TECHquila Sunrise
Episode 48

Episode Summary

“There’s no talent gap for execution. You can get anybody to click a button, but is that the right button being clicked at the right time, doing the right thing? That’s why there’s a talent gap, because all of these [TMS] solutions out there are all about executing, not about making the decisions.”

-Greg White, Host, TECHquila Sunrise

When it comes to TMS, there’s no shortage of solutions – and no end to the marketing hype around visibility. But are you deploying technology solutions before diagnosing the problem they’re meant to solve? What does it mean to be truly “data-driven”? We sat down with RateLinx Founder and President Shannon Vaillancourt to talk about what true problem solving can look like in the logistics space – and what three actions you can take to make sure you’re getting real value from your systems and data, not just visibility.

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:08):

It’s time to wake up to TECHquila Sunrise. I am Greg White, your supply chain tech advisor, with more insights into what you need to know to succeed in supply chain tech startup, growth, investment, and transformation. So, let’s tip a glass to another enlightening TECHquila Sunrise.

Greg White (00:36):

Hey, in supply chain transportation, reporting analytics and visibility leave a lot to the imagination. And, frankly, create a lot of frustration for the people who use them. So, I’ve experienced this a bit myself in supply chain planning, a little bit different industry, but we had the same issue. And as a practitioner in supply chain and a solution provider, I’ve seen it firsthand and it is incredibly frustrating. My goal for this episode is that we alleviate that frustration and risk to help you optimize your transportation effectiveness, your spend, and, of course, visibility. But even more, by the time my guest, Shannon Vaillancourt, and I are done today, you’ll know why you should expect more than just visibility, what a better alternative is, and also how to convert that visibility into meaningful and impactful vision.

Greg White (01:35):

So, let me introduce Shannon and what he’s all about. He’s the CEO of RateLinx. And it’s a transportation management visibility audit and analysis provider. And he’s not new to supply chain either. Shannon started RateLinx in 2002. In fact, we started our companies at, roughly, the same time. He’s often published and, in fact, is one of the few on the invite only Forbes Technology Council. Did I get that right, Shannon?

Shannon Vaillancourt (02:07):

Correct. Yeah.

Greg White (02:09):

He’s been proving it with solutions and improving businesses longer than most TMS and visibility providers have even existed. So, Shannon, thanks for joining us. It’s great to have you here again.

Shannon Vaillancourt (02:23):

This time we’re not quite at sunrise, so I’m a little off the TECHquila Sunrise. I think we will adapt and move on. But thanks again for having me on. I appreciate it.

Greg White (02:38):

Yeah. Of course. It’s great. You know, I think you and I share a lot of similar philosophies in terms of the why of our business, right? You are big on not just visibility, not just transparency, and not just the availability of data, but all these prescriptive insights that you can get from that. And instead of sharing kind of incomplete or even inaccurate or untimely data and analytics, you guys make sure that it’s all of those things, of course, timely and accurate. But then, you tell people what to do with it. So, can you share a little bit about that philosophy?

Shannon Vaillancourt (03:16):

Well, I think a lot of that just comes from trying to solve the problem. At the end of the day, when we look at our customers, really, what they’re trying to do is solve the problem. And they either have inventory issues, they got shipment issues, costs are up. Something is happening that’s causing them to go out and look for a solution. And rather than just giving them pieces where they then still have to do a lot of work on their side, we try to actually get to the root cause and go, “Okay. What problem are we really trying to solve here? And then, let’s make sure we put in the right solution for it.” And I think that’s where, you know, a lot of times people miss that mark. And, instead, what they do is they try to deploy.

Shannon Vaillancourt (04:05):

And that’s where we talk about a 3D approach. The 3D’s, where it’s diagnose, develop, deploy. And what we see is a lot of, not only providers, but also customers always try to deploy first. And then, they come back around and they diagnose the problem. Then, maybe they exacerbate it or amplify it. And then, they develop another solution. And that’s why a lot of these deployments of your off the shelf software that’s supposed to solve the problem takes so long is because they’re not deployed from the perspective of “Will it solve this problem?” I think it’s because they just don’t determine what the problem is. And then, the next step, really, is saying, “What’s my definition of success?” So, if you don’t have those two bookends, it’s pretty hard, I think, to get what you’re looking for in the market and actually solve that problem.

Shannon Vaillancourt (05:13):

And that’s kind of what I’ve learned from being on the implementation side on the early part of my career. You know, coming out of school with an electrical engineering degree and being thrown into implementation of these software products, that’s what I learned, is, you would see a lot of times where you’re like, “Why did you install this thing? Why did you buy this piece of software?” And they’re like, “Well, because I thought it would solve this problem.” And it’s like, “Huh. Well, now you understand why it’s not solving the problem because you really need this other piece”. Or you really can’t even solve it because you’re missing a fundamental piece of data or fundamental processes is just wrong within your organization. That’s the real issue.

Shannon Vaillancourt (06:05):

So, that’s why when we started RateLinx back in ’02, I just wanted to do it a different way. You know, I enjoy understanding how customers do what they do and make sure that we are actually delivering value. Because at the end of the day, if we’re not delivering value, what’s the point? I mean, we’re just a cost, and I just didn’t like that. You know, I like to actually make sure we’re helping move them forward. So, that’s why we’ve taken the approach we have.

Greg White (06:35):

So, you said a couple of things there that really hit home. One is, so many technologies are a hammer looking for a nail. And I think my experience, Shannon, has been that’s why some of these technologies get deployed first and the problem diagnosed second, I think, too often, when you have technology, you just want the customer to buy in because most companies make their money on selling the technology. And they’re selling that technology then they’re onto the next deal. They’re not worried about delivering on the value.

Greg White (07:10):

And the other is, you mentioned, they didn’t get the result they want. Often, what they really got was acceleration of the problem. Because if you automate a bad process, all you do is fail faster. And that has been an issue in the industry. But, you know, I think you guys take a little bit different approach, not only from the fact that you diagnose first, but also your implementation, it’s not Big Four-ish type implementation. It’s very light. More configurable than customizable. Right. And so, I mean, I feel like I’ve always used that methodology myself. And I feel like that takes a ton of risk out of the implementation process. And, yet, can help the solution attack the diagnosis.

Shannon Vaillancourt (08:08):

Right. I mean, there’s two things that we do very differently, I think, than most. One is, just our business model. We don’t charge for professional services, which is odd.

Greg White (08:22):

Again, a good way to keep from piling professional services on too.

Shannon Vaillancourt (08:26):

I mean, because if I’m charging professional service time, the only way I make money on that is I need to take time. It behooves me to be slow. It behooves me to not really quite solve the problem. And if I am giving you advice on, “Hey, I think you should do this or do that.” If I’m the customer it’s like, “Should I really? How much is that going to cost me in time?” for example. And so, we try to do very quick implementations because you actually can do very quick implementations. Because we’re not charging for professional services, it doesn’t impact us because that’s not our model. So, that way we can deploy quick and get a short time to value.

Shannon Vaillancourt (09:15):

And then, the second thing that I think is different for us is, our software is what we call extensible. So, we can extend its capabilities to really fit the need of the customer. And that’s where I’ve found, in my past, that a lot of times we would get to about 80 percent of what the customer needed. And we just couldn’t take it to that final 100 percent, and that’s because the amount of customization – because that’s all that you could do in the past – was way too much. Whereas, we extend its capabilities. There’s an architecture built for this. So, that way, the standard product piece, which is doing 80 percent of the heavy lifting, can get upgraded and updated, new features can get added, new technologies can get added. And it doesn’t impact the “customization” that we did.

Shannon Vaillancourt (10:13):

In fact, we talked to a customer yesterday, and they’re going through asking a bunch of questions about the product and how long has it been installed. You know, it’s like, “Oh, it’s been there since 2006.” And they’re like, “What about the amount of customizations?” And I’m like, “Yeah. It’s doing all these pieces that are custom to you. And I don’t think we’ve changed it since 2007.” And they’re like, “But wait, we’re on the latest version of your product and you haven’t touched that.” And I’m like, “No. Yeah, you’re on the latest version, we haven’t touched it because of the architecture and how it’s built.” And it’s like, there’s some peace of mind to that.

Greg White (10:57):

Because usually the opposite is the case, right? If you have customization, you often can’t upgrade because of those customizations, right?

Shannon Vaillancourt (11:05):

And can’t you? Or is it because you can’t because there’s no professional services?

Greg White (11:13):

Maybe. I mean, yeah, that’s true.

Shannon Vaillancourt (11:15):

It behooves you to not do it in a way that allows customizations if you’re charging per hour. So, that’s why, again, I’m here to help drive value for the customer, not get in the way. And I think that’s what caused a lot of friction out there. And, you know, we want to partner with the customer and really collaborate. And I think that’s missing a lot because collaboration is really built on two parties having the same goal. And some of the providers out there and customers, they don’t have the same goal. So, that’s why you feel some friction from time to time. Whereas, for us, we have the same goal. You know, we want to help remove exceptions, help deliver value, make sure we’re solving the right problem.

Shannon Vaillancourt (12:04):

And we get a lot of requests from customers that, we ask them, “What problem is this going to solve?” And they’re like, “Well, I’m hoping it’s going to solve this problem.” And it’s like, “Well, it might not. Maybe you should actually do something different.” And then, they may end off going and doing something with another provider because that’s really going to solve the problem and it’s not really in our wheelhouse. And I think that’s a unique thing in working with us and how we work with a lot of customers out there [inaudible].

Greg White (12:38):

Because that’s a refreshing way to do it. You know, that’s a really refreshing approach because, particularly in technology, most companies, they just want to get the subscription or license or whatever at any cost. And, honestly, I think that has been a big impact on the inefficiencies in supply chain. Companies like ERP, which are essentially souped up finance systems, a mile wide and an inch deep, getting into supply chain solutions has been hard on the industry because the solutions are – I wouldn’t even say they’re minimum viable product. They’re very, very so basic in so many of these companies. And I see it every day.

Greg White (13:25):

I came from the automotive industry where volume and specificity was very unique in that industry. You know, you might have a part that only fits one car out of one million, so you have to be very specific. And when I see, for instance, some manufacturers and transportation providers, the state of their technology and what they’re accepting as solutions, it’s eye opening. Because we solved so many of these problems in finished goods, in retail, and distribution. We solved so many of these problems decades ago. And by decades ago, I mean, two or three decades ago. And I mean – and I know you’ve seen this – solved in a way that people in some manufacturing companies and others can’t even comprehend. You know, it’s like magic to them. And I think that has a lot to do with the deployment model and the diagnosis model of traditional technology. And it’s refreshing to see companies that are both willing to say, “No, that’s not us.” But also when they do say, “Yeah, we can do it,” they can really do it, like really approach the problem and, not just provide visibility as we talked about, but real prescriptive insights.

Shannon Vaillancourt (14:53):

And I think sometimes the problem with visibility is, it’s not really solving the problem. It’s just giving you a more automated way to handle the exception. Or it’s giving you a software way for the person to click a button instead of them having to deal with a piece of paper. I won’t even say automated, they’ve digitized the poor process that the customer was doing. And thinking that it’s being delivered through a computer screen to a human is their way of automating it. Because they’re like, “Hey. Now, you just click the button instead of having to write this on a piece of paper or staple it and file it.” And it’s like, “No, that’s not really.” It’s just, you know, showing them all of their information on a computer screen. That’s visibility. And a lot of people out there, they have data. They have a lot of data. But like we talk about on the data quality side, is it accurate, complete, and timely?

Shannon Vaillancourt (16:01):

And sometimes people forget what the complete part is. Because we talk about data, and it’s like, “Well, is it the right data?” I don’t know. And that’s the complete part. So, are you missing a component of it? Yeah. It’s accurate. You know, the number is five, but it’s five what? Five what?

Greg White (16:24):

Right. $5? £5,000?

Shannon Vaillancourt (16:27):

Yeah. And think about if I’m storing it that way or – that’s a good one, you leave currency out. It’s like, “It’s five.” And it’s like, “Oh, that’s good.” And it’s like, “Well, is it £5? Can$5? US$5? ₱5?”

Greg White (16:45):

So, particularly in transportation, this fascination with visibility is, I would say, relatively new. I know it’s been around forever, and in as much as you started RateLinx in 2002, and you have evolved to this prescriptive model, I mean, this is just my perception of what many people mean by visibility. And that is, visibility is kind of a new age term for reporting, or analytics, or business intelligence, or whatever. It’s not always that. But whatever we have evolved to try to upgrade the name of that over the years. But I think, you saw something when you started RateLinx, and I’m curious, one, why do you see so much momentum around visibility in the last several years? And what did you see then that allowed you to get to where you are now? That, in my estimation, seems to be so far ahead of just plain visibility. It’s actual prescriptive insights and recommendations. What to do with the visibility is what I perceive that you do. Is that fair?

Shannon Vaillancourt (18:07):

Yeah. I mean, it’s exactly –

Greg White (18:08):

Okay. How did you get there?

Shannon Vaillancourt (18:11):

To me, it just makes sense. Part of it is, I’m wired to be pretty lazy. And, you know, there’s a good lazy and there’s a bad lazy.

Greg White (18:26):

I’ve heard you get up at, like, 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, so you can’t be that lazy.

Shannon Vaillancourt (18:31):

I’m an early morning guy. But I’m about efficiency. That’s the lazy part of me. And there’s one thing I hate doing, and it’s the same thing again. I hate it. That is the one thing I will not do. I won’t do something twice. Why? And it’s like, well, the reason why you had to do it twice or three times is because you didn’t do it right the first time. So, you think about data and if it’s showing me something and then I’m always doing the same action, what’s the point? I don’t understand. You’re not adding any value to the organization. And that’s kind of how I’ve always thought about this stuff. It’s like, “Man, wouldn’t it be nice if when you see this value, you don’t have to go through that thought process again of, ‘Oh, what do I do?'”

Shannon Vaillancourt (19:20):

Because I’ve also learned that depending on the person that you put in front of it, they may interpret that differently. And, again, this is the engineer side. Every time you map out a process, you circle the parts where there’s a person who has to make a decision and that’s a risk point. So, it’s like, let’s just remove the risk points from the process and make the computer do it. And that’s where I think the prescriptive insight comes into play. I think that’s where, now, what companies are realizing is, you talk about and you read about all the talent gaps. “Oh, my God. We’ve got this big talent gap in logistics. What are we going to do?” And there’s no talent gap for execution. You can get anybody to click a button, but is that the right button being clicked at the right time doing the right thing? That’s why there’s a talent gap because all of these solutions out there are all about executing, not about making the decisions. And why would I have to ask you to click the button if you clicked this button 100 out of a 100 times when this data looks this way? Why would I do that? That makes no sense to me.

Shannon Vaillancourt (20:35):

So, that’s how we’ve built our system, where the prescriptive insight can not only tell them what to do, but it can actually do it for them. And then, just tell them it did it. “And by the way, it just updated your routing for you because it hit this condition.” You know, this carrier was not on time, or there’s a new carrier in the mix that fits the model better, or the product goes better on this carrier, or goes better in this mode. The system can see that. It’s the same decision making that we’re making.

Shannon Vaillancourt (21:11):

What’s interesting is, when it comes to making decisions, what’s fascinating about the human brain is, the human brain is the greatest pattern recognition computer in the world. So, what’s held computers back from the AI and machine learning is their capacity to learn. It’s just capacity. It’s computing capacity. The more patterns that you can recognize, the computer, the more like our brain it gets. Think about the earliest form of pattern recognition is knowing who you’re talking to. So, it’s like I see you on the video call and it’s like, “Oh, that’s great.” I recognize a face. That’s the pattern I’m recognizing.

Shannon Vaillancourt (21:54):

So, now, think about in your daily job what you’re doing. You’re getting all these inputs and you’re recognizing the pattern, “Oh, this input is bad. I need to now take this action to it.” Now, imagine I’m giving you bad data. It’s not complete. Isn’t that when you make a wrong decision? It’s not because you’re a bad decision maker. It’s because you didn’t have complete data or the data wasn’t accurate. That’s what causes it. You know, think about our kids. Kids are the greatest form of no data quality. They always leave something out, don’t they?

Greg White (22:36):

Yeah. Well, and they learn, right? I mean, they learn based on the data that they’re presented, whether it’s right or wrong.

Shannon Vaillancourt (22:45):

Well, they recognize the pattern. They’re like, “If I tell dad this, there’s no way he’s going to let me go. Because the last time I did it, he said no way. I’m just going to leave that part out.”

Greg White (22:57):

So, it’s interesting you say that because there are a couple of things that I recognize. One is, I think people misunderstand AI, and machine learning, and technology logic. And that is really what we are doing with technology is, we are imparting the knowledge of humans. We’re validating the accurate data is always there. I mean, think about how many times, Shannon, you have experienced this. Somebody has to sit there and press the button because they know some element of the data – and it’s always the same element of data – is inaccurate or unavailable. And this person has to make a discernment based on that. So, there’s a couple things, obviously, we need to do. We need to fix the data and provide that better data to that human. And then, the other is, when that becomes repeatable, we need to impart that knowledge from that human into the machine. That’s why it’s called machine learning and artificial intelligence, because most intelligence is human intelligence imparted as a start. And then, that pattern recognition occurs from learning from that.

Greg White (24:12):

The difference with technology is, technology is never emotional. It never forgets the solution because of the stressful event during the decision-making process. It never forgets to apply all the data that’s available because it’s programmatically developed. And its decision-making is more consistent because of taking out the frailties of the human condition, those things like emotion, forgetfulness, stress, whatever that causes to make those mistakes even when we are as equipped as the AI to do it. And it takes a lot of burden off of human beings to be able to do that. And when we can provide a technology that better guides the human when they’re necessary in the process and gives them all, and complete, and accurate data that they need, and when they need to look for exceptions and things like that, the prescriptive insight or the recommendation, it becomes the recommendation unless I know something that the data doesn’t reflect. And it’s pretty much as simple as that. Do you think?

Shannon Vaillancourt (25:36):

I think so. I mean, to me, it’s like when we talk about prescriptive, I always think about medicine and going to the doctor. And it’s like, you know, I went in last week, it was for my physical. And I had lots of visibility to all of my numbers. I don’t know what it means. They take three vials of blood and they run it through everything. And they’re like, “Your whatever number is 21.” And I’m like, “What does that mean?” I don’t understand. But I had visibility, so isn’t that what you’re supposed to have? I don’t understand.

Greg White (26:16):

That’s a really good analogy. Just because you have that visibility, doesn’t give you any ability to do anything with it.

Shannon Vaillancourt (26:24):

When I think that’s where there’s this knowing versus understanding. Visibility is knowing. Knowing is a bunch of static backs. Understanding is more of an active process. It’s the ability to take these facts in context to build the big picture. So, you take all of my numbers, you put it together, and they’re like, “Yeah. You’re okay. You don’t need anything. You seem to be healthy. You’re doing well.” And then, they show you your ranges based on your age and all that stuff. And it’s like, “Oh, I’m right in the middle or I’m near the low end of stuff, so that’s good.” And, again, that’s understanding. That’s putting it into context and getting the big picture. And that’s ultimately the gap that you have with visibility. You’re giving visibility to people and, now, you’re relying on them to actively take that and build the big picture. What if they build it wrong because they just don’t understand? I mean, that’s what you always hear from somebody, right? And they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t understand what that meant. But I saw it. I knew it. I didn’t understand it. And that’s the prescriptive insight. It bridges that gap.

Greg White (27:45):

Why do you think it is so rare to take this approach of going from just visibility to a prescriptive insight or recommendation?

Shannon Vaillancourt (27:56):

It’s understanding.

Greg White (28:00):

It’s hard too.

Shannon Vaillancourt (28:02):

Well, a difficult thing to do. And it requires a lot of experience. So, if I’m a pure technology person, I could come in to this industry, and I can connect data, and I can collect data. But what I don’t know is I don’t understand it. I just don’t. So, it’s like, how would I give you a good suggestion on that data if I don’t understand it? And I think that’s what makes it hard, is, there’s a lot of technology people who came into transportation who are like, “Oh, heck. I can just connect all this stuff together. I mean, here’s an API.” That’s when you start hearing all the buzz words. That’s kind of my red flag. When you’re hearing technology buzz words in the marketing, it probably means they don’t really understand the industry because that’s not how you would think if you were in the transportation department or on the supply chain side. You wouldn’t care if it’s an API, or if it’s EDI, or if it’s Jaison, or whatever the heck else they’re using. You just want to know, “So, is this good or is this bad? And if it’s bad, what should I do about it?” That’s all you care about.

Greg White (29:20):

Yeah. That’s right. That’s the problem and the solution. And, to me, you’re right. The technology itself, it’s the hammer. It really is. We’re trying to build a roof better and faster. And the technology is a better hammer. So, you’re right, when people start focusing on what the technology is rather than what the technology does or what it means, I mean, those are principles that I like to live by. There’s what it is, what it does, and what it means. And the what it means is what really matters. You’re going to make millions more or whatever in your company, or say, millions, whatever. The what it does is, it gives you these educated recommendations that allow you to make better decisions. And what it is, is, that’s kind of the due diligence aspect of it. “Oh, AI helps with that.” Or, linear technology, or APIss, or EDIs, or whatever, all those I’s and whatnot, all the acronyms. So, we probably ought to tell people who you work with at RateLinx. So, who are you helping to solve problems for with the tech that you guys have?

Shannon Vaillancourt (30:43):

So, from a vertical perspective, pretty much every vertical out there, whether it’s retail, manufacturing, e-commerce, you name it. And we’re typically in the supply chain area and we’re starting to leak over into the data area, because we’re finding that a lot of companies now are starting to create data organizations within their group. And, actually, we’re starting to leak into that area now that it’s becoming more prevalent out there. Because a lot of companies now are looking for – what they call – an integrated platform is what we’re running into a lot. And, really, again, it’s just another word. If we go back ten years ago, they were looking for big data. Then, five years ago, they were looking for blockchain. Now, it’s called an integrated platform. It’s the same thing. They’ve been looking for the same thing forever. They just keep calling it different names.

Shannon Vaillancourt (31:39):

But that’s really what they want, is, they want to grab all this data, integrate it together, and that’s where we look at it as your IQ. What’s your data IQ? Is it integrated? And what’s the quality? Again, IQ stands for the integrated and the quality, and that’s really what everybody’s looking for. Because if I can take my transportation, what did I execute on? How did I do it? If I match it up to the tracking so I can see what service I got from it? And then, you match it up to the invoice. What did I ultimately pay for it? You pull those three pieces together and then you start adding in order information, products, customer IDs, things like that. Now, you’ve got your whole picture. That’s an integrated and a high quality amount of data because it’s accurate, complete. And then, make it timely so that way it’s accessible to the user. That’s how you’re going to make decisions. And that’s where you’re going to get the best, I think, prescriptive insights, the most valuable ones. And that’s really what we’re running into out there.

Intro/Outro (32:58):

How can I help you improve your shot at supply chain tech success? Four ways. One, subscribe to TECHquila Sunrise wherever you get your podcast to make sure you’re notified of my new episode every week. Two, follow me on LinkedIn and see my supply chain summaries every weekday. Three, if you’re a startup founder or growth stage leader and you need an active advisor to propel you through your supply chain tech journey, I’m currently considering select strategic advisory roles. Or four, if you need an incubator or investment for your supply chain tech, reach out to me on LinkedIn and let’s talk.

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3 Keys to Turn Supply Chain Visibility into Action with Shannon Vaillancourt, CEO Ratelinx - Part 1

Featured Guests

Shannon Vaillancourt is president and founder of RateLinx. He started the company in 2002 with the idea that there was a better way to give companies complete visibility to their supply chain. Since then, RateLinx has become a leading supply chain software and data services company with the only integrated Data-as-a-Strategy (DaaS) technology platform. RateLinx allows companies to gain access to all of their logistics intelligence in one platform, helping customers to create world-class logistics strategies, improve supply chain management, solve problems and reduce costs.

Shannon is an innovator in supply chain and logistics data analytics, developing a data-first approach that is transforming logistics for the nation’s largest retailers, consumer goods manufacturers and industrial leaders. He is recognized as a leader in data services with a seat on the invitation-only Forbes Technology Council, where he writes about emerging technologies and trends. He is a regular columnist for DC Velocity, commenting on the intersection of data technology and supply chain management. He leads RateLinx’s strategy and business development while guiding the company’s data services, implementation, and software solutions. Before founding RateLinx, Shannon held several leadership and technical roles in software engineering, solutions, and services. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

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.

Patch Reilly

Data Analytics and Metrics Intern

Patch is a fourth-year Management Information Systems and Marketing major at the University of Georgia. He is working with Supply Chain Now in data analysis, finding insights and best practices to increase company efficiency. Patch previously worked as an intern at AnswerRocket, a data analytics company where he gained invaluable knowledge about analytics, webpage SEO and B2B marketing best practices. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, going to concerts, and watching movies.

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Vicki White

Controller

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.

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Scott W. Luton

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.

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Greg White

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.

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Chris Barnes

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.

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Karin Bursa

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.

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Kevin L. Jackson

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 CiscoMicrosoft, 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 UniversityO’Reilly MediaLinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.  Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems EngineeringCarrier 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.

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Enrique Alvarez

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.

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Kelly Barner

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’.

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Jamin Alvidrez

Founder & CEO, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now, Veteran Voices, This Week in Business History

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.

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Jeff Miller

Host

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.

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Amanda Luton

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 singing second soprano in the Grayson United Methodist Church choir.

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Clay Phillips

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.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

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.

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Allie Krasinski

Marketing Coordinator

Allie is currently completing a degree in marketing with a certificate in entrepreneurship at the University of Georgia. She got her social media start through an internship with Shred, a personal training app, and she’s been hooked ever since. She works to optimize our following base while assisting the team with content creation, influencer outreach and other marketing endeavors. Allie can’t wait to keep growing alongside Supply Chain Now.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

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.

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Jada Carson

Marketing Coordinator

Jada is a recent graduate of Old Dominion University, having earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications with a media studies concentration and marketing minor. Jada got her start producing content at 16 years old, while attending a radio and broadcasting journalism program in high school, and hasn't looked back!  She is an asset to the Supply Chain Now team as a media specialist, podcast and media producer, and production coordinator.  Outside of Supply Chain Now, Jada is a big Lakers fan, and also a music journalist and enthusiast.

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Ben Harris

Host

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.

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Page Siplon

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).

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Kristi Porter

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.

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Kevin Brown

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.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

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.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

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.

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Demo Perez

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.

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Kim Winter

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).

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Nick Roemer

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.

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Alex Bramley

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.

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