Supply Chain Now
Episode 1042

Supply chain is a profession where there's so much more awareness - broadly defined, it's a very safe career trajectory. We have nearly a one hundred percent job placement rate for students within 90 days of graduation out of MSU, and that's not going to change anytime soon.

-Dr. Jason Miller, Professor at Michigan State University

Episode Summary

The relationship between a graduate professor and their students is a special one. They learn from each other, facing new challenges with fresh solutions. Dr. Jason Miller, a Professor at Michigan State University, believes his current students are among the hardest working that he has come across in his teaching career. In this interview, two of those students join Dr. Miller and Scott Luton to share their professional backstories.

Ashley Yearwood is a senior at Michigan State University in the Honors College and President of the Supply Chain Management Association. Jacob Lava, also a senior at Michigan State, is majoring in supply chain management and serves as CFO on the executive board for the Supply Chain Management Association.

In this interview, you will hear Dr. Miller, Ashley, Jacob, and Scott discuss:

• The importance of discipline-focused organizations run by graduate students, like the Supply Chain Management Association at Michigan State

• Their perspective on the top supply chain trends and news stories

• How the realignment being seen in global supply chains today opens the door to new ways of thinking – and plenty of career opportunities

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

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

Scott Luton (00:31):

Hey, good morning everybody. Scott Luton with you here on Supply Chain. Now welcome to today’s show. Today we’re continuing our series that we like the call the Now Generation, where we sit down with students and educators from some of the leading supply chain management programs, really around the world. Now, with that said, wanna welcome our panel here today, starting with Jo. Uh, Dr. Jason Miller, professor at Michigan State University. And repeat guest. Jason. How you doing?

Jason Miller (00:58):

Doing well. How you doing?

Scott Luton (01:00):

Doing wonderful. Great to have you back. We had such a great, uh, livestream discussion on the domestic freight markets, uh, with our friends at US Bank a month or so ago. So, uh, enjoyed your perspective there.

Jason Miller (01:11):

Oh, thanks. I was really enjoyed being on, it’s hard to believe it’s already been a month.

Scott Luton (01:15):

Can you believe that? And the best part is not only do we have you back, but we’ve got two of your brightest students, uh, and, and, uh, now pr uh, practitioners, I’ll call it, uh, at Michigan State University, starting with Ashley Yearwood, a senior at Michigan State in the Honors College, majoring in supply chain management, and minoring in information technology and economics. Ashley is also president of the Supply Chain Management Association. Ashley, how you doing?

Ashley Yearwood (01:44):

Doing great. Thank you so much for having me,

Scott Luton (01:47):

Man. I don’t know how you find any time. I, uh, you know, as I like, as I like to talk about these. Um, it was pizza and beer for me when I was matriculating through college. So great to have you here, Ashley. And you’re joined by Jacob Lava, also a senior at Michigan State, also majoring in supply chain management. And he serves get this as CFO on the executive board for the Supply Chain Management Association. Jacob, how you doing?

Jacob Levack (02:13):

Doing, going a while. How are you?

Scott Luton (02:15):

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Okay, so we’ve got, uh, so Jason, we’ve got quite a conversation teed up. Um, now I, I’m assuming you have been rubbing elbows with Ashley and Jacob for, for quite some time now, huh?

Jason Miller (02:30):

Uh, you know, unfortunately not as much as I would like, um, cuz I don’t teach undergrad anymore now that I transition into the chairperson role. So I am strictly only teaching the graduate students at this point in time.

Scott Luton (02:41):

Well, that’s no fun, huh?

Jason Miller (02:44):

Yeah, I mean, honestly, I love teaching undergrad. Um, a couple years from now I’ll be back to, to doing it, but yeah, this is my first year at Michigan State, not teaching, um, any undergrad sections.

Scott Luton (02:55):

Okay, man. Well, we’ll talk more about your role in just a second. Uh, but I wanna start now that we’ve got, uh, everybody here. I wanna start, uh, one of my favorite questions to ask is, where is everybody from right? Where they grew up? You always find out a lot about people when you start the conversation there. So, uh, Jacob, let’s start with you. Tell us where you grew up.

Jacob Levack (03:15):

Well, first of all, I wanna start by thanks for having us. Uh, but I grew up in Canton, Michigan, so that’s about 30 minutes outside of Detroit area. So go Lions, uh, <laugh>. But it’s, it’s, um, small suburb outside of Detroit. Uh, played a lot of soccer growing up,

Scott Luton (03:33):

Lot of soccer growing up. Uh, obviously a big Detroit Lions fan. Uh, what about the Red Wings? Were you a big hockey fan?

Jacob Levack (03:40):

Not as of recently, but I’ve been hearing they, they’ve been playing pretty well. Some, uh, I think the rebuild is is on its way to the finish line, so we’ll have to see. And Little Caesars Arena is a fun place to watch some hockey, watch some basketball too.

Scott Luton (03:55):

Okay. All right. So one final question. See, so Canton, Michigan. So if we were to venture up at Canton, Michigan, what was one, what is one place that we have to stop in and eat at?

Jacob Levack (04:09):

Well, I stop to eat at <laugh>. Um, I’ll tell you, you can eat here too, uh, is I think the only IKEA in Michigan is in Canton. And that’s how, uh, I’d describe if, if somebody doesn’t know where Canton is, I ask ’em, uh, well, have you seen the Ikea off the freeway? It’s like, yeah, that’s Canton. So, but they do have good food there too, and it’s a pretty good price. So I’d say Ikea

Scott Luton (04:33):

<laugh>. Oh, man. Okay. All right. Uh, all you have to say is Ikea these days for so many people. Right. So many consumers, uh, there are devoted fans to Ike everywhere. Um, okay, well, so Jacob is from Cant Michigan. How about you, Ashley?

Ashley Yearwood (04:48):

I’m from Lake Orian, Michigan

Scott Luton (04:50):

Lake Orian. Now, where’s that kind of geographically?

Ashley Yearwood (04:55):

Um, it’s about an hour 15 from East Lansing, and then about an hour less than an hour north of Detroit.

Scott Luton (05:02):

Okay. Uh, so that I bet the weather. What, what, what’s colder weather wise between Canton and Lake Oregon? Ashley, you think?

Ashley Yearwood (05:11):

I would have to say they’re pretty similar. Yeah. Um, we are a little bit further north than Canton, so if anything, I’d say we might be a smidge colder, but not by too much.

Scott Luton (05:20):

But it’s all cold for someone from Georgia, I would imagine, right?

Ashley Yearwood (05:24):

Yes, definitely.

Scott Luton (05:26):

So, uh, growing up in Lake Orion, um, we, we’ll get into food in just a second, but Jacob shared a couple of his, his sports alliances. Uh, how about you, Ashley?

Ashley Yearwood (05:36):

Uh, I played golf in high school. Um, I’m still really passionate about it. It’s a great pastime of mine. Um, like orients a beautiful town. Um, lots of golf courses. Love to golf with my family and friends there.

Scott Luton (05:48):

Okay. Who is your, um, who’s your favorite golfer?

Ashley Yearwood (05:53):

Ooh, that’s a tough one. I really, I really like Justin Thomas. I’d have to say he’s my favorite.

Scott Luton (06:00):

Okay. Fair enough. And then final question for you, uh, same question. If we stopped into, uh, lake Orion, Michigan and picked one place to eat at, what would that be?

Ashley Yearwood (06:11):

I would say Sage brush. It’s our hometown Mexican restaurant. Everyone’s go-to downtown.

Scott Luton (06:18):

Do they have really good hot sauce?

Ashley Yearwood (06:20):

They do have good hot sauce. Yep. And surprisingly enough, their chicken tenders are really good for a Mexican restaurant that <laugh> that is a go-to there.

Scott Luton (06:29):

All right. So, uh, Jason, it sounds like when we’re, uh, making pit stops and Canton and Lake Orion, uh, we’re gonna eat some great Mexican food, uh, with some chicken tenders and pick up some, uh, some, some very popular furniture. Jason, how’s that sound? Sound like a road trip to me, huh?

Jason Miller (06:47):

Yeah, definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.

Scott Luton (06:50):

<laugh>. So, so as I mentioned, Jason, you’re not getting at this question. I know you, we spoke a little about this, uh, on your last appearance with us, but where did you grow up, Jason?

Jason Miller (07:00):

I grew up in a little farm town in northwest Ohio, honest to God called Hicksville. Okay. Making that up. It’s area code 4 35 26, if anybody wants to throw it in Google, and it will pop up about 3,500 people,

Scott Luton (07:13):

Man. Okay. Uh, well, so what if, what was one thing you would call inseparable from your childhood growing up there in Hicksville, Ohio?

Jason Miller (07:23):

Uh, boy, inseparable. I mean, it’s just, you know, small town, small town America, about the only, you know, you know, for me, for me, I play baseball through growing up. So I think that probably would be the, uh, would be the big thing. But yeah, I’ve, I honestly, even though I live only about two and a half hours away from there, I haven’t been back to Hicksville and oh boy, about four years now, I think.

Scott Luton (07:46):

Okay. So, uh, final question then, Jason. What position did you play on the baseball team?

Jason Miller (07:52):

Primarily pitched in first base.

Scott Luton (07:55):

Okay. Man. Learned something new every day. Ashley, uh, did you and Jacob know that about Jason?

Ashley Yearwood (08:02):

No, I did not.

Scott Luton (08:03):

Okay. All right. We’ll have a, we’ll have a, uh, a strikeout competition later on, maybe, but before we eat the Mexican food, uh, Ashley there in, uh, lake Oregon. Um, alright, so really quick, Jason, you, you alluded to it on the front end before we kind of dive more into, um, kind of why supply chain, both for Ashley and Jacob. Let’s talk about your role. Cause it, it, you, you just mentioned, uh, on the front end how it’s evolved a bit and now you spend all of your time, it sounds like, with graduate students. Is that right?

Jason Miller (08:31):

Yeah, so my, so probably the first almost misnomer that exists with what faculty do is even as a quote unquote regular faculty member, I only spent about 25% of my time teaching. Most of it is spent doing academic research. Um, and that’s where what I really specialize in, um, primarily, but now I’m the, um, interim chairperson for the department. So I am, am essentially running the department. We have about 45 total employees, um, that I oversee. Then, um, I’m responsible for about 350 undergrads, actually about 375 undergrads per graduating class from our major as well as our two PhD programs, as well as our Master’s of science and supply chain management, plus a forthcoming graduate certificate program that’ll be starting in the fall. So right now about 50% of my responsibility is administration. Um, and only about 10% of my responsibility is teaching anymore,

Scott Luton (09:34):

Man, Ashley and Jacob. I don’t know about y’all, but that, that made me tired just hearing Jason describe all of that man full plate. And then, so, um, well, given all of that, I really appreciate you being back with us here and bringing, uh, Ashley and Jacob with you. So, um, let’s stick with you, Ashley. You know, one of my favorite questions to ask members of the the now generation is why supply chain? What, what made you say, Hey, that’s what I want to do?

Ashley Yearwood (10:01):

That’s a great question. So I came into college and I was an applied, um, engineering major, which is specific to Michigan State. It’s part engineering and then a concentration of your choice. And my concentration at the time was supply chain. And during my time, I was really involved my freshman year in the Supply Chain Management association. And after going to those meetings on a biweekly basis and attending their events, I realized that that was the right path for me. I really enjoyed it. I brought a lot of passion in that, so I fully switched my major to supply chain management after attending that club. And I’ve loved it ever since. It’s a great decision.

Scott Luton (10:36):

So the club, the scma and, and going there for the first time is what led you to pursuing a, a career of, of make it happen in global supply chain?

Ashley Yearwood (10:47):

Yes, it has. It was, um, I’m still involved in the club. Um, I love how it balances professional and social aspect, so you get a great view of, um, supply chain as a professional in, um, companies and then also like bonding with other members with similar interests. I think it’s amazing.

Scott Luton (11:04):

Wow. Okay. Um, Jacob, how about you? Why why’s supply chain for you?

Jacob Levack (11:10):

Well, so I started as a packaging major at msu, so that was in, in funny, not, most colleges don’t have packaging as a degree. Uh, and I really liked it, really liked the, you know, I was taking packaging 1 0 1 and, um, there were aspects of supply chain management that were kind of shown in that classroom. Uh, I had a roommate who was a part of the, a cma part of the club, popular, popular motivator to, to join, uh, to join the club and came to a couple of those meetings and really turned my ear. And I think the one thing I notice is, you know, as a consumer and then going to see like manufacturing processes and distribution centers, you know, touring a couple as a student, you, you have a rejuvenated respect for how companies go to get their stuff on the shelves and get stuff to, to consumers. So I, I’d say that’s a big part of why supply chain for me.

Scott Luton (12:09):

You know, both of you are speaking to, um, you kind of have the, and we’re gonna talk about eureka moments in a minute, but that awareness, that epiphany when, when you, you kind of uncovered what supply chain does and so many, and, and of course there’s so many different definitions to that, but, um, man, Jason, come to you, uh, from that scma, that supply chain management association, that sounds like a very powerful program you have there at Michigan State.

Jason Miller (12:36):

Yeah, I would say it is the best undergrad student run organization I’ve come across in my career as both being an undergrad student and then being, getting a PhD at Ohio State and then being a faculty member, um, in multiple universities. So it is incredibly well run. They’re very modest here, but, um, I mean, they hold their own career fair that is effectively as large as the college’s career fair that we put on. So, I mean, that just shows you how impressive of a student organization this is.

Scott Luton (13:09):

Well, uh, I really appreciate you sharing that. Uh, and Ashley and Jacob really appreciate y’all, um, uh, the leadership and the, the blood, sweat and tears that you go into making sure that other folks maybe have that same epiphany or that awareness, uh, that you had. It’s been so, uh, impactful to your journeys. Um, Jason, one of the quick comment and we’ll get you to, um, and folks, if you’re not following, if you’re not connected with Dr. Jason Miller or following him at least on LinkedIn, your miss now, so much great content ranging from, as I mentioned, a freight market observations to eCommerce, consumer finance, uh, and of course all sorts of, uh, global supply chain analysis when you, you know, Jacob mentioned packaging. Now, uh, a lot of folks may not think that packaging is, is, um, is sexy or insert whatever, uh, adjective there. It’s really good to see packaging really get a ton more attention here in recent years. Would you agree, Jason?

Jason Miller (14:06):

No, it, it is, and Michigan State has an outstanding packaging program. Um, it’s one of the top programs in the country. There’s a, I’m gonna say reasonably close relationship between the packaging program and the supply chain department. Um, and it’s, you know, it’s a absolutely essential major. I think some students get very surprised that packaging’s essentially applied engineering. I think that that’s always the, the interesting thing, um, you know, that we see, and it’s almost ends up being the supply chain major is the less mathy of the two. But no, it’s an outstanding program. Um, they’ve got great leadership over there and they’re looking at expanding essentially back to their former size, which if this all goes successful, they’ll actually be larger than our program in, which is one of the largest in the entire university in terms of undergraduate programs.

Scott Luton (15:02):

Man, that’s great to hear. There’s so many op, there’s so many opportunities, uh, on so many different levels for, um, uh, patching, not just packaging professionals, but just the art of packaging I’ll call it. So that’s great to hear. Um, alright, so Ashley, I wanna circle back to you. So, um, kind of using that as a segue packaging, just one of, you know, billions of topics, uh, that make up global supply chain. Ashley, what is one topic trend issue, you name it across global supply chain, has got your attention perhaps more than others? Right now

Ashley Yearwood (15:34):

I’m really interested in information technology and integrating technology and supply chains. I think after the covid 19 pandemic technology has proven to me the way of the world, at least for the future. Um, I think it’ll be really interesting in the coming years to see how we sustain that new technology, um, sort of boom in supply chain and then also like how we expand from that. And I think that’s a really interesting, um, aspect in the supply chain world right now.

Scott Luton (16:01):

Uh, I agree with you and I would add to that, uh, the change management, uh, and almost the psychology of how the workforce handles, uh, all the, the rapid pace of technology and change and innovation. Would you agree, Ashley?

Ashley Yearwood (16:16):

Yes, I definitely agree. And going off that also like the automation aspect, whether that be, um, in warehouses and handling and logistics, I think that’s all extremely interesting.

Scott Luton (16:24):

Yeah, agreed. Um, before I go to Jacob, uh, Jason weigh in on that, whether it’s the, the change management aspect or or automation, you name it. What, what, what sticks out there in Ashley’s answer, Jason?

Jason Miller (16:38):

No, I think it’s a change management aspect. I mean, we’re even seeing that today in terms of how do you better have data driven decision making and organizations. And the key thing that some of the initial research on this that’s coming out from economists at MIT who are using a lot of data, the census bureaus collecting as you can have, you know, all the predictive analytics for example, you want, you can have folks running neural networks and doing all these things, but if you don’t have the compliment complement organizational structures in place, nothing’s gonna happen. Or how do you convince people that to essentially accept the recommendation of something that for a non statistician is a complete black box. And I think that that’s, you know, one of the things we’re struggling with, you know, not only in organizations but even in our pedagogy and how we teach, is how much familiarity do we have our students learn with the methods versus understanding the core content, the key interrelationships, and you append the methodology to it. And I think that’s something we, you know, continue to struggle with and also have vigorous debate about,

Scott Luton (17:52):

Uh, as we should, right? Uh, if, if we’re not leaning into those, those frank discussions where we’re challenging each other’s, uh, opinions and perspectives, you know, we’re not moving industry forward. So I appreciate you sharing that, Jason. Um, and, and thank you, uh, Ashley, uh, plenty of stuff on your radar. Jacob, how about you? When you, when you survey global supply chain right now, what’s one topic that you’re really dialed in on?

Jacob Levack (18:16):

So, I, it’s kind of funny. We had a case competition, um, a few months ago that actually Scma puts on, I had the opportunity to compete in it and it was involving, uh, how, uh, OEM kind of stretches out their supply network and manufacturing practices. Where are they putting new production facilities in order to, you know, best meet demand. And the, I think the, the concept that was taken away from that case study was onshoring. Um, and how are companies mitigating risk by Onshoring as well as, you know, keeping the cost down. So for example, if you put a, a plant in the usa, it’s a whole lot more expensive to operate the plant in the USA than it is in Taiwan or Chi or China or you know, wherever name an Asian country out there. So it’s, it’s really interesting understanding how companies are. Um, I want to, I don’t there’s a word to use it, but, you know, understanding the investment costs to do such and then even operating labor. So that’s definitely been interesting cuz it’s the globalized supply chain is becoming a little less glorified after, you know, pandemic the, all the buzzwords of the last three years.

Scott Luton (19:37):

Glocalization, is that, is that the word you just used there, Jacob?

Jacob Levack (19:40):

Absolutely. Yeah.

Scott Luton (19:42):

Uh, I love that one. And, and I agree with you. I think, I think, um, uh, there’s a lot more that’s coming outta the blind spot, uh, as you set up and, and run and manage global supply chains that you’ve got to take into account for. I think the, uh, and Jason Love to get your view here, you know, supply chain leaders approach to managing that risk, uh, of where you’re gonna source and how you’re gonna construct your, your global supply chains. That algorithm may be changing a little bit, and it may be one of the silver linings from the pandemic, but Jason, your thoughts?

Jason Miller (20:13):

No, I certainly think there’s a realignment in certain industries that we’re starting to see a realization that quicker time to market being more local, China not being as cost competitive. And certainly now with the disruption we’re seeing with this continual whack-a-mole with c I mean, we’re seeing Apple stock get hammered today for that very reason about concerns with a supplier. Um, I will admit, I think there may be a little bit more hype to this than what we’re actually going to eventually end up seeing because there’s a reality that for certain, um, products, the parts ecosystem lives in East Asia, take smartphone, so many components come from South Korea and Japan. If you just shift final assembly to Mexico, we’re not really changing that versus there will be other things. So, you know, Mattel’s building a tremendously large facility in Mexico that’ll actually benefit US manufacturers of plastic resins, those packaging materials that we were talking about, because we’ll be a huge supplier of that. And Mexico will handle the final, you know, labor intensive assembly. So I, I certainly think that will be on the, the radar. I am curious to see though, how much of what we have as Nearshoring or reshoring is in fact just organic expansion. The facilities are kept overseas to serve those overseas markets and it’s more of just organic expansion.

Scott Luton (21:41):

Yeah, well said Jason, and, and, and I may be simp oversimplifying, but one of the things I heard you share there is, uh, while cash continues to be king, right, as always, I guess the rule of thumb, but those who control raw supplies <laugh>, so alls are also sitting pretty. Um, so, uh, I’m gonna ask you both, I’m gonna call three of y’all for a eureka moment here in just a minute. And Ashley and Jacob, thanks for, uh, sharing some of the things you’re tracking, um, how, you know, going back to how you found supply chain back to Scma, um, Ashley, would you encourage, you know, some of our listeners that may be, um, working their way through high school or maybe in their first year of college or tech school, you name it. How, how much would you recommend a career in global supply chain?

Ashley Yearwood (22:31):

I would 100% recommend it. I think it is so broad. There’s a lot that you can do with it. You can touch any industry that you’re interested in. Um, you can really do a whole breadth of, um, things with the degree, and especially in a technical path. It touches that it can touch sustainability, it can touch a lot of different aspects that you might be interested in. And I think that background knowledge is extremely important to have and especially as a freshman or high school student, just introducing yourself to it. I wasn’t sure what supply chain was in high school, and like I said, the scma really introduced me to what it was. So I think it doesn’t hurt to just see what it entails because Chance SAR touch your career path.

Scott Luton (23:12):

Ashley will said, and to our listeners out there, it, it’s okay if you don’t know, it’s okay. Lean into that. And hey, if you, um, even after a really effective introduction to, uh, supply chain management and, uh, piece of pizza and a good beer and it’s not your thing, that’s okay too, but check it out. Uh, make sure you kick the tires. Jacob, would you invite the same thing?

Jacob Levack (23:35):

Absolutely. Uh, the, I mean, the thing too is like supply chain hasn’t been a forefront news buzzword for, you know, it, it’s, it’s very recent and, um, it, as a result of, of the problems and of the new challenges that come about, there’s a lot of job opportunities. And like Ashley was saying, just about every industry imaginable. So the, the variety of, of job descriptions and problem solving opportunities are, are, you know, demanding students. Uh, so there’s, there’s opportunities all over the place.

Scott Luton (24:12):

I completely agree. And, and you know, consumers are, as we all know, they’re really smart. They’ve got more data, uh, at their fingertips than ever before. Uh, uh, kudos to them for figuring out wh what supply chain management means and here in recent years. And, and, and that’s gonna be great for the profession, getting more talent in as as evidence right here in this conversation. Jason, uh, before I shift gears over to Eureka moments, your thought about, um, you know, any of our listeners that may be considering, you know, kicking the tires on the supply chain management career?

Jason Miller (24:45):

Yeah, I, I mean, again, I would definitely highly recommend it. There’s something for everyone. Um, you know, the jobs can range from, you know, the traditional, think about, you know, general Motors working in the auto sector. You know, what we think of very much Michigan, we’ve had students hired from Michigan State who go to Nike, whose job is to arrange photo shoots with professional athletes. Mm. And so they’re in charge of all the logistics and all the procurement of everything you need to set up a professional photo shoot in the middle of Hawaii as an example. And so there, there is something for everyone in the major, um, the pandemic really, you know, I always joke raised awareness that cows don’t just fatten themselves up, slaughter themselves, turn themselves into steaks, and then ship themselves, you know, to the local, uh, local store and or toilet paper doesn’t, you know, just grow on trees type of thing.

Jason Miller (25:39):

And so I think that the awareness is there even as we come out of things and, you know, you give it two or three years will supply chain being showing up in the news as much it is today, maybe not, but we’re never gonna go back to a 20 18, 20 19 baseline level. And so I think that it’s a profession where there’s just so much more awareness broadly defined that it’s a very safe career trajectory. I mean, we have near a hundred percent job placement rate for students within 90 days of graduation out of msu, and that’s not gonna change anytime soon.

Scott Luton (26:17):

That is outstanding. And we’re gonna talk about what makes the Michigan State University supply chain program so, uh, unique and successful and innovative here in a second. But before we do, uh, and I liked your phrase there, Jason. Uh, toilet paper does not grow on trees and consumers. I figure that out now. You know, getting aside, I’ll tell you that one topic, uh, who would’ve thunk, uh, that we’d spend as much time and we’ll have learned as much as we have, right. But, uh, beat that as it may. Let’s talk for a second about eureka moments, right? And, uh, I wanna circle back, uh, to Ashley. Ashley, you know, if you, especially if you look in the last couple years, right? It doesn’t have to be tied the the pandemic, but what’s been a powerful eureka moment you’ve had?

Ashley Yearwood (27:00):

Yes. So I worked a student booth fair at the end of last year in the spring where incoming freshman came, walked by all the different student organizations. And I was working the s scma booth of the fellow executive board member. And I had a parent, a child come up and they were asking me about like the club and the school, and they said, oh, supply chain, like, what are you gonna do to fix that? And I kind of laughed. I was like, oh, like what, what do you mean? They’re like, oh, what’s the solution? And I just sat there, I was like, there, <laugh> isn’t a necessarily clear solution, but it made me think like, that is my question to answer that is my problem to solve. Like I am in my fellow classmates. Like, we’re getting to that point in our careers when like we are the ones figuring that out. And I thought that was just a really powerful moment,

Scott Luton (27:45):

You know, that’s such a great one to start with because, uh, the responsibility now that we have both realistically and, and maybe, um, figuratively out in, out in the market and consumer’s mind. So, uh, really cool. Uh, Jacob, how about you? Eureka moment you’ve had in the last couple years?

Jacob Levack (28:03):

So two years ago or two, two summers ago, uh, I, one of my internships was with a cherry pitting plant, uh, in Traverse City, Michigan. So top of the top of the mitten, and it was a smaller operation, I think that year we did about 7 million pounds of pitted cherries. And, uh, my role there was involved with, uh, logistics, outbound management, transportation, then some inventory pack materials, just kinda watching inventory, making sure we can keep our production line running. Um, and we had a fiasco where, um, kind it involved supplier ship performance. You know, we had a, a supplier with granulated sugar, um, come to us kinda last minute and say, Hey, we can’t fulfill this lead time. It’s gonna be pushed out months. And, uh, the cherry harvest is, you know, July to mid-August. So it’s, it’s not a lot of time to work with when you have a lead time changing and delaying.

Jacob Levack (29:00):

So, um, the eureka moment is this, is, this is problem solving, this is, you know, supply chain resiliency. This is what it looks like when, when you have to, to change and, and mitigate risk. So, um, that was definitely like, it, it was, you know, really stressful for a first, you know, for an intern to do it. But it’s, it’s, it definitely piqued my interest in saying, well, you know, I’m kind of at the steering wheel, uh, with, with working on all this stuff. So that was, I’d say like for supply chain’s sake, the big, you know, wow, I want to keep doing this, you know,

Scott Luton (29:36):

Fixing products, dealing with, dealing with constraints, uh, Jacob, right? Yes. And I’m hoping, uh, that that didn’t impact, uh, I don’t know if y’all happen to supply like cordial cherries, chocolate covered cherries that it impact order shipped?

Jacob Levack (29:51):

Uh, no. We actually, we were able to just reroute to a different supplier in a very short period of time. It worked out really well. But, so all the Sara Lee pies you see, like Sara Lee, cherry pies, coner, brand pies, uh, those are all Michigan cherries. Okay. For the most part. So yeah,

Scott Luton (30:09):

Man, learn something new every day. I love that. Um, alright, so Jason, uh, first if you would, before we get your eureka moment comment on what you heard there from Ashley and from Jacob, you know, Ashley, where someone was, uh, looking for her, uh, her superhero cape as a supply chain practitioner and Jacob, you know, talking about some of the constraints and some of the ways you’ve gotta work around it, you know, to keep things moving. Uh, your thoughts on what they shared and then e Eureka moment, Jason.

Jason Miller (30:39):

I know, I think those are two very good examples. I mean, we hear this all the time. You know what, there’s this magical silver bullet out there that will, will resolve things. Um, I advise several different, um, senior level government agencies on supply chain content. And from time to time I hear the same things. Well, there just has to be something we can do that’ll cause the ports to work more efficiently. It’s like we’re, we need to have a 30 minute conversation about why things are backed up. You know, for example, in January of this last year talking about LA and Long Beach. So I feel the pain there. Um, food factory stories, I love those. I just work at a Pickle factory when I was in high school. So I’m sure we can swap notes over the entertaining things that happen in food manufacturing. Um,

Scott Luton (31:27):

Hey, really quick, I gotta throw this in Jason. Uh, cuz I, I did not work in a Pickle factory, but um, you know, growing up in Aiken, South Carolina pickles were a homemade and otherwise we’re a daily part of our diet. Um, and as a great story, the, I’m not, I’m gonna get their name wrong, but the, the, um, the gentleman that took Vlasic the Pickle company to all Time Heights, I wanna say Joe Lassek, I could have that wrong. Anyway, he, um, passed away a couple years ago, uh, maybe within the last year or so. But one of his mantras he used, um, within his overall organization was, um, give me good news fast, but give me bad news faster. And I, I mean that is such a timeless, um, uh, approach to I think management and leadership and supply chain that um, I was so glad he shared and all of his employers knew that was part of his mo. But, and Jason having, I’m not sure if I’ve met anyone ever work in a pickle plant. So you and I are gonna have to compare notes cuz inquiring minds want to know how those operations work. Jason, but you were about to share your, your eureka moment.

Jason Miller (32:34):

Yeah, so if, if I had to say a eureka moment for me is really, you know, I probably anger some of my colleagues saying this, but in a lot of ways I’d say my eureka moment with the pandemic is supply chain and economics are just not that distinct. And, you know, I think that that’s really affected how I teach in that so much more of my teaching than let’s say four years ago now focuses on things like how do markets behave? How, how does pricing behave? How do we think about industrial production? And really trying to, I’m gonna say repurpose a lot of information that exists for economists, but really it’s directly affecting us as supply chain practitioners. And I think that that’s to me sort of been the thing is, you know, you look, markets work, they tend to do a fairly good job of, uh, of behaving in ways they should behave.

Jason Miller (33:30):

And I think that that’s been, you know, the challenge that many people have had with, you know, inflationary forces, you know, use cars going up the way they’re dead and people getting upset. It’s price gouging, it’s just who consumers are behaving. That’s what happens when you give people a tremendous amount of money and they can’t spend it on services. And so I think for me it’s just been sort of this realization that I increasingly think, you know, you almost can’t really teach supply chain, especially as an academic without a lease being a quasi economist because you need to understand how all these pieces are moving, which is, you know, why I’m, you know, I’ll be talking about credit card debt as I’m discussing what’s going on in the retail sector, cuz those two are, you know, very tightly linked to one another.

Scott Luton (34:19):

Jason Love that perspective. That, uh, kind of a different version of the Butterfly effect, um, how everything impacts each other. And you know, actually circling back, uh, cause I think you’re monitoring in economics that’ll be interesting for you moving forward, uh, to, to have, be to be well versed in those things. So you can see maybe more links than, uh, than many than other supply chain practitioners perhaps.

Jason Miller (34:43):


Scott Luton (34:44):

Yeah. Um, okay. So let’s talk about Michigan State University and what makes a supply chain program so special. And I wanna start, uh, with you, Jacob. Um, again, I can’t think enough. I’m, so it’s so cool to hear your earliest days of, of kind of becoming aware of what supply chain is and saying now that’s what I wanna do, right? The power of connection, the power of, of, uh, of, of fellowship and in some ways going back to supply chain management, uh, association. But when you think kind of more general about the program, both the supply chain program and maybe the opportunities that university afford you, what makes a program, uh, so unique?

Jason Miller (35:28):


Jacob Levack (35:28):

I wanna highlight two things. So the first one, and this is just no brainer as a faculty, is our, our faculty within our department is amazing. I mean, I mean Jason Miller himself and then everybody else included, um, for two reasons being. So one, I think a lot of, and it’s a cliche thing to say, well, you’re not gonna learn until you get into the workplace more. So things like that. And I think professors and faculty are getting very good at becoming aware of the evolving business need, constantly changing, you know, understanding the RP systems, understanding, uh, all those, all the sorts of different tools, how to understand data. So I think in the classroom it’s becoming more apparent that professors understand business needs. And then other thing too is, you know, faculty’s constant pursuit to engage with students. So, you know, for example, we have a professor going on a trip to the Panama Canal with 12 students. And that’s just an example of how, you know, how much professors really want students to learn about supply chain in the real world. And that’s probably one of the best places to go to understand it. So, um, otherwise that, and then the, we have a fantastic career management center. I, my resume is fixed up due to the help, due to their help and interview skills are, are really helpful. So, and that’s something that I, I don’t think other universities can quite flaunt like us, you know,

Scott Luton (36:59):

Jacob, and, and you know, based on what you submitted, uh, information to our team here, I take it that you’re really a, um, to your point, you, you’re big, um, you greatly appreciate that practical perspective, including some of your own, right?

Jacob Levack (37:15):

Absolutely. Yes, yes,

Scott Luton (37:17):

Yes, yes. Learn by doing. Right. Um, okay, so Ashley, same question, uh, for you and, and Jacob, did we get both of yours out? I, I’m, I’m making sure two big ones you’re gonna share about Michigan State University tackle

Jacob Levack (37:31):

Both. Yeah. Regarding to faculty. Absolutely.

Scott Luton (37:33):

Okay. That’s right, faculty. That’s right, that’s right. How could I forget that one? Uh, with Dr. Jason, mother with us. Um, alright, so Ashley, how about you? What makes Michigan State University and especially at supply chain program so successful?

Ashley Yearwood (37:46):

I definitely echo what Jacob said. I think our faculty is unmatched. They are extremely knowledgeable and put their students first. Um, Jacob also touched on the real world application in the courses. Um, the supply chain management program is organized sort of with three big umbrellas being like procurement, purchasing, and then logistics, and then manufacturing. So it’s really interesting, that’s how you start off. Typically as a junior, you take those classes, so you get to see those three different realms. And then as a senior you take a capstone class and you get into different elective courses based almost what you wanna pursue, what you find interesting. So I think that’s super valuable, like structure of the, um, program as well as the students. I just think that everyone in it has a passion to learn super bright minds and it’s just great to be surrounded by amazing faculty and students.

Scott Luton (38:38):

It must be, uh, and, and, uh, hey, sign me up for the next trip to the Panama Canal. Would y’all let me know? Uh, talk about a great trip. Um, Jason, that’s gotta be music to, to your ears what Jacob and Ashley both have shared and, and especially their common, you know, the common part of their answers, which where they’re touting, you know, the people they learn from and, and learn by doing with at Michigan State University. Your thoughts there, and then tell us what else you think makes, uh, the supply chain program so special?

Jason Miller (39:09):

You know, I I would start off first with the students. Um, I think the students at MSU are some of the hardest working and most demanding of faculty that I have come across. Um, but certainly the expectation, you know, folks come here, it is the number one rank program. It’s been undergrad number one ranked by US News and World Report for 12 years running. And that creates expectations. And I think the students hold, hold that up and they hold the faculty up to that. Um, same with graduate, I think we’ve been number one for about the last six years. Um, and so I think that, you know, the students having the expectations, the faculty really does, you know, drive things. I would say, you know, if I had to pick a second thing, it would be the, the breadth of faculty knowledge in this department is, I don’t really think equaled elsewhere.

Jason Miller (40:02):

Um, we’re not the largest department that there is. Um, there’s other programs out there that are bigger than us. Um, we’re not the most detailed in one specific area that there is. My alma mater of Ohio State has almost doubled the logistics faculty members that I have in this department up here. But when you look at the, the just breadth of knowledge industries covered, um, skill sets that exist, uh, this place can, you know, pretty much ball with anybody. And so we’re, we’re very, we’re very proud of that. I like to think that we still have an orientation that is both recognizing the changing business environment and, you know, how do companies like a Facebook, for example, need supply chain talent, but is still also, you know, recognizing that manufacturing ain’t going anywhere. D distributing product ain’t going anywhere. And while it’s really fun to talk about Uber driving people, you know, and passenger transport and we can’t have half of our faculty researching that <laugh>.

Jason Miller (41:08):

Um, and, and so I think that that’s where, you know, a lot of very applied real world problems get addressed by the faculty here. So it’s, it’s the students and it’s the faculty and it’s the programs. You know, if I had to add one thing, this is, and at least the logistics academic discipline is one of sort of the three founding programs. Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State, um, and the University of Maryland also coming in that conversation. So the program here, I mean, we’ve been around since the 1960s, which, uh, very few places can say

Scott Luton (41:44):

Right, long before supply chain was cool, right?

Jacob Levack (41:47):


Jason Miller (41:47):

Long before supply chain even was called supply chain

Scott Luton (41:51):

<laugh>. So I wanna start, so we’re gonna, um, one of my favorite parts here is we’re gonna get a sneak peek of what Ashley and Jake are gonna be up to and the impact they’re gonna be making, as well as some of, uh, Jason’s favorite, um, um, lessons learned or or learning, teaching, teaching, learning moments in the classroom. But before that, Jason touched on something about, um, expectations, right? And as it, as he started starting with students. So Ashley and Jacob, Ashley wanna stick with you here, you know, um, when it comes to expectations of the top rank program that can ball with anybody, I mean, your thoughts there,

Ashley Yearwood (42:30):

It’s definitely intimidating first off, but it’s also empowering. I would say just having that recognition and then like knowing and the impact that you can make, I would say is so important. It’s so valuable and it just makes your work seem worthwhile.

Scott Luton (42:46):

And do folks when they, when they, oh yeah, you’re a supply chain major, oh, Michigan State University, that, that, those different, different, um, they take those conversations differently when they hear that.

Ashley Yearwood (42:58):

I have noticed that, especially in s scma when companies come, they are very excited to meet our students just because of the press that our school gets. And I think that’s, um, exciting as a student.

Scott Luton (43:10):

Jacob, your thoughts around whether it’s expectations or kind of the, the prestige factor, we’ll call it with Michigan State University supply chain program, your thoughts?

Jacob Levack (43:19):

I think it’s, it’s been kind of apparent for the last few years I, as a student coming with that, you know, the, the structure of how our program is, you know, there’s so many tools that lead to where we get, I mean all the student orgs, you know, consulting student orgs are student org faculty. It, I mean, it, it’s, the expectation of students is very helped by, you know, all the tools that the, that the program has and the university provides.

Scott Luton (43:55):

Okay. And it seems like y’all are empowered to, um, expect the best, uh, at Michigan State. It’s really cool. Thank you Ashley and Jacob. Um, okay. So Jason, this has gotta be one of your favorite parts too. Uh, cuz as they’ve gone through the program, they’re both, you both, uh, Ashley, you’ll be graduating this this spring, right?

Ashley Yearwood (44:15):


Scott Luton (44:16):

Spring 2023. And Jacob, you will be too, right?

Jacob Levack (44:20):


Scott Luton (44:21):

Okay. Uh, that’s funny. Jacob kinda had to look down at his calendar to make sure, is that right? <laugh>? I’ve been there a minute. I’ve,

Jacob Levack (44:27):

Yeah, it’s creeping up a little too fast.

Scott Luton (44:29):

<laugh>. I’m only kidding. Don’t look it. Um, alright, so Ashley, what, um, two part question here. What impact do you want to have on industry and what’s some of your immediate next steps after you graduate?

Ashley Yearwood (44:43):

Um, the impact I wanna have on the industry is just to make a mark. I know it sounds cliche, but I want my work to be valuable. I want it to be worthwhile. Um, I want it to have a good effect not only on individuals, but just society as a whole. Like how supply chains operate, how consumers like view, supply chain, view the world. Um, next steps after graduation. I’m excited to join Accenture in Chicago. I in interned with the company this summer. Absolutely loved it and I’m excited to be joining them full-time as a consulting analyst.

Scott Luton (45:14):

That is outstanding. Congratulations, Ashley, man. Um, and Jacob, how about you? Two part question impact you want to have and what’s next?

Jacob Levack (45:23):

I, so with the, the class work I’ve had recently, um, one of my classes is, is strictly about sap. And I think that is a tool that a lot of companies are using to vertically integrate. And so I, the, the vertical integration concept is kind of what I’m falling to is something I want to continue. Cuz a lot of big OEMs, big companies really want to keep striving to go as far up the supply chain as I can to understand the structures resiliencies that they have. So that’s what I want to strive to provide. Um, now obviously as a student, I don’t know a whole lot about it yet, but we’re gonna get there. Uh, and so for the next, next steps, um, after May, 2023, I’ll be joining, going back to Caterpillar after I interned with them last summer, uh, to do the leadership develop, I can’t even say myself, leadership technical development program. Um, so it’s a three year program of supply chain management roles. One year each. Uh, they’ll be moving around to different facilities. I don’t know where I’m going yet, but that’s kind of the fun of it is, uh, it’s, it’s a little tour of, of the us so

Scott Luton (46:37):

That is exciting. And, and we we’re having a little fun in pre-show cause I couldn’t, I think I tried saying that six times and, and did not get it right Jacob. So congrats. I’ll tell you, um, having rubbed elbows and been in a couple different Caterpillar facilities and getting sense to the culture, uh, that is gonna be exciting not only to rejoin the culture, but with that rotational program, you’re gonna be able to kind of take the Baskin Robbins approach maybe to how they do global supply chain perhaps, huh?

Jacob Levack (47:03):

Absolutely. Yes.

Scott Luton (47:05):

That’s awesome. Congrats Ashley and Jacob. Uh, and then Jason. Um, how exciting. I mean, I, I know going back to your earlier comment that, you know, most of the, an overwhelming, uh, percentage, I think, um, close to a hundred percent of students get placed within 90 days of their graduation, if I had that right, what you shared. So these are kind of part, this is kind of examples of what happens anyway, but Jason, how cool is that based on what they, you know, the impact they want to have and what they wanna do next? And then we’ll get to here in just a second, some of your favorite moments from the classroom.

Jason Miller (47:39):

No, it’s absolutely great. I mean, these are, it’s, it’s always for me, been fun to teach spring semester when folks are either already coming in with their job offers and or those offers start to come in during the semester. And, you know, you can see, see the excitement. I mean also the sadness. I mean, you are leaving and moving on to a different stage of life and we almost recognize the four year uni, the four year undergrad experience is a completely unnatural thing that exists. Um, but, you know, it’s great. And again, it just speaks to the quality of students that we have here.

Scott Luton (48:16):

Agreed. Um, now speaking of the quality of students, um, so when you think of some of your favorite moments there in the classroom, whether it’s your previous role or your current role, what’s one or two things that come to mind?

Jason Miller (48:31):

You know, I, I think in terms of especially moments when I learn, I can at least share one from this fall where I was teaching our ms, our master’s science supply chain. One of the students works for one of the big four, um, you know, the ABCDs of ag. So Archer’s our, or Archer Daniels, Medland Bungee ConAgra or Louis Dryfus. So one of those four. And this individual mentions I’m hearing something internally about water levels in the Mississippi River, and this is during a live lecture. And I’m like, uh, okay, well let’s go see if we can dig up some data on this. And this was right before all the news outlets started talking about this. And then sure enough, we found some data from the, uh, department of Agriculture and we could just see the prices starting to skyrocket for, um, barge transportation. I never thought a barge transportation hadn’t, didn’t even, you know, it didn’t even register, right?

Jason Miller (49:29):

And then spent, you know, a decent amount of time helping the student out, you know, figure it out and, you know, corralling all of this data to give, to get a sense so she could take it back internally to her company and they could start making better decisions on grain pricing, um, as they were looking at doing procurement. So those are the moments where, you know, somebody says something about, you know, this specific industry and you know, you’ve, you’ve no idea, but you just try to go, I’d say learn on the fly. Um, and, and things like that, or just hearing, especially stories, you know, we’ve had some students go to, uh, Rivian and just hearing their stories of working for a startup, you know, light truck company, comparing it to the folks at Ford who work on the F-150 group. And I hate to say Chuck, when they’re like, oh, you call that production, we call that a month, month at one of our five plants that make these things. So it’s just always interesting too to get those different perspectives.

Scott Luton (50:33):

Mm, love it. Uh, learn on the fly, apply and then retry, you know, maybe a different take on, uh, um, uh, the, the DMAIC cycle. Who knows? Um, okay. So, uh, Jason, Ashley and Jacob, I’ve really enjoyed our conversation here today. I really appreciate the time that y’all have given us. Um, so let’s do this, let’s make sure our listeners can connect with each of y’all. Uh, and Ashley, let’s start with you. How can folks connect with you?

Ashley Yearwood (51:01):

Yes, LinkedIn, Ashley Ewood, and then also connecting with our MSU s CMA page on LinkedIn too.

Scott Luton (51:08):

Okay, wonderful. And Jacob,

Jacob Levack (51:11):

I’ll share the same, my LinkedIn page, Jacob Leve and, uh, msu s See what we’re doing every week. It’s always something new.

Scott Luton (51:20):

Love that. I really appreciate the impact y’all are having on a couple different levels. And folks to our listeners, we’ll make it easy. One click away. You’ll be in the, the episode page so you can make it really easy to connect with Ashley, Jacob and Jason. Jason, how can folks connect with you?

Jason Miller (51:35):

Yeah, so again, LinkedIn and or just go to our department’s webpage, type in Michigan State supply chain main page. It’ll come up to me as interim chairperson. Um, and just get in touch with me through email.

Scott Luton (51:48):

Well said. Okay. And thanks for coming back and thanks for bringing a couple of your, uh, students as well. So big thanks to Dr. Jason Miller, uh, professor at Michigan State University. Jason, thanks again.

Jason Miller (52:01):

Oh, thanks so much for having us.

Scott Luton (52:02):

You bet. And Ashley Yearwood, thanks for joining us.

Ashley Yearwood (52:06):

Thank you so

Scott Luton (52:07):

Much. You bet. And Jacob Levack, thanks for joining us here today.

Jacob Levack (52:11):

Thank you very much, Scott.

Scott Luton (52:13):

All right. You’ll have to keep in touch. Let us know. I’d love to hear what y’all, uh, what the next couple years have in store. Undoubtedly, you’ll be moving mountains, uh, and we look forward to hearing all about it. So folks, hopefully you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Noun Generation here on Supply Chain now, folks already making a big impact, uh, along with their, uh, professors and educational, uh, uh, experts that help inspire them to do so. Uh, but hey, whatever you do, on behalf of our entire team here at Supply Chain now, Scott Luton challenging you to do good, to give forward and to be the change. With that said, next time, right back here at Supply Chain now. Thanks everybody.

Intro/Outro (52:49):

Thanks for being a part of our supply chain now, community. Check out all of our 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

Jason Miller (PhD The Ohio State University) is the Interim Chairperson of the Department of Supply Chain Management at Eli Broad’s College of Business. He specializes in synthesizing economic data for practitioners. He serves as an informal supply chain advisor to the United States Transportation Command, the Council of Economic Advisors, and the Federal Reserve Board. He is frequently quoted by major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Reuters, NBC News, CBS News, and NPR. Connect with Jason on LinkedIn.

Jacob Levack is a senior at Michigan State University graduating in May 2023 with a BA in Supply Chain Management. At MSU, he had the pleasure of serving on the executive board as the CFO for the Supply Chain Management Association, a student organization focused on providing learning and networking opportunities for students interested in Supply Chain Management. His work experience includes three internships with Fastenal Company, Great Lakes Packing Company, and most recently, Caterpillar. From the three internship experiences, he had the chance to schedule/manage outbound transportation, lead a project with automating material handling operations using SAP GUI, and help mitigate supply chain disruptions. After graduation, he will be returning to Caterpillar to begin their Leadership & Technical Development Rotational Program concentrated in Supply Chain. He is also a proud former employee of Costco Wholesale where he worked at the front end of the warehouse. Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn.

Ashley Yearwood is a senior at Michigan State University in the Honors College studying Supply Chain Management with minors in Information Technology and Economics. She is President of the Supply Chain Management Association and has been involved in the organization since her freshman year. She plans to join Accenture in Chicago after graduation as a Consulting Analyst. Connect with Ashley on LinkedIn.


Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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Katherine Hintz

Creative Director, Producer, Host

Katherine Hintz, MBA is a marketing professional 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 Reuter

Host, The Freight Insider

From humble beginnings working the import docks, representing Fortune 500 giants, Ford, Michelin Tire, and Black & Decker; to Amazon technology patent holder and Nordstrom Change Leader, Kimberly Reuter has designed, implemented, and optimized best-in-class, highly scalable global logistics and retail operations all over the world. Kimberly’s ability to set strategic vision supported by bomb-proof processes, built on decades of hands-on experience, has elevated her to legendary status. Sought after by her peers and executives for her intellectual capital and keen insights, Kimberly is a thought leader in the retail logistics industry.

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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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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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Mary Kate Love

VP, Marketing

Mary Kate Love is currently the VP of marketing at Supply Chain Now focused on brand strategy and audience + revenue growth. Mary Kate’s career is a testament to her versatility and innovative spirit: she has experience in start-ups, venture capital, and building innovation initiatives from the ground up: she previously helped lead the build-out of the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific and before that, MxD (Manufacturing times Digital): the Department of Defense’s digital manufacturing innovation center. Mary Kate has a passion for taking complicated ideas and turning them into reality: she was one of the first team members at MxD and the first team member at the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific.

Mary Kate dedicates her extra time to education and mentorship: she was one of the founding Board Members for Women Influence Chicago and led an initiative for a city-wide job shadow day for young women across Chicago tech companies and was previously on the Board of Directors at St. Laurence High School in Chicago, Young Irish Fellowship Board and the UN Committee for Women. Mary Kate is the founder of National Supply Chain Day and enjoys co-hosting podcasts at Supply Chain Now. Mary Kate is from the south side of Chicago, a mom of two baby boys, and an avid 16-inch softball player. She holds a BS in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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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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Tandreia Bellamy

Host, Supply Chain Now

Tandreia Bellamy retired as the Vice President of Industrial Engineering for UPS Supply Chain Solutions which included the Global Logistics, Global Freight Forwarding and UPS Freight business units. She was responsible for operations strategy and planning, asset management, forecasting, and technology tool development to optimize sustainable efficiency while driving world class service.

Tandreia held similar positions at the business unit level for Global Logistics and Global Freight forwarding. As the leader of the Global Logistics engineering function, she directed all industrial engineering activies related to distribution, service parts logistics (post-sales support), and mail innovations (low cost, light weight shipping partnership with the USPS). Between these roles Tandreia helped to establish the Advanced Technology Group which was formed to research and develop cutting edge solutions focused on reducing reliance on manual labor.

Tandreia began her career in 1986 as a part-time hourly manual package handling employee. She spent the great majority of her career in the small package business unit which is responsible for the pick-up, sort, transport and delivery of packages domestically. She held various positions in Industrial Engineering, Marketing, Inside and On-road operations in Central Florida before transferring to Atlanta for a position in Corporate Product Development and Corporate Industrial Engineering. Tandreia later held IE leadership roles in Nebraska, Minnesota and Chicago. In her final role in small package she was an IE VP responsible for all aspects of IE, technology support and quality for the 25 states on the western half of the country.
Tandreia is currently a Director for the University of Central Florida (UCF) Foundation Board and also serves on their Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Previously Tandreia served on the Executive Advisory Board for Virginia Tech’s IE Department and the Association for Supply Chain Management. She served on the Board of Trustees for ChildServ (a Chicago child and family services non-profit) and also served on the Texas A&M and Tuskegee Engineering Advisory Boards. In 2006 she was named Business Advisor of the Year by INROADS, in 2009 she was recognized as a Technology All-Star at the Women of Color in STEM conference and in 2019 she honored as a UCF Distinguished Aluma by the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems.

Tandreia holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Systems from UCF. Her greatest accomplishment, however, is being the proud mother of two college students, Ruby (24) and Anthony (22).

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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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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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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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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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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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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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Constantine Limberakis


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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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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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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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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