Logistics with Purpose
Episode 97

I think businesses are struggling because there's a new dawn, a new awakening of conscious capitalists, and people are starting to care about where they work, the brands they purchase, and the sustainability goals and efforts that these companies say they have.

-Aaron Edwards

Episode Summary

In this episode of “Logistics with Purpose,” hosts Enrique Alvarez and Kristi Porter welcome Aaron Edwards, CEO of the Charles Group, to the show. Aaron shares his journey from finance to advertising, the evolution of his agency, and exciting initiatives like PeduL and First Close.

Listen in as their conversation touches on talent retention, work culture post-pandemic, and support for working parents through Family First. Aaron also shares advice for brands and highlights the growing importance of conscious capitalism in the business world.

Join us to be inspired and to learn how to come together for positive change.

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:02):

Welcome to Logistics with Purpose presented by Vector Global Logistics. In partnership with Supply chain. Now we spotlight and celebrate organizations who are dedicated to creating a positive impact. Join us for this behind the scenes glimpse of the origin stories change, making progress and future plans of organizations who are actively making a difference. Our goal isn’t just to entertain you, but to inspire you to go out and change the world. And now here’s today’s episode of Logistics With Purpose.

Enrique Alvarez (00:36):

Hi, and welcome to another amazing episode of Logistics with Purpose. My name’s Enrique Alvarez, and I’m here with my co-host, Christie. Christie, how are you doing today?

Kristi Porter (00:45):

I am good. We were having fun before we got started recording, and I think we continually find ourselves asking how do we get these people to come chat with us? This is so fun. So I’m excited for today as well. Excited

Enrique Alvarez (00:57):

Today. Well, definitely exciting. And yeah, we have the pre-show conversation, the more engaging one that we’ve ever had. So thanks for our host today. And Christie, before I let you introduce our host, we’re heading into the Thanksgiving here in the us. I know this might probably come out a lot farther out in the future, but is there one thing you’re thankful for?

Kristi Porter (01:17):

I have had a really great year of travel, so I am really thankful for travel and getting to see new places and be in new areas. That’s me. What about you?

Enrique Alvarez (01:28):

Yeah, thankful for a good year. It’s been good trouble. I’ll probably going to go out with just my family. I’ve enjoyed hanging out with my kids and it’s been a really cool year, son, starting to drive my daughter loving volleyball, so

Kristi Porter (01:42):

That’s awesome. Good kid.

Enrique Alvarez (01:43):

So without further ado, let me introduce everyone to Aaron Edwards, co-founder and CEO of the Charles Group. Welcome Aaron to the show. How are you doing today?

Aaron Edwards (01:54):

Very well, thanks. How are you?

Enrique Alvarez (01:57):

Fantastic. And I guess to be fair, what are you thankful for? And we’ll start with that and then we’ll get back to the questioning.

Aaron Edwards (02:03):

Well, I’ve had the joy of listening to your two answers, so I’m going to copy and paste. I’m actually very thankful for my wife who’s let me travel this year. So it’s family and travel.

Kristi Porter (02:16):

Yes. Good.

Enrique Alvarez (02:18):

That’s a good one.

Aaron Edwards (02:19):

Without her, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing and I wouldn’t have met you. And yeah, so thankful for my family and for the ability to get out and see to meet you folks.

Kristi Porter (02:31):

Two very good answers. Yes. And so now you’ll of course be able to allow your wife to listen because you’ve thinked her in the process. So good for you.

Enrique Alvarez (02:39):

And I’ll be in trouble. I didn’t think of actually thinking my wife, so there you go. Thanks Erin.

Aaron Edwards (02:45):

You welcome.

Kristi Porter (02:47):

Well, we’re excited to hear more about you and learn about the Charles group. And so one of the ways we love kicking this off is everybody has a unique origin story, so we’d like to ask about yours. So tell us a little bit, clearly you do not have a southern accent, so tell us a little bit about where you grew up in your childhood.

Aaron Edwards (03:06):

Oh, my childhood. Wow, we’re going there. That was the heavy, thank you. So I’m originally from Manchester in the uk, so Manchester United football team. Best football team in the world by the way. And Oasis, happy Mondays. Manchester’s the cultural city of England. It’s not London, just as an FYI. There’s a big thing about man Cuan in London is, but anyway, I digress. Born in Manchester, went to school in left Hu moved to London and started working in finance. But my background was really good. I had a pretty typical upbringing, pretty strict parents went to very good schools, didn’t listen, didn’t care for schools, wasn’t very particularly academic. And it was only until I got to a bit older where I started to realize the importance of maybe studying and probably paying attention to things prior to that. It was just into sports and playing music. So I was a late bloomer from that perspective.

Enrique Alvarez (04:12):

What kind of instrument did you play?

Aaron Edwards (04:14):

Oh my God, this is going back. I actually played violin. Can you believe it?

Enrique Alvarez (04:19):

Violin. That’s amazing. Yeah. Congratulations.

Aaron Edwards (04:23):

It was a disaster for my parents for the first three years, I would imagine just hearing that screech every five minutes. But I got to a good level. I think it was grade five and then I gave it up,

Enrique Alvarez (04:35):

Played guitar. Nice. And you’ve mentioned also sports and football. I mean you played football, I’m guessing. What position?

Aaron Edwards (04:40):

No, it was actually rugby. No rugby was rugby. I went to a rugby school, so they were big on, I was big on rugby, I was big on cricket and I was big on table tennis. I now and basketball.

Enrique Alvarez (04:51):

Nice.

Aaron Edwards (04:52):

That was my sports

Kristi Porter (04:53):

Wide variety.

Aaron Edwards (04:55):

Yeah. Yeah. I think I had really good hand to eye coordination and that was it. I used to get injured in rugby, so I couldn’t play that for too much longer. And then cricket, I just got bored of, and then it became table tennis and basketball. That was my thing.

Enrique Alvarez (05:12):

Wow, that’s great. Looking back at the time that you were younger also, what kind of story from those years, can you share with us the kind of shaped person that you are now and the successful entrepreneur that you’ve become?

Aaron Edwards (05:27):

I think it probably is. I think the sports is interesting actually. And I think there’s been a study around the military and sports for folks, personalities that tend to do well in business. And I think I’m not, I’m saying I’ve done particularly well in business compared to most, but I think I’ve done, I’m doing as good as I can do is how I would say. I think there’s a certain element of grit and that you pick up playing sports, a decent level, played county cricket, played for my county for rugby as well and stuff like that. So it’s just a teamwork, grit and Alan, grit, hustle, all of things that make up you never give up. I think that’s kind of the thing that I was taught when I was younger and it’s just kind of given me a zest for business because I’m relentless as my clients will probably tell you.

Kristi Porter (06:30):

I love that. No, I think grit and hustle are two lessons that you’ll carry with you and that will help you succeed no matter what you’re doing personally and professionally. So thank you for sharing that with us. I wanted to also of course talk about your professional journey. So you graduated from the University of Hall Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance. So accounting and finance is interesting. I do not have a head for numbers at all. I’m definitely a awards person. Tell us about those years, what you learned and what led you to, from the basketball court to accounting and finance, how’d you get there and what were the goals? Obviously you said you developed the love of learning later on.

Aaron Edwards (07:12):

Yeah, well the thing that I always really enjoyed was making money. Right, okay. That was something that is funny. I was talking to my mom about it the other day. She was like, I always knew you were going to do something with money because when you were a kid, you used to collect all of the pennies around the house. I would stack them and I had stack coins on my window shelf and I would count them every single day. I wanted to know exactly to the penny how much I had found or collected over time. And then Christmas came and I would take why Christmas money and I would store it. I used to store it in a lampshade. I was worried somebody might steal it and do all this weird things with money, but I was always interested in money. And then the film Wall Street came out.

(07:58):

I dunno if you ever saw it. Somehow I was, oh my God, that’s what I want to do when I’m older. I think I want to be like, I’m finance. It looks really cool and so much fun. And it was the eighties, Gordon Gecko and so actually spoke to family members and friends and I really thought that I wanted to do my own business at some point. And I knew that in order to do that I had to learn the most fundamental part of business, which is finance. And so my idea was study finance, work in finance, and then eventually leave finance to do my own thing.

Enrique Alvarez (08:35):

That’s great. Yeah. It sounds like you’ve had a really strong plan from the very early on, and I’m glad you made the reference to the first Wall Street for a second there. I thought you were actually going to be talking about the second one

Aaron Edwards (08:49):

Guarantee. Love it.

Enrique Alvarez (08:53):

No, so finance and I have point out that you also did an online grad at Wharton, right? Online business administration at Wharton. I’m a fellow Wharton grad. I was curious to see once you actually already collected all those coins and went through the face and watched the movie, you finally landed at Wharton, what did you learn from that? Is there something that you actually got out of it and how did that help you later on?

Aaron Edwards (09:19):

It was interesting doing that course because I’ll be honest, I was never really that interested in academics or academia, just it wasn’t something as a younger person, this was maybe a level of immaturity where I didn’t want to know I wanted to do other things. It wasn’t interesting. And so as I’ve got older, it’s become the opposite. I’ve become like, oh, how do I get more? How do I learn more? How do I read more my podcasts? Just hours and hours and hours of streaming. If I’m not in an intense conversation and meeting, I’m listening to a podcast throughout the day. First thing I do in the morning is play the news. I walk to work, play a podcast, have my learn to play a podcast. So I’m constantly trying to absorb information, looking at YouTube and so forth. But that just wasn’t the case when I was younger.

(10:09):

And so I was saying to my business partners, I was like, I really want to do something that gives me a sense of meeting other folks and getting a chance to learn the fundamentals of some areas of business that I feel might be not so strong in. The course was heavily focused on corporate governance and actually it was just an area I hadn’t really even considered or thought about boardrooms, how to manage a board, how to create a board, what is a board, how do you create the governance structures, what are they? And so there was a lot of information that I don’t typically think people really think too hard about when you think about business administration in general, specifically corporate governance. And then it was the people I met so many interesting people on that course, CEOs, even other academics, people that I just would never consider would take an online course right on. You’re asking them simple questions and all of a sudden it turns out the personally you were doing a workshop with runs a 20 billion firm that does X, Y, and Z, and you’re like, holy crap.

Enrique Alvarez (11:18):

Yeah. Am I really talking to this person? That’s the way I feel at the CEO summit every minute. By the way, you just describe that feeling

Aaron Edwards (11:28):

A hundred percent. And it’s exciting, isn’t it? Right? When you meet new people who you just know get it, and then they’re telling you things and you’re like, yes, I never really thought about it that way, but you’re right. That’s such an interesting way of doing it or thinking about it. So yeah,

Kristi Porter (11:45):

It’s like you’re in New York, it’s like riding the subway in New York. You never know who you’re going to meet on there and it’s such a microphone. Well, I want to ask you of course about the Charles group, but now I have to go back and ask you, so what podcast are you listening to? What are you going to recommend to us?

Aaron Edwards (12:00):

I actually did a LinkedIn post recently, soly, I’m going to regurgitate the information from there. But I think one of my go-tos is definitely Thoughts on the Market by Morgan Stanley. And it sounds lame, but honest to God, some of the stuff, it sounds incredibly dry, like thoughts on the market, we’ll try it. Well, you’d be amazed at how public market information and also just the thesis that a lot of financial institutions have around sectors and how you see that actually playing out in real time when you have a conversation with a brand or you work with a computer manufacturing business, and then you hear about NVIDIA’s new release of XGPU and what that means for processing speed and power and computational power. And you start saying, well wait, hang on a second. This computer hardware company that I work for leverages these chips, and what happens when X, Y, and Z starts to happen?

(13:00):

And then all of a sudden you’re in a world of, oh my god, learning and thinking about things in a very different way. So I find finance actually is a really grounding, very data-centric, factual way of garnering information about what’s going on in sectors. Masters of Scale is another one, Reid Hoffman really, really enjoy that. How I built This Guy, Raz, obviously that’s pretty standard. And then talking to ourselves is another one by omi. I dunno if you’re familiar with that one. So these are some that I listened to, but oh, and there’s really an amazing one called Acquired. Acquired, yeah, acquired. Oh my gosh. They do insanely in-Depth. Depth and discussions. So they had a two hour podcast with Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s investment partner, and they also had one with an actual analysis of Nvidia. That’s why I was talking about Nvidia. It’s fresh top of mind, and they go into the very technical weeds and they start explaining concepts that are heavy in computer science and things like that. And it can go over your head very quickly, but they seem to be able to break it down a very simple way. So highly recommend acquired if you’re looking to build deep technical knowledge in anything.

Kristi Porter (14:22):

Fantastic. Well, I love the way you’re pushing yourself to learn and grow in new subject areas as well. But of course we have you on here. We want to talk about the Charles group. This is what you’ve spent your life building and leading up to. So tell us about not only just what you do, but how you got started. Where did this idea come from? So

Aaron Edwards (14:41):

Charles was the birth child of an idea that I had when I just left my job in finance. And I was sitting in East London in a coffee shop on my gardening leave, figuring out what the next business was, and I’d start jotting out all these ideas and then I’d go to watch a show Entourage, and I thought legitimately that I was going to become Ari Gold I wanted to make to California and manage sports agents and do all this cool stuff. And then I moved to, well actually it came to New York on a visit and I met a talent manager person. He was like, don’t do this business. It sucks. It’s hard work, it’s just not worth it.

Enrique Alvarez (15:22):

And

Aaron Edwards (15:22):

So I was thinking about new ideas and one of them was advertising agency. And so my sister was running freelance business, she was an advertising executive and she was doing a freelance biz and I was helping her with her finances. And I was like, yeah, there’s actually money in this charging this amount of money. Maybe there’s an opportunity to build something here. So it’s basically the genesis and then there’s the whole story of how we got started, but he was really looking at the sector and figuring out as an analyst, what would be my take and how could you change the model.

Enrique Alvarez (16:00):

Before we deep dive into the other question I had just very randomly and in general, what is it that you do right on a day-to-day basis? What is an NA agency? And I know that we actually know the term very well, but maybe some of our folks that are listening to us, me included, might not know exactly what that entails.

Aaron Edwards (16:20):

It’s the dark art, the mystery, Right? Some will tell you it’s branding, some will say it’s marketing, some will say it’s creative and design. And to be honest, it’s all those things. I mean, what we do is we turn desire into demand. The idea that you can like to have or own or you’ve heard of something, it’s like, well, how do you take that and turn it into something tangible?

Enrique Alvarez (16:54):

The action of it? How do you actually convert someone? How do you, nice. I like it. That’s a very good definition as well. Desire into demand. I like it. And you’ve of course worked with multiple clients in the lifestyle, luxury, beauty, fashion, technology sectors. How do you combine all that creativity and all that desire into demand formula to really accomplish your goals? And what role does strategic planning in your approach outside of just the making clients look good?

Aaron Edwards (17:27):

Yeah, I think, and it’s a super cliche term and I hate saying this but I’m going to say it, your client’s business actually, it is not that simple and it’s not a skill that I can say you can just develop or you have. It takes time to in and learn that. I think I spent seven years, eight years learning the business, and I think in the last four we’re now seeing the benefit of having learn the business. If I’m just going to be really honest, there’s a lot of trial and error, but I think it’s understanding a business, understanding the business objectives, and then being able to understand the model behind the business. We talk about business models and it is like, well, what is that? Is that operating structure? Is that organizational design? Is that financial modeling and planning? And it’s a combination of all of those things. It is being able to look at something and say, okay, what are the mechanics behind What makes that sell? Or what is the product made of? What’s the technical details, the technicality that makes up what that is? And so how do you then translate that into some form of value? How do you explain what that value is to somebody? So to me, that’s a very difficult thing to do. And I think when you have an agency or company that understands how a business works first, then it becomes easy to market and advertise for them.

Kristi Porter (19:07):

Yeah, makes sense. And one of the other things I found really interesting about your website, your company, obviously outside of your core services, you also have these really three initiatives that were super interesting. So you have Charlie, which is an emphasis on cultural commitment, which is about inspiring knowledge sharing and intellect, which is about dedicating aid to startups and small businesses, three very different things definitely shows you have an interest in a lot of areas and want to lend your expertise to different places. But these three initiatives also immediately when you’re perusing your website, help set you apart. So can you tell us a little about them and what impact they’re making? Where did they come from?

Aaron Edwards (19:52):

Yeah, so I think what you’re seeing is the birth of ideas inside of the business that we just went out and did. So I’ll start with intellect. So when we first got started, we were doing websites and brand IDs, and all of a sudden we landed a few fashion clients direct to consumer e-commerce businesses. And we’d ask them these very simple questions, what are your sales? How much do you think you’re going to make? What’s your projection? What’s your inventory looking like? Why do you make T-shirts versus pants? Are they higher average order value? What’s the business model here? And very quickly you start to realize that some of the folks that we were talking to didn’t know the answers to those questions. And so we ended up saying, well, we think we can help you out with that. And so we actually, myself and now current, he wasn’t at the time business partner who’s an ex finance guy as well. We would spend time building financial planning and we’d actually build a business plan for some of the startups that we were working with to help them on their way. And they obviously paid for the service, but then they had something that they could actually go to market with. Obviously it’s a terrible business to be in management consulting, and when you are

(21:13):

Trying to do management consulting and run an agency start to realize very quickly it’s not scalable. But that was the reason why we started that then. But what’s interesting is that philosophy, that idea has permeated through the agency. So to that point about understanding the client’s business, this is why I challenge the team to ask, what are you asking the client about their business? Forget creative, forget Martin, what do you understand about the objectives that they have? So reshapes the way that they think. Birdwatch was a knowledge sharing group that I had this idea one day of like, oh, why are we not sharing knowledge across the agency? These folks over here talk about all this cool stuff, but then these other folks don’t. How are we creating knowledge sharing? And then it went from a group email chain to then a Slack channel to then an event series where we basically bring brands in and clients and individuals, and they do conversations with the whole organization about what they were doing.

(22:16):

So we had Facebook come in and the meta team talking about what product was going on. We had vintage store owners coming in telling us about of Canal Street in New York and what it was like in the seventies and eighties. We had artists, we had designers, we had musicians, and it was just a really cool way of bringing different thinking into the business. So that was Birdwatch and then, hello, it’s Charlie, which was the online magazine was just off the back of doing a ton of brand sponsored content work with publishers. We decided to have a go at publishing content ourselves and gave the team a chance to partner with a designer and a different developer. So people from totally different parts of the business had to work together, people who they’d never met before or they’d never really had that much dealings with. And it was a way for us to bring the teams together from different areas to create something unique for themselves.

Enrique Alvarez (23:10):

Very cool. Wow, that’s amazing. Yeah, so I

Aaron Edwards (23:12):

Think all those things have kind of permeated now, hopefully through the business. I mean, they’re no longer activations that we have in the business. They’re just more philosophies and ideas of how we think about the work and how we treat each other and work together.

Enrique Alvarez (23:28):

I love that. Well, I’m sure that actually helps you and your team realize what’s more important in their clients. You have all this mentality about not only thinking strategically and financially, but then also listening to people, right? Listening to good stories, which is birth watching. Then you have to work with diverse people from all over, and the client is no exception. And so it’s brilliant. Thank you very much for sharing it. I’m sure that actually that’s shaped your company’s culture in a very positive and unique way as well.

Aaron Edwards (24:00):

We’d like to think so, but you never

Enrique Alvarez (24:02):

Know. Culture’s a culture is a difficult one. We will get to culture in a minute. We’re very passionate about culture, and I think that you have a lot of really good things to say about it. And it sounds like just by looking at your clients and what the offerings that you have, you guys are doing a great job there too. But outside of the agency, I mean, it sounds like you’re a serial entrepreneur. You also have delved into the strategic investments, and I’m probably going to butcher the name of this PDU Pedal. Pedal. Pedal. Pedal. Pedal. All right. I wasn’t sure if I had to go with the Mexican way of pronouncing Ease or I or

Kristi Porter (24:46):

Yeah, pedal.

Enrique Alvarez (24:47):

So what is Pedal and why did this organization catch your attention in the first place?

Aaron Edwards (24:52):

Yeah, it was the founder Chia who really caught my eye actually. So they were looking at the time for angel investors for recruitment platform for underrepresented diverse talent. So what they do is they create programs that help larger corporations and organizations hire diverse talent. Typically, this talent is from stem, from the STEM curriculum, from STEM schools. Highly educated, highly qualified, and it’s a really unique way of being able to tap into people of color, multicultural audience that can add value. But the problem is that typically in the internship space, when you’re looking at large corporations, they don’t always pay enough on the stipend side. So this business is really focused on placing, but also setting up those candidates for success. So helping them negotiate compensation, setting a base layer of standard of accommodation and living travel expense, et cetera. So they’re really investing in ensuring that the talent when placed is set up for success to be eventually hired. So it was a really brilliant business idea and concept, and obviously I’m a person that’s such huge advocate for equality and representation, so I felt like it was a really great opportunity to be involved in something that aligns closely with my values. So

Kristi Porter (26:17):

We were talking about, before we got on, we were talking about just sort of the talent market and the difficulty people have had with that. I feel like especially in small businesses, finding good talent, retaining is always a big topic of discussions. So being on this side of it, I’m curious what you’ve learned just about talent retention or setting people up for success or as a business owner, how you started looking at it differently through your involvement with Pedal.

Aaron Edwards (26:43):

Yeah, it’s a challenge, and we don’t have all the answers, unfortunately. It’s a constant work in progress. That’s

Kristi Porter (26:49):

My question. What was the answer?

Aaron Edwards (26:52):

No, it’s a definite work in progress, definitely. I don’t feel like I can speak too confidently about this because it’s something that we feel very was an area of challenge for us and for our industry. But I think one big thing that we learned during covid was we had a team that basically was mid-level to junior ish, and we’d spent a lot of time developing them and turning ’em into senior talent and joined Covid. They all left and well post Covid, right? We’d kept them on, we didn’t dock the pay, we did all the things like a responsible purpose-driven business should do, which is look after its people. And then a year later turned around and we had a very high turnover year and we were really upset and we were like, these people what? And so we born a director of people operations, and we were like, what is it that we’re missing here?

(27:47):

And what we started to realize very quickly was we had built a culture of high performance. And so our expectations were incredibly high, meaning we are expecting a hundred percent of the team to work a hundred percent a hundred percent of the time. And when you have that level of pressure and you have that higher level of expectation, there’s only one outcome burnout. So what we realized is we can’t work a hundred percent of our people a hundred percent of the time. There have to be ebbs and flows in the way that they work. We have to think about a better work-life balance. We have to be more accommodating. We have to be more empathetic. We have to understand that not every person that comes in is a business owner and wants to think, one, we embodied and champion this spirit of entrepreneurship, but kind of backfired a little bit because ultimately they didn’t have equity in the company and they weren’t necessarily able to do the things that they would hope to do as an entrepreneur themselves. So we just pivoted the way that we thought about people, the way that we managed the people, and ultimately the way that we were a lot more empathetic towards them versus being,

Kristi Porter (29:06):

Yeah, that’s a great learning experience. And clearly we all did a lot of reflecting and still have since the pandemic to continue to learn about culture and building teams. Again, you continue to find or start these really unique projects, become involved with them. Another one is first close partners that you’re an investor in as well. So tell us more about the mission there and what the gap was that you saw that they’re filling in and why you wanted to really be a part of that one.

Aaron Edwards (29:34):

Yeah. Well, you’ll see a trend, right? Quality representation. Anything I invest in has to have that, right? If it’s not, then why am I doing it? That’s

Enrique Alvarez (29:46):

Good, right? Yeah. Well, it’s a big problem. I mean, we should openly talk about it all the time. As you and I spoke about it during the CEO summit, it is a big problem

Aaron Edwards (29:59):

A hundred percent. And so what I love about First Close is their philosophy is very much centered around funding underrepresented managers. But here’s the thing. Underrepresented managers in the venture capital private equity space actually outperform their peers considerably. But that’s not a known fact, right? And so when you start totaling it up and benchmarking a lot of these companies against themselves, you start to realize that if they had access to the same capital that the other incumbents have access to, they’d probably be light years ahead. And that’s not just because diverse talent is better, it’s because diverse talent is diverse. You just have more opportunities in more different spaces. There’s emerging markets, there’s newer areas for development, innovation, et cetera. So first Close is a really brilliant business run by a fantastic team of really smart venture capitalist experts who handpick and select the best venture capital funds that are mandated to be more than 50% owned by diverse operators. They don’t necessarily have to invest in other diverse owned businesses if they do fantastic. But it’s just a way for me to invest in companies that I believe in, and hopefully we, well,

Enrique Alvarez (31:31):

I’m pretty sure, yeah, pretty sure you have made a big impact in a lot of people’s lives just because of the way you think. And as promised, we love culture. And so I wanted to ask you a couple of things about the culture that you have created and the one that you’re developing right now, not only in your company, but then all those different ventures that you have invested in, and two of them that kind of struck me as very interesting. And I would like you to tell us a little bit more about is Family First and going offline. They really both seem off the shelf when it comes to standard things to do with your company and both of them. Very interesting. So if you could tell us a little bit more about those two, that’ll be great.

Aaron Edwards (32:11):

Yeah. Wow, you’ve done your homework

Enrique Alvarez (32:13):

Well, we try our best. We know, as Christie said in the pre-show, this really inspire us to keep doing what we do. So for us, us, this is a treat. We enjoy this conversations.

Aaron Edwards (32:27):

Oh, I love it. Yeah, really good question. So Family First was around basically providing a stipend or a benefit to working moms and parents dads as well. And what we saw was we’re working parents ourselves, and it’s difficult trying to juggle the drop off the pickup sports day, the photo shoot, kid day, whatever it is that’s going on. As a parent, you’ve got to be there and you should be there, and your company should be helping support that. It’s a very important thing for me, for people to be close to their family and to feel like they have had that time and that their employer was understanding. And so what we started to see with some of the carers was that they were working full-time jobs and having to do all of these other different things. And we asked the question, what is it that we could do to help?

(33:19):

And there wasn’t really an answer. And we started to realize very quickly, well, hang on, 90% of these people don’t have childcare or they’re not paying for daycare. And we started to do the maths and say, well, it’s mainly because they probably can’t afford to, not everybody can afford to pay the $30,000 a year, whatever it is, to pay for the daycare to have absolutely be looked after. So we said, well, we can’t pay the full $30,000, but what’s the maximum benefit that we can offer to some of these working folks to give them some help towards that? And so the Family First Initiative is really around working parents. We pay $8,000 a year per year towards the childcare and their child benefits, which really just gives them the space to have the help they need and deserve.

Enrique Alvarez (34:10):

Wow. Yeah. That’s amazing, right? Because at the end of the day, that is important. You mentioned it very clearly, right? Going to that soccer game, being part of that photo shoot, being in the high school or lower school play, I mean, those are the things that really matter in life. I mean, what we do, our jobs are meaningless if you take all this other things that we have going on with our families and personal life and sports and everything that we just share as human beings,

Aaron Edwards (34:41):

A hundred percent. And I think a lot of that came from the fact that as our parents work two and three jobs to spend the money to take us to the good schools. So we didn’t see our parents that much as kids. And I think my thing is that I want to be there for my children, and I think it’s very important, and I think ultimately it just comes back into this idea of if you have an employer who understands these things and is empathetic to your situation, then you have no reason to feel disgruntled or unhappy or overworked because the companies actually cares about you. The company is trying to provide a stable environment for you to do your best work. And that’s ultimately our responsibility as leaders, is to provide the security and the environment for people to do the best work.

Enrique Alvarez (35:36):

Absolutely. I totally agree with you. And then you also have another really good initiative called Going Offline. Tell us a bit more about that one.

Aaron Edwards (35:44):

Yeah, we have quite a few. We don’t doing any work at my

Kristi Porter (35:51):

New day anyway.

Enrique Alvarez (35:53):

That’s what makes you guys so good at what you do. Probably

Aaron Edwards (35:57):

Maybe, I don’t know. I need to talk to my finance guy, but

Enrique Alvarez (36:01):

Wait, you are the finance guy.

Aaron Edwards (36:03):

I know you’re sitting behind me right now on my shoulder.

(36:11):

No, but I think, yeah, so going offline is basically, we have quite a few different events at the business. Going offline is one where we take Mental Health Week, which is usually I think at the beginning of September, so right after the long break. And really for us it’s ability. It’s actually October. I think it’s an ability for us to really take time and the mental space to be able to do the work and our best work during this time of year. This is our heaviest season because it’s the holiday season. You have a lot of retail clients. It’s mad scramble, Thanksgiving, Christmas, January, February, the holiday season has kicked off and it’s non relenting. So yeah, the going offline is an ability for everybody to switch off their machines. We notify our clients, we tell them we are not doing any work. We need this time. I love that. And then we’re going to come back and we’re going to be fresh and ready to rock and roll. So that’s what that is. But we also have Christmas off as well, so we close the office around December 18th. Some people do a few hours here and there, but we try to close the office again for two weeks during Christmas, give the team a chance to reset post this crazy holiday period and get to back to restoring some balance between work and life. Yeah,

Kristi Porter (37:32):

Yeah. Agency life is not, I mean, it has a reputation definitely for being hard. You mentioned burnout. So how have your people responded to those two things and the things that you’re doing? What kind of feedback have you heard?

Aaron Edwards (37:45):

Yeah, I mean, we’ve heard some great things. We’ve heard some not so great things. Some folks sometimes don’t want to take the time because then they feel like they, it’s further behind. So even though you try to want to do good, doesn’t always result in it working for everybody. And so that is the trade off is just saying, well, if it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. We can figure out something that’s more flexible. If you don’t want to take mental health week, but you want to take a few days here and there or finish earlier, by all means you do what you feel is necessary. But we do want to ensure that they have that time. But yeah, we think it’s been good. Our retention is incredibly high. I think we have, the average tenure is coming up to three years now, which believe it or not sounds like no time. But in this business, it’s insanely high turnover. I think the average is one year between employees. When you’re looking at age demographics between 23 to 35, they usually stay one to 1.8 years to get to three is really impressive. We’re really happy with that. And so we want that to continue.

Kristi Porter (38:58):

Yeah. Well, let’s also talk about, you mentioned we’re coming up, as we noted coming up on the holiday season here in the us, you have some awesome clients you work with Birkenstock Aveda, which is a personal favorite, Cartier, Marriott, Boston Consulting group, which is where Enrique and our other co-founder Brian Oxley met. Okay. So every brand is different. You’re clearly working with a wide spectrum, but there were also, I’m sure some commonalities, some threads, some themes that you noticed. And you talked about just getting to know your clients. So what is a piece of advice or a lesson learned that you think every brand should consider when they’re out there trying to grab market share in the world’s attention?

Aaron Edwards (39:40):

I don’t have to do everything, just do one or two things really, really well. We see so much of this in the race to be keep up with the Joneses and to do all of the cool things and leverage all the technologies you find brands are spread very thin and internal teams are also spreading even further thinner. And the reality is it’s not everything adds value inside the market marketing ecosystem. And so actually it’s slowing down to speed up is kind of how I like to say things to clients, which is it might feel like a long process of going through a strategy project for two months or six weeks, but sticking, creating a strategy and sticking to it wholly moly. The brands that we’ve worked with that have executed on the strategy have become wildly successful. And the ones that haven’t are the ones that have consistently veered away from the strategy that was set and haven’t iterated. They’ve just moved away in another direction and it’s not worked the way that they thought they have, or we’ve not felt that it’s been as successful as it could be. So keeping it simple, doing the basics incredibly well, focusing less on the volume and more on the quality of the work that you’re doing and really thinking through the strategy and the planning elements that make up whatever endeavor it is that you’re doing, those four things I think are really key to being successful in this space.

Kristi Porter (41:15):

Terrific. Thank you for doing my 2024 planning.

Enrique Alvarez (41:19):

I know that was pretty good. Just copy pasted, send it to me. We’re done.

Kristi Porter (41:23):

Yes, done.

Enrique Alvarez (41:24):

It’s been an amazing conversation and I thank you again for taking the time to talk to us today. I know you have many, many things. Your team seems be incredibly busy as well, and they’re doing meaningful purpose-driven work, which is great. They’re not just wasting their time. So it sounds like what inspires you to keep working hard like that every day? And maybe before you tell me what inspires you, I mean, what do you think inspires your team and your company At the Charles group?

Aaron Edwards (41:51):

We got asked this question in a pitch that we didn’t win some really,

Enrique Alvarez (41:56):

You’ll have another chance, you’ll win this one. I guarantee you that.

Aaron Edwards (41:59):

I hope we do. We had a great ending conversation with them, but we didn’t win. But they asked a really interesting question. They said, what’s your company culture? Why do the people work for you? And it was a team of eight people. And I was like, I’m not going to answer that question. I’m going to let them answer

(42:15):

And like pray. Let’s praise the Lord that they give a good one. And one of my senior folks, he said something that was really, really, it felt really heartfelt about, and he basically just said, I’ve been in this industry now for 25 years. I’ve worked to the biggest advertising agencies. I’ve worked for the coolest brands, Rolex, Nike, whoever. And he’s like, I choose to work here. It’s a choice because there isn’t a company that I’ve been at that I’ve enjoyed working with these types of people at. And the leadership team and the management team’s perspective on what makes a good company is evidently clear through everybody wanting to work together. So I think that was a powerful statement for me and was great to hear somebody reaffirm what I feel like we’ve been trying to build for the last 12 years, which is just a place where people want to have fun and come to and excited to spend time with their coworkers and just do cool shit.

Enrique Alvarez (43:23):

I like it. I like it.

Kristi Porter (43:25):

I love that clearly purpose means a lot to you. It means something to you personally as well as your team. You and Enrique met at the conscious Capitalism CEO summit. We’ve talked a little bit about what you do, the advertising agency, and then of course we were talking just about the industry before we got on the call. It is I guess probably a lot of industries. Everything has changed over the last couple of years for all of us. One of the positive things we’re obviously seeing is purpose being embraced in business and that it can be more than just profits, that there can be purpose at the center of that as well. And so how do you think you work with a lot of B two C, but you also have B two B as well. So how do you think we’ll continue to see that message, that branding both internally and externally within companies? How do you think we’ll continue to see that evolve over the coming years? I

Aaron Edwards (44:19):

Think businesses are struggling, if I’m going to be very honest, because there’s a new dawn, there’s a new awakening of conscious capitalists. There’s people who are now the majority of the workforce who actually care about where they work. They care about the brands that they purchase. They care about the sustainability goals and efforts that these companies say they have. So we are now in the do economy. You can’t just say what you think you should say to appease the masses now. You actually have to do it. And so I think what that means is the distinction between purpose-driven businesses and companies that are not, the distinction will become even clearer. And that will, I think, create a wave of ESG focused businesses that aren’t even categorized as ESG businesses. That’s just the standard. And I think it will be an us versus them kind of divide.

(45:39):

That’s my theory. I could be completely wrong. I mean, right now there’s so much work that needs to happen for some of the biggest companies in the world to do, and they have a definitive ability to change the way in which we live, the way in which we grow Google to their market capitalization, apple biggest, these huge tech companies, they are basically transforming the way that we live, the way we consume, the way that we interact. So the responsibility that they have to society, I think is even bigger. And I think they realize this. And so I think it’s going to be a world of the people who actually care and the people who don’t.

Enrique Alvarez (46:27):

Nice. I couldn’t agree with you more, and thank you again for sharing your thoughts on this. We’re running out of time. So last question for you and we’ll let you go. If you could just tell the CEOs or anyone in particular like a call to action, I mean in terms of the future of the world, we live in a world that’s not only changing very rapidly as you pointed out, but it seems like to me, if you pay too much attention to the media that everything’s falling apart, you have wars, you have all this, what would you, as someone that clearly cares about your team, people, humanity, I mean, what would you tell to everyone else that’s listening to us right now to help out? My

Aaron Edwards (47:09):

Message is actually simple. We as leaders have to come together more events like conscious capitalism, I think a fantastic breeding ground for a collective, a group of people, of individuals who come together to share their collective experience. And so for me, my words would be words of encouragement to other leaders who feel alone, to not feel alone and understand that there are people out there like them that are doing things, that are making changes and things aren’t as necessarily as bad as it always seems to be in the media, right? So it’s about coming together in a way where we can listen to each other, where we can come with no ego and we can genuinely learn from each other’s experiences. And I think that is what’s going to create a new wave of conscious leadership.

Enrique Alvarez (48:09):

Thank you

Kristi Porter (48:10):

Here. That’s great. Well, this has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for your time, for your willingness to be here with us and all the fun we had even before getting on. Sorry, everyone missed that, but we really appreciate it. Before we go, we really, how do people find you? How do they connect with you? Where do they look you up online? Clearly you’ve demonstrated your expertise and ability and just your willingness to also help create a better world. So how can people find you?

Aaron Edwards (48:37):

LinkedIn? Follow me on LinkedIn, Aaron C. Edwards. Also go follow my company, the Charles Group. We put out a weekly email newsletters full of fun things at the Charles group as well, or the charles nyc.com. Go check that out. We got a lot of fun things on there. Love the little celebration thing. That was

Enrique Alvarez (48:55):

Cool. I just learned about this earlier today and I’m fascinated with this. Have you seen that before? I keep you up because you’re marketing, right? So you’ve seen before. No, I

Aaron Edwards (49:06):

Keep doing this thing where balloons keep coming Out my hands.

Enrique Alvarez (49:10):

That’s this, that, this one, yeah.

Aaron Edwards (49:13):

They keep coming out and I’m like, why have I got balloons coming out of my hands? Okay, now I know

Enrique Alvarez (49:20):

I have all of them now. There you go. Oh, I love that. Yeah. Technology as you said. But anyways, amazing conversation. For anyone listening to that last part, I recommend that you go to the video version. Otherwise you’re not going to get what we were laughing about. But as Aaron said, listen, no egos learn, and if you like conversations like the ones that we just had with Aaron, just don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you very much and see you next time.

Kristi Porter (49:49):

Thank you.

Aaron Edwards (49:50):

Thanks guys.

 

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Featured Guests

Aaron Edwards serves as the CEO of The Charles Group, a full-service creative agency focused on strategic campaigns, brand storytelling, and digital experiences for clients such as Cartier, Bacardi, Omega, Roc Nation, JDS Development, Aveda and HP in the lifestyle, luxury, beauty, fashion, and technology sectors. Connect with Aaron on LinkedIn. 

Hosts

Enrique Alvarez

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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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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Mary Kate Love

VP, Marketing

Mary Kate Love is currently the VP of marketing at Supply Chain Now focused on brand strategy and audience + revenue growth. Mary Kate’s career is a testament to her versatility and innovative spirit: she has experience in start-ups, venture capital, and building innovation initiatives from the ground up: she previously helped lead the build-out of the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific and before that, MxD (Manufacturing times Digital): the Department of Defense’s digital manufacturing innovation center. Mary Kate has a passion for taking complicated ideas and turning them into reality: she was one of the first team members at MxD and the first team member at the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific.

Mary Kate dedicates her extra time to education and mentorship: she was one of the founding Board Members for Women Influence Chicago and led an initiative for a city-wide job shadow day for young women across Chicago tech companies and was previously on the Board of Directors at St. Laurence High School in Chicago, Young Irish Fellowship Board and the UN Committee for Women. Mary Kate is the founder of National Supply Chain Day and enjoys co-hosting podcasts at Supply Chain Now. Mary Kate is from the south side of Chicago, a mom of two baby boys, and an avid 16-inch softball player. She holds a BS in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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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.

Donna Krache

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.

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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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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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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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Katherine Hintz

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.

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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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Adrian Purtill

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.

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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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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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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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Allison Giddens

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.

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Billy Taylor

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.

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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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Chantel King

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.

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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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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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Amanda Luton

Vice President, Production

Amanda is a production and marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Amanda currently manages, produces, and develops modern digital content for Supply Chain Now and their clients. Amanda has previously served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah, and founded and managed her own successful digital marketing firm, Magnolia Marketing Group. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now production team, you can find Amanda in the kitchen, reading, listening to podcasts, or enjoying time with family.

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Constantine Limberakis

Host

Constantine Limberakis is a thought leader in the area of procurement and supply management. He has over 20 years of international experience, playing strategic roles in a wide spectrum of organizations related to analyst advisory, consulting, product marketing, product development, and market research.Throughout his career, he's been passionate about engaging global business leaders and the broader analyst and technology community with strategic content, speaking engagements, podcasts, research, webinars, and industry articles.Constantine holds a BA in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA in Finance & Marketing / Masters in Public & International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Mary Kate Soliva

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.

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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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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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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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Tyler Ward

Director of Sales

Tyler Ward serves as Supply Chain Now's Director of Sales. Born and raised in Mid-Atlantic, Tyler is a proud graduate of Shippensburg University where he earned his degree in Communications. After college, he made his way to the beautiful state of Oregon, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.

With over a decade of experience in sales, Tyler has a proven track record of exceeding targets and leading high-performing teams. He credits his success to his ability to communicate effectively with customers and team members alike, as well as his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.

When he's not closing deals, you can find Tyler on the links or cheering on his favorite football and basketball teams. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing pick-up basketball, and traveling back to Ocean City, Maryland, his favorite place!

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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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Greg White

Principal & CMO, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise

When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.

Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.

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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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