Healthcare needs vary the world over, and for many people, accessibility is the number one challenge – especially when disaster strikes. International Medical Corps is a large organization, with a current presence in 30 countries and a staff of about 8,000. While most of their team is local to each country, the emergency response unit is comprised of just 20 people, each with expertise in a certain field – including logistics. In this episode of Logistics with Purpose, Ronny Elfassy, Deputy Director, Emergency Response Operations at International Medical Corps, joins hosts Enrique Alvarez and Kristi Porter to discuss his field experience and the important role that logistics plays in their disaster response operations.
Welcome to Logistics with Purpose presented by Vector Global Logistics in partnership with Supply chain. Now we spotlight and celebrate organizations who are dedicated to creating a positive impact. Join us for this behind the scenes glimpse of the origin stories change, making progress and future plans of organizations who are actively making a difference. Our goal isn’t just to entertain you, but to inspire you to go out and change the world. And now here’s today’s episode of Logistics with Purpose.
Enrique Alvarez (00:36):
Good Day and welcome once again to another episode of Logistics with Purpose. It is a pleasure to be here with you today. My name is Enrique Alvarez, and I have an amazing co-host with me. Kristi. Kristi, how are you doing? How’s your week going?
Kristi Porter (00:49):
It’s good. We haven’t done this together in a while, so I’m excited to be having another conversation with you and with one of our tremendous guests. It’s fun to be here again with you. It’s been a
Enrique Alvarez (01:00):
While. I, I agree. It has been a while and I think it has been a while for both. So we actually are both reconnecting and we have an amazing guest today. Yeah. Uh, before I jumped into or you jump into introducing him, anything, uh, good that has happened to you in the last couple weeks? Anything interesting?
Kristi Porter (01:16):
Uh, well, yesterday, for those who are catching us on the recording, yesterday was July 4th, so it was nice to have a little bit of a break there. I am currently in Colorado Springs, so I was able to visit the World War II Aviation Museum and see a lot of record planes and most of which are so complicated. I cannot repeat to you now all the facts, but they were super interesting to look at before we got a hailstorm <laugh>.
Enrique Alvarez (01:41):
Well, I’m glad that, I’m glad you had a good time. And for everyone that’s watching, this is going to be airing after for the July, but happy for the July to everyone. That’s
Kristi Porter (01:50):
Right. Never to.
Enrique Alvarez (01:51):
And now, without further ado, I guess please introduce our guest of honor.
Kristi Porter (01:56):
Yes, we are thrilled to have with us today, Ronnie Alfasi, deputy Director of E R U Operations and Preparedness at International Medical Core. Um, a tremendous organization which Ronnie’s gonna share more about. I’ve, for some reason have lived under a rock and only heard about them about a year ago. So we are delighted to have more of Ronnie’s firsthand experience and account with us. So Ronnie, thank you so much for being here.
Ronny Elfassy (02:22):
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Kristi Porter (02:24):
Absolutely. And before we get into sort of what you’re doing now, which is a lot, we’re gonna cover a lot of ground, but first of all, we wanna hear a little bit more about you personally. Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like? Tell us about those early years.
Ronny Elfassy (02:37):
Yes. Well, I grew up thinking that I had a typical childhood, but then learned that that wasn’t the case. So I was, uh, born in South Africa, um, near Johannesburg and lived there for about nine years. Moving houses often as well, uh, often like in South Africa. And then when we moved to Israel, I lived there until I was 16 and then we moved to Canada. So kind of lived all over the place and for no specific reason, I think, uh, my parents just kind of like to move around. And um, yeah, so I got a lot of kind of international experience. My mom’s from South Africa and my dad’s from Morocco, so that added, you know, another element to it. And, uh, I’ve lived in Peru as well, which we can get into later. But that’s kind of, my background is kind of a international mover.
Kristi Porter (03:21):
Those are four very different cultures as well. So what were some of your big culture shifts?
Ronny Elfassy (03:26):
Yeah, that’s a good question. I think the, the big thing was for sure the language. Like moving to Israel without speaking barely any Hebrew, um, was, was a tough one. And so I, I remember my sister and I spending the first year, um, at a center where the majority of your day is spent on kind of bringing you up to speed on the language skills. And I think we were there mostly with Russians actually that had moved to Israel. So we, we had a learning some Russia as well, <laugh>. But yeah, so, so that was interesting and very different culture as well, kind of that more Middle Eastern has a warm nature to it, kind of like, you know, outspoken and that, so that took a bit of time to learn and then moved to Canada, which is very different <laugh>. So I had to literally relearn my English. So sometimes I say English is my, my third language. That took a while. But then also Canada has a kind of a different culture to it as well. So yeah, it’s been interesting.
Enrique Alvarez (04:20):
Who do you cheer for in the World Cup or the Olympics? It seems so many o so many options on Moroccos joined so great in. Yeah,
Ronny Elfassy (04:28):
You know, we, we did want, uh, friend my friends and I went to just different areas in Toronto, that, that’s where the home team was from. And we just went to the bar there and cheered to that team and that was a lot of fun. So diplomatic, but amazing.
Enrique Alvarez (04:42):
Yes. Amazing. So, Ronnie, looking back to kind of those early years, any particular story, any particular memory that you can share with us that kind of shape who you are today and what you’re doing?
Ronny Elfassy (04:54):
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, when you grow up, um, with a family that moves a lot, some people have the reaction of kind of wanting to stay put and not move and, uh, find stability. I think in my case it was a bit of the opposite. I really enjoyed it, um, you know, learning about new cultures and, um, and so I just kept traveling. And I think before my undergrad I had traveled a lot in Latin America. Um, and after undergrad I actually, uh, went and spent a, about a year traveling in Southeast Asia and South Asia. And so, so yeah, so I think that was kind of the first place, uh, living in India. I was in India for I think about three months. And that was the first place where I was really hit with like the shock of what kind of levels of poverty people are living in.
Ronny Elfassy (05:41):
And, you know, I went there as a traveler, as a tourist, kind of doing kind of the tourist thing, but I still think I’m more interested in, you know, how could I help out what kind of things that we could we do in our lives to, to make the situation better. And so that was the first real time that I looked into this whole field of humanitarian relief and international development. I had volunteered in Calcotta with the Mother Teresa’s, um, for the, the Dying and Destitute, which is a very intense place to have your first, uh, volunteer experience. I came out of that, um, and this was towards the end of my trip kind of thinking like, okay, how can I use this for my life and for my career? And so I started looking into the different programs and that’s kind of what led me to pursue like further education in the, in this field.
Enrique Alvarez (06:30):
It sounds like a life-changing experience, right? I mean, what, just how old were you and, and what, again, how someone probably as young as you were when you decided to do that had the uh, I guess the strength and, uh, courage to do it? Cuz again, it sounds, sounds strong, uh, great experience, but definitely life changing as well.
Ronny Elfassy (06:53):
Yeah, I mean, I, now, I’m trying to remember how old I was. I think I was in my mid twenties, maybe early twenties. And, uh, it just didn’t make sense to me that this could even, that this situation could even exist. And I think it helped a little bit that I went by myself and I wasn’t traveling in a, in a big group. I was pretty flexible. So I can, I could kind of look into different ways of volunteering, but also what that did was I was always having conversations with locals there. And so I would be sitting at a bench somewhere by myself and people would come talk to me, or what if I was on the train, people would approach me. I think that happens anyway in India, right? Um, but being by yourself is definitely helps to kind of get that conversation going.
Ronny Elfassy (07:38):
So I think that’s, that was what made it, you know, possible to, to kind of do those things. And throughout my career I’ve had these different moments of kind of gaining more clear understanding of the industry of international development and of humanitarian relief and what, you know, what things you can do that are actually helpful or might potentially be hurtful. And, and they kind of directed my career in that way. So the beginning was really like, how can I help all these people? Which is I think, where a lot of people start. And then at some point throughout that career, and I, I’m sure we’ll get into it, but it kind of started shifting towards the fact that this is a two-way street. Like I’m learning from them as much as, you know, I can help them from, from my end. And that was when I was living in Peru and really like gaining new understanding of how this, how it works. And, and then eventually that kind of led to more of the humanitarian relief side. Like, you know, what happens during an emergency response and how important that is for, to be there first, you know, kind of first boots on the ground, I think.
Kristi Porter (08:40):
Well, and I’m curious too, let’s back up a couple of years for your academic experience. So that makes perfect sense how you got to the humanitarian side of things. You studied economics, you have a master’s in economic development. So what were you originally planning to do? Cause that’s not a big pivot, but certainly a pivot.
Ronny Elfassy (08:59):
Yeah, yeah, I for sure. Yeah, originally I actually, I applied to get into jazz college. I used to, oh, <laugh>. Yeah. So you boy, you play. Yeah. Good ahead. Yeah, tell us about that. Well, I used to play guitar, bass, guitar. I was in band. I really loved it. I was kind of obsessed with music and, uh, I thought this was gonna be my, my career. So, um, so yeah, so I applied for, uh, uh, Hamburg Jazz College in Toronto. And I didn’t get in, I failed audition because of the theory of reading notes and everything. I just, I don’t know, I wasn’t there. And so I couldn’t decide what to do. The next best thing was, well, economics, <laugh>, that seems like a safe bet. Nice. I like numbers, so let’s go with that. And it ended up being kind of a blessing in disguise because what I learned from it was, you know, studying micro and macroeconomics.
Ronny Elfassy (09:55):
So more the macro scale of things, like looking at countries in a big picture scale was super interesting. I, I realized that I really liked that. And then also, um, stats numbers, working with Excel, I really loved that. And, you know, we did, um, some courses where we were looking at, uh, developing countries and looking at different economic incentives or procedures or whatever, um, or, uh, policies that countries would implement and how they affect people. And so it kind of, it laid the background for, for me, going into this international field. And then, yeah, and then after that, uh, trip in India, um, I was very excited to study international development that seemed to me like the, the path forward for, uh, getting into this career. And I ended up getting into what’s called the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs, which is based in Ottawa, Carleton.
Ronny Elfassy (10:52):
And it’s considered one of the top schools for international affairs with a very clear goal for people to go there is to get into government work. It’s the best path to get into it. And that is kind of what I did. So I wanted to study more of like the practical international development side, like working with organizations and everything. And, you know, you could, I did get some of that over there. And then right out of school was hired by, uh, global Affairs Canada, which is the Foreign Aid Department of Canada, kind of like U S A I D. And I realized pretty soon that this is not for me. I need to be <laugh> in the field working. I need to see changes happening fast. You know, in the government, we were working in the economic policy department, so there’s kind of like looking at different policy that you can do, um, for developing countries or for low income countries to help them kind of get out of poverty. But those things, those are high level policies that take years to actually see an effect. And for someone, you know, eager to get out there at a young age, it, it just wasn’t for me. And so I decided, uh, to leave and to, to go from there to work in kind of like a smaller grassroots ngo.
Kristi Porter (12:05):
Wow. So, well, that takes us, that’s a pretty good segue to what you’re doing now. So talk a little bit about International Medical Corps. What is it and what is your role there?
Ronny Elfassy (12:16):
Sure. So yeah, international Medical Corps, uh, born in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses, uh, actually in Afghanistan where there was, uh, I think a third of the population at the time were refugees that weren’t able to access healthcare. And so these were passionate medical practitioners that wanted to provide healthcare services, but also train locals on how to provide healthcare services to multiply their effects. And so, you know, when I say healthcare services, uh, we’re, we’re looking at primary and, and emergency healthcare, but also other related services like mental health and psychosocial supports, nutrition services, nutrition assessments, water sanitation, hygiene, uh, services, you know, prevention of, of gender-based violence is another big one that, that we focus on. So that’s, that’s kind of how International Medical Course started. Since then, since 1984, we’ve, uh, operated in, uh, just about 80 countries with a budget of about 4 billion over, over that time.
Ronny Elfassy (13:17):
So, you know, a massive reach. Uh, we’re currently in about 30, uh, countries, uh, actively. And so, uh, and, and white international medical, what kind of prides ourself on is, so responding to emergencies and reaching those hard to reach places, the places that a lot of other organizations don’t want to go or can’t reach, that’s what we do. So we’re kind of first on the ground first there no matter where. That’s what we kind of say about ourselves. Uh, primary focus is saving lines, and then we look at how we can build longer term services. Um, so some of the things, some of the other things we look at is infectious diseases. So treating and preventing Ebola, cholera, COVID 19, we’re very active. The end of that is really the training piece, which is how do we take people from humanitarian relief to self-reliance and how do we give them the skills, um, to provide that healthcare that, you know, that we we’re doing.
Ronny Elfassy (14:14):
And so that’s, that’s International Medical Core, my team. So I’m, uh, I work in operations and emergency response. So my team we’re, so International Medical Core is a large organization, 30 countries, about 8,000 staff. Most of the crew are local to that country, right? So massive organization. But the emergency response unit is actually pretty small. There’s about 20 of us, each kind of experts at a certain field. So you’ll have, someone really knows logistics, really knows procurement. You’ll have people that, you know, on the health side of things, programs, finance, all of that. Um, and so my team focuses on logistics, procurement. And so when I say logistics, I mean, uh, you know, warehouse management, freight, all of those kinds of things. And then, um, and then operations. So we look at, you know, we know what we want to do and we’re, we’re trying to figure out how to do it, how to do it the best way. And then I also oversee HR as a component of operations. And so every time we deploy to a different country, we need to figure out what that HR structure is, right? So, um, yeah, we have a team of four or five very, uh, very gifted individuals in this team.
Enrique Alvarez (15:22):
Yeah, there’s a lot of logistics, right? Going on on, uh, for supplies and products, but also for humans, uh, making sure that you can get there at the, wherever the emergency is quickly and efficiently and, uh, have boots on the ground as fast as possible.
Ronny Elfassy (15:37):
Yep, for sure.
Enrique Alvarez (15:38):
Well, thank you once again for everything you and the I M C does. And, um, I wanted to point out that you helped I M C achieve the classification from the World Health Organization as an EMT type one mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so my first question is, what is that <laugh>? And then the second is, well, congratulations for achieving it, cuz you are apparently, I think one of the only NGOs in the world that has this classification for both categories, correct?
Ronny Elfassy (16:05):
Yeah. The only, the only, uh, non-government organization currently in the world to have both EMT type one fixed and mobile.
Enrique Alvarez (16:13):
And so, and for everyone that’s listening to us or watching this on YouTube, so what, could you tell us a bit more about what the EM t type one is and why is so important? If you could tell us a bit more about how that kind of validates all those things that you and your team are doing.
Ronny Elfassy (16:27):
Sure. And, and actually, you know, you can see behind me, this is an E M T Type one fix. This was actually in, in, at Texas a and m, what we set up to get certified by the W H O. The idea behind this is, um, it’s a standardized approach for medical deployment. So, you know, in the past, and even nowadays, a lot of times when you deploy to emergency response, you’ll have a lot of organizations doing different things, not coordinating well. And it becomes crucial when you’re actually delivering medical aid to make sure that you have some kind of, some standards there. And there’s many reasons, but you know, one of them is that you’re working with a Ministry of Health, you’re working with health professionals there, and so everyone kind of needs to be in line and, and understand what we’re doing here. And so what the E M T is, it’s, it’s a fast self-sufficient health, um, health facility basically. And the type one, um, means that we provide, uh, outpatient healthcare. We are able to set up within 48 hours of getting an assignment from the W H O, we’re, we’re able to set up and start treating patients, uh,
Enrique Alvarez (17:35):
Everywhere in the world. 48 hours.
Ronny Elfassy (17:38):
Yeah. So I mean this, as soon as, you know, as soon as we get the assignment on the location, and this often comes, uh, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and the W H O, then we can set this thing up and start treating patients. An EMT type one fix has the capacity to see a hundred patients a day. And the type one mobile, which is similar to the fix, you know, you have your base camp there, which is where you store your supplies, where people sleep, but you’re sending, um, mobile medical teams out to communities, out to art to reach places. So oftentimes people can’t reach you where you’re at. And so that, that type one mobile has the capacity to see 50 patients a day. And so, wow. Yeah, the structure of it, uh, looking at the fixed one, you have, you have a triage, kind of like a waiting area and a triage.
Ronny Elfassy (18:29):
Um, and then you have emergency department fully equipped, then a few consultation rooms, which include maternal and child health programs that we can deliver. Um, there’s an isolation tent for anyone suspected to have any infectious diseases. We have, uh, pharmacy there. Um, there’s a base base camp for our staff and medical volunteers, um, a warehouse, an office, and then there’s a lot of like water and sanitation and hygiene components to this. So there’s water bladders that are, you know, have clean water that come out to all of the tents. And there’s also water taps where the community can come and drink the water from there. Um, there’s larine, there’s showers, um, so really kitchen I assume as well, there’s a kitchen. Yeah. So
Speaker 5 (19:12):
It’s basically like a hos the whole hospital.
Ronny Elfassy (19:14):
Yeah, yeah, basically outpatient, yeah, outpatient hospital. Uh, and we deploy with enough supplies to be self-sufficient for about two weeks, sometimes more. And then, you know, we have standards on replenishment times on how we track consumption and all of that. So it’s a massive lift. A lot of logistics are involved in getting this thing out. We’re, we’re proud to have this as one of our flagship programs. It’s
Kristi Porter (19:40):
Remarkable. Yeah, really just amazing and how quickly you can organize and some of the situations you’re walking into are all over the place. So it’s amazing what you can do so quickly and how you’ve, um, risen to that challenge. It’s incredible. You are, of course, as you just talked about, I M C is very well known in responding to emergencies, but you also, as you mentioned a little bit earlier, you help make individuals in those communities. Um, you take them from relief to self-reliance. So why is, there’s plenty of work to be done when you arrive, when you set up, when you’re boots on the ground, there’s probably other organizations that could step in for the self-reliance part. Why, what does that look like and why is that important to your work as well?
Ronny Elfassy (20:24):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so I, I’ll give you this EMT as an example. When we deploy, we we’re working with the Ministry of Health, and it’s crucial for us that we work with local actors, so national NGOs, uh, um, government actors, local communities, because oftentimes, you know, when we’re gone, that leaves a gap and we wanna make sure that those services can continue and that they’re up to par with those standards that we believe in. And so with the example of an E M T, we’ll deploy and we’ll start running the clinic with medical volunteers, um, doctors and nurses. But what we want to do is right away start hiring or working with Ministry of Health doctors and nurses or local clinic doctors and nurses and start handing over. And so that by the end of this, they are the ones running the C M T and they can take it forward, um, once we leave.
Ronny Elfassy (21:18):
And so that’s, that’s crucial for us. Um, we know that when you train people and you multiply the effect that you can have, um, so we do, that’s a, a big focus of, of ours is, is training. So, you know, we, in our programs, we’re training thousands of people a year. And these are different trainings with, um, different levels, not just in primary healthcare, but also looking at mental health and psychosocial support. So we’re providing psychological first aid training where when a disaster happens, locals are there, they can respond immediately, and if they have this training, they don’t need to wait for us to, to come. We provide training in nutrition and water and sanitation hygiene logistics is another one that people, you know, might not think about. But, uh, you know, we we’re working with locals, right? And so we’re, we’re, as we deploy, we’re kind of working with them and building up their capacity to respond in terms of logistics.
Ronny Elfassy (22:12):
And so that, that really pays off in the long term if they have that, that capacity. Another example in, uh, emergency healthcare training. So right now we’re working with, um, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative to, to provide training in Ukraine. And so there we’re providing training for healthcare providers on emergency and trauma care, mass casualty management. You know, these are often people that might not be used to responding through a disaster, but something has happened in their country. And so we’re providing them the tools to respond in the future. And that’s when I was saying, you know, we have close to 8,000 staff globally. A lot of those are locals, um, that know the context. They know how to respond when they’ve been trained.
Enrique Alvarez (22:57):
Ronnie, quick question for you. So why was the last one, the last E m t that you guys set up, or the last couple?
Ronny Elfassy (23:03):
So in Haiti, actually, there was an earthquake August, 2021, it’s a 7.2 earthquake there. Yep. Over 2000 people died. There were over 12,000 injured, and, and over 650 pe thousand people were in need of assistance. And that shows you kind of the scale of what, you know, a disaster hits, how many people actually need assistance. It’s massive. Another interesting thing is that when something happens, it, it’s, people think of a, a natural disaster, let’s say, as a one month thing, but people need assistance way beyond that. You know, you have the people that are injured initially from the disaster, but then you have after effect of people not living, people sleeping on the streets, there’s infections, there’s all kinds of things that come up. And then the recovery phases can last, you know, months if not a year or so. Um, Haiti was the last time we actually deployed the E M t. Hmm.
Enrique Alvarez (24:01):
Wow. So if you could give us a couple of stories maybe that have impacted you personally, uh, one of these maybe MT setups or something that throughout your career with imc, your very successful career with them, uh, something that’s personally touched you and just made you better or just reflect
Ronny Elfassy (24:20):
Yeah. So that, that response keeping on that example with the Haiti response, just to give you an idea of the, well, I’ll walk through some of the stats of, of what we were actually able to achieve. So we provided about 6,000 health consultations, um, one and a half thousand prevention of gender-based violence services, which includes over 600, um, mental health and psychosocial support sessions. You know, people are coming to us, they have privacy, they have specialists that they’re able to talk to with our water sanitation hygiene. We provided over 65,000 liters of clean water to the community. Uh, we had a, you know, 25 medical volunteers. There were about, there were over 30 staff that we deployed, which eventually transitioned over to local staff. Now what that means logistically, that E N T had 140 pallets in it, mainly coming from our warehouse in Memphis, that we store our supplies with FedEx in Memphis that provide us with free storage, and FedEx is one of our big biggest partners.
Ronny Elfassy (25:26):
And then we keep our pharmaceuticals with one of our vendors, um, in the Netherlands that we have an agreement with. And so you’re looking at, and then we have some supplies in LA at our headquarters. So you’re kind of looking at, something happens, you need to get everything from all those places. So, you know, 140 pallets, it’s about over 31 tons, 70,000 pounds. And that’s massive. And so just in the US we, we need a f a ma, a huge flatbed for all those kind of oversized pallets. And then five large dry vans with 53 foot truck trucks that you see FedEx, uh, driving around in. And then, uh, FedEx actually provided us with a free charter plane. So now, well we’re, we’re all getting ready to deploy and you have to make that go no-go decision, right? And that’s always a big point for us.
Ronny Elfassy (26:15):
And so there’s a lot of things that play there. One is, um, if we’re not registered in country, we need either a local organization that we can work with as the consignee for the shipment. So that’s a big bottleneck. If you don’t have a consignee, nothing is moving, right? Some of our supplies are dangerous goods. So for dangerous goods, you can get them to the point of almost ready. You can package them correctly, you can label them mostly correctly. And then the last point of that is you need to fill out your shipper’s declaration, which has to have a consignee on it. But if we don’t know we’re delo where we’re deploying, then we always have to do that last minute. And so that’s a tough one for us that we have to figure out. But we did it using a local team in Memphis that helps us out now whenever we have a response.
Ronny Elfassy (27:01):
And so then you get your supplies on a plane and then I go out there to be on the tarmac when that plane lands to make sure that it’s getting cleared. In this situation, because it was the emt, we had the Ministry of Health and, uh, paho, which is W H o, um, Latin America and Caribbean Wing, so the Pan American Health Organization. So they were the ones that worked with us to get the supplies in. So this is a UN organization, right? So you’re getting expedited clearance, but it’s still difficult, especially during a response where so much supplies are coming in and you know, things are chaotic and everyone there just went through this emergency themselves. So people are kind of shooken as well. And with the earthquakes you’re having after shops all the time. So that was kind of that side. Then you get there and so you gotta clear the shipment and load it up.
Ronny Elfassy (27:53):
So that loaded up into about eight truck. And then we had to figure out, because of some security situations in the field, we couldn’t just load the trucks up and take them all the way to our site. We had to kind of wait for World Food Program, um, to help us with convoys, take those trucks. And because it was so much supplies, we had to divide that up into two different convoys and into two different days. And so in the meantime, you need somewhere to store all this stuff and you have cold chains. So some of our pharmaceuticals are stored, um, in cold boxes. And so we have to get those out right away because it’s really hot on the tarmac in Haiti. Make sure that we, you know, the cold chain didn’t break and then make sure that we’re storing them in the right place.
Ronny Elfassy (28:37):
So, you know, massive lift. And so then they get to site and you have to set up, and that’s our, our goal is to set up within 24 to 48 hours, so this is seven large 10, we’re using about 30 daily workers that we found from the community, which is great cuz we’re able to pay them a daily wage and so they can take that home. Then, you know, we had about eight generators, five ton HVAC units to make sure that our emergency department, our pharmacy are kept cold. So you are using a lot of fuel as well. We had to set up a fuel depot with five barrels of fuel when it’s not easy to come by fuel in a disaster, right? And so all of those, you know, it’s just really difficult. And then you have, you have your team, so you need to find a place for them to stay.
Ronny Elfassy (29:18):
You need vehicles to get people around. So we, we had about eight vehicles with nine drivers that we had to figure out their schedule every day, who’s going in which car? And you know, the security, so everyone has V H F radios and we’re communicating and then, yeah. And so, so massive lift, but ultimately we get this thing set up and every day that I arrived at the, at the E M T 5:00 AM 6:00 AM there’s a lineup of people that are waiting to be seen. And you just see the needs there are massive. And for me, I mean you just see the payoff, like this is really needed. Um, and we were there for three months and every day we were seeing about a hundred patients a day. We were at our capacity and you know, people were coming in and we tried to see everyone.
Ronny Elfassy (30:05):
We would get to points where we couldn’t. And so we would give them bracelets to make sure the next day they come, they’re first in line and towards the end of it, it’s not people that are immediately affected by an injury from the earthquake, but they have knock on effect. And I don’t know if you’ve ever had the situation where you felt a little bit sick, but you went to see a doctor and you just walk out of there feeling better. And to me, I, I kind of think, I felt like that’s the feeling that people were getting, that they were able to be seen by, you know, highly trained doctors and with people from their community nurses and doctors from their community that Right. Understood them and understood their needs and were able to walk out of there feeling a lot better.
Kristi Porter (30:44):
Yeah. Well that’s really amazing to hear <laugh>, all the details that go into that. And I feel like it’s an episode of 24 <laugh> because it’s all happening and you’re like, how is this happening so quickly? We’ve only, it’s only been an hour in 24 hours, it’s really, uh, remarkable. I’m curious and you sound very passionate and excited about your work. So I have a couple of questions for you. One, there’s a difference in talking about humanitarian aid where you’re talking wash, gender-based violence, some of those that are sort of long-term efforts versus these critical 48 hours staying in Haiti for three months, this kind of thing. That’s all, uh, disaster response. So you could have, I guess, gone either way and maybe you’ve done both, but what is it that makes you so excited about this is a grueling effort? It’s incredibly rewarding, but it’s also a grueling and just being wanting to be in the humanitarian sector, you could have just been somewhere where this is a long term effort and every day is a little bit the same and that kind of thing versus what time is my alarm clock or alarm, you know, I’m gonna go off today.
Ronny Elfassy (31:48):
Yeah, it’s a great question and I think it’s one that a lot of people have because a lot of people start in the international development world where you’re working on long term projects. So I started with a local NGO in Peru, in the mountains where I, I live there with them for two years or working on these longer term projects. Sometimes you start thinking like you’re, you’re not a hundred percent sure of is what you’re doing having the best and the biggest effect on people, right? And there are many ways that you can mess that up. And I think that NGOs do sometimes mess that up when they’re not careful enough to tailor their programs to the local context to make sure that you’re understanding what people actually need and people want. So it’s difficult. Those, those kinds of projects are difficult. And I, after I got back from per, I worked with uh, another NGO called I D R F based in Toronto, that, that actually funded some of these projects.
Ronny Elfassy (32:42):
We had a three year project in Zambia for prevention of mother to child transmission of H I V aids. Really sensitive topic, a lot of programs that you can do to help that. Um, but it’s tough and you have a three year project and you’re trying to see like, you know, are the results there. And through that ngo there was, uh, in 2015 I believe there was the earthquake in Nepal where we funded a local NGO in Canada, global medic and um, to do this emergency response. And my kind of style was, you know, they would send me a proposal, I would review it, I would come back with a lot of questions cause I wanna make sure that what they’re doing is the right thing, but in emergency response it doesn’t work like that. And so I did that and I, the response that I got back was, why don’t you just come with us and see what we do instead of us sitting down and trying to respond to all these questions and said, sure.
Ronny Elfassy (33:34):
So I went with them for three weeks and we responded to the earthquake there and you know, they didn’t see me as some kind of donor. I was one of them, I was staff and I was going out to the field and doing all these things and we had, there was a second earthquake, a very large one that happened while I was there and many after shots at night. And so I was really in it, really got to see, um, the needs and it, there’s no gray area here, people need help right away. And to me, I don’t know, it kind of gave me this feeling that what I’m doing is the right thing. Um, and then also I think there is a little bit of adrenal adrenaline aspect to it. So people in our team, these are people that, that adrenaline kicks in and they go, go, go. And so you actually kind of have to learn how to stop working because people will not stop and you’ll work from morning to night, you’ll get burnt out. And so yeah, so that’s kind of a, something that came later on and how to learn how to kind of pace yourself. But I think it’s that, that clear mission that people need, they that you’re providing right away. And then also the, the adrenaline that kicks in that just you, cuz you see the work in front of you, what you’re doing.
Enrique Alvarez (34:44):
Wow. Just incredible. And you guys are incredibly brave and courageous and we are, we can be more thankful for having people like you and your team in the world, cuz uh, you definitely make a difference. Mm-hmm.
Ronny Elfassy (34:56):
<affirmative>, thank you.
Enrique Alvarez (34:58):
Thank you. So the A M C S presence, uh, everywhere, you already established that. So Africa, America, Asia, middle East, Europe, uh, you name it. So how do you and your team stay prepared and and maintain that readiness? Uh, in terms of logistics and supplies? And, and I’ll break it down in maybe two parts. One is, what are the top kind of, uh, news or parameters or, uh, just world news outlets out there that you keep an eye on? I mean is are you trying to somehow, uh, get ready before the disaster happens? Do you have like a couple things already on your schedule that say, well, this isn’t looking good, maybe a couple months we will have to jump in here or there, or is there some type of, uh, planning or forecasting that goes along? And then of course, how do you get prepared and get ready, uh, mentally and physically for, from a logistics and supply standpoint too,
Ronny Elfassy (35:52):
You mean? Yeah. So it is very interesting because there are ways to prepare for emergencies and something, our senior director always says that healthcare emergencies are predictable. And so there’s a, a few different things that we do. One of them is, um, we work with our different country missions around the world on something we call them, uh, emergency preparedness plans, where basically we looked at what’s called a hazard vulnerability index. So we’re looking at typical disasters that could happen in their country, and then we look at the likelihood of that happening, the impact if it does happen. And we also have a, we develop kind of a calendar because some diseases happen, you know, cyclical and they happen very specifically in some months of the year. And so we kind of know that that’s gonna happen and we wanna be prepared for that. So that is how we plan.
Ronny Elfassy (36:45):
And so what we, what comes out of that exercise is a focus on what supplies do they need to preposition in their warehouse to be ready to respond. What training though, what HR capacity do they do they need? So what kind of training can we provide to make sure that they’re ready to respond? And we, we actually just went through this exercise with some of our country mission and um, we saw with Central African Republic that we had, we looked at what supplies they need in terms of medical response to an emergency and we sent them over there and then conflict broke out, broke out in Sudan, and now you’re seeing influx of refugees coming in and the country mission actually needs it. They need to use those supplies to respond to an emergency. So, you know, it was probably a week after they received the supplies that they actually needed to use them.
Ronny Elfassy (37:35):
And so it kind of validated the point that, you know, this is, this is really worthwhile because a lot of these countries to, for supplies to get there and to actually clear customs, it can take a while. Some of it, sometimes it can be stuck for months. And so until you get approval to kind of clear these items now in an emergency, oftentimes if a country actually calls for international humanitarian assistance, they will expedite that process. So you can get things in faster, but, uh, during kind of blue sky days, um, it’s tough. And so we do a lot of planning with our, our different country missions. And then,
Enrique Alvarez (38:12):
Well it sounds, it sounds like you guys get ready before in, in this particular case, perfectly timed as well. So everyone had the supplies that they needed before they actually needed them by a week. May I add? So, uh, that’s, that’s great. I didn’t, I wasn’t really aware that there was like so much forecasting and planning. So you’re constantly shipping all over the world, depending on your models and what you think might happen when it comes to, I guess hurricanes could be somewhat predictable and some other fires. And
Ronny Elfassy (38:41):
Another example is hurricane season in the us. So we have a, a partnership with the district health of Florida. And so we actually start, um, having meetings with them at kickoff meetings right before hurricane season. And we look at our different pack, like our different kits and our different styles of responding and we just make sure everyone’s ready. We all know what we’re gonna do if something hits, um, our team, everyone has go bags, you know, they’re all ready to go. It’s sleeping bags, mosquito nets, everything. So yeah, we make sure that we’re ready. And our team, it’s, you know, we, we just have an amazing team, everyone so talented and you can deploy sometimes we have small scale emergencies and we’ll deploy one person out there and you know, you can rely on them to get everything going, to attend the un cluster meetings to make sure that they’re coordinating with everyone and to then kind of feed back into us and to tell us what is needed.
Ronny Elfassy (39:39):
And so we set up all these support systems. So for example, when we respond to emergencies, we have this kind of a WhatsApp help desk group where there’s a bunch of us sitting at home at headquarters and we’re fielding information requests. So someone in the field is saying, can you just, can you guys look up where the shelters are in this area for this hurricane? And they don’t have time to do that. So we are at home, we do the work, we send them the information and they can go on. So we have a lot of these different support systems set up to make sure people have the tools that they need.
Kristi Porter (40:11):
Wow. Impressive. You’ve probably figured out a lot due to trial and error <laugh>. I’m also wondering, so you’ve mentioned things that are, uh, actually a little more predictable, maybe like hurricane season, things like that. Then there’s of course, you know, one season is more, you know, I think this season is supposed to be actually be less active, but I don’t know if that’s gonna end up being true fire seasons. We’ve seen a lot of that. So due to things like climate change, your work will only increase, I’m sure over the last few years. Your response both to manmade and climate disasters have every, all the need is increased everywhere. And I’m continued to be surprised when we talk to people like you about disaster response and how small the teams are, how much you’re doing, and how much you tend to get done. And you have so much expertise to offer. So how would you like to see the disaster response space? How would you like to see it continue to evolve to meet the increasing needs?
Ronny Elfassy (41:12):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>? Well, I think what’s, one thing I would emphasize is that despite our emergency response unit being small, we have a, a large roster of people that at this point I know where we’re at. I’ll be over 250 people on our roster in different positions that are ready to deploy. And so, uh, we monitor, we have what we call an early warning system where we monitor every different kind of avenue that you can see at, uh, that, that you can monitor for disaster response. And then something happens, uh, if we have time, we will look at kind of an assessment criteria. Is this something worth responding to? Can we get there? Can we add value? And then as soon as when we do that, we issue a flash alert and so everyone in our roster gets an alert that there might be a potential deployment and then they can let us know if they’re available or not.
Ronny Elfassy (42:01):
So right away, we know who we have and who’s available. A lot of the people on our roster are actually part of our local country missions, which is great for us because they know the local context and that is so valuable. And so I think the one thing that we are trying to work on more and more is establish partnerships with local NGOs because they’re there on the ground and they’re the fastest to respond. And actually it can be a lot more efficient to basically kind of support them to do the work other than kind of like waiting for us to deploy and our supplies from the us. So, so that’s one thing. The strengthening partnerships, the local organizations is massive. The way that we developed, uh, kind of all of our country missions with local staff that know the context, that’s another very helpful thing.
Ronny Elfassy (42:48):
But then we’re also looking at other ways of deploying. Um, you know, we wanna look at kind of like the technological innovation that’s going on in the world. So sometimes you can see in the humanitarian world that we’re kind of like trailing behind, like catching up to the commercial technological world, world. Even though we, our problem solving skills I think are really high up there because we have to, we have all kinds of situations that we have to deal with that, for example, with freight that commercial freight forwarders aren’t used to. And so we have to come up with solutions and oftentimes we’ll be deploying and these commercial freight borderers will say, well, okay, we can’t ship because of this, and that’s never an acceptable answer to us. So we’re always trying to find solutions. And so what I think is that these humanitarian NGOs need to kind of take that skill of problem solving and look at the technologies that are out there today and see how we can work together.
Ronny Elfassy (43:45):
And there’s innovation, you know, there’s companies like Flexport that are doing freight with the, the, you know, that are, it’s kind of like a tech company. You have your trackers and your dashboard, and we’re working with them to actually display all of our shipments, even if it’s not done through them, so that we have these trackers that automatically update us if many things delayed. And there’s companies like Zipline doing drone deliveries or blood and and vaccines. And so that’s, these are, there’s a lot of companies that are kind of doing this massive innovation and I think NGOs, um, kind of need to look at ways to partner with with them. Another thing that for a while now has been very popular is doing cash based initiatives. So instead of bringing supplies in, which is heavy, costly, there’s a carbon footprint, you’re providing cash to people that need assistance.
Ronny Elfassy (44:35):
So you know, you have to make sure that there is, the market is working, that they can actually get the supplies that they need. But if that exists, then cash is often the best way to respond. You’re giving them the power to decide what they need. We’re also looking at, at, you know, solar initiatives. We’re looking at how to make, is there a possibility that we can deploy this EMT and run it on solar power? Cause oftentimes, not only is it good for the environment, but oftentimes, you know, you won’t have fuel. Um, and so it becomes kind of like risk mitigation. So these are, so the things that we’re looking at
Enrique Alvarez (45:07):
That’s very interesting. And of course, uh, technology plays a big part in the world and, and it does right now as well. So, no, that’s amazing. Again, once, uh, thank you so much. Before we kinda wrap it up, uh, Ronnie and thank you once again to you and your entire team for what you do. Um, in your own words, what does the phrase logistics with purpose mean?
Ronny Elfassy (45:28):
Yeah, legit to you. I think sometimes, I remember when I was younger, I had this job, um, a summer job at a globals factory and I remember my boss had, I saw his business card and it said logistician. And I was so curious like, what’s a logistician? But I just, I, it’s such a vivid picture in my mind when I said to myself, that sounds pretty cool, whatever that is. And uh, but people have this kind of, I don’t know, they, they have this picture in their mind of logistics is kind of boring. Um, you know, you’re like, I don’t know, people are setting up an event. So you’re booking a hotel room and getting catering and stuff like that. To me, logistics is just the most exciting thing ever. You’re looking at your supplies, how to get them from A to b I remember when we responded in The Bahamas to Hurricane Dorian, we had about 14 pallets of supplies that we needed to get them over to, to the island and there was no way to get supplies over.
Ronny Elfassy (46:26):
And we ended up working with the US government to take them onto Blackhawk helicopter. I went on there with the supplies. I mean, nice, some of these really cool, uh, moments in your, in your career where you’re doing these cool things. And to me it’s like I was saying that the team just, they won’t stop working and you’re just putting in these hours because, you know, with logistics that every hour you can be saving lives. Like if you get something moving cuz there’s roadblocks every step of, of the way you get roadblocks. And so, um, as soon as you sold one of those and you actually get supplies to where they need to be, it’s really rewarding. And to me that that’s kind of the, the purpose of it.
Kristi Porter (47:09):
Mm. It’s a great response. Yeah, I don’t think anybody is gonna listen to this interview and think that guy’s job is boring, <laugh>,
Enrique Alvarez (47:15):
No, probably not.
Kristi Porter (47:17):
Proven it’s wrong. And that instant instance. Well, thank you again so much for your time. This was terrific. I learned a lot more about your organization, which was wonderful, and about what you do as well. So I’m curious, how, how can people connect with you? How can they support International Medical Core? Tell us about any current needs.
Ronny Elfassy (47:36):
Yeah, well first of all, thanks so much for having me. Really a pleasure to always to be able to speak about what we do. Um, the best way to support us is through our website. So you can donate right there on our, uh, home page. And the reason why it’s so effective to do that is because that, that money allows us to respond to disasters that aren’t in the media, that people aren’t covering. Because when something is in the media, yes, you see an influx of, of money coming in that there’s so many disasters out there that aren’t being covered and there’s donor fatigue and all of that. And so when people donate online, it allows us to kind of decide what we need to do and what’s the, what would make the biggest impact. Other than that, I, I mentioned our roster, so any logistics professionals out there listening to us, just reach out to me. You can find me on LinkedIn, Rani and, uh, message me and let’s get you on the roster and get you deployed. Terrific.
Enrique Alvarez (48:29):
Roddy, thank you once again. And for everyone that’s listening and or watching this episode, thank you so much for, uh, joining us in on another episode of Logistics With Purpose. I’m Enrique Alvarez. I had the pleasure of co-hosting with Kristi Porter and we’ll see you on the next one. Thank you so much.
Ronny Elfassy is a logistics and operations specialist with over a decade of experience managing large-scale international projects, and leading disaster response deployments around the world. Mr. Elfassy serves as International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Operations Deputy Director, in charge of all disaster response operations from sourcing and prepositioning supplies to deploying and setting up in the field. Ronny has extensive experience in field assessments and getting supplies to where they are needed most in low resource settings. He has been working in the humanitarian field for 12 years and is an active member of the UNHCR logistics cluster and the IFRC ERU network. Prior to emergency response, Ronny worked on health and income generating projects with low income communities in Zambia, India, Guyana, and was stationed in Peru for 2 years. Ronny has deployed to disasters around the globe including Nepal, Haiti, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Mozambique, The Bahamas, and Puerto Rico and has been the lead logistician for IMC’s US based COVID19 response and recent WHO EMT Type 1 certification. Connect with Ronny 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.