Over the last two years, everyone has learned a lot about supply chain operations, complexity, and leadership. It has been as easy to spot exceptional leaders as it has been to see leadership vacuums. Good leaders managed to keep their operations rolling and hit their performance targets despite the challenges, but great leaders did all that while still supporting their teams and building a pathway to an uncharted future.
Ramona Hood is the President & CEO of FedEx Custom Critical, the part of the FedEx family of companies that specializes in providing services such as expedited ground services, temperature control, and increased security. She is also the first Black CEO in the history of FedEx, a distinction that she believes is as much about creating opportunities for those who are on their way up through the ranks as it is a success for her personally.
In this Supply Chain Now classic episode, Ramona shares her personal journey and leadership philosophy with co-hosts Kelly Barner and Scott Luton:
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Scott Luton (00:29):
Hey. Good morning, everybody. Scott Luton and Kelly Barner here with you on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s show. Now, on today’s episode, we’re going to be diving into the story of an industry leader, a trailblazer, really a mover and a shaker in supply chain and beyond. It’s going to be quite an inspiring and informative session. Kelly, we got a good one teed up, huh?
Kelly Barner (00:50):
Yes, we do. I am really, really looking forward to this interview. We have an amazing person joining us today. I’ve done a little bit of homework learning more about her. So, I think everybody is going to enjoy this conversation.
Scott Luton (01:02):
I agree. I agree. Now, really quick, before we bring our guests in here today, great to have you on this episode. But these conversations are just some of the things that we’re collaborating on together. Folks, if you love procurement, be sure to find Dial P for Procurement wherever you get your podcast from. Because procurement is cool now, right, Kelly?
Kelly Barner (01:20):
Yes, it is. And actually a tiny little change there, not if you love procurement, because you love procurement. We just benefited the doubt to everybody. We’ll just assume everybody loves procurement around here.
Scott Luton (01:32):
That is right. That is right. And, also, for any of our history nerds out there, raise your hand – I know I am one – you can check out this week in Business History, where Kelly and I dive into great stories from our collective past. We drop a new episode each and every Tuesday. So, Kelly, with all of that said, now that we’ve done the heavy lifting, we’ve got a wonderful guest joining us here today. Can I go ahead and let the cat out of the bag and introduce her?
Kelly Barner (01:59):
Scott Luton (02:01):
All right. Awesome. So, I want to dive right in and welcome in our featured guest. She brings more than 30 years of FedEx industry experience to the role. Our guest have been recognized on the Crain’s Cleveland 2020 Power 150 List and by Business Insider as one of the 17 Most Powerful Women Leading Top Logistics Companies in 2021. She is certainly kicking a dent in the universe, as Steve jobs would say. Join me in welcoming the President and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical Inc., Ramona Hood.
Ramona Hood (02:33):
Thank you, Scott. It’s my pleasure to be here.
Scott Luton (02:37):
Ramona, great to see you. We enjoyed our pre-show conversation, our orientation. I think we all got good marks for that from our friends here in the production suite. But so nice to see you. Now, Kelly, we were talking about where Ramona is today, which is, I think just south of Akron, Ohio. Is that right, Ramona?
Ramona Hood (02:58):
Scott Luton (02:59):
Okay. But where I want to start this conversation is one of our favorite questions, which is, where did you grow up Ramona, and give us a few anecdotes about your upbringing.
Ramona Hood (03:11):
Absolutely. So, not far. I was born and raised in the Akron area. I went to school as well for both my undergrad as well as my executive MBA. And I’m a mother of two girls that I love to spend time with and travel with. And I’m best known to be a foodie. The best way to have a meeting with me is to do something over food.
Scott Luton (03:37):
All right. So, I got to ask, I got to do a follow up question there, Kelly. You know we love talking about food here at Supply Chain Now.
Kelly Barner (03:44):
Oh, yeah. We’re all in good company here.
Scott Luton (03:46):
That’s right. So, Ramona, you were describing some of your travels in the pre-show, what’s one food dish, whether it’s on your recent travels or if you want to share one of your favorite food dishes growing up.
Ramona Hood (04:00):
Yeah. So, this is a pretty special month for me, so I’m going to share a food dish just from growing up. So, the month of April is my birthday month, and I celebrated all month long. And Sunday, April 10th, actually, it was my birthday, and so I have a uncle who will cook dinner for the birthday person. So, I went hometown to fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and that’s like one of my favorite go-to comfort foods.
Scott Luton (04:34):
I agree. Now, big follow up question here. Because we’ve got a big disagreement, a round around disagreement here in the Luton household, do you put hot sauce – our favorite is Tabasco – on mac and cheese or do you eat it with no hot sauce?
Ramona Hood (04:50):
So, I only put the hot sauce on my chicken. I do not put it on my macaroni and cheese.
Scott Luton (04:56):
Okay. Only the heavy hitting questions around here at Supply Chain Now. Kelly, same question to you on the mac and cheese, hot sauce or no hot sauce?
Kelly Barner (05:05):
So, yes, on the mac and cheese. But I have to tell you the truth, I’d be yes on the green beans, yes on the chicken. Hot sauce just generally goes on everything, that’s sort of my philosophy.
Scott Luton (05:15):
I’m with you. I am with you.
Ramona Hood (05:17):
I would like to invite you guys eat.
Scott Luton (05:21):
So, next time, we’re going to do this in person and we’re going to do it proper over a nice plate of food. I’d love to meet your uncle, it sounds like he’s quite a cook.
Ramona Hood (05:30):
He is. Actually, he cooks every Sunday for us.
Scott Luton (05:34):
Oh, I love that. I love that. Okay. One final follow up question before I pass the baton to my dear friend, Kelly Barner. Sports, music, anything else that really factored in to your upbringing that, you know, when you look back really stands out as a big part of your journey?
Ramona Hood (05:54):
Yeah. So, probably a couple things when I think about it beyond the food side of things. Certainly, living in the Akron-Cleveland area, there are some teams that are go-to and favorites being born and raised in Akron. Although, I’m a little bit older – just a little bit – than LeBron, the Calves are one that it was great to see a championship happen. Cleveland Browns, got to love them if you’re local to the area. So, sports always big. As I said, Sunday is a family gathering, and so very common to watch a football game on the T.V. as we’re eating dinner as well.
Scott Luton (06:34):
I’m with you. I’m with you. And, you know, we’re all kind of pulling for the Browns to get over the hump. And I think they made the playoffs last year, which is a great step forward. I’m a big Clemson fan, Ramona. And back in the day in the ’80s, of course, Michael Dean Perry, The Fridge’s younger brother, who was nicknamed The Icebox, was on the defensive line for the Browns. Kevin Mack, another Clemson football player, would steamroll any linebacker trying to tackle him. Reggie Langerhorns, of course, Bernie Cozza are some great teams back in the ’80s. We hope that they get over the hump and get the Super Bowl maybe the next year or two. How about that, Ramona?
Ramona Hood (07:12):
Scott, I’m impressed, one, with your history and your knowledge of the Browns, even though it’s the connection of Clemson. And I’m with you, I’m looking for us to really build a team that can sustain and get a championship for us.
Scott Luton (07:27):
Awesome. Awesome. Okay. Well, Kelly – gosh – I’d love to spend just an hour talking about food and sports and kind of the Cleveland Akron area with Ramona, but we’ve got to get into the heavy lifting, right?
Kelly Barner (07:41):
Yes. We do. And, Ramona, Scott had mentioned when you first joined us that you lead FedEx’s Custom Critical Division. Can you tell us a little bit more about what that part of FedEx does?
Ramona Hood (07:53):
Absolutely. So, FedEx Custom Critical, our organization, it’s a leading North American transportation provider in the business to business space. And so, we offer a range of transportation capabilities. The portfolio itself of services are everything from exclusive transportation where it needs to be expedited. We have temperature control solutions as well as other logistical solutions. And so, we operate in a couple different industries. A few of those are healthcare, so COVID-19, you think about the vaccine when we had the EAU approval, that was a FedEx Custom Critical truck picking up the first vaccine. We support government initiatives, and that is a sector that we do quite a bit of business with. And then, consumer goods. Those are three industries that we play in fairly well
Kelly Barner (08:53):
And, obviously, critical work, especially anything that you’ve done to support distribution of the vaccine. But more recently, your team has had some involvement as many other supply chain players have around sending support to Ukraine. So, to the extent that you’re willing and able to talk publicly about that, what has your team’s role been there?
Ramona Hood (09:14):
Yeah. Definitely. You know, first, I would like to just share that we’re deeply disturbed by what’s happening in Ukraine. And our thoughts and solitary are with the people affected by the ongoing violence. And so, it’s a place where we have team members that work and live. And so, our top priority is the safety of those team members and their family. But we are providing some support. We’re doing both financial assistance to them and the affected communities as well.
Kelly Barner (09:47):
Now, I know that at FedEx – did you want to go ahead, Scott?
Scott Luton (09:51):
Well, I just wanted to echo Ramona’s sentiments there. The atrocities going on, blatant, outright aggression, it’s heartbreaking. And I really admire companies from the private sector that have found a way to, you know, use their wherewithal and their supply chains, their resources, even their people, to do what they can to really serve those in need in Ukraine and Poland and the whole region. So, Ramona, big thanks to what FedEx is doing along those lines. We certainly hope cooler heads prevail and we get a ceasefire, so we can get to work figuring out a better solution there and putting an end to all the suffering. Sorry, Kelly.
Kelly Barner (10:40):
No, of course not. I mean, and really, Scott, that does provide us with a perfect transition to the next thing that we were going to ask Ramona about. Because what we’re seeing evidenced in your work with the vaccine, evidenced in your work to support the people in Ukraine, is proof of the company culture that you’ve built up. And as the leader of this organization, can you talk a little bit about the importance of culture to you, but also the work that you have to do on a daily basis to build that culture, make sure everyone understands and internalizes it, so that we can, in fact, see this external evidence of the good work that you’re doing internally.
Ramona Hood (11:19):
Yeah, Kelly. That’s a big question in itself. Culture is so critical to an organization. It really reflects who you are. It aligns us to what’s important. It makes us resilient. And it empowers us to deliver great results. So, it’s bigger than one team member. And it requires each of us to kind of make a choice how we choose to show up and demonstrate it on a daily basis. And so, as a leader, I and we, we all need to kind of understand that assignment that we choose to take by leading others in our organization.
Ramona Hood (12:00):
But as I think about culture and some examples, just over the last couple years, the first thing I think about is those events that took place in 2020 that really allowed us to kind of lean into who we are and what’s important during a time of so much uncertainty because of the pandemic that hit us in the U.S. in March of 2020. And as I think about the year and those challenges and uncertainty, and then to find us at a place at the end of the calendar year where we’re moving the first COVID vaccine, I remember the team and our highs and our lows throughout that. And it was really because we knew what our purpose was and the impact we were going to have on the world by being a part of the delivery of the vaccine.
Ramona Hood (12:49):
And, now, we fast forward into 2022, and we’re learning now how to kind of take the flexibility of what we’ve done with working from home and how to reframe it so that we can create this flexible work environment. And so, when you think about culture, you know, our goal is to continue to have the strong culture where our values are brought to life no matter where the team members are physically or digitally. You know, if we sit or interact, we want to make sure that as we work in our next normal that we bring that same culture to us, regardless of the physical or digital environment we may be in.
Kelly Barner (13:35):
Well, and it’s interesting, you bring up the end of 2020, because I can remember watching on the news, I mean, these were glory days for supply chain professionals, where they would send in news crews as the first shipments of vaccine were going out. And I know at least one of the ones that I watched live on television was in a FedEx facility. And you feel such a sense of pride because we know, as people working in industry, that the physical movements and the systems that coordinated it all were exactly the same things that had always been in place. But having the opportunity to step up and play such a critical role in the response to the pandemic, it really was a moment of pride. And I have to think for you as a leader, Ramona, to have your team out there making such a difference, that must have been incredibly rewarding for you and for them, and really an opportunity to sort of celebrate achievements, despite all the challenges we were facing.
Ramona Hood (14:29):
Absolutely. And I think you hit it on the head, you know, to be able to demonstrate and be on a platform to share what we do, and that was our tag line, this is what we do. It was just being done in an environment now that it was highlighted that others recognize the value that we have in supply chain. And more importantly, to the health of people across the world.
Scott Luton (14:54):
I’ll tell you, the noble mission from Ukraine to the pandemic. You mentioned finding your purpose, which, I’ll tell you, that’s got to be the silver lining in any bad day, bad time is finding who you are, finding out why does this matter what we do, that purpose is so fulfilling and rewarding. And I also love the context you’re sharing is through the team. You know, through the team, what they’re experiencing. And I love that mantra you mentioned, this is what we do.
Scott Luton (15:28):
But I want to talk about Ramona Hood for just a second before we go a little more broad. In 2020, Ramona, you became the first Black CEO in FedEx history. I mentioned that you were a trailblazer on the frontend, and that’s just part of what makes you the pioneer. A two-part question, for you in your journey, tell us what that means to you. And then, secondly, for any of our listeners that want to do the same thing, maybe in a different vein, they want to be the first step through other doors or windows of opportunity or break through them, what would your advice be?
Ramona Hood (16:11):
Yeah. So, Scott, on the first part of it what it meant for me, certainly, this was a career goal and aspiration. But where it really hit internally was, once I accepted the role, I called my girls. Were in this together, so all of the travel, all of the different work assignments that I’ve had, it’s been a partnership with my two daughters. So, they knew the opportunity had presented itself. And I remember being in my office signing the acceptance letter, and I called my daughters and I said, “It’s official. I’ve accepted the role of President and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical.” And my older daughter on that call said to me, “Mom. Did you just break the glass ceiling?”
Ramona Hood (17:04):
And I have to tell you, Scott, it was so emotional, because you don’t exactly know what your kids understand as you’re going down a pathway. But, certainly, they were well aware of the impact this role would have, not only on me and them, but really an opportunity to create a platform to talk about those possibilities. So, it means the world to me, not being the first, but really being able to make sure that there’s many that come after me as I continue my journey as well.
Scott Luton (17:40):
And, Ramona, can I butt in just for a quick second? Just for a quick second, Kelly. We were talking pre-show about our kids, right? All three of us were kind of sharing. And our kids, as Ramona just eloquently described, they are so perceptive, they pick up on everything. There’s bad days that we just alluded to, they knew that, they know the challenges, they experience them. They know the days away from home. They know the leadership challenges that go with all roles, but especially senior levels of leadership. And what a special moment, Ramona, that you just described when you and your two daughters and that question you got from one of your daughters. Kelly, as a fellow parent, mother, leader, how does that resonate with you?
Kelly Barner (18:36):
Well, first of all, I’m trying not to mess up my makeup. I think that’s beautiful, Ramona. I also have three kids, but my oldest is a daughter. And so, as a mom, we want to make sure that, yes, we’re breaking ceilings and, yes, we’re looking out for those who will come behind us. But our daughters are in that pact. So, I think that’s incredibly inspiring. I love the opportunity that you had to get them on the phone so quickly to be a part of that moment, even if they weren’t physically in the room as you signed the letter. So, I’m thrilled that you’re willing to share that with everybody.
Scott Luton (19:10):
Thank you. Absolutely, Ramona. And we talked about, you know, kicking a big old dent in the universe. That’s exactly what Ramona Hood did here and continues to do. But the second part of that question, because I know that you’re most passionate based on what you just shared a second ago to make sure that there’s an army that follows you. What advice would you give to any of our listeners that want to do the same thing?
Ramona Hood (19:34):
Yeah. Absolutely, Scott. I think that’s the critical and most important part of it is that there are others that have the opportunity to follow. And, for me, it’s about being intentional with your career. And I have found three things to be helpful for me to get to this point and can continue to grow as a leader as well. And the first one is being comfortable with sharing what your aspirations are. So, truly understanding what excites you, kind of getting to that purpose, your individual purpose. But really sharing that with others.
Ramona Hood (20:09):
Second, I talk about the importance of having — and I call it a board of directors for my own growth. And that includes coaches, who are people who are helping me grow in specific skills and experiences; mentors, those individuals that have been there, done that, and they can give me guidance and wisdom; and probably the most important is sponsors, and those are people that have the power and the authority that you don’t have. But they’re the people that are going to advocate for you. They’re going to bring you into rooms that maybe you wouldn’t by yourself get that invitation. And so, I just think it’s important to really build that network.
Ramona Hood (20:53):
And the last piece of advice I’d share, Scott, is, getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. And that means continuing to learn, continuing to take risk assignments, being okay with failure. And that’s really important so that you continue to grow and learn as well. So, those are kind of the three areas of advice that I would give anyone as they’re thinking about their dreams and their goals and how to kind of navigate to get to it.
Scott Luton (21:23):
So, Kelly, very practical. Been there, done that advice that I’m sure our listeners will appreciate and, hopefully, act on. What was your favorite piece there, Kelly?
Kelly Barner (21:34):
Well, I’m going to cheat because I did reading. So, sort of backing up what you shared, I love the fact that you raised your hand. You saw opportunities very early on to build your career and grow within FedEx. You didn’t just sit and even work hard, which is hard. You raised your hand for opportunities. You indicated that you were open to the next step. You applied for positions, which is scary. Because not only do you have to maintain a solid record of very hard work and high performance, you do have to kind of put it at out there that you’re interested in what’s coming next. And I think it’s easy to overlook how important that is to both be doing a good job and keeping an eye on where your career is headed next. So, I think it’s practical advice. I think it’s deceptively hard to follow, which really makes the place that you’ve realized at this point in your career all that more impressive because you clearly stuck to your vision.
Scott Luton (22:35):
Ramona Hood (22:39):
Yes, Scott. The way Kelly summarizes it is just is spot on. And I think, you know, that the key is being willing to raise your hand, being willing to realize beyond your results and the competency you have in doing the job, the ability to share in a way that isn’t boastful but, certainly, allows people to know what your capabilities are.
Scott Luton (23:07):
Both of y’all have me ready to run through this wall behind me. Because it’s not lip service. This is what both of you – and certainly, Ramona – you’ve been doing and to what has gotten you here. And I really appreciate that. I appreciate you sharing your perspective in those very special family moments.
Scott Luton (23:28):
I want to shift gears a little bit. As important as real leadership is in this world we live in right now, maybe more important than ever before – hard to say that – but from a sheer global business, global supply chain standpoint, there’s so much going on. There are lots of silver linings. I think industry’s learned a ton that’s going to make global supply chain much stronger. I’m not going to use the R word, you know, resilient. It’s going to be better for consumers. It’s going to be better for employees. It’s going to be better for shareholders, the environment. We’re learning a ton in these last couple years. But, Ramona, when you look at and survey business global supply chain, what’s one thing that you may be tracking more than others right now?
Ramona Hood (24:18):
Yes, Scott. So, to your point, there is so much out there right now. If you and I and others went to kind of do a search on the trends in the global supply chain, quickly within three seconds, we’d find over a dozen trends. And a few of them out there are, you know, related to the — in key markets and some of the challenges there, production shortage, technology enablement, how that’s being used as an opportunity, and then the workforce and labor constraints. So, there’s not one trend by itself that I’m kind of focused on, but it’s really around the strategy that helps with several of those trends.
Ramona Hood (25:04):
And I’m a believer that regardless of those trends, the strategy to either mitigate the challenge or maybe seize the opportunity, it’s going to be focused on kind of the organizational resilience. And you used the word resilience and I think maybe the word gets overused sometimes. But, you know, we can’t forget what we saw in 2020 and where we’re at in 2022. And I do think there’s an importance of kind of cultivating resilience from the standpoint of our ability to anticipate the speed in which we react. And then, the planning against the unexpected and the uncertain. Because we’ll continue to have trends and challenges, and there’ll be elements of uncertainty that comes into play. But if we can develop that mental model around the resilience for the organization, I think our ability to deal with those trends will be more effective.
Scott Luton (26:06):
Well said. Well said. Kelly, I’d love to get your response to that here in just a second. But, first, Ramona mentioned that mantra, this is what we do, early on when she was talking about the noble missions that they’ve been a part of. But I would also add another mantra that at least is echoing in my ears, is that of, so what? When consumers or employers are asking for certain things, especially in these recent years, any obstacles that prevented them from getting what they want looked so much different after the last couple years. And so, we can’t do that. Why? So what? Let’s do it. I mean, that’s what I think leading organizations and leadership.
Scott Luton (26:47):
We talked about the value with Ramona pre-show about getting out there, sitting down with the customers, really hearing from them. It sounds like you do the same thing with your team members, which are just as valuable. How can we make sure the journey for them and all stakeholders is as positive and successful as possible? And I appreciate your focus around strategies to do just that. Kelly, how would you respond to some of those things that Ramona mentioned there?
Kelly Barner (27:16):
Well, I think what I’ve heard, and from my perspective, there are sort of two types of leaders or executives coming out of all this. There are the people that sort of clung to know tactically this is the way we do things. We have to trust our systems. And then, there are people that had a degree of that. But as, Ramona, you said, you go back to the strategies, because strategies flex in a way the tactics and operational things sometimes don’t. And I think the really hard part is not letting the tactical details go, but keeping your eye on proven strategies and finding a way for them to meet in the middle at scale.
Kelly Barner (27:54):
We’ve all become experts in supply chain over the last two years. First, there was “Where was my toilet paper?” Then, there was “Why can’t I find my brand of cereal?” And then, we moved on to “Where are my Christmas packages?” Now, everybody has had a little bit of a peek behind the curtain. But as Scott and I know, and, certainly, you know as well from years of working in this industry, it’s an incredibly complicated place to work. And at an organization as large and leading as FedEx, certainly, your strategies are big, your tactical details are really complicated. And I think for you to be able to pull that all together over the last two years, it really is incredible.
Ramona Hood (28:35):
Thanks, Kelly. One of the things that you mentioned that I was just going to touch on is the complexity of supply chain. And, you know, I believe everyone has a certain talent and a super power, if you will. And mine, personally, is really looking at things that are complex, that are big, and really simplifying it through strategies that allow us to execute on it as well. So, I agree with what you said there as well.
Scott Luton (29:08):
Simplification. Blessed are those that can make things simple. I’ve long believed that, and, gosh, we need a lot of that here these days. So, Ramona, I feel like every once in a while we get a masterclass and been there, done that leadership, and we’re going to have to get some more time with you later this year. There’s so much to ask you about, so little time.
Scott Luton (29:32):
But as we start to kind of come around that final curve and head down the home stretch, I want to ask you about something. I also did a little stalking – not stalking. We call it due diligence getting ready for interviews. Right, Kelly? So, something you shared on social a month or so ago, maybe a couple months ago, that when it comes to real leadership and advocacy “are thousands of small nudges. Together, we can move mountains.” I just love that. And as I told you pre-show, I’m going to absolutely steal it from you and use it. We’ll work out some kind of commission package or licensing package maybe.
Scott Luton (30:08):
But it’s really so powerful because – I don’t know about y’all – the last couple years, it’s had me focus more in and try to appreciate those baby steps, and to build up those baby steps, those small nudges, as you speak to. But elaborate on what you meant there, because I probably took it out of context, perhaps, I’m bad about that sometimes. And what other advice would you package along with it if folks really wanted to fine tune their ability to lead in a very meaningful, impactful way?
Ramona Hood (30:43):
Well, Scott, first, my daughters would call that creeping, if you’re on someone’s social pages just looking at what they do. I’ve been called a creeper myself from my kids for doing that. But I think the quote you’re referring to was a post that I had on LinkedIn for American Heart Association. And so, to me, advocacy is so important, and I think realizing that all of us can do it, and either there’s a responsibility that I believe you have to advocate on the behalf of others. But, really, anyone has the ability of making an impact no matter how big or how small that is. And I think once we realize that we all have a part to play, and that’s how you get those small incremental progressions to take place.
Ramona Hood (31:40):
And so, raising two daughters, I try to instill in them as well that they can make a change. Their actions, their voices are all meaningful with the intention of leading in a good way and making an impact, we all can do that. And together, collectively, it’s where we start to kind of move the mountain of it.
Scott Luton (32:06):
All right. I love we can talk leadership for days on end. Kelly, really quick, your response. I know you’ve got just one or two more questions for Ramona.
Kelly Barner (32:17):
I do. So, I love the empowerment message of that, Ramona. Because you’re not saying anybody VP and above can move the mountain, anybody director and above can move the mountain. You really do need every single pair of hands, and so that’s an incredibly empowering message. Hopefully, people at all levels of all organizations have had an opportunity to see their impact over the last couple of years.
Kelly Barner (32:41):
But before we do run out of time, what I would love to know from you is, what are a couple of things, either eureka moments or things that really changed your thinking, what were a couple of your big learnings over the last couple of years?
Ramona Hood (32:59):
Well, you know, I’ll have to go back to 2020. And so, I moved in my role in January and I was pretty methodical with this plan of what my first 90 days were going to look like. And I did Ramona roundtables with team members and I was planning to go out and make sales visits with customers. And then, spend time with our independent contractors as well. But that plan had to shift and change when in March we saw in the U.S., the state started to shut down. And so, I think we’re an organization that moves pretty quickly.
Ramona Hood (33:42):
But, for me, I would say, the situation of the team coming together and in hours they were making decisions that had team members working from home while maintaining business continuity. And we were able to do it in just a few days. And we went through a four-stage model and was able to collect information to evaluate it. And we worked in that environment for over 24 months. And so, watching the team do that and do it at the speed that they did, it really gave me the insight of how quickly we can move and get things done. So, it’s very hard now for the team to talk to me about projects and initiatives and scoping things that are going to take, you know, six months to a year, because I know we can move faster than that. We did it. And so, just being agile with what’s going on is, really, for me, that was the eureka moment during the past two years.
Kelly Barner (34:50):
Has any of that changed the way you think you’ll lead going forward? So, clearly they’re all busted. No more sandbagging. No more slow project timelines. But being a leader, it can be lonely at the top. Has anything that you’ve observed or experienced over the last couple of years affected the way you think you will function as a leader going forward?
Ramona Hood (35:14):
Yeah. You know, I think a lot of us over the last couple years increased our empathy and our grace. And so, that is not something that I took on and it’s gone away. I think, I have great gratitude and grace for people, and the circumstances, and the situations that they’re in. And I think, I’ve built even a bigger muscle in that area just based on what we’ve seen over the last two years. And I think it makes me a better leader because of that also.
Kelly Barner (35:50):
Yeah. And, Scott, just to turn the tables on you, I would personally suggest that you are an empathetic leader. Any thoughts about what people watching or listening in can take away from what Ramona just shared and applied to their own leadership situation?
Scott Luton (36:05):
Oh, you did turn the tables.
Kelly Barner (36:10):
Ramona said the stakes have gone up, so that includes us.
Scott Luton (36:12):
Right. So, all of us are human and all of us have natural reactions to bad news and when things don’t go right and all that stuff. But Ramona mentioned that muscle and really being intentional. And to become more empathetic, you really have to be intentional and deliberate about working that muscle and exercising it so that it’s there almost as a deep breath before you react in these challenging times. Because as Ramona mentioned, it puts her in a better position to be a better leader, which puts her team in a better position for her to be able to do more and make more nudges and take care of them and, of course, the customer. So, being intentional and deliberate.
Scott Luton (36:58):
And empathy has become one of those words like resilience, like some of these other words that have become very cliche in recent years, but folks want to see it in action. Deeds, not words, is a big mantra around here. And to be able to do that and almost do it again as a natural reaction, you got to practice it and put it in action. And, Ramona, clearly, you’re a deeds, not words leader. That’s probably one of the things that’s helped put you where you are. So, you’re in position to kick that dent in the universe and make sure a lot of folks will follow in your footsteps.
Ramona Hood (37:41):
Yeah. Absolutely. You know, every year I kind of think about my personal and professional goals. And there were two things in 2022 that I’m very conscious of and I’m trying to make sure that I continue to do better and better. And one is, I say, grace is good for the soul. And so, just remembering to give others grace. And, again, not knowing everyone’s situation or what they may have gone through, but, again, grace is good for the soul. So, I try to remember that.
Ramona Hood (38:20):
And then, the second one, and I think it’s just, again, thinking about the last two years, is, around leaning into joy and actually leaning into gratitude and taking a moment for joy. So, I’m a very result oriented person. I like to set goals and then move to the next goal. And when I think about the last couple years of what’s important, you know, taking those moments to really lean in and have joy are just as important as hitting that milestone or accomplishment as well. So, those are the two things that I’m focused on this year. So, I continue to be a good person working on being a better person.
Scott Luton (39:03):
I love that. Kelly, so much good stuff in the last hour or so, but we’ve got, I think, one final question for Ramona, right?
Kelly Barner (39:14):
We do. Ramona, for anybody that has spent the last bit of time in our company, what is the best way for them to learn more about you, connect with you, or get in touch?
Ramona Hood (39:25):
Absolutely. So, LinkedIn is the place to find me. I’m pretty active on it. So, Ramona Hood. You can follow me. I try to give Wednesday Wisdom and a couple other things to keep it going, including during early parts of COVID. You’d see my Black Labri on there, and it doesn’t bother me that she gets more followers than I do. But, certainly, that’s one place to follow me. And then, if there are customers who have a need for FedEx Custom Critical or need to know a little bit more about our services, fedexcustomcritical.com will provide them more insight to the services that we provide as well.
Scott Luton (40:09):
Awesome. Wonderful. Well, Ramona Hood, we set a high bar for what we thought this interview would be, and you had surpassed that and then some. We look forward to reconnecting with you again. There’s so much here from your journey, your expertise, your story, how you view the world. And I really appreciate what you’ve shared over the last hour. So, thank you so much for your time.
Ramona Hood (40:34):
Scott and Kelly, it’s been a pleasure. I am so glad we had a chance to talk before this conversation, and I look forward to an opportunity of us having a future conversation, maybe at some point in person over food. But, certainly, this was a highlight of my day as well.
Kelly Barner (40:52):
You bring the mac and cheese and we’ll bring the hot sauce.
Scott Luton (40:54):
That’s right, Kelly. But thank you very much to Ramona Hood, President and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical. We’ll see you again real soon.
Ramona Hood (41:05):
Scott Luton (41:11):
All right. Kelly, there’s a ton to unpack here, but for the sake of time, what’s one of your favorite things that Ramona shared here today?
Kelly Barner (41:20):
Oh, that’s easy. This is the very first interview ever that I’ve almost cried during. You know, there’s no crying in baseball. There’s also probably not crying in supply chain interviewing. But as a mom of a teenage daughter, her retelling that moment of signing her acceptance letter with her girls on the phone, I was like, “Okay. Think about something slightly us for a minute.” That was an incredibly touching and personal moment. I love the fact that she shared that with us.
Scott Luton (41:46):
Agreed. That was very special. We try to walk a good line, professional and personal. We try not to, you know, prod folks and over share it. But I’m so glad she shared. I could picture that in my mind and I can’t wait to share that with my kids and Amanda later today.
Scott Luton (42:05):
But on a lighter side, how cool and how much do you want to be a part of the Ramona roundtables? I can just see it. I can see the lessons learned. I can see the practical side where they’re getting stuff done. But then, the exchange of the day and stories and anecdotes. I don’t know, I have to ask Ramona maybe next time, I wonder if her uncle has ever made an appearance in those roundtables and kind of brought the good stuff. So, we’ll have to ask her later on. But big thanks for you joining me here today, Kelly Barner. How can folks connect with you?
Kelly Barner (42:41):
Same as Ramona, very easy, find me on LinkedIn. You can also check out Buyers Meeting Point, Art of Procurement, and, of course, Dial P for Procurement here on Supply Chain Now.
Scott Luton (42:52):
Awesome. Awesome. Big thanks to Kelly Barner. Folks, listeners, hopefully you enjoy this conversation as much as Kelly and I both did. Ramona Hood, what a dynamo. We look forward to having her back. But her journey and expertise and experience is so interesting and uplifting and inspiring, really.
Scott Luton (43:09):
But if you take anything away, on behalf of our entire team here at Supply Chain Now, on behalf of Kelly Barner, Scott Luton signing off now challenging you to be like Ramona Hood, do good, give forward, and be the change that’s needed. And we’ll see you next time right back here on Supply Chain Now. Thanks everybody.
Thanks for being a part of our Supply Chain Now community. Check out all of our programming at supplychainnow.com, and make sure you subscribe to Supply Chain Now anywhere you listen to podcasts. And follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next time on Supply Chain Now.
Ramona Hood is president and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical®, a leading North American transportation provider located in Green, Ohio. The company provides multiple transportation capabilities for expedite ground, temperature control shipments and industry specific solutions. Hood brings more than 30 years of FedEx experience to her role. She started her career at FedEx Custom Critical in 1991 in an entry-level position, and worked her way up to hold various executive leadership positions at FedEx Custom Critical and FedEx Supply Chain. Hood has been recognized for her excellence in leadership, responsibility, and passion-driven results. Hood has been recognized on the Crain’s Cleveland 2020 Power 150 list and by Business Insider as one of the 17 powerful women leading top logistics companies in 2021. Most recently, she was appointed to the Brinker International Board of Directors for her deep experience in sales, operations, supply chain, marketing, and talent management, to promote growth and brand differentiation. Hood earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from Walsh University, and an Executive MBA from Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management. Connect with Ramona on LinkedIn.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
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.