Will Waller is no stranger to adversity, but every time someone opened a door for him, he pushed that much harder toward his purpose. And now, he’s on a mission to create more opportunities for people with disabilities. Don’t miss this wide-ranging conversation as Billy and Will discuss current workforce challenges, the rise of remote work, the power of sports, how employers miss out on a talented, highly resilient portion of the labor market and how you can support the National Wheelchair Basketball Association moving forward.
Welcome to the winning link, a show dedicated to dissecting business and leadership excellence. We take a deep dive into various aspects of business and operational excellence, current events and personal and leadership development topics. The guests on the podcast will be credible industry leaders and practitioners offering a portfolio of techniques and methods for positive growth.
Billy Taylor (00:30):
Welcome to the winning link. We’ve got an exciting guest today on the show. Uh, I, he needs no introduction, but, uh, Mr. Will Waller, he’s had a great career in business. Um, I’ve actually had the privilege of working with him and he’s taken his talents to another level, but I’m excited to have him on the winning link because he is a link to success. So I’m gonna let him introduce himself without any further ado. Mr. Will Waller.
Will Waller (00:56):
Thank you, Billy. I appreciate it. It’s a pleasure to be here with you today. Uh, to your point, I’ve had a pretty broad career, um, have spent 20 years doing corporate HR roles, uh, supporting different aspects of three fortune, one 50 organizations mm-hmm <affirmative> and I’m currently the CEO of the national wheelchair basketball association. And, uh, we’ll talk in a little bit about, uh, my journey in wheelchair basketball.
Billy Taylor (01:22):
Absolutely. I tell you, Mr. Mr. Waller is a, a master at building culture, uh, and, and shaping talent, uh, uh, but let’s, let’s start back to his journey. Uh, he’s been able to overcome, uh, diversity and use diversity as a platform to help others, uh, learn from his struggles and his challenges in life. And, uh, that’s kind of how we got, uh, uh, uh, connected, uh, over time and built a real side of relationship. So, so will, let’s go back and talk a little about, uh, your, your upbringing and, uh, you know, uh Will’s uh, he, he, he has, um, inspired many people from the LeBron James foundation where he, he talked to kids at, at the blimp hanger and, uh, he helped many kids, uh, basically build a platform for success in leveraging his challenges and how he overcame. So will tell me a little about you and your upbringing in, in Chicago,
Will Waller (02:22):
For sure. Well, uh, I like to say to people, first of all, uh, I’m not supposed to necessarily be where I am people, unfortunately, uh, who grow up in an impoverished background, which I did, uh, who grow up, uh, surrounded by a lot of negative influences, whether they be, uh, gangs, drugs, violence, uh, they don’t always get second chances. Um, but I’m fortunate enough to, uh, have had second, third, fourth and, and fifth chances. But, uh, I came up in an environment Billy where, uh, education, wasn’t not because, uh, people knew the benefit of education and chose to disregard it. It’s just that generation after generation in my family, unfortunately, hadn’t pursued education. So I didn’t have those examples of what education can do to open up doors for you. So I did the absolute bare minimum, uh, to get by in high school. I, uh, was one of the few people in my family that graduated with a high school diploma.
Will Waller (03:26):
And unfortunately, without a vision of what I could be or the confidence to pursue something beyond that from a, from a, um, uh, post-secondary education, I ended up going down the path that many people unfortunately go down, which is I joined a gang and I started selling drugs. And, uh, almost one year to the day, uh, from my graduation from high school, I ended up getting shot in a gang related shooting. And, uh, that ended up, uh, rendering me needing to use a wheelchair full time. So not sure if the camera can see it, but I’m sitting in my chair. And, uh, I recently hit the 30 year mark of, uh, of, uh, my disability journey. Um, so it was, um, it was, uh, a tragic situation, a situation that I didn’t know how to deal with at first. Um, but eventually, uh, came to open up a lot of doors for me,
Billy Taylor (04:22):
But, but you know, what, what what’s astounding for me is I always say will still standing, right? And, and it is just the way he carries himself from the minute he walked into the office building today. Um, Robin Robert said it best make your mess, your message. And I, I, I think you’ve done that better than anybody I’ve ever seen. Right? You, you, you talked about your journey, but your starting point is not definitely your, any point. And, and I’ll say this about you and this is coming from me, right. You’re probably going a lot further than you thought you could go, but now that, you know, you can compete, you ain’t going as far as you’re capable.
Will Waller (04:59):
I think that’s very true. And I, I think, um, I think sometimes you have to hit rock bottom, uh, to realize that there’s nowhere to go, but forward mm-hmm <affirmative>. And, um, and after I sustained my disability, I had two really difficult years, um, trying to figure out, you know, how to overcome the psychological setback. So a lot of people think about disability and they think physical barriers. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> these physical things that are gonna stop you. Um, my biggest barrier wasn’t physical at all. It was the constraints I was putting on myself mentally mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, which went on top of the constraints I already had on myself by not believing that I could be something. And, um, and it took a few different people believing in me and convincing me that I could do more than I thought was, was possible. And it was a combination of beginning to get my education in junior college and starting the sport of wheelchair basketball beginning to compete in it that I finally learned the, the relationship between hard work and results mm-hmm <affirmative> and slowly but surely that began to help me realize that there was more potential in me than ever thought possible.
Will Waller (06:13):
But if I was left to my own devices and my own thoughts and my own lack of positive beliefs, yes. Then I never would’ve made that connection between, between those things. But yeah, I’ve, I’ve come certainly, uh, a long way. And we could talk a bit about what that journey has looked like for me, but, uh, one thing that is absolutely clear, there’s still so much more to go, whether that be, you know, my own personal goals from a career perspective, mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, but, uh, you know, how, how well I want to be, uh, a father and what that looks like with my three kids, but most importantly, how many more lives can you touch through your own, uh, journey, because there’s a blessing and a lesson.
Billy Taylor (06:54):
Absolutely. Abso you know, I think about the context of business, and I’m gonna talk on two topics. We will today. One is corporate America and building teams, the value of that talent development, that value of inclusiveness. And then I’m gonna talk about the, uh, the wheelchair NBA, and, and in that journey and how he’s taking that journey. I remember watching you, uh, doing the Olympics right on, on social media. And so, but I’m gonna start back to corporate America, uh, the building of talent. You talked about how you invest in, in, in others. So, uh, gimme a little bit about corporate America. Why is it important of talent development and getting people on the front line with you?
Will Waller (07:35):
Well, I, I think first and foremost, uh, it’s the people of an organization that makes it tick, you know, so every organization has a mission, a vision values, you know, you can go on websites of every one of the fortune 500 companies, and you are gonna see that they’ve all checked the box as it relates to each of those things. You know, they either internally, they, they come up with it or some consultants will help pull it out of the leaders to kind of talk about, um, where they want to go and, and how they want to get there from a values perspective. Um, but at the end of the day, if you don’t truly convince the people who work at that organization, that they literally are the most crucial ingredient to the success of that organization, then you’re either gonna take longer than you want to get there.
Will Waller (08:29):
Absolutely. Or you’re never going to get there. Absolutely. Um, so any, any good HR professional or business professional is gonna have as one of their main sort of focus areas, attracting the best people, developing the best people, retaining the best people, um, through engagement strategies and, and things of the like, and it’s only those departments, those functions, those supervisors who truly not through what they say, right. But how they behave mm-hmm <affirmative> that are going to, um, convince the people who work in their, uh, department or organization that they matter. And, and why is that important? Because when you do you get more discretionary effort from those individuals mm-hmm <affirmative>, and, and that’s, that’s what makes, uh, the best organization successful.
Billy Taylor (09:17):
What do you think are some of the challenges, especially after COVID and, uh, the new way of working right. Zoom, right. Leaders that used to have command and control no longer have that, right. Do that camera. And it’s a combination of ownership, right. And when people own it, you get more out of it. So leaders that did not put people in a position where they included and felt they owned it. I always say in the apps of ownership comes blame when people don’t own it, they blame. And so when you look at the new workforce where people are now behind that screen, and you have to look at influence, right. Respect, trust, but you look at this new way of working, cause you have a deep understanding of human resources. What do you see as some of the challenges? It’s twofold question, some of the challenges and what are some of the recommendations now, uh, because now you are leading an organization, so you’ve got the, the whole, uh, sombrero now, so to speak. So,
Will Waller (10:15):
Yeah. Well, I think, I think first of all, what, what COVID and a lot of the virtual, um, reality, if you will, of work, uh, has done is it’s exposed the cracks that existed. So for the leaders who weren’t, uh, operating as a servant leader, mm-hmm <affirmative> to give their teams the tools and the resources that they need, the ones who were more of a top down hierarchical command and control, as you said, um, type of a leadership style, uh, what, what this virtual reality’s done is it’s exposed. The cracks that already existed, right. Is sort of put a bit of a, of a, of a microscope, you know, on it and, and kind of showed where some of those leadership gaps, if you will, mm-hmm <affirmative> may, may have existed. So, so first and foremost, uh, for those people who already struggled as leaders, or didn’t really see talent as the key differentiator, um, they’re probably struggling even more to retain the best talent and, and keep them on their team, whether they leave the organization or they move to a different department.
Will Waller (11:22):
Yes. Um, it’s, it’s probably created that type of an issue. And the other thing that I think a lot of them are confronting is that a global pandemic forces, everyone to take an inventory of what’s important. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so us individually, you know, various, uh, people who work in different organizations, they’re probably asking themselves, have I put my own personal goals enough, you know, high enough up on my own priority list, have I put family as enough of a priority, right. Because everyone’s lost someone. Yes. Everyone’s seen the struggle related to the pandemic and that forces people to take an inventory of what’s important. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so, uh, one of the challenges I think in general, is finding a way to get your workforce current and future, get them to prioritize work the way that they may have in the past. Yes. Everywhere you go. There’s a talent shortage.
Billy Taylor (12:18):
Will Waller (12:18):
It’s because people are taking an inventory mm-hmm <affirmative> of what’s important to them. And I think, uh, a lot of organizations are also probably still trying to figure out, do we need everyone in the building, right. Or can we do this virtually mm-hmm <affirmative> and how do you arm leaders to be able to understand and, uh, learn how to handle a more distributed and virtual workforce? Mm-hmm
Billy Taylor (12:42):
<affirmative>, you know, it’s something I saw. I was watching some, two things I wanna talk about. One is you, you talked about the people, you and I were getting coffee and the person behind the counter heard a shirt on and said introvert, and you talk, you, you gave another word, but the person’s answer was I I’m only an extrovert when I’m getting paid. And I thought that was interesting because that, that that’s not sincere. Right. And, and, and it’s like, I, I, at the end of my Workday, I don’t want to talk. I don’t, I wouldn’t care if I didn’t talk to anyone. And I thought, wow, wow. Cause me, I have a two foot rule. You give then two feet to me. I say, hello. And it’s something my mother taught, man, there’s that you make people visible
Will Waller (13:25):
And they make you valuable.
Billy Taylor (13:26):
That’s right. And so we should talk about that. And so I was, that was really interesting to me, but I wanna go back to a com uh, a comment from Elon Musk, he, man, it mandated that everybody come back into the office. And then I, I thought, what that’s, that’s his confidence, his prerogative, but it was, it was, it was funny. His, his tweet, I think it was, was, he goes, well, if they don’t like it, they can pretend to work somewhere else.
Will Waller (13:50):
So, so it’s funny that you bring that up. I was, uh, scrolling through LinkedIn mm-hmm <affirmative> and there was a recruiter, an internal recruiter at United airlines. He posted the article that said what Elon Musk had declared. Right. Which is that everyone has to come back into work. And he said, United airlines is looking for people who, uh, wanna work virtually. So if you Tesla employees want to continue your virtual work situation, uh, come on over to United airlines and put the link in there on how they could find opportunities at United airlines. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so I, I think this is a perfect example of every organization has to decide what does the new, uh, way of work look like for them? Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I, and I understand, you know, Elon’s perspective, right. Uh, and, and, you know, it’s interesting that he’s in a much younger organization, you would think traditional hundred year plus organizations would be the ones that want everyone back quicker that’s right. Right. But, um, but it’s the reality of everyone has to decide what, what they want their work environment to look like. But the truth is people are gonna capitalize mm-hmm <affirmative> right. So the fact that you see another organization so quickly because of the war for talent, that still exists to this day already capitalizing on it and putting messages out to the people at Tesla. I just thought was really interesting.
Billy Taylor (15:13):
I am, because, you know, it’s a cutting edge, uh, labor society now. And what I mean by that, the dynamic of the workforce has truly changed and think about great, my great, great grandparents, right? They worked so that they could live. I talk about this, they had the farm, they had to go out and, and plant so that they could eat where you look at me, I worked so we could live, right. So I, I wanted to pay for my kids college, try to minimize their debt, put, give them a leg up my kids today. And the people that didn’t work for today, they work and live. And so by going virtual, the way they did it created the platform. So you could drop the kids off at school, pick them up. You may work later, but it was a work life balance. And, and you saw that. And that’s what created also the war on talent, because people wanna reserve that right. To work and live. And it’s the new society. And those companies that don’t do that, I think they would suffer some repercussions down the road. I think there’s a fine shift, a small shift or compromise, whatever you wanna call it to adjust to the new workforce. But how do you feel about that?
Will Waller (16:19):
Well, I, I think, um, I think every generation has a little bit of everything in it. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, so there’s still, you know, you hear about millennials and, and, you know, a lot of people like to poke at what they can’t do or what they won’t do and, and whatnot, but there’s really hard work in millennials too, right? Yes. So every generation is, is comprised of a lot of different work styles and whatnot. But, but what I think, um, what I think that this virtual work reality requires is that you have the right systems and tools and processes in place that allow for the people who do want to work their, uh, schedule in the office. You got the tools that allow them to effectively do that for the people who prefer to work either all the time at home, or in some type of a hybrid situation, 50 50, what have you, mm-hmm <affirmative> that those individuals also have the tools.
Will Waller (17:16):
So your tools are flexible to accommodate these different work styles, which are gonna become more and more standard or normal. Absolutely. You will. So how many times is a leader checking in for their one on one? How many times is that leader shifting that one-on-one to be more about what the employee is looking for versus what that leader needs from that employee so that they could hit their bonus at the end of the year. Um, and, and how do you create, uh, a performance management system and a talent management system that accommodates, uh, the culture of what you’re trying to create from a, from a performance and talent perspective? Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, instead of just relying on, well, I had it in the leader’s job description
Billy Taylor (18:02):
Will Waller (18:03):
Right. That they had to be an engaging leader. Well, okay. What’s that got to do with anything that’s right. Because once, once you got the job, no, one’s pulling the job description back out.
Billy Taylor (18:11):
Will Waller (18:12):
That’s right. And, and, and when, when these leaders are being assessed for their rewards at the end of the year mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, how many people did they retain on their team? Absolutely. Right. How many, how many people were promoted from within absolutely. How diverse, uh, does their team look mm-hmm <affirmative> right. How what’s the engagement, uh, survey say about how that leader leads? Absolutely. And so the, the systems have to go along with the words, you know, absolutely. That are stated as a value statement.
Billy Taylor (18:44):
Yes. Because I think there is also some gaps, some leaders get there fast and they don’t get developed. Right. And, and that’s a missed opportunity, especially with, with, with people, right? The, the, the, the war on talent is not going to go away. It is here to stay. Um, the mindsets are different, right. COVID changed a lot of mindsets. Um, you know, I wanna transition for a minute, uh, into right. The, the, the wheelchair NBA, because I want to give that some exposure, because what you’ve done in that role has been remarkable. And, and, and, you know, um, I definitely support it. Uh, we’ll be supporting it at the end of, uh, the podcast again today, just because I love what you’re doing so well, let’s talk about the w uh, NBA, the wheelchair NBA, and you’ve actually started to really give that a lot of exposure. I know you in Akron, and I’ve seen you all the way in Tokyo. Uh, so tell us a little about
Will Waller (19:44):
That. Yeah, well, I have the privilege and the honor to be the, the CEO of the national wheelchair basketball association, an organization that’s been around since 1949. So, uh, a lot of, uh, a lot of responsibility and weight goes into, um, playing a part in the history of, of the organization. And the mission of the organization is pretty simple. It’s to create access to sport for people with disabilities, but not just because, you know, playing, uh, games and, you know, competing for national championships and, and gold medals is important. The reason why we want to create access to sport for people with disabilities is because it’s proven that people who do participate get improved quality of life, whether that be relationships, education, or career outcomes, and, and ultimately makes them high upstanding, uh, members of society who contribute through their taxes to the <laugh>, to the, to the organization.
Will Waller (20:45):
But honestly, it it’s about making people fully integrated into society in all aspects of life. And sport builds the confidence in the tools in individuals. People know it doesn’t have to be adaptive sport. People who play any sport know that, right? The leadership skills, you get the communication skills, you get the teamwork skills you get. So, um, so that’s what the mission is. And, and that’s why we do the work, uh, that we’ve done. Uh, but I, I came into this role shortly after leaving Goodyear, uh, felt a desire to, uh, work a bit more on a passion of mine. And in fact, I’d say that, you know, it’s, it’s more of a purpose. Um, so for so much of my career, I was running from my past. Got you got, and then what, what has happened over time is I wanted to begin pushing towards my purpose.
Will Waller (21:39):
And, um, and what is that? We talked a bit early on in the discussion about, uh, my own journey in sport. And, um, the, the game literally saved my life. People who come from the background that I had typically, uh, they will end up in prison on drugs or dead. And I told you, I’ve had second, third, fourth, and, and fifth chances. But the one thing that gave me that aha moment, two plus years after, uh, being in a wheelchair, was getting on the court around other individuals who look like me, mm-hmm <affirmative> and feeling quote unquote, normal again.
Billy Taylor (22:21):
So, and that’s an interesting topic, and I’m gonna, I’m on save a little bit this later, cause I wanna have a little fun with this, but when you’re talking about diversity, equity and inclusion, when you said people that look like me, and he’s, you’re not talking about tone of your skin, he he’s talking about CD diversity equity inclusion is, is, is, is it covers, it covers multiple platforms. It’s no different than if you and I were in a foreign country and we both heard each other speak English, right. We started to migrate to each other from a standpoint of diversity, equity and inclusion. Cause we’re comfortable in that space. Right. But I’m gonna come back to that later. Did you play in the, uh, wheelchair NBA?
Will Waller (23:02):
Yeah, so I, um, my very first year, so two, two years after sustaining my disability, uh, after people tried to get me to get out multiple times, I finally caved in and on a Wednesday night, in 19 in the summer of 1994, I went out, uh, it’s in Addison, Illinois suburb of Chicago. And I played in my everyday chair. I had push handles on the back of it. It had armrest on it. It had breaks, looks nothing like my chair today. <laugh> and, uh, and I, and it had a backrest that came all the way up, like almost to my shoulders. Um, but it was the first time literally that I felt free and that I was instantly hooked. Um, I was hooked because, uh, it was competitive. Uh, there was a team aspect of it. I was talking trash, even though I was shooting air balls, <laugh> it didn’t, it didn’t matter.
Will Waller (23:56):
Um, and it gave me some feeling of connection and bond to other people, as I’m saying, that looked like me. And, and to your point on D E and I, I know we’re gonna come back to it. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, it is people with disabilities are typically the afterthought for organizations, right? And there’s, there’s so many different segments of the population that, uh, it’s important for organizations that have a strategy for, but, you know, people with disabilities are usually phase two or phase three mm-hmm <affirmative>, despite the fact that, uh, one in four individuals have some type of a disability, one in four, the spending power of people with disabilities is the same as, uh, Latinos, African Americans, et cetera. So whether you think about the available population of people with disabilities yes. As a talent pool, or you think about them as a targeted market segment that you would be going after with your products and your storytelling mm-hmm <affirmative> people with disabilities should never be an afterthought,
Billy Taylor (24:56):
Right. That’s right.
Will Waller (24:58):
Yep. So, so, uh, so yeah, I, I used, uh, the sport, uh, for myself, it ended up opening up collegiate opportunities to be a, a, a student athlete in college at the university of Illinois. And, uh, it was there that I first got a tryout for the national team first for a world championship team, and then eventually for a Paralympic team. Um, but, uh, uh, I attribute all of the successes that I had to that introduction that occurred. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So when I say pushing towards my purpose and this role with the national wheelchair basketball association is because I wanna work as hard as I can to create more outlets of the sport so that people and communities throughout the country, when they’re ready mentally mm-hmm <affirmative> to give the sport a try, the sport is available for them in or near their community, so that they have the opportunity for that light bulb to go off mm-hmm <affirmative> that they’ve got potential and the sport can be a tool to help them pursue their potential.
Billy Taylor (26:05):
You know, we talked about the world on talent and you, you know, uh, one of my, my, as she diversity, uh, the head of diversity inclusion for Goodyear, um, my biggest, how I say the, the most, the thing that I’m most proud of was creating an environment where people could be their authentic self. Yeah. Through our employee resource groups, uh, people were comfortable being who they were and coming to work. I still get messages on LinkedIn. I still get personal emails from, from people from different backgrounds. Let’s talk about the opportunity for talent, uh, people hiring people with disabilities. And like you said, often is second tier it’s the second look. Yep. It shouldn’t be right because will Waller was talented period
Will Waller (26:53):
Fact just happened to have a disability fact.
Will Waller (26:57):
Yep. Yep. No, I think, um, I, at the end of the day, organizations all have to start somewhere mm-hmm <affirmative> right. And, uh, and people with disabilities, um, whether they’re the first phase, second phase, or what have you, as, as long as it’s listed in, they’re pursuing it sooner than later mm-hmm <affirmative> than, than I appreciate what organizations are doing. And I understand that it’s not hard mm-hmm <affirmative>, but for me, it’s a matter of people opening up their mindset and their aperture. Cuz when you think disability, the, the big misconception is the, the first things that come to someone’s mind are what someone can’t do. Right. So, so I get it that it, it’s not always gonna be first, but through exposure and awareness building and getting different people in to support them in educating them on disability. Um, people with disabilities are gonna be one of the most resilient, uh, groups of your employee base mm-hmm <affirmative> out of them all.
Will Waller (27:57):
So yes, we all have a story. You’ve got a story. Absolutely. I’ve got a story. Absolutely. You can see mine because I’m sitting in a wheelchair. Absolutely. But almost by definition, people with disabilities have had to overcome some extreme circumstance, whatever it may happen to be. Absolutely. And think about in that, that in the workforce, right. Someone’s got a project timeline, someone’s got a major initiative and they’ve gotta hit a KPI. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, some people are built for a challenge more than others through their experiences and whatnot and, and people with disabilities, uh, are a group who can handle pressure mm-hmm <affirmative> and, and they have perspective on what real pressure means. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, and, uh, and so to me, that’s, that’s just an important aspect of it. So when you think about a talent pool, um, what kind of talent pool you want, you want, you want a tough group of individuals. You want people who can deal with a crisis cuz they happen. Absolutely. Uh, you want people who, uh, can communicate challenge through challenge as well and whatnot. And, and so instead of thinking about people with disabilities and starting off with what they can’t do, right. If you just flip your mindset and, and understand, uh, most of their journeys, you’re gonna, you’re gonna end up pivoting to a mindset of what they can do. And then they, then they hopefully become a targeted resource for you. Mm-hmm <affirmative> uh, as you’re building out your team.
Billy Taylor (29:24):
Yes. What, what, what are some of the recommendations you’d give to a company? Uh, that’s looking to broaden their, their talent base. Yeah. That’s inclusive of people with, with
Will Waller (29:34):
Disabilities. Yeah. Well, I, I think it would first be, uh, educating yourself on how you can tap into some of those populations. I mean, so the national wheelchair basketball association is an organization with 3000 members. Certainly we’re an organization that has events that bring critical mass together. Um, we have not only that population of members, we have alumni and we have followers, some who have disabilities, some who don’t. So finding a way to tap into a database, if you will, mm-hmm <affirmative> and building early connections with this population so that when you do get opportunities that you wanna vet, you could potentially do it with a partner like the N w B a mm-hmm <affirmative>, but there’s many other organizations like ours. Um, universities have, uh, disabled student organizations. They have departments that focus on catering to this population as they’re going through their education process and whatnot. And then there’s other associations that are out there. So first and foremost, like any recruiting strategy, where does this talent, uh, exist? Where does it hang? What’s the best way to connect with that group? Right. So if, if we were trying to go after early career professionals who happened to be Latino or African American, uh, might be going to the society, Hispanic MBAs that’s right. You know, the black, national, black NBA mm-hmm <affirmative> right. So you, you figure out where’s the critical mass. Yes. And you go after it, disabil is no different. Gotcha.
Billy Taylor (31:06):
So, so let’s talk about I’m, I’m gonna stay with the, the, the, the theme of, uh, the national wheelchair basketball association. Give me some, gimme some, uh, an overview of your proudest moments since you’ve been in that role, uh, with the organization as a whole. Yeah. Because, and after that I’m gonna get into, you know, what are some of the challenges to taking it to the next level, right?
Will Waller (31:29):
Correct. Correct. Yeah. So, so first and foremost, I think, um, if, if you look at, when, when I first started the role, um, the organization had had an inverse relationship with revenue and expenses mm-hmm <affirmative> so the preceding seven years, uh, expenses exceeded revenue to the tune of in aggregate 1.4 million. Okay. So, uh, so in the negative, uh, to that extent, 2019 was the first, uh, full year in the role. And, uh, we ended up flipping that relationship and having a 200%, uh, improvement from, from where we were. Um, so the first time that we had been in the black for, uh, for an extended period of time. So, so by doing that, and by no means, was that an individual accomplishment, there was a group of individuals that participated mm-hmm <affirmative> in that success. Um, everyone knows what happened in 2020, the pandemic hit, but had we not changed that trajectory, uh, from a revenue and expense perspective, we may not have made it through the pandemic.
Billy Taylor (32:36):
Will Waller (32:36):
You. Um, so, so that’s probably the, the biggest, but then you say, okay, well, life still has to go on. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so, yeah, you’re in the pandemic, um, in the pandemic with, uh, a population of people who have more underlying conditions and whatnot. So how do you reintroduce the sport in a safe way? Yes. Uh, for your population and make it available for those people who still want to participate, they can. And for those people who don’t, that there’s no negative consequence to those people who don’t, they wanna focus on their health and safety. We appreciate that. We respect that. Um, but you know, we had this little thing called the Paralympics that took place as well. Everyone knows, well, most people do that. The 20, 20 games, they were still called the 2020 games, but they were moved into 2021. Yes. They took place at the same time in the year that they were supposed to.
Will Waller (33:29):
Uh, but the, the USA national teams or the USA Paralympic teams, we were the only country in the sport of wheelchair basketball to go to Tokyo and return with two medals. Uh, so from a, from an accomplishment perspective, mm-hmm, <affirmative> the staff and the athletes and, and the people behind the scenes all did a, a great job of coming up with creative waves to make sure that the teams could still train mm-hmm <affirmative> and, uh, bring their best selves in an environment where everyone’s questioning what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Yes. Um, to still be able to go to Tokyo and put their best effort, uh, on display for the world to see which by the way, NBC did an incredible job with coverage funded by the support of Toyota. Who’s a sponsor of the N w B a, um, more people had a chance to see the Paralympics, but also the sport of wheelchair basketball than ever before in the United States.
Will Waller (34:25):
And so I’d say not only did we perform well, right. And come home with those two medals, but we did it with more eyeballs on the sport than ever before. And, and it’s great because more people got to see it, but why is that great? Because there’s a young woman or a young man at some point throughout the country, uh, who didn’t know that the sport existed before mm-hmm <affirmative> and they got to see people who look like them that’s right on the television. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, moving freely, being mobile. Yeah. They’re sitting down, they’re strapped in they’re in a wheelchair, but they see a different version of themselves in these heroes and shees that they get to see on the television. Yes. And, and that’s why that awareness that Toyota, uh, provided was so important. So, so I feel really great about all of that.
Will Waller (35:17):
And then when you, when you pivot into the challenges, how do you raise enough revenue so that you can build the tools and resources and competencies and the current member base of the member teams, but also those tools and resources for people who are thinking about starting programs throughout other areas of the country, it’s all about bringing in enough money. So we, we could write down the best strategy in the world. Right? Right. A lot of smart people in, in our organization. And we could come up with 75 different, great initiatives that all make sense. But if you don’t have the revenue to fund that, then it’s, it’s only really good words on a sheet of paper.
Billy Taylor (35:59):
Yeah. You know, I, I, I, I support because I don’t look at it as even a donation. I look at it as an investment. Right. Uh, everyone, I know everybody, I know that has someone in, in their family that has some type of disability. You said it yourself, right. Every one out of four, right. You just can see, uh, yours. Right. When you say you sitting in a wheelchair, but investing in those, those people, uh, that’s why I contribute. So how do people contribute? How, how would they donate to, to help?
Will Waller (36:31):
Well, we’re gonna drop a link in the description okay. Of this, of this, uh, podcast. And, and that’s, uh, one way, another way is really, uh, simple. You can go to nwba.org/donate, and there’s a way to give there. But one of the things that, uh, we’ve also done is partnered with people’s donor advised funds. They have different organizations that work with, uh, people’s portfolios and, and things of the like mm-hmm <affirmative>. So we’ve worked with various organizations that manage a donor advised fund, but we’ve also come up with a process and tools where if somebody wants to make a donation with their stock, uh, as they’re thinking about managing and mitigating all the capital gains that they may have in their portfolio, um, they can make a stock donation directly to us. And because we’re a, a nonprofit 5 0 1 C three, we can then transact that stock and there’d be no capital gains impact to them. And it’s a write off for the individuals. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so a
Billy Taylor (37:34):
Will Waller (37:35):
Yeah, absolutely. So you, you have the opportunity to give to a great cause that changes lives, and you have the opportunity to do it in a way where it might provide some tax benefit, uh, to you and, uh, and yeah. And then there’s other ways to get involved. Right. So when you talk about giving you talk about time, talent, and treasure, absolutely. What we’ve just described is, uh, the monetary aspect of giving, but there’s information on our website nwba.org/donate, where you could also learn how to, uh, volunteer for a local organization, or find other ways to get involved with your thoughtware and, and your, uh, thought leadership.
Billy Taylor (38:16):
I like that. So, well, you’re an exciting and dynamic guy to talk to. So how do people get in contact with you?
Will Waller (38:22):
Uh, well, the, the easiest way to get in contact with me is over email and that’s will, will waller.com. Okay. And, uh, and I’d be happy, you know, if people are considering wanting to help their organization on their disability journey, happy to offer my insights, happy to connect them with other individuals, uh, for me, at the end of the day, it’s about creating more access, uh, to opportunity for people with disabilities. I’ve been the beneficiary of many people, opening doors for me, mm-hmm <affirmative>, and I’ve had to push through ’em and, and do the work and all of that. But the truth is without them ever being opened in the first place will Waller would not be, will Waller. So for me, I just want to facilitate that process for as many people as possible and help those individuals realize they have potential mm-hmm <affirmative> and help them go after pursuing it.
Billy Taylor (39:13):
I love it. Well, I’m going to hit that link that we will talked about, uh, as an investment. And well, I want to thank you for coming on the show today and what you’ve done. Um, I remember you being at the, uh, blump hanger and you were talking to kids and kids were looking at you. They may not have been, uh, what they, what they’d say in the confines of a wheelchair, but they were in the confines of something else and you showed them how to release themselves, right. Because that’s important. Uh, and I’m gonna end with DNI, right? Uh, diversity, uh, is who makes things happen? Inclusion is what makes things happen, right? And if you don’t put everybody in that, I tell people I have 13 degrees when I was working in north America. And I said, a pretty smart guy. I said, I was smart enough to earn two. And I hired 11, and I used all 13 of those degrees. And that’s what inclusion is because I hired also to compliment me, right. Not to compete with me. And I, I, I let everybody come to the table because like I say, I’m an end with, if you make people visible
Will Waller (40:19):
That make you valuable.
Billy Taylor (40:20):
So I tell you what, well thank you for being on the show. Uh, this episode is an exciting one for me, reach out to will those that, uh, want to continue the discussion and hear more about the, the, the wheelchair national basketball association are just to touch base with, will around the talent, the war on talent. And so with that said, I hope you enjoyed the winning league because will Waller is a winning link. Have a good
Will Waller (40:45):
One. Thank you, Billy. All
Billy Taylor (40:47):
Right. Thank you.
Thank you for listening to the winning link. Please go to our website for links to everything that was mentioned in today’s episode, please subscribe to the winning link to be notified of our latest news events and updates. We welcome you to the link team.
Will Waller- Prior to his current role as CEO of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), Will accumulated nearly 20 years of Human Resources experience with 3 Fortune 150 global organizations: The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Whirlpool Corporation and Honeywell International. Throughout his career, Will has consistently been tapped to lead complex assignments, and support senior leadership in driving culture change. This required the ability to work (and get teams to work) across functions, geographies and different levels of the organization. When not driving large scale change initiatives, senior leaders and employees regularly sought Will out for coaching on how to navigate the people side of business, including their own careers. His direct and honest style, which is often missing in the Corporate environment, would become known as “Keepin’ It Will.” Will’s business experience and his journey in the sport of wheelchair basketball have prepared him to lead the NWBA through the Pandemic and pursue the organization’s strategic priorities. In under 2 years, significant progress has been made in improving the financial position of the NWBA, enhancing Governance, and building the capabilities of its 225 field programs and 3,000 members. Connect with Will on LinkedIn.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Data Analytics and Metrics Intern
Patch is a fourth-year Management Information Systems and Marketing major at the University of Georgia. He is working with Supply Chain Now in data analysis, finding insights and best practices to increase company efficiency. Patch previously worked as an intern at AnswerRocket, a data analytics company where he gained invaluable knowledge about analytics, webpage SEO and B2B marketing best practices. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, going to concerts, and watching movies.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Host of TEKTOK
If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.
With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.