Most people know GPS as the technology that allows them to plot driving directions or locate a friend. But the technology is far more sophisticated than that and has many more applications as well. For example, in construction, geospatial technology makes it possible to visualize a building site using sensors that can ‘read’ the ground, alleviating the requirement for project managers to be on site. Vanessa Wieners is the SAP IT Operations Manager at Topcon Positioning Systems, a leading manufacturer for the construction, geospatial, and agriculture markets. Listen in as she describes the current applications of this exciting technology and her own company’s ongoing digital transformation journey with host Kevin L. Jackson.
Welcome to Digital Transformers, the show that connects you with what you need to build, manage, and operate your digital supply chain. Join your host in a timely discussion on new and future business models with industry leading executives. The show will reveal global customer expectations, real world deployment challenges, and the value of advanced business technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and robotic process engineering. And now we bring you Digital Transformers.
Kevin L. Jackson (00:32):
Hello, everyone. Kevin L. Jackson here, and I am here to get the opportunity to interview yet another leader in digital transformation. And, I tell you, this is really sweet to my heart. Okay. Many of you may not know is I did a lot of work in the intelligence community around geospatial data, GPS. And this interview is really with Vanessa Wieners. Right?
Vanessa Wieners (01:03):
You got it.
Kevin L. Jackson (01:05):
She had to give me some lessons there, IT SAP Operations Manager at Topcon Positioning System. And their company is all about GPS. Is that true?
Vanessa Wieners (01:19):
GPS and some more, yes.
Kevin L. Jackson (01:22):
GPS and more. So, you are a leading manufacturer in construction.
Vanessa Wieners (01:27):
Kevin L. Jackson (01:27):
Geospatial and agriculture, and known for being innovative that enhances your technology, enhances workflows. Tell me more.
Vanessa Wieners (01:37):
Yeah. Well, you know, for example, in the construction world, you know, we are supporting and giving technology to our customers where they can visualize the construction site through, you know, sensors that are able to read the ground. Now, you know, the, I don’t know, project managers don’t have to be on site. You know, they can see it all through screen and find out how much the dozers, how much the amount of dirt they had taken out.
Kevin L. Jackson (02:05):
They don’t have to – okay.
Vanessa Wieners (02:05):
And they’re tracking down, yeah, the activity of all their equipment and what’s going on onsite. So that’s one tiny example of the kind of thing –
Kevin L. Jackson (02:15):
I guess that actually reduces the cost ‘cause you can plan much better ahead.
Vanessa Wieners (02:22):
Yeah. You can plan. You can, you know, determine the amount of dirt that you can recycle and take to other sites.
Kevin L. Jackson (02:29):
Oh, you recycle dirt.
Vanessa Wieners (02:30):
Well, we don’t recycle the dirt. You know, we help the customer to determine the amount of dirt they’re extracting and then to take it to other sites.
Kevin L. Jackson (02:39):
They can make –
Vanessa Wieners (02:39):
Kevin L. Jackson (02:40):
Take it to other sites. So, reuse the dirt. That’s a real – no, I mean, that’s a really important thing. You see these big construction sites and you actually wonder where does all the dirt go?
Vanessa Wieners (02:50):
Kevin L. Jackson (02:51):
No, that seems like a very important aspect that people wouldn’t even think about.
Vanessa Wieners (02:55):
Kevin L. Jackson (02:57):
But you actually bring a lot of experience to leveraging SAP.
Vanessa Wieners (03:06):
Kevin L. Jackson (03:07):
But what’s your background and make you, you know, IT operations for SAP? That’s a huge responsibility.
Vanessa Wieners (03:15):
It is. I have a great team, though. You know, I have a team of 11, 12 between contractors and internal resources. I started with SAP like 20 years ago, not till this – this calls my age.
Kevin L. Jackson (03:30):
[Inaudible] You can strike that. Well, [inaudible] say that part.
Vanessa Wieners (03:36):
Yeah. Twenty or so years, you know, I started as a user essentially, you know, and slowly transitioned to a leader position. And here I am, you know, in charge of the ERP at Topcon, our main ERP, which is SAP, with all its modules to support the operation.
Kevin L. Jackson (03:54):
Wow. Yeah. So, you said all – which modules do you use at Topcon?
Vanessa Wieners (04:00):
Yes. Well, I guess if our audience is an IT audience, they will understand if I just say SD or do I need to say sales and distribution?
Kevin L. Jackson (04:09):
Yeah. You probably need to say sales and distribution.
Vanessa Wieners (04:11):
Kevin L. Jackson (04:11):
‘Cause a lot of my audience is a lot of decision makers, but in every industry vertical not just IT also.
Vanessa Wieners (04:19):
Okay. So, sales and distribution, materials management, you know, covers all the purchasing, planning, production planning. We have quality management, FICO. We have finance and controlling.
Kevin L. Jackson (04:31):
Vanessa Wieners (04:31):
I don’t know if I’m leaving any out, but, yeah, that’s – whereas management, I think I missed that one.
Kevin L. Jackson (04:37):
So, you are using quite a bit of the suite.
Vanessa Wieners (04:41):
Yes. Of SAP, yes. Quite a bit.
Kevin L. Jackson (04:44):
So, you weren’t involved in the implementation of SAP at Topcon, right?
Vanessa Wieners (04:49):
Topcon. No. I joined I think five years after they had implemented it. Yeah.
Kevin L. Jackson (04:56):
How has it been when you got there? Were they pulling their hair out over SAP or were they happy with it? Or did you straighten them out? What was the culture around SAP?
Vanessa Wieners (05:06):
Well, I hope I had been helping to make it better. It was already good.
Kevin L. Jackson (05:10):
Vanessa Wieners (05:10):
And, you know, people like it. I think SAP is, in my opinion, a good system to have and to be running at, in our case, manufacturing company. So, it was already in a good state. You know, I’m just helping to bring a little bit of structure on how we support it, right, and how we do other implementations or other projects related to SAP, right, to bring efficiency to the processes.
Kevin L. Jackson (05:37):
So, a little more on your role, your operations.
Vanessa Wieners (05:41):
Kevin L. Jackson (05:41):
What does that encompass?
Vanessa Wieners (05:44):
A lot, I guess.
Kevin L. Jackson (05:45):
Vanessa Wieners (05:47):
Everything. You know, we’re not Google obviously, right? So, my team, I mean, I mentioned it was 12 or 11 people, so I’m not sure to the eyes of many if that’s small or big, but we cover a lot, right. We do operations means. You know, we do the support, the daily support. If somebody cannot transact or there’s an error message in the system, we are immediately reacting to it and fixing it. We do change management. We do, you know, any enhancements or improvements to a process that requires a system change. We also do that. And we do strategic projects, right? We implement new modules like quality management. That’s a new one that we implemented maybe a year and a half ago or two. So that’s a little bit of a description of what my role means.
Kevin L. Jackson (06:36):
What’s your geographic scope to Topcon?
Vanessa Wieners (06:40):
Well, I cover the ERP system in Netherlands, Europe, a piece of Europe, and United States.
Kevin L. Jackson (06:48):
But Topcon itself is a global company, or?
Vanessa Wieners (06:50):
It is a global company. You know, our parent company is based in Japan.
Kevin L. Jackson (06:55):
Vanessa Wieners (06:55):
But they have acquired subsidiaries across the globe. So, it’s about between 90, 93, 95 companies, subsidiaries.
Kevin L. Jackson (07:07):
Vanessa Wieners (07:07):
Yeah. Topcon Positioning.
Kevin L. Jackson (07:13):
So, it is really huge.
Vanessa Wieners (07:09):
It is big. It’s about 5000 employees.
Kevin L. Jackson (07:13):
Vanessa Wieners (07:14):
Vanessa Wieners (07:15):
It is one of those companies you really never heard of, but it’s foundational to just about everything, isn’t it?
Vanessa Wieners (07:22):
Kevin L. Jackson (07:22):
You must like working there.
Vanessa Wieners (07:24):
I do. I do. The culture is also very nice. You know, it’s family-oriented. You know, they care about the employees. So, I’m really enjoying it. And I have a – like I said, I have a great team and a great boss. That’s also helpful.
Kevin L. Jackson (07:38):
I will make sure it is – yeah. We’ll make sure to get them a copy of this.
Vanessa Wieners (07:43):
Kevin L. Jackson (07:47):
So, what is your real business model of Topcon? Who do you sell to? Who do you support? I mean –
Vanessa Wieners (07:55):
Yeah. You know, the customer base I would say it’s also some, you know, you wouldn’t think of, farmers. We have our dealers. You know, there’s a dealer base, but we have the end customer, which are the farmers who are actually using, you know, the tractors on the field and they have to interact with the technology and the construction base, as I was explaining earlier. You know, we have those construction sites, or, you know, if I tell my kids because they’re asking me like, what do you do, mom? What do you do?
Kevin L. Jackson (08:26):
Yeah. What did mommy do?
Vanessa Wieners (08:28):
We’re, you know, driving on the road, and, you know, I see those engineers, right, doing measurements with those tripods. And I tell, you see that? That’s what I do. Yeah.
Kevin L. Jackson (08:39):
But you never come home dirty.
Vanessa Wieners (08:42):
Exactly, right? You’re not wearing the helmet. Yeah.
Kevin L. Jackson (08:47):
Wow. That’s huge. And when you talk about culture, I mean, your parent company is Japanese.
Vanessa Wieners (08:55):
Kevin L. Jackson (08:55):
You cover the Netherlands and the United States.
Vanessa Wieners (08:58):
Kevin L. Jackson (08:59):
So, I imagine culture, differences in culture –
Vanessa Wieners (09:04):
Kevin L. Jackson (09:04):
As an important aspect of your business.
Vanessa Wieners (09:08):
Yes. Yeah. We have, you know – it’s a multicultural company, right, as you mentioned, Japanese. Now we have Europeans. And within Europe we have a diversity, you know, right? We have the Netherlands. We have Germany as well. They have a little, another ERP system, but, you know, we have different cultures. And then, you know, in the United States by itself, it’s already diverse, right? So, in that sense, there’s a lot of, you know – forgot the word – inclusion.
Kevin L. Jackson (09:44):
Vanessa Wieners (09:44):
Yes. Yes. And diversity rights in that company.
Kevin L. Jackson (09:47):
That’s an important part of any business – diversity and inclusion.
Vanessa Wieners (09:49):
Kevin L. Jackson (09:50):
Vanessa Wieners (09:52):
Yes. Yes. Diversity can, believe it or not, support on revenue as well.
Kevin L. Jackson (09:56):
Oh, but, okay. Well, speaking about that you said that you joined Topcon after they had already sort of implemented SAP. But in your business, you work in sort of a different area. So, what does digital transformation mean to you in your business?
Vanessa Wieners (10:22):
Well, for me, in specific, I think it has two meanings, you know, from an internal point of view. Like I said, we drive the operation of the company where we have to, or part of my job as well is to try to find technology that will support the business, right, and now talking about transitioning from ECC to S4 HANA, right, that’s a digital transformation for us where we are looking into bringing efficiency to a lot of the processes that we are currently having. So that’s an aspect of digital transformation. On the other hand, we also bring maybe, well, it is intentional. I don’t know if the customer will see it that way.
Kevin L. Jackson (11:06):
Vanessa Wieners (11:07):
But we bring digital transformation to them, right? Let’s go back to the example of the farmer. You know, who would’ve ever thought that they can now with sensors to scan, you know, the field and find out if the crops are ready or they need more fertilizer, you know? And now they’re able to use that technology. So, they, by themselves, are also in a digital transformation, right, incorporating our products to their daily job.
Kevin L. Jackson (11:37):
So, you threw out an acronym there, ECC, that is the previous version of SAP.
Vanessa Wieners (11:40):
Kevin L. Jackson (11:47):
So, now you’re transitioning from that to S4 HANA, the cloud based.
Vanessa Wieners (11:49):
Kevin L. Jackson (11:50):
Any issues with that? Is that –
Vanessa Wieners (11:53):
Kevin L. Jackson (11:55):
Well, I mean, just getting started, a lot of people are scared to go to the cloud. I mean, most, I don’t know about Topcon, but most companies have on premise, keep all their data on premise. And now going to the cloud, is that – did you have your own data centers and now you’re transitioning to the cloud?
Vanessa Wieners (12:15):
Right. Part of that, yes. We are already running a part of our business in S4 HANA cloud. The portion that I am running right now is the one that is in transition, right, to go to the cloud.
Kevin L. Jackson (12:28):
Vanessa Wieners (12:29):
Yeah. So, yes, there’s still a lot of decisions to be made. We’re in that process. I think we are now in a good place of understanding what that means, right? We have started a few activities internally such as, you know, cleaning our core ERP, trying to look into options for master data management, you know, looking into options for archiving, everything that can prepare us, you know, for a better journey to that transformation.
Kevin L. Jackson (13:02):
So, in the end, it’s all about the data, right? And you mentioned cleaning the data so that you can leverage it better in the cloud. That’s a lot of hard work, isn’t it?
Vanessa Wieners (13:18):
Kevin L. Jackson (13:19):
Wouldn’t be scared to do that?
Vanessa Wieners (13:22):
I think it’s – yeah. You know, when you talk about it, it can be daunting. Yeah. Right? Like, “Oh, my God, that’s a big effort.” We’re not executing that exercise yet. You know, we’re planning to get there. But so far, again, with the research that you have to, you know, start doing, you get to understand what steps you need to follow, right, to get there.
Kevin L. Jackson (13:46):
Oh, so it’s a lot of education.
Vanessa Wieners (13:49):
It’s a lot of education.
Kevin L. Jackson (13:49):
Across your organization.
Vanessa Wieners (13:51):
Kevin L. Jackson (13:51):
This is really change management. How did it affect your culture?
Vanessa Wieners (13:56):
Well, you know, I think we are in the process of learning, you know, including change management, right? Everybody is – and again, you know, that’s where the transformation is happening, right? Because I think with a digital transformation, you have to have change management, right? You have to get your stakeholders involved so that they can support this. And we are in the process of, you know, doing that. So how is it changing right now? I think we will see the change in the coming months or when the project is being executed, right, the efforts that we are doing right now to pull them in and to explain what this journey is about.
Kevin L. Jackson (14:35):
I imagine the executives are important to this. What is their role in your viewpoint?
Vanessa Wieners (14:43):
Yeah. In my point of view, everything starts from up to down, right?
Kevin L. Jackson (14:46):
Vanessa Wieners (14:47):
Yeah. So, if they’re not buying in, you know, then it’s not going to work. So, I think, you know, that’s part of the transformation as well, having their buy-in and support the project.
Kevin L. Jackson (15:00):
And education. I guess that’s –
Vanessa Wieners (15:02):
And education. Yeah. There’s a lot of education.
Kevin L. Jackson (15:04):
How do that? How do you do that?
Vanessa Wieners (15:05):
Well, the approach that we’re trying to do right now is socializing what this means. You know, bringing it – learning about tools ourselves, right, my team and myself, learning what’s out there. SAP has been very helpful, right, in providing some of those tools so that we can start learning and also bringing our user base to experience that. Right?
Kevin L. Jackson (15:31):
Oh, so this is really a journey. And it’s not just Topcon. You have to teach your customers.
Vanessa Wieners (15:39):
Kevin L. Jackson (15:39):
How is that going? Is that easy? Is it easy for them to accept? Do you have to force it on them?
Vanessa Wieners (15:47):
At this point, I guess the customer is not impacted, and I don’t think that they will ever, ever, well, right?
Kevin L. Jackson (15:53):
Vanessa Wieners (15:55):
This is more a digital transformation internally for us to be able to deliver those products, you know, to the customer.
Kevin L. Jackson (16:02):
So, but there’s a whole ecosystem around it, right? You have, I guess, suppliers –
Vanessa Wieners (16:10):
Kevin L. Jackson (16:10):
That you have to link to. Does it affect them in any way?
Vanessa Wieners (16:14):
Kevin L. Jackson (16:16):
Vanessa Wieners (16:17):
Yes. Yeah. Because, you know, somehow, they have to follow our journey, right? The technology, the evolution, you know, has to evolve. You know, the technology has to evolve. So yes, absolutely, it’s going to have an impact. And we will have to include them in this journey, right?
Kevin L. Jackson (16:38):
Okay. That’s really important. And SAP is helping you with that. How do they help you? This is an important relationship to you.
Vanessa Wieners (16:47):
It is, it is. We started to have more often conversations, you know, what tools are out there. I am lucky to have a very good customer support. So, they’re helping us, you know, like I said, providing tools, links to information. There’s a lot of reading that needs to happen.
Kevin L. Jackson (17:06):
A lot of reading.
Vanessa Wieners (17:08):
Yeah. Yeah. But it’s very useful so far. You know, they’re helping us in the journey.
Kevin L. Jackson (17:13):
So are you working with an SAP partner in the journey and implementation and –
Vanessa Wieners (17:18):
Kevin L. Jackson (17:19):
Vanessa Wieners (17:19):
Not yet, not at this point, not at the phase that we are in. We don’t have a partner yet.
Kevin L. Jackson (17:25):
So what do you see as your journey? You know, what’s next?
Vanessa Wieners (17:30):
Well, we are in a, what we call, like the first phase of the project where we are preparing our system, preparing our people, preparing our teams to start that journey. So, I guess the next step, we’ll actually execute it right to get into project mode and transition to the new technology, right, SAP to S4 HANA.
Kevin L. Jackson (17:53):
Well, great. So, do you see this as a competitive move? Is it helping you? You know, clearly other companies in your industry are seeing this and wonder if it’s something that they should do. But do you see it as something that’s making you distinct within your industry? Or is it just something that you have to do?
Vanessa Wieners (18:25):
A little bit of both, I guess.
Kevin L. Jackson (18:25):
Vanessa Wieners (18:27):
Yeah. We have to transition to S4 HANA at some point. You know, the question is when and I think the when for us is almost now, right, and we’re doing that at this moment. Right? We’re planning on how to get there.
Kevin L. Jackson (18:43):
Okay. So, if someone, another company is in a similar position, what would be your recommendations to them? I mean, you have, you know, a lot of experience with SAP and many may be actually afraid of taking these big steps. You know, what’s your recommendation? How should a company look towards their journey in this digital transformation in SAP? I mean, it’s – what would you say?
Vanessa Wieners (19:20):
I would say start doing research. Start reaching out to your SAP account executive, asking questions. You know, what can they do for you? How can they help you? And again, it’s a lot of reading, right? Understanding what the change means, what it will bring to your company, and also socializing it with your business stakeholders. Because at the end of the day, you know, they have to be on board. They have to understand what the system is, how the system is going to change, and what the system, the new system will bring so that they can feel comfortable. Right? It’s not an easy journey, especially when there’s change. And that’s a lot of work that needs to happen. I’m here, you know, in stop fire. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say.
Kevin L. Jackson (20:10):
No. Absolutely. That’s fine.
Vanessa Wieners (20:11):
I’m here in [inaudible], and I’m trying – that’s one of the ways of our company to support that we get more educated on, you know, what’s coming. You get to meet customers, other customers, other companies that have gone through the journey or are going through the journey. And you sit down and listen and take notes and see what can work for our company and for our team, right, and try to apply it.
Kevin L. Jackson (20:42):
So it’s really an education opportunity.
Vanessa Wieners (20:44):
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely it is.
Kevin L. Jackson (20:47):
So, as you go through the journey and dealing with this ERP digital transformation, how is it really affecting your other business processes?
Vanessa Wieners (21:04):
Within the company you meant?
Kevin L. Jackson (21:05):
Yeah, within the company.
Vanessa Wieners (21:06):
Well, you know, that’s a part that you have to analyze, right? You have to understand where are your pain points and try to tackle those as much as possible before you start a journey, right? Because that’s part of the preparation, you know, not only system-wise, but also process-wise, where you have to check your old practices, you know, what you used to do and you still doing. Is it, you know, a better way to do it? Almost all the time, there is a better way to do things. We just need to, you know, be a little bit more open and understanding what can be changed to make it better. So, it does impact the business processes.
Kevin L. Jackson (21:51):
Well, we’re coming to the end. We don’t have a lot of time, but one thing I’m very interested in sort of pulling the string on in this transition are templates. I mean, SAP talks about how they provide templates on industry best practice. But sometimes these templates aren’t what you did before. They’re different than what you did before. And you have to, I guess, convince people to either change or, you know, it’s my way at a highway. Is that what you do? How do you get people to change?
Vanessa Wieners (22:30):
Well, that’s a lot of education, and I think it has to come from the top and down, right, to support it. Not that they are the ones implementing the change, but to support it, to say, okay, we’re going to follow best practices. We are going to follow, you know, what the industry out there is doing whenever possible, right? Because every industry has their own, and companies’, uniqueness, right? So, Topcon doesn’t escape from that, right? We have our uniqueness and we have to adapt to that uniqueness. But wherever we can apply best practices, then, you know, that should be the direction, right? And then everybody needs to be on board to make it work, otherwise it will not work.
Kevin L. Jackson (23:09):
Great. Great. So as we come to a close, how could people learn more about Topcon and maybe even reach out to you?
Vanessa Wieners (23:18):
Yes, I do have a LinkedIn profile.
Kevin L. Jackson (23:20):
Vanessa Wieners (23:20):
I guess that’s the where, you know, to go. And of course, you can find Topcon Solutions – Positioning, sorry, in LinkedIn as well, and topconpositioningsystems.com. You can find it there.
Kevin L. Jackson (23:34):
Did we miss anything? Any secrets?
Vanessa Wieners (23:36):
No. I don’t think so.
Kevin L. Jackson (23:37):
No. No secrets.
Vanessa Wieners (23:38):
Kevin L. Jackson (23:37):
Oh, thank you very much, Vanessa, for spending the time with us, and thank you for joining Digital Transformers once again and learning how the GPS industry is being changed, digitally changed from the viewpoint of ERP and SAP. So, thank you very much, and we’ll see you on the next Digital Transformers.
Thank you for supporting Digital Transformers and for being a part of our global Supply Chain Now community. Please check out all of our programming at supplychainnow.com. Make sure you subscribe to Digital Transformers anywhere you listen to or view the show, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next time on Digital Transformers.
Vanessa Wieners is a professional with over 17+ years of experience leading successful cross-functional teams within SAP ECC and other applications. Successfully participated in SAP roll outs to major manufacturing sites. Skilled in developing and implementing an organization’s vision, cultivating relationships, and building productive teams. Motivated to exceed organizational goals through the development of people. Creating efficient processes and designing systems to measure and track progress. Developing trusted internal and external relationships. Leading projects to consistently successful outcomes. Leading teams to align with the strategic plan & vision of the company. Connect with Vanessa on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, 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.
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.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
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.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
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!
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.
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.
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.