

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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

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

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