While people are always listed first in the classic ‘people, process, and technology’ paradigm, when it comes to leading change, they are often considered last. That creates a situation where transformation projects may not be able to succeed, simply because the culture is too weak to support them. Karen Sammon is a committed Conscious Capitalist, and the CEO of a company by the same name. She has a successful track record as a transformational leader, guiding organizations through digital, and cultural transformations by focusing on cultivating and empowering collaborative, engaged and high-performing teams, through servant leadership and authenticity. In this episode of Logistics with Purpose, Karen joins Enrique Alvarez and Kristi Porter to talk about her professional journey and commitment to the cause of Conscious Capitalism.
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 (00:00:36):
Good Day. My name’s Enrique Alvarez, and we’re here together for another very exciting episode of Logistics With Purpose. I have the pleasure of co-hosting with Christie. Christie, how are you doing today?
Kristi Porter (00:00:47):
I’m good. It’s good to be back hosting with you. It’s been a while. We’ve been in different locations, but here we are on screen together. Again.
Enrique Alvarez (00:00:53):
It’s, it’s a pleasure to be here with you. And I agree, you’ve been actually traveling quite a lot these days, right? I mean, can you share a little bit of your extensive traveling this summer?
Kristi Porter (00:01:02):
Yeah. I have been traveling in house sitting full-time for like nine months now. So currently I am, it’s like a hundred degrees or more everywhere else. And I’m in Montana and it’s like 60. So <laugh>. I’m glad to be glad really beating the heat this summer.
Enrique Alvarez (00:01:17):
That sounds like an amazing concept. And I being has has allowed you to explore multiple locations ’cause you, and thank you for sharing some of those pictures and locations with us. But what is house sitting for people that might not know what it’s,
Kristi Porter (00:01:29):
Yeah, so I am literally just people around vacation or traveling for work or some other reason. And so I am watching their house or pet or both and just hanging out at their place and getting to know it a little bit better and getting to explore new areas. So I’ve been able to see places I haven’t been before. I just checked off my 47 state. Wow. So, yeah, I’m really, which
Enrique Alvarez (00:01:52):
One are you missing?
Kristi Porter (00:01:53):
I’ve got to get, yeah, a couple left. Oh, I take that back. I’m on 46. 46 <laugh>. And then I’m headed to, I’m already booked for Oregon, which is why I’m already counting that. And then Wisconsin after that. So it’s been good. That’s why we have the ability to work from anywhere else. And so the three of us know that well. And that’s been a really great opportunity.
Enrique Alvarez (00:02:14):
We have an amazing guest today. Well, do you wanna do the honors?
Kristi Porter (00:02:17):
I, well we are both super excited. Yes. We’ve been trying to get this scheduled. This is a woman of high importance and she has had a lot going on in her new position. And so we are thrilled to have her here because we’ve been fans of their organization for a long time. You’ve been able to meet her and a lot of their team in person. And so we are just absolutely thrilled to have Karen Salmon, c e o of Conscious Capitalism Inc. Here with us. Karen, good morning. How are you?
Karen Sammon (00:02:43):
Hi Kristy. Hi, Enrique. It’s great to be here with you. I am so fascinated by your house sitting and I was thinking that if you hadn’t been to upstate New York that I haven’t, we should get you on the list. ’cause it’s another beautiful place that happens to also be in the sixties and seventies and avoiding all that oppressive heat.
Kristi Porter (00:03:03):
Yes. That those are high, uh, on my list right now. Just avoiding heat is my main criteria and has been for the last few months. So yeah, sign me up for upstate New York, for sure.
Enrique Alvarez (00:03:13):
Definitely, definitely hot summer. Uh, Karen, anything you wanna share before we dive into everything else? So, how’s your summer been so far?
Karen Sammon (00:03:21):
Oh, my summer’s been tremendous. We’ve, uh, traveled a bit and we have been home being, taking care of our, our property here and, um, enjoying time with people coming to visit. This is a time when everybody likes to be in upstate New York. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. ’cause the weather is, it’s you moderate and it’s beautiful. So I’ve had my family in, I’ve had my extended family in. So it’s, it’s just been a really nice time. It’s always great to be able to catch up with people and when during the summer months.
Kristi Porter (00:03:50):
That’s fantastic. Yeah. I love that. We’re excited to have you here. Excited to have you on the, a little bit of a break from your travels. And then this is, you know, I guess we’re coming and recording time coming into the end of the summer. So we’ve all had good summers and are looking forward to Enrique’s been doing some traveling as well, so this is a good way to get us back in the swing of things too.
Enrique Alvarez (00:04:11):
Inspiring conversation for sure. Right. So yeah, we’re very excited as Christie said.
Kristi Porter (00:04:16):
Yeah. So before we jump into conscious capitalism, which we want everybody to know about, it’s an amazing organization, but Karen, tell us a little bit more about you and your background and your childhood, where you grew up. Give us a little perspective on those early years.
Karen Sammon (00:04:31):
Hmm. Yeah, I, I love this question. You know, I, I grew up in upstate New York, and so when I’m talking about upstate New York, I’m talking about the space between Albany and Syracuse. So we’re really in the center of the state. Yeah, it is. It’s more of a world than suburban. And I grew up here and it was a, a magical childhood. Uh, I had, you know, a, a great family. I had a lot of freedom. It’s kind of place where you grew up when you ride your bikes everywhere during the summer and you wait till your mom’s bell rings for coming for dinner. Uh, you spend time at your friend’s houses going to the pool or just kind of drifting around and exploring nature. And that was, that was like a, the crux of my childhood. A lot of time spent outdoors with family and, uh, and just en enjoying being a kid, the ways that we used to be able to be a kid. Yeah,
Enrique Alvarez (00:05:25):
Absolutely. That nature, I think is a very p important piece for you. Right. And I think it should be for our audience as well. Right. That’s really a good place to be when you’re growing up, just going out, enjoying nature. We didn’t have electronics back then, or at least not as many
Karen Sammon (00:05:40):
<laugh> I we had, I had no electronics except for the point of sale terminals that cluttered up our house because that’s the, just the, the, uh, the, the business that I grew up around. But I grew up in the late seventies and the eighties, and so computers were just becoming a thing. And so it was a really, there’s the, there was a sense of freedom and yes, I absolutely do really enjoy being out in nature. I spent a lot of time hiking, skiing, just being with nature peacefully, usually untethered to my cell phone and with my dog or my dogs. And so it’s a way of me like to be able to reflect and to be grounded. And so I really appreciate where I live and choose to be just a little bit more detached.
Enrique Alvarez (00:06:25):
Well, looking back into your childhood and can you share some, a story maybe that you remember that has shaped who you are now and that has actually somewhat pushed you in the direction than, than you’re heading?
Karen Sammon (00:06:36):
Oh, sure. Throughout my childhood, I was, three things jump out. I was always an entrepreneur, so I had a garden and I, I would set up a, a farm stand during the winter times when we had snow days. I would go out and shovel, shovel people’s walks or driveways, whatever I could do to be able to, um, earn some money. I remember starting my first company with my best friend, Leslie, and we, our card, our business cards that we put under, we would go to the, uh, shopping center and put ’em under the, the windshield wipers of cars. It was called Less Care. And we would be, and we did, we made it less care for you. So we would help moms as they were, or moms or parents. If they were having a cocktail party, we would do the survey service and we’d clean up or we would babysit and we would, we, whatever was needed, we would pretty much do it.
Karen Sammon (00:07:30):
And so my childhood really kind of framed that ki that entrepreneurship, the leadership. Um, you know, and also I, you know, as a, you know, the eldest of, in My family, you know, there was a sense of leadership and empathy for my siblings and all the kids in the neighborhood. I was the one that was always making the, the games up of what we were going to play for the day. And of course, we played things like runaway kids and Chase and things like that, just like sparked our imaginations. Leadership, entrepreneurship, creativity, all these things like our, from the foundation of my childhood.
Enrique Alvarez (00:08:08):
Amazing. And I think that, I guess, as you were mentioning, it runs deep in your family. You have like entrepreneurs. I think your family taught you that early on, is that correct?
Karen Sammon (00:08:18):
My father is an entrepreneur. He is still with us. He started several companies. And so, yeah, so it was not something that, I didn’t necessarily know the word entrepreneur or entrepreneurship at the time, but I watched him as he grew first a government contracting business and then leveraging that, um, experience and, and a technology transfer to, to start the restaurant tech restaurant retail tech business that I ended up running later on. And so I, you know, I watched him as he went through the ups and downs. I, we, we, of course, participated and lived through the public offering. So I experienced the, the perseverance and the, his gratitude toward the, the all, all of what becomes all the stakeholders, but certainly Right. The folks that came along the journey with him. So yes, I, it was entrepreneurship and that spirit of being innovative and creative, you know, was right from the very beginning of my, my formative years.
Enrique Alvarez (00:09:20):
Do you, do you remember anything that he might have said or one suggestion or comment or something that he kinda like stressed out as you were kind of growing up when you went from, I guess less care for you company, your first, uh, I guess venture to some of the others? Is there something that he always remind you of?
Karen Sammon (00:09:38):
So we have, uh, yes. And my father was not one to really mince words, so he, things would come out as his daughter, and that was a pretty free spirit. And so things would come out with, your priorities are inverted, you know, it should be work over fun. And so, so some of these things didn’t come out necessarily <laugh> as being so, you know, delicate things, you know, pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Was this a way of saying like, Hey, like this challenging and, you know, you, you can, you can make it through. So it wasn’t like he had some like, inspirational quote for me it was, you know, these practical things that he wanted me to, he wanted, he really wanted me to be an engineer. Like he, he is, he’s a double E. He went to m i t went to, he went to Annapolis at the m i t and that he wanted me to follow in, in that, in those footsteps. And I was, I am more analytical and because I’m a free spirit who had nothing to do with that <laugh>, I wanted to go onto a totally different direction.
Kristi Porter (00:10:41):
I’m curious, in those first jobs, what were you trying to save up for <laugh>?
Karen Sammon (00:10:46):
Who? No, I just liked money. I was a capitalist from the beginning. <laugh>,
Karen Sammon (00:10:52):
I, I had, I know I, as soon as I could get a job, I had a job. And then it was like, I would go from school to work. I worked during the summer. I had multiple jobs. I just, I had a bank account that when I went off to school, I was already set up and I didn’t need to, I could do the, I had the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I could travel. I loved to travel so I could travel. And there’s all kinds of stories about the things that I did and where I went because I had that economic freedom. And so I could see the value of being a capitalist. And I wa I really wanted to be able to have my own business. I wanted to do my own thing and earn my own money.
Kristi Porter (00:11:31):
I love that. That’s,
Karen Sammon (00:11:32):
Yeah. Lack of dependency.
Kristi Porter (00:11:34):
Yes. It, it certainly set you up well for what was to come. And speaking of moving a little bit further in your life, you also have a really impressive and extensive academic background, including Colgate University. You, you had a fine arts degree, university of Cincinnati, of college law. You studied corporate law, so fine arts and corporate law, not often seen together. And then you had the Stagen leadership in Harvard Business School, and you focused on leadership. So leadership, education, you talked about those already and the capitalism part. So tell us a little bit, I’m also really curious about the fine arts versus corporate law, but tell us about a couple of those experiences during that educational period that allowed you to follow this path and that kind of set you up for success.
Karen Sammon (00:12:18):
Yeah. Well, thank you. Thank you for that. And education is always really important to my family. My parents both grew up lower middle class. My grandpa was a baker. My grandma worked for like ge assembling radios or something. And the other side, my, my grandpa was a, was a police officer. And my grandma was a stay at home and she actually had a lot of like, really inspirational things that she taught me along the way about being grounded and respect for others and understanding differences of opinion and experiences. But going back to my experience in college, I did have a, I have a, a degree from Colgate in, in history and fine arts. And my, my interest, I said my father wanted me to be an engineer. And when they were taking, when my father was taking part public, I was pretty much on my own looking for, we went and looked at the college search.
Karen Sammon (00:13:13):
It wasn’t the intensity that we apply to our children today. And so I was really kind of on my own. And if it’s in, um, the guidance counselor’s office and on the floor was Colgate University’s book. And I’m like, oh, this looks really pretty. I think I’ll go check it out. And so I did. And when I got accepted, they had no idea. And so I went to Colgate and, and I’m in the liberal arts school, and course I signed up for computer science and math, and I got knowing because all the stuff that that was already good at. And then, then it kind of drifted from that. I’m like, you know, I’m already doing the stuff that I know. I think I’ll go try some other classes and see what interests me. And I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I really found that the art music was really, was a wonderful learning experience from the history of it to the application of, of those different mediums.
Karen Sammon (00:14:09):
And then the history part was just fascinating. History led me down to a path of, of peace studies, women’s studies and peace studies, Earl like early on, we’re talking in the eighties, late eighties right now. And so it was a, it a a complete eye-opener to me when I started to really dig into Native rights, um, indigenous rights, so indigenous rights and other pieces, human rights. And so that led me down that path. And it really tapped into ki it was really the essence of who I am and understanding that the differences in people, the experiences, the, the outrage, the challenges, and really to start to explore worldviews. I mean, they also looking at, right where I live in upstate New York, we are the Iroquois Nation. And there was nothing mentioned in my high school textbooks, very little in my college textbook, well, in my college textbook, that’s where it kind of came to light, but it was like, like, wait a minute.
Karen Sammon (00:15:09):
We’re just glossing over big aspects of our history here. And so it, that, that kind of sparked the other side. So I knew that I really loved business and capitalism, and then there was this human side. So when I went to law school, um, I, I was originally going for human rights law. And so that was what I thought was going to, um, be my path. And as I was going through law school, human rights law is very much interpretive. It’s, you know, kind of, um, it’s, it’s interpretive. And so I’m much more of a code analytic by the books person. So s e c regulation and the application of it was so intuitive to me that I would work for, I worked with the, the corporate law head of the head of that department, loved it. And so that became my focus there as opposed to human rights. But I had the interest in human rights and peace studies and women’s studies that really shaped the other side of me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>
Enrique Alvarez (00:16:08):
Fascinating. Well, that’s it, that’s amazing. Right? And I think that slowly, slowly kind of, uh, taking a look at your trajectory from very, very early on, you can totally understand, at least in your case, why you’re doing what you’re doing now. Right. So you mentioned capitalism, you mentioned entrepreneurship, you mentioned leadership, you mentioned human rights, and just being a good citizen of the world, which is, I feel a pretty good summary of what conscious capitalism means as a whole. But before we get there, ’cause I, I do want to get there. I’m sure our audience is dying to kind of talk a little more about conscious capitalism and some of the events that are going to be happening soon. Me too. And, but you also have an amazing journey, I guess, over 15 years at Park Technology, right? I mean, how did you, using all your skillset kind of a adapted to, to that very different industry and pace and challenges and just, I mean, you came in and, uh, transformed kind of the company, the culture. Can you tell us a little more about what you did, what it is, and what was the secrets to your success by doing that?
Karen Sammon (00:17:12):
Yeah. I had two different timeframes that I spent par in my early career starting off in, in legal, after I finished law school, I made my way back to Par and, uh, then into, in, in, from legal into sales. So it’s what does a, a, a lawyer who’s dis, you know, you know, di discouraged by law, uh, do we go into sales? You go sell, so <laugh>. So that was a, I didn’t, I didn’t have any other skills at that point, so that’s where I had it. But that, in that period, I, you know, I spent about 18 years at Par working my way through the business and learning different aspects of it. I left and went and worked for Roper Industries and their software applications, business division as c o O for one of the companies in that division related, it was technology for restaurant, retail, food service.
Karen Sammon (00:18:00):
And so I, so I stayed within the frame of what I was doing at par and then was, um, asked to consider coming back to Par to take us through a turnaround and transformation. And so I found that during my, my career as I, as I grew, that turnarounds and transformations were areas that were of interest to me, and that I actually could apply a lot of my experiences to being able to bring us through from messy to pr. And so when I came back to par in, in 2013, I think this is, this is the area that was really very interesting, the value, the pub, the company had been public since 1982, and we’re talking about 2013. When I returned back to the company, the valuation of the company was around 60 million on 250 million of revenue. So our stock was trading at about just under $4.
Karen Sammon (00:18:52):
Wow. And so we, looking at where the company was at the time there, it was fragmented. We had been trying different, we had bought different companies. And so I had to, you really consider what was going on in the organization to be able to get it back on the tracks. So looking at it, it, it was really the, the people that were going to make this turnaround and transformation work. And we made the decision to move the company from predominantly a hardware systems integrator, point of sale terminals, and all the different devices that go to it being sold to companies that the, the, the top tier, the enterprise restaurant and retail organizations on a global basis, McDonald’s, yum. Brands, um, a lot of the stadiums. So those were our big customers. And it, the world is changing. They’re going from terminals to iPads and kiosks and your phone and your pc.
Karen Sammon (00:19:48):
And so that we had about seven to 10 years to make that leap into something different. And we chose a path of software. And so when you go from being a hardware company and all the systems that are in place to support that and the supply chain and everything that kind of makes that company, and not to mention that it’s a 50 year old company to considering transitioning to being a software company with software developers and product managers and all the pieces that, uh, the delivery of, of that kind of a platform is also cloud-based. It was, it was a long shot. And so, well, it’s
Enrique Alvarez (00:20:27):
A completely different company, right? Completely different industry, completely different Absolutely. Company it
Karen Sammon (00:20:31):
Probably different go to market, different compensation, different internal infrastructure. You’re changing dramatically everything.
Enrique Alvarez (00:20:39):
Right? That’s amazing.
Karen Sammon (00:20:41):
That’s incredible. Yeah. So looking at that biggest takeaways, so it was the people. And so as I was sitting, as I was thinking about how are we going to make this happen and be successful, because reading about transformations, maybe less than 25% succeed, and our financial position was not strong. So looking at it, we’re like, we need the people, which then led to how does the, how does the culture support the transformation? And I, you know, I, I talked to different companies that were close by. So my mentor companies include Wegmans as a, it’s a, nor, you know, kind of an east coast regional grocery chain that had, had become the, a best place to work, I think 17 consecutive years. And I’m like, how does a grocery store become a best place to work? How can we, what can we learn from our, our partners in, in how we, how we’re gonna make this happen? So, so really I doubled down on the culture. That’s what led me to Conscious Capitalism in 2013.
Kristi Porter (00:21:44):
That’s fantastic. So let’s finally get to it. Conscious capitalism. So for anyone who is unfamiliar with it, let’s give them a bit of an education. So tell us a little bit about the mission and your role there.
Karen Sammon (00:21:57):
Yeah, so it’s conscious Capitalism is just backing up briefly. Okay. I go to Con, I get to, I come to Conscious Capitalism focused on the culture. And just fast forwarding to 2019, when I left Par, our valuation was just under a billion dollars and our stock was trading. Wow. Someplace about around 30. So it’s, it’s not because it’s because of a lot of things you asked Christie about what were the learnings mm-hmm. <affirmative>, yes. The people make the business, the stakeholders, um, will te help you take care of the business focusing on your higher purpose is it helps you to shape your direction and not get distracted by the, the shiny objects that, that wanna, you know, take you in a different direction. And then leadership became actually the most critical. So focusing on my leadership, uh, during that period of time and that, and continuing, and those of my, my executive team.
Karen Sammon (00:23:00):
So we had common language. We knew how to work through, we work through challenges and challenge each other and bring conflict to the table in a healthy way. And so we had the opportunity to really, to become a high performing team in a real, in the real sense and not a cliche sense, like, it, it was, it is very hard work, but the, the framework of conscious capitalism is based on those four principles of higher purpose, why you are doing the work that you’re doing, leadership, which is in inside job. Uh, we like to say in conscious capitalism that leaders get the teams they deserve. So focusing on the, your work as a leader is, is, is incredibly important because it, it will shape like how you work with others and who, who will work with you building that culture. And then really important also, I think it, you know, all these things are important, but it is the, is your stakeholder orientation, how you create that healthy ecosystem, right. Of the stakeholders that are in your ecosystem. So that, that, that’s the framework how do, of, of conscious capitalism.
Enrique Alvarez (00:24:09):
So I’m going back a little bit. Like who invited you, I’m guessing you were seeking this, uh, higher purpose. You were seeking to compliment some of the things that you were doing with, uh, the culture. Do you remember like how you kind of like stumbled, uh, into the conscious capital?
Karen Sammon (00:24:24):
100%. It was as clear, it’s clear as days. I was working with a couple different consultants during this period to 20 13, 20 14 period. And one of the restaurant focused consultants is, is Fred Franc from Results through Strategy. And he had just been to an annual conference from Conscious Capitalism, and we were sitting talking, and I was telling him I was only focused on culture. I I, I knew that the people were going to help us make this transformation happen. I wasn’t even aware of the other tenets at this point, <laugh>. And he, he said to me, he’s, he brought me the book and he said, read this. Oh, I like, yeah, I think you, you know, the Fred is an avid reader. Yeah. And he brought me the book and he is read this book and come to the c e o summit. And I responded that I didn’t have time.
Karen Sammon (00:25:14):
I could read the book, but I didn’t have time to go to the conference and I didn’t have the money. And he told me that I would take vacation and pay for it myself. And he was so right. The, the first c e o summit that I went to, some people will say, oh, I found my tried. I felt like I had gone to Harry Potter Camp. It was absolutely <laugh> magical <laugh>. I, it was not just the, it was the people on the stage. It was the folks that I was interacting with that were sitting next to me and the conversations they were having, the openness, the vulnerability, and then just the, the diversity of the community that was able to show me really what was, what could be possible and things that I could learn on an ongoing basis and the support that I received and those, the enormous support that I received. So it was,
Enrique Alvarez (00:26:08):
It’s hard to,
Karen Sammon (00:26:09):
I attribute a lot of my success in that period and the success that Par had to this community. Wow.
Enrique Alvarez (00:26:16):
Well, that’s an amazing story. And of course Fred is like a force of nature for sure. I’m sure that you cannot say no to him, uh, after, uh, having a conversation
Karen Sammon (00:26:25):
With him. You shouldn’t
Enrique Alvarez (00:26:25):
Say no to him. You should not say no. Yes. And you can, ’cause he’s very persuasive too. But, but no, I, yeah, it’s, it’s hard to describe what the, what the movement is, and the c e o summit feels like, right. But it really, it’s just quiet. It feels quiet. It’s just my mind and my particular opinion and my experience share here. It’s just you constantly have so many things on your head, right? And, and just go to the room. And without having even to talk to anyone, you’re like, well, it just feels quiet. It feels like peaceful. Right. It feels like you kind of belong as you mentioned. So, no, that’s, it’s amazing. And so from that first interaction, you were completely hooked, I’m guessing.
Karen Sammon (00:27:03):
I left the conference and with like probably like you, with a long list of people, I wanted to follow up with ideas that I had heard that I thought we could bring back in integrated into the organization a little bit. I pushed a little bit too hard in some places, you know, I came back, I’m like, oh, conscious capitalism’s that. And I learned that. Yes. And you need to bring people along at their pace. And from that moment of, oh, I’m so inspired. It let me then figure toter to figure out a path or determine a path for others to embrace the philosophy and do, he did work on our, we, we hadn’t really crystallized our values if we had values, but they were not really tied to behavior. We did not have a higher purpose. There was a vision and there was a mission, but there wasn’t really a higher purpose.
Karen Sammon (00:27:58):
And I’ll tell you that our, our higher purpose became to recognize and unleash possibilities for good. So recognize came from power pattern analysis and recognition, recognize and unleash. ’cause I really wanted to embrace the spirit of right wisdom moments. So instead of failure, you’ll have these wisdom moments where you can try and fail and keep and then try again. So unleashing, recognizing, unleashing possibilities then for good was like for longevity and also for to doing the right thing. And it led us to two different decisions. When we were picking a banker for financing for some of our franchisees, we had two choices. We actually, we had a choice. And as we were thinking about them, they, they were misaligned from a values perspective. And we went with a different bank, which be a business with one of the large chains. And I think it, we were working with Dairy Queen at that time.
Kristi Porter (00:28:47):
So, okay, you implemented it par it’s worked like gangbusters. It had, uh, you kind of realized how to level it and bring it in stages rather than going everything all at once with jumping in with both feet. The other thing I’m curious about, though, bringing it from trying to implement it within an organization, I also wanna hear about, so let’s take it in in two phrases. One, for just the perspective of what conscious capitalism is, two, about how to implement it. So one, it’s not a membership, it’s not a paid society or anything like that. So can you explain a little bit more of the model from that perspective, and then Yeah. Yep. When you’re, you’re bringing it into par. Um, I’m also curious, I think when people hear the four tenets of it, it makes sense. It’s very on message with what today is where consumers are leaning and is trying to bring it into an established organization. There’s always some hiccups. So what were kind of some of those lessons learned in trying to implement it? So first talk about the model of conscious capitalism, how you get in, and then to, what does that look like in bringing it in?
Karen Sammon (00:30:00):
Sure. So the model today, conscious Capitalism Inc. Is the kind of the, the mothership. And Zig, we have under Conscious Capitalism Inc. Chapters. So there’s different ways that you can engage with conscious capitalism. We can, we, as Conscious Capitalism Inc, offer partnerships and memberships. We have a conscious leader network that is open to leaders at different stages of their, their growth in with directors and vice presidents of different, of companies of different sizes. So it, it offers you the opportunity to engage in conversation to, uh, connect with leaders in, uh, different kinds of, of lecture forums, um, resources to, for books and, uh, access to consultants and coaches. And this is the way we’re developing out our Conscious Leader network. We really focus on CEOs, presidents and founders. That’s really where we believe that conscious capitalism has to start. It’s where if the, if the c e O president and founder is engaged, it is much more likely for the org for the organization to adopt the philosophy.
Karen Sammon (00:31:11):
And we do that also through our chapters. So the chapters are incredibly important to Conscious Capitalism. So we have, we, in the US we have I around 18 chapters, 18 or 20 chapters. And then we have a number of chapters outside the us, uh, predominantly in la, Latin America, and in Europe it’s, so you can join into a chapter. We encourage companies to get involved in chapters locally and, um, meet other conscious leaders within their own community. And then to engage on the national level. And we also, um, offer opportunities for folks to engage in person. And so we talk a little bit about our C e O summit, and it’s a fantastic event. Uh, and we have, uh, been having what we call dinners on purpose regionally, so we can bring other conscious leaders together to have really interesting inspirational conversations about, about business issues, social issues that impact business through the lens of being a conscious leader.
Karen Sammon (00:32:10):
And so there’s a number of different ways that you can engage and learn how to implement the philosophy. My own experience was really through national, through the c e O summit. And because I was saying that I was really enthusiastic about bringing the philosophy in. And so one of the learnings was to slow down. And so I, that’s why to bring it in, in Ness, right? And so I could, so you could see where, what part of the philosophy is most impactful for your organization at the t at what, at the right, right time. Because you’re gonna have people who really gravitate to it. Some that will be, I think it’s kind of interesting. And others who might think it’s, oh, it’s the CEO’s next great idea. Let’s wait till it passes. And the c e O will come up with the next great idea.
Karen Sammon (00:33:00):
So be intentional, learn from the community, uh, try aspects, come back, learn some more, share what you learned, learn some other experiences, and then, you know, bring it through. But I think, uh, one, one piece that I think would be interesting to brothers is when I introduced Higher Purpose, we had a, a vision, our 2020 vision at the time, we had our mission and we started talking about our, our why, and it was to recognize and unleash possibilities. And when we put into practice, we, but the example was working with an enterprise client, dairy Queen, who has 6,000 franchisees. They needed financing to be able to implement the new solution. And Dairy Queen was relying on us to be able to make this a successful deployment so they could have one system with all their franchisees have roll of information, just much more control and visibility, be able to integrate new technology in a more seamless way.
Karen Sammon (00:34:01):
One partner, one bank that we were asked to look at, we were going down the path, but they were just not values aligned. And I was concerned that as a representative of Par, that could be, that could be friction. And we went, we, we interviewed a different banking institution, which was very values aligned with us and with Dairy Queen, the customer. And that helped us to accelerate the deployment, uh, provide really great options for franchisees and was a great benefit for Par and, and a positive revenue impact to our overall success. So Higher Purpose really showed us the power of having that North Star, really using it to make the right decisions for the organization. So slowing down, really leaning into the adoption of the philosophy. And I chose to leverage the language of conscious capitalism so we could refer back to books that also shared our language and talk to other companies that shared our language. And so that was really powerful for me. And I could see how it’s powerful for companies like Vital Farms or improving, who really lean into the whole philosophy and have integrated into their business. And so there’s no, they’re able to really lean into what Conscious Capitalism’s doing in support of what they’re doing.
Enrique Alvarez (00:35:25):
No, it’s definitely a, I think it’s gone from like a theory or a philosophy to a movement to something that’s really going to be table stakes if, if you ask me, right? I feel like, uh, being a purpose-driven organization, uh, having this conscious leadership and a higher purpose, it’s just a competitive advantage that ’cause con consumers are going to demand going forward and they’re already doing it. But it will in the future be the standard, hopefully. And this organization’s going to be very influential into making that happen and making sure that some of the older notions of capitalism are better understood. I wanted to ask you, ’cause we have our listeners all over the world, and they might not know exactly what the, what the difference is, right? We all understand capitalism, some of us have some kind of negative connotations about it. Some others feel that’s just the only way to go. But what is the different, what’s the conscious part of capitalism? What’s the difference with the normal capitalism that everyone, um, knows?
Karen Sammon (00:36:26):
Yeah. I I, I love how you just phrased conscious capitalism becomes the way that we work in the future. The way that we embrace capitalism in the future, um, that is the objective is to put conscious capitalism outta business because it is the way we have changed the practice and the perception of capitalism. I grew up working in what I just kind of phrase as the Jack Walsh era of business, right? And so Jack Post did a, a lot of really incredible work. And there was also some really, what I started to realize were flawed approaches to working with people, the emphasis on, on shareholders over stakeholders. And that, that drove a lot of my decisions. And, and some of them just felt just raw, felt yucky. And so, as I grew as a leader, that’s so why I gravitated to conscious capitalism, because the consciousness part had a place at the table.
Karen Sammon (00:37:28):
The the, um, we always talk, we talk about the conscious capitalism being the intersection between purpose and profits. It’s not all purpose and it’s not all profit. It’s that intersection between purpose and profit where we are. You absolutely have to have the profit. I mean, that, that is the engine that drives the organization. And this is a way that you can reinvest in your company and grow in the ways that you’re choosing to. The consciousness part leans into humanity, and I think you said this really well, that that business can influence humanity. And then humanity influences business. And so it, it becomes this virtuous cycle when you really listen to what humanity’s asking of business. And so instead of becoming overregulated by government who’s not involved in business, business, being able to do what’s right from the inside out for the business, that also has a positive impact on humanity.
Karen Sammon (00:38:28):
And so it’s good for the business, it’s good for humanity. And that is the, the frame for which we look through what conscious capitalism is. You know, if we talk about business is good because we can elevate humanity, business is good because it’s voluntary. Business is good. It’s not perfect, but it is good, right? And it can’t, and we talk about how it can be better when the more people who, the more leaders who are on the, the journey to do their own work, to be a more conscious leader, to support their people, to support their stakeholders, uh, you, we can have this positive influence, a positive ripple effect that we don’t even realize that we have.
Kristi Porter (00:39:12):
Absolutely. You also have some pretty, uh, household names, recognized brands in the community that have taken up the mantle and are carrying the movement as well. So people along always wanna be known by the company they keep too. So if you could name, um, a few more maybe of your more recognized brands, and also tell us why some, uh, people can certainly be a purpose-driven brand without being part of the conscious capitalism community. But I’m curious what you hear. Why do people want to be a part of this movement? Why do they feel it’s important and necessary and what makes them proud to be in this community?
Karen Sammon (00:39:52):
That’s such a nice question. We have what we call our heroes of conscious capitalism. And these are the leaders of companies that current and former leaders of companies that are on their journey. You know, the, the, um, the perception of a business always being a force for good is, is it is an evolution and com. You know, companies go up and down and historically, if they’ve been around for 50, a hundred years, may have had some things that they’re not, you know, that we might not today think that are very conscious, but they’re moving in the right direction. So we, we really focus on being a big tent secured by the 10 poles, the four tenets of conscious capitalism, purpose, leadership, culture, stakeholder orientation. Those are the 10, those are the, the 10 poles. And other than that, we are a big tent. We are a diverse community, diverse in ways in including ideas and thoughts. So companies that are, are part of our community. Patagonia, whole Foods, um, Unilever, container Store, Panera, Mars, these are those household names. And you could probably find pieces of all these conscious companies that you could pick at. And they’re on their journey to continue to do, to do well and do good to elevate humanity from, again, from the inside out, what is right for the business, and that is right for human, right for society. So these are some, some of the names Trader Joe’s, we continue to go Wegman, Wegmans, these are,
Enrique Alvarez (00:41:33):
Well, there’s, there’s plenty, right? So I’m sure you don’t wanna leave out, I can’t too.
Karen Sammon (00:41:38):
I keep coming up with a mo wall <laugh>.
Enrique Alvarez (00:41:41):
We, we’ll definitely put a link to the website. We’ll put a link to the community and of course we’ll put a link to the, uh, page where they, you recognize some of these bigger, more successful brand names so that people can know a little bit more. And of course, all very amazing, uh, brands for sure.
Karen Sammon (00:41:57):
It’s not just the big, the big names. And those inspire us to, we, we look at them, we’re like, wow, they’re at one point, like a know a smaller company and how do they do it? And so that’s like how get inspired, but you’re inspired by the mid-enterprise companies as well, those that are in your community that are really contributing to the G D P. So looking at those smaller companies and those that we serve, and some of those become the next big brand names that we know and love and, and all of them are, are really I positively impactful, uh, communities, um, around the globe with families and their team members and their families and their families, uh, the environment, all the different stakeholders, the suppliers that they work with. It’s, uh, this beautiful, truly ecosystem and web that we’re all tied together through this common focus of doing well and doing good.
Enrique Alvarez (00:42:51):
Well, and, um, told
Kristi Porter (00:42:52):
You, what have they said? Why is it important to be a part of this community? What are some of the positive comments you’ve heard from them? Why do they want to be a part of the community? Why are they here? Why do they show up to be part of this movement? Specifically conscious capitalism, some of these brands are, have multiple certifications or known by a lot of things. So I’m curious as to what they see as the value of conscious capitalism. What are you hearing from your own stakeholders?
Karen Sammon (00:43:16):
Yeah, I, I think the, the number of things, um, if I boil it down, the community mm-hmm. So being able to, um, be in community and also to access the community so that network of community so that it’s, it’s like good with many successful companies that are integrating conscious capitalism. It is great to be able to tap into it, to, to help your business. Um, uh, but I’m looking to go to China, um, looking to start a di a separate division. I have a culture of challenge that I wanted to discuss with others. How do you deal with diversity? What are you doing about the remote workplace? Every, all different aspects through the lens of being a conscious company. So community’s really important education. How do I integrate aspects of conscious capitalism or all of conscious capitalism? Where can I get support? So what can conscious capitalism do?
Karen Sammon (00:44:11):
How can you help me find the right consultants and coaches do for my business and, and my executives? And of course, inspiration. We really inspire by not only the leaders that are in our organization, but also the thought leaders that really push us to think about how we are, um, addressing social issues, how we are thinking about business in the future. These are the ways that our, that our community, our leaders who come to us, um, tell us the value of what we’re providing. And so it, it’s the chapters being able to get connected with people who are not necessarily, sometimes you get into your own industry and that’s where your network is. And you might step outside to Y P O or eo. And that if a conscious capitalism provides you with a different type of a community and network in order to help you think through things through a lens of being a conscious leader.
Enrique Alvarez (00:45:07):
If I may share some of my own experience attending the c e o summit, it just, you mentioned all these amazing companies, right? Big names Patagonia and all this amazing companies. And, but you’re there. And at the end of the day, they’re engaged, the CEOs are engaged, they’re actually committed, they’re actually open. And all of a sudden you realize that we are a small business, right? We’re never not even close to any of all these other big names. But you’re, they’re so open. It’s just amazing how kind of true it is that they want to build this community. ’cause you’re all of a sudden realizing I’ve been spending 30 minutes with this amazing c e o of this incredible company, and you don’t even, I, it doesn’t feel different. I mean, it feels like everyone kind of belongs to that. And so it’s just, it’s a good community. Everyone feels like it’s open and willing to share their experiences. And I think they’re doing it for the higher purpose too. There’s no bragging, there’s no, like, no one feels better, uh, than anyone else just because they are the c e o of a larger company. And I thought that was surprising, really. And and very inspiring too, right? ’cause you get to meet all these amazing leaders. So anyways, sorry. I had to, yeah. I had to make like,
Karen Sammon (00:46:19):
It’s better, better coming from you than coming from me. <laugh>.
Enrique Alvarez (00:46:22):
<laugh>. Yeah. I had to,
Karen Sammon (00:46:23):
And I agree. I think that a lot of people, when we curate our events at the c e o Summit or other events that we host during the year from C C I, and in increasingly more in our chapters, we think about who the speakers can be and we put as much energy into who’s going to be attending the event because they’re interchangeable. Everybody who’s coming to our events, many people, well, nobody, the leaders that come to event is a c E O type of an event. They can be easily on the stage telling their story and giving their wisdom and, and sharing their ideas. And likewise, everybody in the audience shares with each other, their experience, their stories, their wisdom, their ideas. And so that is precisely how we think about the impact that we can have through our events. So you really articulated you, your experience, Enrique is exactly what we hope to achieve and look to achieve.
Enrique Alvarez (00:47:24):
I highly encourage people that are listening, if you have a no, it doesn’t matter really matter how large or small your company is. If you really want to kind of be part of this, you should at least just try it, right? Like Fred said, if you have to pay yourself and take vacation, it’s totally worth it. So, tha but thank you. Thank you for sharing, sharing that insight. Absolutely. Insight.
Kristi Porter (00:47:44):
Yeah. And I wanna tie it a little bit to our, so you mentioned speaking to our industry specifically. You mentioned earlier, even just the Jack Bch example, capitalism is more focused on shareholders. Conscious capitalism is more focused on stakeholders. So in looking at the, those four tenants and building blocks and how they bring together an entire organization, how have you seen conscious capitalism impact the supply chain? I think you even mentioned earlier people choosing the, the people they work with. You were talking about banks and different things like that. But as far as of course, moving the products, we, we learned a lot. Everyone has an education and supply chain since the pandemic, but of course our industry has changed a lot. Um, and it’s continuing to change a lot. How would you describe Conscious capitalism and tie it to the supply chain in general for our logistics professionals who are listening?
Karen Sammon (00:48:38):
Yeah, the supply chain, the supply chain, um, is pro it probably on most businesses. Um, and, and their stakeholder map and my own experience moving from a hardware company to a software solutions company, my, the supply chain needed to be part of our success. And so it needed to be part of the transition and being able to support us as we were moving from one, one paradigm to another. So that was, it was critical that we supported each other. Other stories that I’ve heard are smaller companies competing against larger companies. Container Store would have some of the same supply chain as Walmart, and they were able to have favorable pricing and access to product, even when Walmart wasn’t able to, now that this is the story. So, but because of the care for the supply chain, making sure that they were responsible with payment terms, that they were clear with their needs and how they communicated, uh, what products, what product, the, the product lifecycle.
Karen Sammon (00:49:46):
So these things were really, really critical in terms of like our, uh, supply chain and conscious capitalism. I, I was thinking about this as I was coming onto this podcast, our supply chain, it’s really our consultants, our coaches, then those who support our events. And so taking care to, to work with them, uh, again, you know, I’ve tried to think about the ways that it’s important for conscious capitalism to be able to get the most favorable. We’re, you know, we’re, we’re growing organization, so being able to get favorable. We’re not-for-profit, favorable pricing excellence in terms of our lighting and production. Being able to be confident that we’re going to connect a company with a, a consultant that is done with care. So we need to take care of our supply chain and all of our other stakeholders in order to make sure that it is a, a tremendous experience for the companies that come into our community, because that is how they experience working with us.
Karen Sammon (00:50:47):
And then they’re projecting out and amplifying our message about how it works. We have to just bring it down. We have to eat our own dog food. So it’s really important for us to be able to make sure that we are practicing our business, our philosophy, our cuts, couples and philosophy every day. I love that. Yeah. I think about like the stories that I’ve heard from Whole Foods about their supply chain and the care that they have taken to ensure fair Trade. Mars talking about how they’re thinking about their supply chain with chocolate and projecting forward the impact of climate change and how they need to make sure farmers are able to continue to grow co. So the stories like, as I feel as I think about it, they’re endless in supply chain because that is really so critical to think about the impact of covid.
Karen Sammon (00:51:38):
You mentioned that, right? It’s a good, incredibly disruptive, disruptive in CLI climate when we talk about climate, um, change and, and the environmental impact. Every company is impacted in that, not only through their supply chain, but with their team members and the communities and, you know, the ability to deliver to their businesses. So these things come together. And of course, if you look at it through a conscious lens and you’re like, okay, we all can play our part in addressing the challenges, but the supply chain disruptance and supply chain can tip the world economy very quickly. I mean, just, we just witnessed that.
Kristi Porter (00:52:14):
Yes, very good way to say that. Um, so sounds like you’ve learned a ton and are still learning a ton. And I love that you have very practical hands-on experience of implementation. And now as the c e o, you’re understanding it in a whole new light as well. So you’ve taken over, it’s been a little over a year right now, a year and a half or maybe almost two years at this point, but still in that infancy. So what have you, what have those early days, those early years, what did you learn and how is that going to impact this movement as you continue to grow? Because I think we will only can see it, we will only see it continue to grow.
Karen Sammon (00:52:51):
Yeah. Well, what I’ve learned is the community is vast. They are committed, just incredible. There’s like in incredible leaders and incredible stories. Every, everywhere I, everywhere I look every in every region, talking with people who are committed to and on their journey. The conscious capitalists, those that I talked to that are inspired, the unconscious conscious capitalist. I’ve learned that conscious capitalism was really important when it was, you know, kind of incubated back in the, like late two thousands. And it’s imperative now. Yeah, there’s a, a fierce urgency of now, uh, conscious capitalism serves as an opportunity for real dialogue. The way we, we stay firmly planted in a, a very, this is Enrique said, like a very safe environment where we’re able to explore different ideas and thoughts and ways of doing business and ways of shaping the world in which we operate with others who may, we may not share common beliefs and different religious beliefs, different political beliefs, but that is not relevant for the work that we’re doing.
Karen Sammon (00:54:10):
These are in influencers and important that the shaping individuals. And they’re important for us to be able to work together and to hear each other. And so I’ve learned, I’ve, what I’ve really learned is the, just the, the incredible impact that conscious capitalism can have. Um, I really believe that there’s kind of three things that we look at right now that are our future. Our vision conscious capitalism will change the, uh, practice and perception of capitalism. When we get to a million conscious capitalist leaders, we are working to be the leader in this business as a force for good. It’s kind of like a horizontal industry that kind of wraps around all the other industries, right? And we are shaping our community into a marketplace where we will be able to support each other in the growth of our co companies, in our community to be able to support different products and services and in a way that, that will be incredibly impactful. So that’s going directionally where we’re focused on the horizon. And, and then it’s also, it’s, it’s hard work. And so bringing the message, thank you very much for letting me have this time with you because this is the way that I, that we can get from one-to-one conversations, to one to some, to one to many. And so, no, we, it’s getting, getting it, the message out there. We,
Enrique Alvarez (00:55:32):
We thank you for actually participating. ’cause we, we know how important this kind of conscious mindset and leadership is to not only companies out there, but to the world and to become a better society, a better community, better countries, better regions. No, thank you so much for being here with us today. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for sharing some of your personal stories as well. Uh, we really value your time and we value kind of you being here and we look forward to the future as the c e o of Conscious Capitalism. The c e o summit. It’s right around the corner, isn’t it?
Karen Sammon (00:56:04):
It is coming up. It’s October 24th, 26th in Austin, Texas at beautiful Hyatt Lost Pines. We are nearing. And so I hope your listeners are inspired and we have a great, we have a great lineup of speakers, both thought leaders and CEOs, some real life stories from within our community. Breakout sessions, amazing food and networking time, it’s going to be a fantastic event. And it’s our 15th c e o summit. So we’re gonna be celebrating our community along the way in very special way is, and so it is, it’s been my must attend conference since my first c e o summit as a c e O heart technology in 2014. And so it’s, I am so honored to lead the organization at this period as we are really transforming the organization and getting us into a position of growth.
Kristi Porter (00:57:01):
Well, let’s, as we wrap up, let’s talk action steps for our leaders. So obviously c e o summit, if we highly recommend, visit conscious capitalism.org to learn more about that. But if somebody is curious, the book is terrific, conscious Capitalism, the book. So highly recommend that if somebody is in the early stages of learning, as you said at par, you didn’t have, of course, one of the big pillars is higher purpose conscious capitalism. You didn’t have that. You were having to build that in. So for anyone else that’s listening as the, a leader of their organization, if they’re curious or if they’re trying to think, okay, how do I actually do this? What are a couple of good action steps for them to take?
Karen Sammon (00:57:42):
Yeah, that’s great. So tactical takeaways, as I like to call ’em. So we come visit our website, can, you know, reach out and learn more about our Conscious leader network, which is a global offering, and also come to our website, see if there is a chapter that’s near you. If you reach out to us through the website, we will make sure that a leader is put in contact with, with us and with other leaders in, in the regions where there’s a chapter. And that those are two of the best, best first steps for leaders who are looking to join us. And the conscious, the c e o summit is an incredible way to immerse yourself. And really about 50% of the, the folks who come, the leaders who come are new to the C e O summit and the other 50 are, are folks that return. And so it’s a good blend of people who are continuing on the journey and those who are just starting the journey or have been on a, a journey and we’re looking for different types of support. Perfect.
Enrique Alvarez (00:58:42):
And I, you mentioned it a couple of times during our interview, but it’s important to make sure that people understand it’s an international movement. I’ve had the pleasure of actually interacting with the chapter in Mexico. I know there’s a contingent in Columbia, but as well. So again, no matter where you are listening from or where you’re uh, where you were born, where your burn business is located, this is a mo a global movement. This is a global community and it’s very welcoming. So as Karen said, just go to the website, start the process, reach out. I’m pretty sure people will be more than happy to pick up the phone and talk more about conscious capitalism. Karen, thank you so much. Always a pleasure talking to you. Yeah, uh, insightful. It was
Karen Sammon (00:59:22):
Really nice to spend time with both of you.
Enrique Alvarez (00:59:25):
You’s great. I Enrique’s been able you as a c able
Karen Sammon (00:59:26):
To do that. This is my first time, so <laugh>, <laugh>, I’m, I’m well,
Enrique Alvarez (00:59:29):
It’s great. Yeah. <laugh>. No, it’s great. I was just gonna thank you for being the c E O and of course you’re doing amazing job and we can’t hardly wait to participate in this year’s c e o summit. 15 years. What a milestone. Uh, what a great conversation count with our full support. And thank you so much for being here.
Karen Sammon (00:59:49):
Thank you Ka you. I really appreciate it. Have a great day. Thank you.
Enrique Alvarez (00:59:55):
Have a good day too. And for everyone else that’s listening to episodes like This, logistics With Purpose, if you like what we’re, what you’re hearing, if you like the conversations that we’re having, please don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you so much and we’ll see you on the next one.
Karen Sammon is a committed Conscious Capitalist with a successful track record as a transformational leader, guiding organizations through digital, and cultural transformations by focusing on cultivating and empowering collaborative, engaged, and high-performing teams, through servant leadership and authenticity. Karen is the CEO of Conscious Capitalism, Inc., an organization dedicated to the core belief that business is good, ethical, noble, and heroic. CCI focuses on improving the practice and purpose of capitalism. Karen is the former CEO, President and Board Member of PAR Technology Corporation (NYSE: PAR), a restaurant/retail tech company serving enterprise brands. With a focus on culture and values, Karen led PAR’s strategic turnaround and initiated the company’s digital transformation. Since 2019, Karen’s focus has been exclusively on disruptive tech and Conscious Capitalism. She joined Hakeem James as co-founders of CustomerX.i, a restaurant-centric Customer Data Platform (CDP) that democratizes access to information enabling restaurant operators of all sizes to find, understand, and engage with customers. Karen sits on several Boards including the Board of Daily Table, community grocery stores that provide nutritious and delicious food at significantly discounted prices. With her core values of courage and service, she is proud of her children, nieces, and nephews as they grow into our next generation of servant leaders integrating the philosophy of Conscious Capitalism™. Connect with Karen 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.