Many of the conversations we have on Veterans Voices center around servicemembers transitioning out of the military and into civilian careers. Today’s interview follows that same path – twice. For some Veterans, the call of the military is so strong that they transition in and out, sometimes with different branches.
So it is with today’s guest. Tara Holcomb served in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. Her service in the Army led her to discover the appeal of working in supply chain based on her experience as the motor pool clerk for an entire battalion. She also has experience working as a supply chain auditor, helping companies dispose of products in appropriate ways. Today she is the Supply Chain Risk Manager for ManTech.
In this episode of Veteran Voices, produced in partnership with Vets2Industry, and sponsored by Buyers Meeting Point and Dial P for Procurement, co-hosts Mary Kate Soliva and Scott Luton speak with Tara about:
• How basic training turned her into the person she wanted to be, and her service continued the job by changing her mindset forever
• Some of the cost and benefit related implications of leaving military service for a civilian career that Veterans need to be aware of and manage proactively
• Her current view of the global supply chain, and why she sees proper forecasting and taking a step back from lean manufacturing as appropriate responses to product and shipping container shortages
Welcome to veteran voices, a podcast dedicated to giving a voice to those that have served in the United States, armed forces on this series jointly presented by supply chain. Now in bits to industry, we sit down with a wide variety of veterans and veteran advocates to gain their insights, perspective, and stories from serving. We taught with many individuals about their challenging transition from active duty to the private sector, and we discuss some of the most vital issues facing veterans today. Join us for this episode of veteran voices.
Scott Luton (00:48):
Hey, good afternoon, everybody. Scott Luton and Mary Kate Soliva here on veteran voices. Welcome to today’s show Mary Kay, how are we doing great,
Mary Kate Soliva (00:57):
Scott. Great to be back. Thank you so much right in for the long weekend,
Scott Luton (01:02):
Long weekend. Well, and folks that are listening, we are recording this on the Friday before labor day weekend. Of course we’ll be publishing this a few weeks later, but all the best to all those folks and join that we can early. And Mary Kate, your last appearance with us as a, as an official cohost was a home run. We were getting inquiries from CNN and CBS and ABC news. So, uh, I’m sure it kept your agent busy, huh? Oh
Mary Kate Soliva (01:26):
Yeah, for sure. I know sleep. As I say, I think I found out how to find a 30 hours in a day here.
Scott Luton (01:32):
All right. Share that with us. But today we’ve got an outstanding episode with a really a friend of yours, also a fellow veteran, uh, what I call a dual veteran. She spent some time in a couple of different services. So looking forward to sharing her journey and POV through today’s episode, but first Mary Kate, I’m gonna knock out some housekeeping and then we’re gonna introduce our guests. Sounds great to me. Let’s hear it. All right. So today’s program, of course is part of our supply chain. Now family of programming today’s show is conducted in partnership with our dear friends email@example.com. They’re a non-profit owned the move really deeply serving our dear veterans community, check them out tons of vetted firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course they could use your support as well. Today’s show is also sponsored by our friends over at buyer’s meeting point and the LP for procurement. You can learn more about email@example.com. Okay. So Mary Kate, I’ve got the honor of introducing our guests today. You ready to let the cat out?
Mary Kate Soliva (02:35):
Yes. Oh, I don’t know. Actually, I don’t know. Do we want to maybe, okay. She’s been waiting there patiently, so I think we should
Scott Luton (02:43):
Let’s do it. So I want to introduce our guests today. So today we’re gonna be interviewing both a us army and a us air force veteran. And since transitioning out of the military, she’s joined the global supply chain industry. One of our favorites around here, where continuing to do big things there as well. So I want to welcome in Tara Holcomb, supply chain risk manager with ManTech international Tara, how are we doing?
Tara Holcomb (03:08):
I’m good. How are you both. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. Great
Scott Luton (03:13):
To have you with this. We, as w as we were talking, pre-show Tara, Mary Kate is a huge fan and Mary Kay might just have a tattoo of you on her arm. She is such a big fan, so your ears have been burned. And it’s great to finally have you here on veteran voices.
Tara Holcomb (03:28):
Yes. Thank you for having me. I mean, I was really excited when Mary Kay told me about the show and I’m excited to be speaking with you both today.
Scott Luton (03:35):
All right. Well, we’re gonna, um, we’re gonna toss some, some softballs to you up front. We always like to get a better grasp on where folks grew up and where they’re from. And of course, you got to give us the goods on what it was like growing up wherever you grew up, give us some anecdotes there. So Tara, where, where was home for you?
Tara Holcomb (03:53):
So I’m originally from Newark, New Jersey.
Mary Kate Soliva (03:57):
A lot of people know the airport.
Tara Holcomb (03:59):
It’s honestly a great state. I know sometimes people say it’s the armpit, the United States, but it’s beautiful and amazing and smells wonderful.
Scott Luton (04:09):
Well, you know, right or wrong. Fair, unfair. Whenever I hear New Jersey, it takes me back to one of my favorite shows of all time, the Sopranos, right, man. You’re the sure baby too. But so you grew up in Newark. What was, you know, when you look back at growing up in and a great American city, what was key for you? Uh, whether it’s food or activities, what was key to your childhood and upbringing?
Tara Holcomb (04:38):
So Newark is quite a crazy little city. I think what was key to me is it really taught me how to be both street smart and Booksmart. If that makes sense. My brothers and I were very, very close walk to school and me high snow. A lot of times Newark is a pretty rough area, but it’s definitely changed and it’s coming up. Um, I think it just teaches you a lot about yourself from this very humble beginnings. My parents are originally from Monrovia Liberia. So we grew up in kind of like in an improv ish type of area in New York. I mean, it has a huge property level and I think it just taught me to like keep going and to stay motivated. So, yeah,
Scott Luton (05:26):
I love that. So, Tara, I got to ask you, you know, when you grow up impoverished or, or without a whole bunch of extras is what we kind of called it. You know, you, you really later in life as, as maybe you go to work and you earn some things that you can provide for your family now that you didn’t have his upbringing, just that sense of knowing always where you came from and that sense of gratitude for what you have now, you know, is that a big part of your personality?
Mary Kate Soliva (05:50):
I think it is. I think it motivates me. And as I said, back in the day, New York was a little bit rough, but things are changing. There is so much hope and pride there and it definitely motivated me to just stay humble and be as hard of a worker as I possibly could.
Scott Luton (06:07):
Okay. One or two more questions. I’m gonna pass it off to my dear cohost, Mary Kate. So your parents being originally from LA area, or are they growing up in, I think a first generation American family, uh, they bring a lot of their customs and, and food and, you know, everything that means and shouts and screamed Liberia in their ears to Newark New Jersey. Yes.
Mary Kate Soliva (06:34):
Short answer. Yes. There’s a huge librarian community in Newark. I think my parents taught me a lot about how the man led the household. And I think what I understood is that the woman submitted to the man, but it was a way to show that they also own the household too. And I think sometimes we take that in a different manner when we’re from different cultures. But my parents were very persistent when it came to our education and getting things done. And I think that there was just there’s cultural norms there that you can’t break.
Scott Luton (07:13):
So, you know what always sometimes when his interviews, Mary Kay, you hear something and you hear how someone positions it and you just know that there’s so many stories that they can’t share today’s conversation. But I love that, you know, it’s really, it’s important to know uh we’re and, and, and maintain where we’re all from and celebrate that so much. It sounds like that was front and center Tara in your house growing up on your family’s home, grown up. Okay. So, uh, one last question and Mary Kay, I got to tell you, there is a talk show between two ferns and you are channeling that right now. My friend, you’ve got a plant on either side. I can’t remember the guys named Zach Galifianakis. Does
Mary Kate Soliva (07:56):
That sound right there?
Scott Luton (07:59):
So I’ll tell you, Mary Kay has got Hollywood in her blood, but Tara, where did you and Mary Kate meet?
Mary Kate Soliva (08:07):
So Mary Kay and I were going through a special operations course in North Carolina, the Advil. And I had seen Mary Kay around our squadron area before PT. So maybe I was talking, I wouldn’t say that, but I had moved back to North Carolina after leaving Colorado. And I had just gone for a walk downtown. Fayetteville is a lot of cute shops. So I went into this one shop and saw Mary Kay kind of like a knickknack shop, very Mary Kay. And I basically just walked up to her and said, I’ve seen you around the squadron, right? You’re in the same squad as me. Have you seen me?
Scott Luton (08:48):
And you’re hoping and praying, she’s going to say yes, and you didn’t have the wrong person. Right.
Mary Kate Soliva (08:53):
Just imagine what I was thinking. Imagine what I was thinking of this person was coming up to me,
Scott Luton (08:58):
You’re in trouble is what you’re thinking. Maybe I don’t know.
Mary Kate Soliva (09:02):
She said, I think I’ve seen you before. And I said, well, if you’re not doing anything, do you want to hang out with me? She’s going to tell you a completely different story, but that is what I remember.
Scott Luton (09:16):
So that little spark, that little stalking moment is what was blossomed into a really strong, vibrant friendship ever since. All right. So Mary Kay, I’m going to pass the Baton to you feel free to correct the record, at least as you see it. And of course, we’re going to talk a lot more about, uh, terrorist time in uniform too.
Mary Kate Soliva (09:33):
Yes. Thank you, Scott. And thank you, Tara. My sister. I mean, Terry is long time since that first day, but of course there’s two different versions of that story, but yes, we’re downtown. Yes. We’re in a shop looking at some knickknacks, but I think I was in the sock section looking at some cool socks with some cool sayings on it. And she just comes up to me and was like, are you in PSYOP? And I’m thinking like, do I say yes or do I say no? Like, I don’t know this person, is she collecting information on me? Like I’ve never seen her in my life. Um, okay. Yes, yes. But I’m really, it really didn’t end up where she’s, uh, she asked if, you know, if I had anything else going on, if she could just walk me to the next shop and the rest is history, we got to know each other exchange numbers.
Mary Kate Soliva (10:18):
And, and she’s definitely been like a sister to me, the rest of the time and sister for life. So, um, love her family, love her. And I, I really appreciate it being on this with her today because I really would love for you Tara, to share your story about your service, your time of service. And can you tell us a little bit about that time? Because that’s really where it began for our friendship, but, um, yeah. I just want you to share with world, cause I think your story is incredible. So just a little bit, Tara, about your time as a service.
Tara Holcomb (10:50):
So I joined the United States army in 2011. I think if you are, don’t come from a military background or you don’t have family that are part of the military, it is a culture shock.
Mary Kate Soliva (11:04):
Tara Holcomb (11:06):
I remember, um, eating literally everything on my plate in basic training, even the bread and butter
Mary Kate Soliva (11:12):
I wasn’t doing at all
Tara Holcomb (11:15):
And being so scared to eat ice cream. Yes.
Scott Luton (11:18):
Oh, we share that because you had the basic training for the air force. We had to walk past the snake pit, I think as we call it to get ice cream and you knew those TIS, you know, they’re going to pit there, they focused on the folks that went and got ice cream. So I’m with you.
Mary Kate Soliva (11:36):
Yes. So I did basic
Tara Holcomb (11:39):
Training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and I never knew I could sweat as much as I did and I didn’t realize that it could get as hot as it did. So definitely a culture shock there too. But I will tell you that after basic training, I completely changed and became the person that I’ve always wanted to be in the sense. I think, I mean, I started basic training and when I was 21 years old. And so at that time you think I pretty much got it all together, but I realized that I was still a child in so many ways. And I think that the military really changed my mindset and helped me just overcome and adapt a lot of things that I didn’t know I was going to be able to do. So I, my first duty station or Bragg North Carolina with the 82nd airborne division. And let me tell you, if you’re not a runner, you’re going to learn how to become a runner
Mary Kate Soliva (12:35):
Uphill, both ways where some of those snow or no snow, I feel like that’s the way it’s just all Hills over there.
Tara Holcomb (12:47):
Yeah. So I think in the 82nd, um, I was a part of a BSTB, which is kind of like just a battalion that is a little bit of everything. So you have Mia, you have communications, you have headquarters and headquarters battalion. And I was a part of that. So I actually was, um, considered to be a motor pool clerk and I basically managed all the vehicles for our entire battalion, including brigade. So that was in third BCT. Yeah. So every morning we had accountability at the motor pool for everyone to check their vehicles. And I will tell you, like, I’m pretty tough. So I’m by the book and I was a specialist at the time. So an E four and when you’re the only supervisor in the office doesn’t eat for, you really have big shoes to fill. So that was really exciting. And that’s kind of where my logistics career started. I learned a lot, I think people just don’t understand like everything that logistics really encompasses, you know, when you’re thinking about transportation and parts and stock and all kinds of things. And so it really kind of got my wheels turning on what that looks like, because when you go to maps and they’re like, you’re going to be an 88, Mike, you know, for me at first, that’s what they said. And then, um, they’re like, you’re going to be an automated work flow specialist. Yeah. You’re like, what is that
Mary Kate Soliva (14:13):
Exactly. That’s just such a, a great, great point, Tara and great segue to your, your transition because one of the really great things about, about your stories that you had such a unique transition from service, and you brought them great point that what you did in the military, you saw connection to supply chain. And could you just talk us through your transition, sort of your lessons learned before, during and after, as you went through that process? So how was that for you
Tara Holcomb (14:42):
For my transition, I was just simply trying to figure out, you know, where I want it to be and where I saw myself, some people in the military don’t have the strong support systems. And I think that we have to realize and understand kind of our, our soldiers, our airmen, you know, our Marines. We have to understand what’s going on with them. So I have always lacked a strong support system for such a long time. I was a single parent while I was in the military. And so I kind of got to a point where I was a little bit burnt out and really worried about my child, um, and not being able to be there during certain points in time. And I think that that was really a big concern of mine when I decided like, it’s time for me to maybe step away from this and, you know, just test the waters like outside of the military.
Scott Luton (15:37):
This is as you’re beginning to wrap up your time with the us army. So you actually made two transitions, which we’ll talk about in a second, but you’re talking about the point in time where you’re about to, uh, separate from the army, right?
Tara Holcomb (15:50):
Yes. So this is 2018. It’s been a great career, but somebody told one of my mentors told me this. Um, she said, your child’s only young for a certain point in time. And before you know, it they’re gone. And that really just struck a chord with me. And so I decided it would be best to leave. And I talked to my leadership. There was really some back and forth. Let’s say that
Scott Luton (16:18):
We want to keep you in. You really want to check out the other side of the fence, right? Yeah.
Tara Holcomb (16:24):
I mean, I think anybody can tell you who’s leaving any type of military service that they’re not like, yes,
Mary Kate Soliva (16:30):
Great. They’re like, it’s the other side of that? They’re like
Tara Holcomb (16:37):
Sign here six more years, give it to us. But I just knew that it was the right decision for me. I think that I was surrounded by a strong network of mentors who walk beside me and really helped me. So during my transition, I had applications where I just want to be honest. I think when you are leaving the military, whether you’re a single parent or whether, you know, the military has been your only your first and only job, you need to be self-motivated and you need to push yourself to really identify what your course of action is going to look like. You need to understand everything about where you might possibly end up, you know, the social economic level that you are hoping to be at, what life is going to look like when the military isn’t paying for your health insurance anymore. Because I didn’t really think about that or take that into account in the beginning. And I just think that you really have to like push yourself, like I said, and be proactive. So
Scott Luton (17:45):
I really appreciate your sharing that in the Mary. Kay. I want to, I want to ask you a question here because you know, a lot of what we do here, I think we’ve said it we’ve, uh, for veteran voices, we’ve just Crested over, I think 50 episodes and a lot of those episodes have been, as you all might imagine, we talk about transition a lot because there’s still a lot of, despite all the gains we’ve made as a veteran community, you know, and, and despite a lot of progress that what I’ll call collectively corporate America or, or, um, you know, the business world has made towards understanding. We still have a long way to go to really leave no one behind in that successful transition process. So I appreciate what you’ve just shared there, Tara, especially thinking about healthcare, thinking about how much income you want to have on the private side, you know, cause proactively, I think military members are better if they have those thinking exercises while they’re still wearing uniform, rather than having those thinking exercises after they’ve transitioned out. So Mary Kate, on that note, before we keep going down the path with Tara, what else would you add from a transitional standpoint that folks need to know? Yeah, so
Mary Kate Soliva (18:46):
I, I really appreciate that Tara touched on the mentorship aspect because I think without having reached out to both, uh, civilians, both those who’ve never worn the uniform to help translate that military jargon, that language that we have within service, but also those who’ve successfully transitioned, may pointed out things that I would not have known to do, like filing for your own life insurance outside or so that’s not something you really think about and even filing for your VA claim, there’s still some negative connotations associated with filing a claim or seeking, but you want to spend that time during your transition to check, to make sure your records are good. And if things are, you know, if your ever x-rays aren’t in there or, you know, something’s missing, make sure you get it all together and get it taken care of because you don’t want to spend the 10 years out of service. And then you’d find that the bones start creaking. You become Mr. Potato head and you don’t have anything documented because the reality is that you, you earned that, you know, is that you don’t have to have been, you don’t have to have been shot at, you know, and I, I find I have too many conversations, service members that feel like they did not earn that claim. And, uh, the reality is that they did. So I just want to stress that too, to just have been over. So thank you, Scott, for highlighting that
Scott Luton (20:01):
Excellent point. Excellent point. So Tara going back, so you made the decision, it sounds like to separate from the U S army, right? And then what came next for you?
Tara Holcomb (20:12):
Um, so I had already had a job offer a couple months prior to getting out of the military. I remember Mary Kay and I talking about it. I was like, I think this is great. Isn’t it great. So I had a job offer with a small, with a probably, I would say small, medium size company in Virginia in Springfield, Virginia. And I will definitely say that there was just a lot, I didn’t know. So I walked into this environment where I was still working for DOD and I was working among soldiers. I was working in a warehouse and I was basically doing what they call well, dermal what is now called DLA. Right. So basically like dispositions of parts and disposal. And I just didn’t know that it was a place that I thought that I w I should start off that, you know, I think a lot of times we get out of the military and we think, well, I was, uh, you know, so and so, so I deserve to be a so-and-so, if that makes sense, I don’t want to put a, a rank or anything or whatever to the title, but I think what I learned is that number one, I was blessed enough to have a, you know, to have an offer letter and to come out of the military with the position.
Tara Holcomb (21:33):
And so I think sometimes no matter how high you think you are, you have to humble yourself and realize that this is the foundation where you are going to build your career upon. And the people around you are going to help you,
Scott Luton (21:49):
Alex, I love how you just put that. I love how you put that. And it isn’t, I think we’ve all felt the need to humble ourselves and kind of unlearn and relearn. Right. Uh, and that’s important in supply chain, for example, which, you know, very well, Tara, I think the supply chain industries is in the process of learning a lot of long held best practices because of how the situations have, uh, and, and industry has changed and it’s, and that, that can be pretty painful, that unlearning and that humbling process. Right. So when did you make the decision and, and Mary Kate, we’ll just, we’ll just bounce it back and forth here and keep it real. Uh, Tara, when did you make the decision to go back and put the uniform back on with the USF?
Tara Holcomb (22:31):
So I was actually in Afghanistan. Wow. Yeah, I was in as a soldier, not as a soldier, as a contractor, I was in Afghanistan and I was supporting and another agency and still with the same company supporting another agency. And while I was there, I met another young man coworker of mine. And I had told him about maybe some of my army woes, you know, some of the things that I wish I had done better. And he said, you know what? You sound like, you’re smarter. What’s your DD score? And I’m like, well, it’s, I think it’s pretty good. So I told him what I let you know, what it was and what I think I wanted to do. And I said, you know, I’ve been in the supply chain field for a while, but maybe I would like to step into cyber on the other side of that. And so you said, well, let me give you my recruiters number. And when he get back to the states, you can contact her. So that is exactly what I did. And before I knew it, I was in the us air force,
Scott Luton (23:37):
You know, that is so awesome. Those recruiters had their eyes open all the time when you least suspect it. And we were talking stalking earlier, it looks like you were stopped. The tables were turned a little bit terror and you were stopped. So Mary Kay, I want you to chime in here before Tara kind of touches on what she did in air force, and then talks about that second transition. What are you hearing the thoughts kind of rolling through Tara’s head as she reconsidered putting a uniform back on.
Mary Kate Soliva (24:06):
It’s just like, how can I get as far away from Mary Kay as possible? That was just, I was just like, now I tell you Scott, that we were in an event recently with veterans and I kept intro every time we came across an armed first and I’m like, yes, Tara was army, but she left us. And when air force NASA got she’s one EO. So,
Scott Luton (24:27):
No, it’s funny. I love that. You mentioned that and, you know, Terry, you touched on earlier, you know, kind of the retention efforts, right? Any branch, you know, kind of tries to protect, especially the well-performing troops like you worked here, but I think we all, when we leave service, even if you hit the lottery on your first day out of the out of uniform, you know, and, and you have a big old grand life, you still miss certain components and especially the, the comradery and, and that tight knit family. And just kind of how that carries over, uh, when you’re wearing a uniform, any other aspect, you know, after the day’s done, you’re playing basketball together or you’re, you know, you’re crying and beers together over something family, or, or maybe your sports team lost it really, at least in my experience was tight knit. And, and, uh, that camaraderie is something that you don’t always experience a second time in your journey. Terror is that, does that resonate with
Tara Holcomb (25:23):
It really does. I mean, some of the friends that I have from my army days or career are some of my best friends, some of the people who have, are still walking with me through life, Mary Kay, number one, Mary Kay, number one, I mean, she is definitely family. And I think that even during like some times where I was alone and the single parent, she really stepped up for me. And I think you just don’t find that anywhere in life. I think I told Mary Kay, but I feel like the older we get the harder it is to find lifelong friends. And she has been an inspiration to me and just my cheerleader in so many ways, you know, so love that,
Scott Luton (26:07):
Oh gosh, I could frame that and put it on the wall, Mary Kay, that’s gotta make you feel good.
Mary Kate Soliva (26:11):
Gosh, it does. Cause it’s definitely feelings mutual for sure. And actually coming to and chuckle Scott, when you mentioned talking about sports. And so, cause I think our comradery when Tara emphasized knickknacks or earlier in our origin story, her and I actually make it a trip trip, we’ll drive over an hour just to go thrifting or junk in, or however you want to call it wherever you’re at in the country. But auntie we were there digging in the pals and old barns and trying to find the next good thing. So that’s just a pastime of ours and farmer’s markets, but we just love doing like crazy old lady stuff. Like, so, uh, we, we kind of say that we’ll have a couple of old souls, that’s going to be wearing our old vet hats one day. But, uh, for now I just, I’m just so proud of her for how far she’s come.
Mary Kate Soliva (26:52):
And, uh, even if we’re out there running a, a five miler and 20 degree weather, I mean the good old days we can reflect on that. But moving forward, I just tear, I really want to just hear about the, sort of the skills that you’ve taken, like how you’ve enhanced your skills from, into supply chain. Because I have watched you grow so much in the past few years since you got out of the army and now you’re an air force doing the cyber thing, but you’re also doing a supply chain thing. And just, what are you doing now to, to keep yourself current with, uh, in your field?
Tara Holcomb (27:25):
Well, so, you know, a couple of years later after I was with the small organization in Afghanistan, um, I got a call from a ManTech recruiter and I want to say it was probably one of the best days of my career because it really transformed maybe some of the things that I had seen in supply chain and logistics already like working in a warehouse or working in a motor pool or doing like some side, some type of procurement overseas. I stepped into a different role, which looked more like auditing on the side of, you know, supply chain and logistics. And I was, you know, they brought me in as a principal logistics analyst and it gave me some time to really go around and meet up with the customers on my project and basically have face to face with them. So build that rapport, but also, um, acknowledged the equipment that they have and then work on the process of really auditing what they don’t have and what they might be missing.
Tara Holcomb (28:25):
And then being able to see how to accurately dispose of products in different ways. So I went from doing a lot of warehouse stuff to doing some auditing and it’s been a wonderful journey because as much as I want to progress my career ManTech has been side by side with me. So I had gone to, um, a supply chain summit supply chain, risk management summit a while ago that was hosted by, uh, another organization, other agents. And I did not even realize that all this stuff was going on, you know? And so I saw a job opening for a supply chain, risk manager, and I hopped on it. And my leadership said to me, they were like, we see the value in you. We know that you can tackle this. And so I currently hold the position of supply chain mismanagement at ManTech, and it has been a wonderful eye opening experience. I will tell you that, especially during COVID, oh gosh,
Mary Kate Soliva (29:26):
Your wheelhouse Scott, that’s your, and this is your wheelhouse now supply chain,
Scott Luton (29:30):
You know, in particular, uh, Mary Kate. And I appreciate you. We are a big supply chain nerds here at veteran voices and spotty now, but, uh, Tara and Mary Kay, as you both know risk, also if supply chain has earned a seat at the table and it’s kind of like, it seems like every, organization’s got like a, a red phone under a, um, a cake cover and that’s like the bat, it’s like the bat phone to supply chain, but doubling down on that, you’ve got, it sounds like your role is at the intersection of supply chain and risk and risk of course, in the last five years or so. Um, has blown up in terms of, uh, importance and, and strategic importance. You know, you’re seeing chief risk officers now at co at organization. So Tara, you know, as much as you enjoyed your time in uniform, both the army and the air force and what I’m kind of hearing and correct me if I’m wrong, I hear things wrong all the time. Despite how big my ears are, what I’m hearing. It’s just like when you were in the army and like, you know, you’re in basic, I think you said you were 21 and then you kind of grew up and kind of became who you are. It sounds like what you’re doing now is like a, a second apifany or a second birth to become an even, uh, uh, a bigger, even more professional version of Terra Holcomb. Is that, is that accurate? It is. I
Mary Kate Soliva (30:48):
Think that ManTech has allowed opportunities for me to kind of step out of the box and create this role
Tara Holcomb (30:54):
To where, you know, I’ve seen that it needs to be, I mean, there’s a lot of reading and a lot of research that goes into apply to supply chain, risk management, especially because we’re seeing all types of things happening all over the world. We’re seeing lack of storage containers. We’re seeing floods and events that we cannot control. So we have to understand that we have to take some type of risk on, but I specifically work with it equipment. So when you’re thinking about it from that standpoint, I mean, you’re looking at semiconductors, you’re looking at how some people are moving away from a lean atmosphere because we don’t have enough products. But I think what’s super important is that predicted planning is on the rise and forecasting properly. It’s going to help us essentially build the stockage levels that we need to have in order to be productive.
Scott Luton (31:48):
We can really nerd out here over the next couple of hours, Tara, but for the sake of time. But I love that. I love how a fellow veteran, uh, found their supply chain roots, their supply chain, passion in uniform. And then as after they transitioned, even if, if you uniquely had two transitions and you’re finding it on the, on the private industry side, and it sounds like the art of the possible for where your career can go is really exciting. So Tara man, kudos, let me circle back on what we want to tackle Mary Kate. Cause there’s a lot of different, I’ve got, I’ve got about 972 up questions. I’d like to ask you Tara, but I want to stick to our game plan here today and talk about highlights. Cause you’ve already shared, you know, in your relatively brief career thus far, when did you exit what the air
Tara Holcomb (32:39):
Force? Well, I’m actually still in the air force then. I didn’t even know though. I’m still a reservist. So, so
Scott Luton (32:47):
You are a air force reservist. And w when did you begin work with ManTech?
Mary Kate Soliva (32:53):
So I began my, I began to work with ManTech in 2019, I believe October.
Scott Luton (33:00):
Okay. So in a short amount of time, it sounds like you’ve had lots of Eureka moments, lots of, a lot of good news and some Heights and some things to celebrate. What else, when you look back on the last couple of years of your professional journey, what else was a big moment for you? What else was a big cause for celebration? What else was a high point of this, this new and improved Terra Holcomb?
Tara Holcomb (33:23):
A big, a big high point was just the leadership that I have been under at ManTech. They really supported me in my journey and understood some of the things that I’ve been looking towards. But I think another more recent high point was that as a veteran, I got out before there was that’s to industry and I kinda got out with, uh, of the army with a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth. And I didn’t know if I had a family and other veterans. I think I was a little bit worried about that, but recently Mary Kay drew me in and she’s like, come to this best to industry, you know, thing that they’re having and come and meet all these people. And I think what I realized is that I do have a family out there. You know, I have a family and veterans, like we have served together and we’ve done some amazing things. And I think when you’re a veteran and you feel alone, like you don’t have anyone else, the truth is you have your brother and sister to the right and left of you the same way you had them. When you’re in the service the same way you fought for them the same way you care for them. They’re out here. And they’re going to do the same thing for you, Tara
Scott Luton (34:30):
Well said. And, and folks, if you’re listening to this and, um, you know, you’re having a down day, make sure you reach out, reach out to someone because as Tara mentioned, your brothers and sisters in uniform, whether they’re recent time and service or spend 10, 15 years, 30 years, it doesn’t matter. They’re here to help. We’re a family and it’s okay to acknowledge that you do, you know, you need some help. So Mary Kay, I want to bring you in because what Tara just mentioned has gotta be, I mean, that’s like a, that kind of stuff makes me ready to run through walls. Yes, exactly. So tell us, tell us about that extended family that you brought Terry into. Yes.
Mary Kate Soliva (35:07):
And, and I love that she gave a shout out to Vesta industry cause they, I definitely, I, I transitioned, I started my transition in the midst of the pandemic. So looking at 2020 and a lot of us were, a lot of folks were in quarantine offices were closed people working from home. So I didn’t know what that was going to look like and watching Tara, uh, I was like, okay, I can, I can do this. Like I’m not retiring, you know, Tara didn’t retire from service and that can be scary because you’re like we don’t have a pension to rely what’s next for us. And, and really what it, what’s my sense of purpose. What’s my why. And so, uh, I definitely found a community with Vesta industry and of course they led me to you Scott. So that was a plus so well with the era for sure.
Mary Kate Soliva (35:52):
Um, I just wanted her to know, because I saw, as I saw her journey and I was there for her every step of the way I saw that she really wasn’t reaching out to the veteran community, which in turn helped me so much. Cause I don’t think that I would have been where I’m at today, had it not been for the mentors that I had, uh, from the industry and numerous other veterans service organizations that helped me along the way, this past year. So a hundred percent not alone and shouldn’t do it alone. And it’s
Scott Luton (36:21):
Well said, love that, Mary Kate. All right. So what I wanted to ask you next, Tara, I don’t know about y’all. I think all of our crystal balls have been broken for years, but Tara, tell us if you can, what is next for you? And, and w what, when you wake up in the mornings, what invigorates you? What inspires you?
Tara Holcomb (36:42):
So I am besides meat, number one in my book, I’m definitely motivated by my family and by just my community and my love of like farming. I know this has nothing to do with it, but I love stuff like that, but I think I’m motivated, but the people that I work with too, you know, um, I’m not sure if what’s next for me right now, supply chain was management is such like it’s brand new and it’s pretty huge. And I’m trying to dive into that. So I, I mean, like I’ve been cold writing people and saying, Hey, will you be my mentor? Um, will you walk beside me in this? And ManTech has a ton of educational resources. So I decided that I was going to do a software system engineering bachelor’s degree program, which, um, they have like this really amazing, um, like collaboration with Colorado technical university. So it’s fully funded and it’s no out-of-pocket for you. And it’s amazing because you get to really step out of your box and kind of do something that you wouldn’t have thought you could do, or you want to do think you just have to take the chance sometimes
Scott Luton (38:03):
Tara, Hey, are they hiring? Can you get me on? And that, that is remarkable, especially in this, in this era where unfortunately, you know, a lot of, you know, the benefits and pensions and some of those extras as big extras, you know, companies have been cutting back. So it sounds like to me, that meant tech is really investing. It is open to investing in really investing in their, their team and their associates. Is that, is that right?
Tara Holcomb (38:29):
Yeah. I mean, that’s definitely true. I went to tech school for a few months and ManTech, you know, covered me, my salary. They made sure that I was taken care of. My leadership was constantly in contact with me, not bothering me, but basically being like, are you okay? And how is it going? And you can do it, you know, and stuff like that. Because if you think about it, supply chain management does have a lot to do with the it community too. And, you know, cyber equipment and stuff like that. So they were rooting for me in a lot of ways. And I really appreciate that. So 48% of the company, um, are veterans and they will really truly like reach out and figure out a way to help you. Um, no matter where you are in life.
Scott Luton (39:11):
I love that. I love that. I have to
Mary Kate Soliva (39:13):
Say that, uh, uh, with, with ManTech, those Saturday events that happen in industry every three weeks on a Saturday for like five to six hours, ManTech recruiters are at those events and is like relentless. Like there, they are on a mission. They’re hiring veterans, military spouse, you know, like they’re out there to let folks know that they care about the veteran veteran community and military community. And I mean, it’s just great to see. And I definitely look back and I continue to ask Tara for that advice, as much as she’s cold messaging people to say, Hey, can you walk this journey? I mean, she’s still paying it forward and giving it back. And I mean, that’s what it’s all about. And that, that’s why I circled back to saying, Hey, Scott’s a veteran. He gets supply chain now. I mean, just to know that there are resources out there like that and giving back
Scott Luton (40:02):
Well said. Yeah. And you know, I think it’s important as all three of us are acknowledging, you know, we’re, we are all are the beneficiary of those that have given back that have come before us. And now it is, it is our responsibility to put the ladder down as a lot of folks referenced and, and to, and to give forward as we like to call it around here. So, so Tara and Mary, I love to hear the culture at ManTech. And then clearly they are one the organizations that understand the pro the value proposition that vets bring to the table. So let’s do this, Mary Kay. You have had some big news, which I’m going to ask you about a here’s we closed in just a second, but Tara let’s make sure folks can connect with you and find you after today’s episode and want to compare notes or what have you. So what’s the easiest way to get in touch with the one-on-one contact, Mary Kate skidding. You can
Tara Holcomb (40:53):
Definitely find me on LinkedIn and you can email me. My email address is terror dot hokum, 1226 at Gmail. And so reach out any time if you need anything, I’m more than willing to help. I will definitely say that as long as you come, ready to work hard and ready to basically just work well with others. Also, I am more than happy to do whatever I can to support you in your journey, because we all need someone to walk beside us and to guide us through this process. So please never hesitate to reach out
Scott Luton (41:31):
What a great point to wrap on a tear. Really appreciate admire your service, admire your journey. And, and I’ll tell you may S may all of us, wherever we are, wherever you are there, those that are listing kind of confined a position that is fulfilling and empowering, and, uh, sounds like opens a lots of doors of opportunity. Like you found Tara. So thanks so much for joining us here today.
Tara Holcomb (41:56):
Thank you. Go air,
Scott Luton (41:58):
Go air force. Oh my gosh.
Mary Kate Soliva (42:00):
I knew I was waiting for it to come
Scott Luton (42:03):
Wait for it. That’s a perfect segue, you know, fresh off getting Tara. Holcomb’s great story. So Mary Kay, you’ve had some big news here in recent weeks. So tell us more. As we exchange a couple of high fives, tell us what I would say. You’ve kicked off two big new journey journeys. I think school starts soon right around the corner, as you, as you kick off your PhD program, which is really cool. But what else is some big news from Mary Kate saliva’s world?
Mary Kate Soliva (42:30):
Oh, yes. Thanks Scott. So I’m really well. And thank you, Tara. I I’m really excited to say that I’m not, I’m working for project management Institute. They were around since 1969 sole provider, the PMP, the project management certification. And it’s just, they have so much, so many things to offer the military community, specifically the veteran community, which is why I’m really excited to be part of PMI now to really get the word out that you can go after these professional certifications while you’re still in uniform, even after you’re out of uniform, if you’re doing a career pivot, there’s so much more than just the PMP. But I think with, with, uh, how Tara was saying, I would just want a message for those listeners today that you don’t, don’t stress yourself out to the point you get sick of trying to find the perfect job, the all capital letters job.
Mary Kate Soliva (43:20):
When you get out of service, uh, when you come a veteran, get that D two 14, because the reality is like with Tara, how she, she journey through, she didn’t just stay with the first one. And granted, I feel so fortunate cause I, I waited, waited, waited Scott, and my transition to find like a good culture fit for me. And I really do feel like I found that with PMI. And it’s just something that is just out there. I want to, I’m so eager to give back and spread the word to our community, what they have to offer. So, and of course again, Dr. Criminal justice degrees starting next program, starting to up already. So
Scott Luton (43:54):
Going to crush that, uh, Mary Kay, uh, I love to hear that trajectory that both of y’all are on Tara and Mary Kate. Um, your companies are better off, industry’s better off. And we look forward to having, having you back. We’ll do a check-in with you, Tara and Mary Kate, and then we’ve got a couple of shows up our sleeves together. All right. So Mary Kate, one last question. How can folks connect with you and of course PMs.
Mary Kate Soliva (44:14):
Yes. And so definitely you could reach out to me, Mary Kate Sliva. This is written, um, and on LinkedIn, LinkedIn’s the best way. And, uh, just shoot me a message. Happy to connect with you and give you more information about PMI and continue. You can always check out our website as well. And project management is to, uh, Oregon. It’s just got so many different offerings. We can talk about the different programs while you’re in service as well. And talk to you about those opportunities to get your certification paid for. So thank you, Scott so much for this opportunity. Always pleasure to co-host with you.
Scott Luton (44:50):
Well, and same. Uh, I love the energy. I love the guests and the guests I did. You have, of course, Tara Holcomb hit it out of the park today. So we’ll look forward to reconnect with her down the road, but Hey folks, I hope you enjoyed this episode. As much as we have here. We’ve had too much fun. I think we’ll have to bolt a second hour to these future episodes, Mary Kate, but Hey, on behalf of our entire team here at veteran voices, we invite you to find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. So you don’t miss conversations like this. You can find us across social media, be sure to check out a couple of the groups we talked about here today, vets to industry.org, nonprofit. It’s a wonderful resource for veterans looking for resources of all types. So wonderful family as Mary, Kate, and Tara both have spoken to, and it’s a nonprofit doing great work.
Scott Luton (45:37):
They could use your support. So check that out. Be thanks to our sponsors for this episode. Buyer’s meeting point and Dow P for procurement that near and dear Kelly Barner over there as a leader, you can learn firstname.lastname@example.org. And lastly, I’ll tell you a chock-full I’ve got about 18 pages of notes from Tara and Mary Kate’s perspective. Uh, this, this should invigorate me. This, this should inspire you. Hopefully it makes you laugh a little bit, but most importantly, Hey, we challenge on behalf of our entire team here. Do good gift forward. Be the change that’s needed on that note. We’ll see you next time. Right back here at veteran voices. Thanks everybody.
Tara Holcomb is a dual US Army and US Air Force veteran who now works as a Supply Chain Risk Manager. Tara began her military career in March 2011 as an Automated Logistical Specialist in the US Army with the 82nd Airborne Division. Throughout her career, she supported both conventional and unconventional forces. In 2018, she separated from the US Army and began her career in the public sector as a Senior Logistics Analyst where she supported troops in Afghanistan and at Fort Belvoir, VA. Upon returning to the US, she enlisted in the Air Force as a Cyber Network Operator and accepted a position with a small IT company as a Logistics/ Warehouse Manager. Within 9 months she decided to make a career change and accepted a position with ManTech international where she has been for the past 2 years and holds the position of Supply Chain Risk Manager. Connect with Tara on LinkedIn.
Mary Kate Soliva is a US Army veteran with special operations experience in South East Asia. She is a veteran advocate and currently spearheads the monthly newsletter for Vets2Industry. She is passionate about educating veterans and their families about available resources across the country. In addition, she is a human trafficking victim advocate and provides training to other service members and the community. She loves to travel, antique and spend time with her loved ones.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
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.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Host of TEKTOK
If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.
With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is 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.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.