In this episode of Veteran Voices, host Scott W. Luton interviews supply chain practitioner and U.S. Army Reserve logistics officer, Aaron Freed. In this wide-ranging discussion, Freed shares the best thing to ever happen to him: “getting what you need; not getting what you want.” He shares how important it is to acknowledge & own both your strengths AND your weaknesses. Freed shares exceptional advice to all individuals in transition, whether you are military or not. Aaron Freed also shares what “tikkun olam” means & why it’s so important to his journey.
Tune in – you don’t want to miss this episode.
Scott Luton (00:05):
Welcome to veteran voices, a podcast dedicated to giving a voice to those that have served in our country’s armed forces. On this series, we sit down with a wide variety of veterans and veteran advocates to gain their insights, perspective, and experiences. We’ll talk with many individuals about their challenging transition from active duty to the private sector, and we’ll discuss some of the most vital issues facing veterans today. Join us for this episode of veteran voices.
Scott Luton (00:49):
Come in our featured guests here today on veteran voices. Aaron Freed, warehouse slotting analysts with McKesson and us army reserve logistics officer I’d add a third one, incredible livestream subject matter expert. So Aaron, good afternoon. How are you doing?
Aaron Freed (01:04):
Afternoon, Scott. I’m doing pretty awesome. Thank you for that. I really liked the live feeds. It’s something I just bring up on my iPad while I’m sitting here doing warehouse analysis and I can just pop over, do a little type in answer response, see how things are going. So it keeps me, uh, gives me a little something to do in the background.
Scott Luton (01:22):
That’s why we do it. We really enjoyed your contributions and the conversations that come out of those. I really appreciate that. And it is nice, uh, in this day and age, as we’re working fast and furiously emails and phone calls and problems across supply chain and other parts of business world to kind of have a little friendly banner in the background, right?
Aaron Freed (01:41):
It is it’s you get a little bit of that from the office. And I still get that with the occasional teams, chat, texts back and forth, but you just don’t have that constant interaction. So it’s nice to have that bit of banter back and forth and actually feel, you know, that interpersonal connection.
Scott Luton (01:55):
Outstanding. I agree with your kindred spirits there. So let’s, uh, for the sake of this interview here, I’m really excited. Appreciate your time. And looking forward to this, let’s start out with the basics. So tell us where you’re from and you gotta give us an anecdote or two about your upbringing.
Aaron Freed (02:10):
Okay. I grew up in Ventura County. Uh, it’s a suburb just North, uh, you know, it’s just North of Los Angeles. So, uh, I was a bit of a Dodgers fan growing up, but I have since lost touch with sports, but of course today, you know, is a good day to be from LA, right?
Scott Luton (02:26):
And let’s fill in for the three listeners that may not have be aware. The Dodgers just won the world series for the first time. I think since what? 86, 88, maybe according to one of my friends on Facebook, a I think a 32 year slump as 32 year wait is now over and he’s not even 40. So he’s been waiting most of his life. So congrats to the Dodgers fans and our audience. But you, so you grew up, you said in North LA, is that right?
Aaron Freed (02:53):
It’s a, so Ventura is North of LA, about 30 minutes to an hour, depending upon how on the four Oh five and the one Oh one goes. Um, so it’s kind of between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.
Scott Luton (03:05):
So when you look back and think of growing up in that beautiful part of the country, what’s a couple of things that, that, uh, you miss to this day.
Aaron Freed (03:13):
Yeah. I still missed in and out every time I came home from leave and the first thing that my parents and brother knew to do was we’re stopping it in and out because you just double, double as if it’s, it’s just, there’s just no substitute.
Scott Luton (03:28):
I’ve heard a lot from folks I know from the West coast and from California, that that’s the first thing they get when they go back to, so it must be a big thing.
Aaron Freed (03:36):
First time I’d really got home. I was actually, uh, mid to relief on my deployment to Iraq. I was brand new second Lieutenant. And that was just like, I’m been in uniform, haven’t slept or showered or anything, and maybe about 48 hours because it takes a while to fly back. And I just like, I need to now I need a hamburger, good hamburger. So, and that’s kinda started the tradition. So when I go back, that’s what we do.
Scott Luton (03:59):
Love it, love it. All right. So, so beyond getting your burger fix, when you think of your childhood, what else?
Aaron Freed (04:06):
When we sticks out, honestly, my parents, they were a huge influence on me. They, uh, my mom is a retired nurse and worked in pediatrics. My dad was a city planner for the city of Simi Valley and they really had a huge impact on who I am today, uh, because of what they did. That’s kind of why I do what I do. I really got that sense of service of helping people thinking about your community. And that has stuck with me really my whole life. And it’s one of the reasons I went into the military. It’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed working in supply chain and why I’m so proud to be on the McKesson team because it’s, it’s great to work for a company that’s not just making money, but actually doing something that is given back.
Scott Luton (04:55):
I love your answer to that. So let’s, let’s go to the step further because the next question I had for you is what did make you join the military? Why’d you join the military? I think you’ve given us a big chunk of the answer, but it’s
Aaron Freed (05:06):
You really point to I’m Jewish? And my family are immigrants. We came to America over a couple of generations, just looking for that opportunity for being safe for being, you know, not in a place that doesn’t, that doesn’t like you so are really wanting to kind of give back to my country. And because we had a, we’ve had a very good life, I got to live that sweet middle upper-class, you know, suburb lifestyle and all the wonderful privilege that comes with it. And I wanted to cash in some of that privilege and give back. So the military and government service, it seems to me like a good fit. And so that was, that was the plan. Originally. I was actually going to use the military as a stepping stone into law enforcement. But after the first couple of days of ROTC at San Diego state, I knew, no, this is, this is what I’m doing. This is my career. Uh, I’m sticking this out. Let’s talk about
Scott Luton (05:58):
Let’s continue on that path, college and RTC and how you got your commission. And then we’ll go more into what you did on active duty. So tell us more about that.
Aaron Freed (06:07):
I went to college originally actually tending to be a Marine. And then my roommate freshman year was a Marine. So I decided to go to the army. I just wanted to, you know, I loved it. It was great. Originally I tried to be a computer engineer, but calculus is super hard at seven in the morning. Uh, so I switched to a slightly easier major after a couple of years, criminal justice turns out instead of being up until three in the morning writing code, I literally could study for my final by watching law and order so
Scott Luton (06:33):
Nice. Trade-off right. Nice. Trade-off
Aaron Freed (06:35):
Definitely took some stress out of the picture and, you know, college was just a great experience. I loved it. Um, I met so many wonderful people. I’m still in touch with today from ROTC and it really helped shape me. I didn’t actually ever intend to be in supply chain. I wanted to be a tank commander. I wanted to be an armor officer, but turns out not so doing well in calculus meant I became needs of the army. And so heartbroken me. I was assigned a role as a transportation officer and, and my ROTC instructor, who was an armor officer, consoled me and said, Erin, it’s, it’s just like being in a tank only. There’s no armor and there’s no guns. And honestly, if I had been a logistics officer, I’d be retired right now with a six-figure job,
Scott Luton (07:22):
What could have been, but, but you’re having so much fun on this current journey.
Aaron Freed (07:27):
The best thing that could ever happened to me, uh, was not getting what I wanted, but getting what I needed that trying to always stay positive, stay flexible. Semper Gumby is my motto. That is logistics. That is supply chain. It’s what you do is you’ve always got to be prepared, adaptable, flexible. It’s what we keep talking about in, in the live streams is anything had happen at any moment. So I just kept staying flexible and I went off to Germany after commissioning sold my soul for three years, I was going to give it to them anyway. So got something in return. When did you graduate? What year was I graduated in 2008.
Scott Luton (08:01):
Okay. 2008, and then went into Germany on active duty as an army officer commissioned officer and spent three years there.
Aaron Freed (08:09):
So give or take a deployment to Iraq. I showed up and literally 40 days. Exactly. I was downrange in Kuwait with my company. I showed up. We were a truck company, uh, driving tractor trailers. So the [inaudible], which is basically just a giant Oshkosh trailer or tractor painted green with armor slapped on the sides. That’s what we drove. We did a lot of 40 foot trailer hauling, moving stuff up and down route what’s highway one. We called it MSR Tampa main supply, route Tampa, just up and down from Baghdad down to the Kuwaiti border moving stuff. As part of the retrograde in 2009, uh, thankfully it was incredibly safe. Deployment, never shot at never blown up. Everyone came home. I think the only injury we had was someone got hurt playing basketball, thankfully, and
Scott Luton (08:56):
Really appreciate your, your combat deployment. Cause that those were some dangerous parts of the world. As we all know, let’s talk about one of my favorite questions in these interviews is favorite people and think about, you know, folks either worked for you or folks at that that were your peers, or maybe some leaders you worked for that really had a big impact on not just your, your time served, but as you’ve already alluded to some of your lessons learned that apply to, you know, more broadly to your life experiences and globally,
Aaron Freed (09:26):
That is always the big one. And I can, I can just start listing the names of practically everyone I’ve worked with. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of serving alongside hundreds, thousands of people, uh, great men and women who were the enlisted folks that did the actual jobs, the MTOs who mentored me, advised me, supervise the soldiers, fellow officers, peers, and superiors, and even eventually subordinates as I Rose up who have made a huge impact. Everyone I’ve come across as left their Mark on me, just like I hope probably left a better Mark on them. First person I really want to talk about though, is my close friend, Hunter Berg. Uh, he was, he’s now major Berg. He’s still on active duty. Uh, I think he’ll be up for Lieutenant Colonel in a few years and I’m pretty sure he’s going to get it because he’s just one of those kinds of people who keep succeeding.
Aaron Freed (10:22):
He was my company commander after coming back to my rack and I was his executive officers. So we work hand in hand along with the company. First Sergeant Kermit Joseph to make things happen. And we very quickly became fast friends. Hunter’s the person who really taught me about the importance of people. It’s not just enough to be smart. It’s not just enough to know the manuals inside and out and know all the technical stuff. It’s people, you can’t get things done without people. And he was tough. You know, gruff. He was all about discipline, hard training. Like he worked that company so hard. We went from doing zero truck missions back in Germany, a week zero, we weren’t doing anything. And he was pushing to have us pull 22 missions a week, which was a hit. And within a few months we were getting it.
Aaron Freed (11:19):
He was just going around knocking on doors. Hey, give me missions, give me jobs. I want my truck drivers drive and trucks cause that’s the best training is doing. And even though suddenly we’re doing all this maintenance, we’re going to the field, we’re doing training, we’re running missions. People are away from their spouses. Their kids, everyone was happy because he, he knew them and he kept him busy and gave them what they needed without just not giving them what they wanted. And so even though he was this, you know, tough disciplinarian, he, everyone loved him. One of the most amazing officers I’ve ever the privilege to work with. So glad I get to call him friend. Uh, we still chat on the phone, periodically message on Facebook and stuff back and forth. But Hunter is honestly one of the most impactful people in my life for my career.
Scott Luton (12:06):
So that, that is, uh, currently major Berg. You mentioned that he a, he, uh, is up for Lieutenant Colonel around the corner. Good luck, uh, major Berg, if you’re listening to this, that’s awesome. And, and the relationship that endures, I really love that. Who else comes to mind?
Aaron Freed (12:24):
Another person who’s had a big impact, probably doesn’t realize it, but, uh, his Colonel retired, uh, Rob Campbell. And the reason I bring him up is because I was, uh, one of his company commanders. He was the brigade commander. Uh, so I was two levels below him. He commanded the battalions who yelled at me and I was the support company commander for the cavalry reconnaissance squadron one, three, two bandits, uh, Elvis unit. Really? Yep. Elvis is unit one, three, two calf. Uh, there are pictures of Elvis all over the squadron. HQ love that. And so he brought all of his commanders and to do this leadership growth thing that you can see it, a true growth, a bunch of senior retired colonels and generals to talk to us about leadership and being an authentic leader. And one of the things that’s on this card is like core purpose, which is what defines my core values, which helps shape my leadership behaviors.
Aaron Freed (13:31):
And my core purpose is to do the right thing, improve the lives of others and embodied to alum, which is a principle from Judaism about healing the world and restoring the world. Being able to like take time, sit down, put that on paper. And then he made us carry these cards with us. And eight years later, I’m still carrying the card with me, even though he’s retired. I’m out of the unit, I’m out of the active army. That meant a lot because it allowed me to really focus on what Simon Sinek talks about the why, right? Your why, why do you do well? I want to, I want to do the right thing and make lives better. So that’s why I work the way I work. And it’s why I do what I do
Scott Luton (14:10):
That I bet you’ve just made Colonel Rob Campbell’s day to have something stick with someone that, that worked for you or for, for him, or, I mean, that’s so meaningful and clearly it’s words to live by. And I, I think what was that phrase you shared about, about healing
Aaron Freed (14:26):
World to alum to come along to Kuhn? Uh, T I K K U N O L a M
Scott Luton (14:35):
Give, give my son and my daughters a similar card, uh, that, that really inspirational. The appreciate you sharing that beyond a major Burg and Colonel retired, Colonel Campbell, who else sticks out?
Aaron Freed (14:47):
Yeah, there’s been a lot of people. I’ve got a list right here. I’m just trying to pick who to who to talk about it. I’ve worked with a lot of amazing people bother. The next person I want to talk about would be, um, now Colonel retired Joseph power, the fourth, who was my boss’s boss and Kuwait, uh, later in much later in my career, I was the installation transportation officer, the ITO, and he was the brigade commander for area support group Kuwait. Basically he ran the base. He was the installation commander responsible for all the contracts, all the life support. So the dining facilities based security, the MPS, the morale, welfare programs, anything that was installation related, that was him. He ran a small city and now he runs a bunch of stuff for Amazon. Yep. He is a senior operations manager for Amazon and he, he really empowered his subordinates to go out there and do the right thing because he that’s what he embodied was every day.
Aaron Freed (15:53):
You know, look, what are the rules? If that’s the rules, then those are the rules. I don’t care about. You know, making people happy. I care, you know, I do care about making people happy, but I also care about doing it ethically. You know, we’re not going to break the rules. We’re not going to commit fraud, waste and abuse. We’re going to spend taxpayer money smart as the ITO. I oversaw all the transportation stuff, which meant all the leased vehicles. And there’s a good 1200 vehicles. We lease each year to support getting around on and off post because the Kuwaitis generally do not like us driving around with Humvees. It’s kind of disconcerting to their population, but you know, least as EVs. Totally good. Yeah.
Scott Luton (16:34):
It’s interesting. You should, that I spent a little bit of time, little bit of time, a 45 day TDY at, uh, Algebar air base, not too far from Kuwait city. And now I’m thinking about it. I never really connected the dots because our SPS aren’t security teams, some of the officers, they would all drop, not land rovers, but something similar rather than any military vehicles.
Aaron Freed (16:58):
What did we have? I’m trying to remember. It was the car names are bouncing around my head. Yeah.
Scott Luton (17:03):
Like in a zoo or whatever it is for your point. It was, yes. It was an SUV and I never really understood and connected the dots. Why, but now I guess you’re filling in the dots. Gosh, 18 years later. Yep. It was a community outreach, uh, initiative perhaps.
Aaron Freed (17:21):
Yeah. It was big part of how we maintain good relations with the Kuwaiti government and people is by being respectful with them and, you know, continuing to build off that, you know, trust. But to that tune, it was also a very expensive thing because, uh, they weren’t cheap. Leasing a vehicle is not cheap, especially when you’re the people providing it. No, you’ve got deep government pockets. And so making sure that we only got, say 1200 instead of 2000 vehicles, we want to make sure we have enough, but not too many. So we’re not wasting money. And everyone wanted a car. Everyone wanted to be able to drive around. And I was the person they had to go through. And I said a lot of no, because that’s just the way it works. You gotta do.
Scott Luton (18:07):
You gotta say no.
Aaron Freed (18:08):
Sometimes it being a leader means saying no. And being able to go, um, you, you don’t, we don’t need this. You don’t need this. You may want this needs. You’re not wants. Uh, just cause you’re a Lieutenant Colonel or a Sergeant major doesn’t mean you get a car, right. You get to use your feet. Just like everyone else
Scott Luton (18:26):
Ever legs. As a buddy there, dear friend of mine in the military once called it a Highland Wong, hopefully you’re doing well. How so? I noticed a few of the folks we want to recognize. I want to give you the opposite version of this question, but let’s, I want to make sure who else, who else? When you look back, you, you really, you have some special experiences with
Aaron Freed (18:44):
My first platoon Sergeant, Sergeant first-class, Cheryl Taylor, my motor Sergeant truck. I still call them truck starting. First-class Robert parish. My, my second platoon Sergeant Sergeant first class Dale Sponaugle tons, right? Hundreds. I’m just basically listing all the people I worked with. My fellow lieutenants. I worked with now major Abigail gage, major Sean Donahoe. Now out captain Kent Robbins, great guy from a completely opposite life from me, grew up, you know, Cal punching out in the Eastern part of, uh, Washington and very different from me in every single way, but we’re still close friends.
Scott Luton (19:25):
So let me, let me, let me throw a, not a curve ball, but a little bit of a we’ll call it a splitter. Sure. Not only do we learn so much from, from the best leaders we work with the best team members we work with, but, um, you know, the salt of the earth, people that you just listed, a lot of those folks that made a huge positive impact in your life, but let’s without naming names. I think we’ve all worked for some really let’s, let’s just say not ideal folks, maybe that weren’t meant to supervise or lead or even manage. And, and you know, those have been at least my journey, some really powerful lessons learned again, without naming names. Is there a lesson or an individual or an experience that comes to mind along those lines that you learned something?
Aaron Freed (20:06):
Absolutely. I’ve worked with people who sometimes they weren’t the right leader for me. Sometimes they weren’t the right leader for that position. People who should not have really been in a company command position, people who were in command too long and just needed to not do that anymore. And even myself I’ve had screw ups. I was an okay company commander. I was not great. I was not spectacular. I am a small teams kind of guy. I am, you know, surrounding you with maybe five, six people. And we work together. I’m amazing. Tell me, Hey, here’s 70 folks run it. That’s that’s not my bag. That’s not my expertise. That’s not where I shine. And that’s what I had to do. I was adequate and I own an accepts that short County because it’s the only way to learn from that to, to grow and better know who I am and where I should be doing and help others find out what they’re doing.
Scott Luton (21:03):
that it takes a, it takes a very experienced, confident, honest, transparent, and authentic person to share what you just shared. And, and, and those are the type of people that we want to work with and build with and do stuff with because it allows you to move faster because we’re all not built. I mean, I would heck I wish I was built to be an NFL quarterback, you know, with the golden arm and all that stuff and be able to lead, you know, 11 folks or 10 other folks in the battle play in and play out that wasn’t unfortunately in my DNA and, you know, to lead 70 or 700, I mean, I mean, you know, we’re all meant to do certain different things and, and, uh, I really appreciate what you shared. Let’s talk about accomplishment. So, because you’re already hearing you share some of your tidbits, different components of your career at different stops, different things, you’re responsible for different roles. Y’all still got a lot done, a ton done, especially during that really challenging time, it still is challenging to be in the military. It seems like we’ve been at, you know, at war and in conflict for forever. When you look back though, Aaron, and look back at what you and your colleagues and your team got accomplished, what are you most proud?
Aaron Freed (22:12):
Most proud of was probably the position I enjoyed the most was as the ITO in Kuwait, because I was given trust, given a great team to work with of civilians and military and contractors. And I enjoyed it because I got to actually eat, be technically, you know, smart. I got to be sometimes the smartest guy in the room, which I like it because, you know, Pat and I, I don’t want to be the smartest guy in the room because then I’m in the wrong room, but I got to and find out, okay, I might actually be the smartest person in the room. Then I’m going to use that. And I’m very proud of what we did because we, we actually helped to reduce some of those contract costs by $600,000 annually, taxpayer money by implementing data driven decision making, which analyze the utilization rate of vehicles across the entire fleet to come up with actual specific recommendations for what gets cut, who needs an extra vehicle added rather than what they’d been doing for well over a decade was some general, a PI says, I dunno, we’re spending too much money.
Aaron Freed (23:23):
Cut it in half. Why? Because it feels right. And then a board of colonels sitting there going, I don’t know, you don’t need a vehicle. Why I’m a Colonel feels right. You know, intuition, gut feeling takes you only so far. And being able to hand a bunch of spreadsheets and graphs and charts to those panel colonels and go, well, we need to cut these 10 vehicles because they get driven a hundred kilometers and they should be driven, you know, 10,000 miles is what we’re really looking for each year. They didn’t go anywhere. We’re wasting money and they can look at me and go, yeah, do it. One of the things I am most proud of was revising an entire system that I know it was still being used the next year because my replacement called me from Kuwait while I was backstage side to talk to me,
Scott Luton (24:12):
That’s just like, goes back to the card that you got from Colonel Campbell. It’s enduring. It works so well. So it means something to you. So for your successor to be used in a system that y’all created and were so successful with
Aaron Freed (24:27):
36 page, how to book, because I had two cars to buy, just completed a master’s degree in supply chain management. So I had all these analysis tools under my belt that I’m still using today that I knew most people didn’t. And I was like, okay, I not going to see them. Everyone else here knows how to calculate a standard deviation, let alone do that in Excel and build these pivot tables. I’m going to write a 36 page, how to Emmanuel of walking you through step-by-step so you don’t need to know anything about math, just do the things and it, and it’ll work out fine.
Scott Luton (25:00):
Love that. A continuity. What we call those when I was, I was active duty continuity book. Yes. There you go. Um, I hated typing those things up, man. Mine wasn’t nearly as complicated as yours was, but nevertheless, so now I want to switch gears. You’re still a reserve in the us army reserves. So you’re still serving us. We really appreciate that. Let’s talk about your transition from active duty into, into your first role. Talk about that. What, what was that experience?
Aaron Freed (25:29):
So that was, uh, a pretty interesting experience. I left active duty actually being, uh, involuntarily separated. I didn’t get picked up for major on active duty. I got my three looks and then by law had to be separated though. I kind of engineered that a little bit. I didn’t think I was going to get it. If I actually tried, I ran the numbers, but I do and going into like, well, I’ve got maybe a 10% chance of getting picked up. If I can’t get this excellent evil, I’m just coming off a urine Kuwait. I haven’t seen my wife in a year. I kind of really want to spend time with her and not be at the office late. And I was taking an instructor role that was incredibly rewarding. The most rewarding position I enjoy. I loved being the it on Kuwait, but it was the most rewarding experience being an instructor.
Aaron Freed (26:19):
And I was like, I really don’t want to kill myself with this job, which is supposed to be a bit more of a, take a knee type thing to try and get that evaluation that might improve my odds from 10% up to, you know, 30%. So I’m just going to plan that I’m getting out. But I also had some friends who steered me in the right directions that don’t put in paperwork to ask to leave, make them kick you out because you’ll get severance. And I went, well, no one told me that most people don’t tell you that if you get forcibly separated for, you know, honorable service, you’re going to hand you a big old check and say, thank you and have a nice day. So I told my bosses, this is my plan. And I got excellent leaders who worked with me major now, Lieutenant Colonel Sanchez and mr.
Aaron Freed (27:05):
Keith fake, who’s this civilian director for the department. They supported me a hundred percent and gave me an amazing write-up and evaluations so that when I went to my civilian employers, they would look at and go, wow, you look great. Cause they’re not going to know the difference between most qualified and holiday, highly qualified. They don’t care about, you know, this little check Mark box. They want to see the big fancy words. So I kind of engineered my own demise, but they supported me in that separation. And the big part about that transition was I thought I was going to be okay, that it was going to be nice, smooth sailing. And it really wasn’t. Even though I started almost like six, seven months in advance writing my resume, starting to submit job applications, talk to people, get to a feel for what’s out there.
Aaron Freed (27:50):
It was still a rough Rocky situation because it’s a world change for, I think this is what happens for every person who comes off military service and transitions is it’s a complete paradigm shift. You don’t even speak the same language at the time. I had to demilitarize my LinkedIn convert and translate all of my job assignments from no, no one knows what a platoon leader is. I was a trucks, you know, section junior manager and converting all. That was a huge challenge. And there’s not really anyone you can reach out to immediately for that help. And that’s improving. There’s a lot of good organizations out there that help with that help with resume writing, help with those situations. Hey Aaron, really quick
Scott Luton (28:36):
For context. When did you transition
Aaron Freed (28:39):
Doubt was [inaudible] I left active service in July, 2000, 2018, 2019. I always mixed that up
Scott Luton (28:49):
To your, to your point. There still isn’t there hasn’t never has been. I know there’s been different technology providers that have come up with different way. Hey, plug your MOS in here, your AFSE. And here’s what your quality quote unquote qualified to do. There’s not a, um, an algorithm or an AI that you can turn your LinkedIn profile over to and it spits out, you know, everything the way it should be for private sector consumption. Yeah.
Aaron Freed (29:16):
It’s rough. Yeah. It is rough. I’m actually working with my local apex chapter on that. The president of the local chapter spoke to me about that. Like, Hey, can you talk to us about your transition? Um, and what can we do to help the most right community? Because Fort Lee home of army logistics is right here where the supply chain folks, we want to support them and how do we help those people help ourselves get these great and supply chain folks into our businesses, our government agencies. Uh, so that’s actually something I’m, I’m talking with them about how do we build those relationships? How do we get that out there? It was, it was a rough transition. I actually did not have a job lined up. By the time I left active duty, it was very narrow. I landed something in the last minute with Pepsi, they had done a sent, one of their managers came by the, you know, the separation office to do some interviews.
Aaron Freed (30:08):
And I walked in the press, the crap out of them with my resume. I was like, I’m going to tell you you’re overqualified for this job. And I’m just thinking, that’s fine, but do I get money for doing a thing because I kind of need to eat. So I did it. I signed on, I was a supervisor for Pepsi and it was an intense nine months with them. Fascinating experience, getting to learn a business just like that and learning how the warehouse worked, learning how to work with people who don’t instantly jump. When I say now, because as you keep talking about in the, in the live stream and in the military, everyone’s all on that mission because you know that there’s something at stake people’s lives and then you’re at patching or like it’s sugar water, man. If it’s diabetes in a bottle, we’re not exactly super thrilled, motivated. I’m here for a paycheck and learning the law that and getting up my leadership skills, credible experience really set me up for what I do now, because I can’t really be a good warehouse fawning analyst, unless I understand a warehouse. So I’m really appreciative of that opportunity with Pepsi.
Scott Luton (31:19):
We’re going to talk about what you’re doing now, but before we do, I want to, for our listeners that may be either experiencing a transition. They’ve got a transition around the corner. Let’s make sure that, that you can share some advice with them. So clearly you’ve already answered one of the questions I’ll ask them. Folks. Was your transition more challenging? The unexpected oftentimes answers. Yes. Unfortunately, despite all the new found layers of support and, and folks willing to help, you know, now versus say, you know, 10, even five years ago, when you think about advice, you’d give for folks that are either about the transition or they’re in the thick of things. We all want to help a lot. What, what’s the short list of things that folks need to have in mind.
Aaron Freed (31:59):
I jotted some ideas down about that. And, and honestly, this isn’t even about people transitioning the military, but any kind of light life transition. You’re, you’re going off to college for the first time or the second time or third time, because you had to change jobs, your industry’s dying, you know, there’s something happening and you’ve got to transition who you are and what you do. And the first thing comes back to this card that I carry from Rob Campbell. You have to define you, what are you passionate about? What are you good at? And then figuring out what does that look like as a career it’s taken me well over a decade to figure out I like solving problems. And I like thinking about those problems. Well, gosh, darn turns out being a data analyst is exactly that. And it took me a decade to figure that out.
Aaron Freed (32:47):
I just went in like, I’m just going to tell people to job trucks and I’m going to go fight bad guys. And it’s like, so figuring out who you are and what you’re passionate about, that’s really, what’s going to set you up because once you know what you want to do and you can find those jobs and then start backwards planning, okay. And in order to get to that point, what are the skills I need? Oh, I’m going to need to be able to do ABC. And maybe right now, this is what I do and what I know. And I can start building those gaps and figuring out how do I translate what I do now into eventually becoming that the other thoughts are, there’s no such thing as too much planning or too much preparation. You can’t start planning too early. I mean, sometimes you’re just like, I don’t know what’s going to happen 10 years from now, but I do save money in retirement because I do know what’s coming.
Aaron Freed (33:37):
I can’t just start planning for retirement five years before retirement, I had to start planning for retirement when I got my diploma from college. Right. So there’s no such thing as too early to plan or too much prep. I started writing my resume in November the November before I was getting kicked out in July. And I went through like probably 30 revisions and was still talking to a resume writer in June because I’m like, no, one’s biting. Something’s not right here. And then finally talk to people outside your group. If you’re transitioning out of military, don’t talk to people in the military. You can’t talk to the people in uniform because they don’t, they don’t know. They don’t know what’s on the side. So I started reaching out to my friends who I’d met, who were in the reserves national guard, like, Hey, you actually have to like do this whole civilian thing.
Aaron Freed (34:25):
How does that work? Like, what do I do? What do I need to know? Right. And I started connecting with people on LinkedIn, like folks like yourself, listening to supply chain podcast to go, well, what the hell is actually happening out there in the industry? Start learning this, talking to my old professors, talking to just connections and people who I applied for with jobs and saying, well, taking apart the whole, whether or not I’m even a candidate for this, what can I do better? What should I know? What advice do you have because people really just want to help each other out.
Scott Luton (34:55):
And, and some of what I heard there, a couple of things, you know, really, I don’t, I hate to use the word, you know, thinking outside the box because it’s so overused. You know, there’s a lot of things when it, when it comes to resources and things you can lean on to help make a transition easier and help find the conversations that you need to have once you’ve determined what you like to do, what you love to do, what’s your passion and what you want to do. You’re really getting really thinking, sitting down and using sounding boards, identified that community of resources you can lean on. I think that’s a great point that you were speaking to. And then the other thing I think that really stands out because a good old resume, I think about my transition. And when I, when I think of all the conversations I’ve had with folks transitioning, I think a lot of folks and I’m guilty as charged here because once I, I paid 250 bucks or something to get a resume writer to do it. And then in my mind, I was like, I’m good here. This is not going to change. This is what I’m going to use. But those constant tweaks, as you, as you put out in the market and the feedback you get, or you might think of a highly leverageable skillset or experience, you had six months after you’ve had your resume or six weeks added in there, and it’s a living and breathing document. I think that’s a really valuable lesson for people.
Aaron Freed (36:03):
First thing I did after getting hired on at Pepsi was I put it on my resume because I was like, I don’t know. You know, you never know when you might need to pull that thing out. So first thing I did is I put on the resume and then just a thing I picked up from the military of always kind of keeping track of your achievements for that annual evaluation report. I started doing the same thing at Pepsi and just, I kept updating my resume because then it became well just in case I have to hunt for a job. You know, God forbid they closed the warehouse or whatever. I’ve got it ready. And then when it came time to sit down and do my end of year evaluations, like, well, I’ve actually kept track of the things I’ve done.
Scott Luton (36:40):
That’s so important. That is so important. So if you’re listening to that, whether you want to do it the old fashioned way and keep a nice little written journal manual journal, as you knock things out and get accomplishments, get feedback, you’re just keeping a, uh, an experience journal or say these days with email Erin, you know, you can do a save as on an outlook email and just create a folder. And it’s so easy. You don’t have to print anything. It it’s all portable. So that’s a great, great piece of feedback. I want to add that to my son, my conversations I have. All right. So before we talk about what you’re doing now and your company, you mentioned apex, you mentioned some of your industry association leadership and volunteer leadership. That’s an interesting point and valuable point. I think for our listeners that, that maybe they’re already started there. Maybe they successfully accomplished their transition, but now they’re in, you know, in their career and they’re trying to move up. Like we all are. Associations can be a great resource as well. Speak to that for a second
Aaron Freed (37:38):
Association, just really knowing people. It’s the old school network and it’s being brought into the modern age, just knowing people, like you said, thinking outside the box, it’s such a cliche and you can’t do it unless you, because you’re in your own box. Right? And the only way to think outside the box is to have someone outside, talk to you. So getting to start building those outside friendships, the people you don’t work with people you don’t necessarily always socialize with. They’re not necessarily friends, but they’re associates colleagues, and you get to hear new ideas. You get to hear other experiences and you get to, you know, continue to see more of what’s going on. It’s one of the great things about these professional associations. You yo you get to swap, you know, your occasional war stories over a beer. You get to hear guest speakers talking about what’s going on. I think we lined up a tr representative, the department of treasury to talk about some of what’s going on in financial markets, how that impacts supply chains. I have this job because of one of our professional development meets indirectly. I never even knew that McKesson was a company. I didn’t know. They existed until we held a professional development meeting at McKesson headquarters to talk about supply chain impacts on the medical field as a result of the tariffs in China, back in 2018, it didn’t know the company existed. So I couldn’t apply to them
Scott Luton (39:00):
If you’re listening to this that’s trillion dollar advice, because I think what I’ve been touting since I first set foot in the association is it gives you an opportunity to gather market intelligence, actionable market intelligence, to do exactly what you’ve done. Very smartly is connected dots. See a big opportunity and jump open up that door and jumped through it. I love that. So it’s, if you’re listing, Hey, that’s why you find, find the, determine what you want to do, figure out what your passions are, and then kind of work backwards to figure out how to get there, but looking at associations because they can, if you use them and engage in them, just like Aaron, you can really, you can really, um, it cruise for your benefit. All right. So much to talk about. So little time, Aaron, um, I know you’ve got a lot of passions and, and, and, and expertise and insights around the global supply chain world we’re living in, you know, one of the recent lab streams, we talked about, the noble mission we have as practitioners, you know, is the vaccine and vaccine, and more importantly, vaccine distribution. So tell us what you do now. Uh, with McKesson,
Aaron Freed (40:05):
McKesson is a medical supply company for those who don’t know, uh, we provide medical supplies to clinics, to skilled nursing facilities. Um, at home patient care, a lot of the medical facilities, in fact, pretty much everything, but hospitals, we don’t prioritize hospitals as one of our main markets. Uh, we leave that to some of the other folks, but we’ve been doing it for well over a hundred years. McKesson’s a very old long-time company. And my role is with the medical surgical team, a division really, I’m a tiny part of a very big operations analysis department. I’m specifically tasked with analyzing warehouses and figuring out better slotting strategies. Um, I am one of two slotting analysts that McKesson keeps on hand my work with each of the distribution centers. Uh, right now, like for example, I talked to our Dallas facility, they want to improve their pixel light. I start looking up numbers. I start figuring out strategies. I work with them hand in hand, what’s your experience? Here’s a thought, does this work? We collaborate together to come up with tidy. We make it happen faster, better, smoother,
Scott Luton (41:13):
And fulfilling your passion, which is crunching numbers and giving folks data-driven advice. Right?
Aaron Freed (41:19):
Yup. That is, it makes me very happy every day because people listen to me for starters. That’s nice. They actually take my advice seriously, but I also get to do things for them. I was like, Hey, how would you like to be done earlier in the day? Because I can make it. So you pick faster. Yeah. Pickers generally like that.
Scott Luton (41:38):
Let’s one more question about the current role when you hear the word slotting for folks, veterans or non-veterans or folks that may be listening that aren’t familiar with, where else operations just define that real quick.
Aaron Freed (41:49):
Obviously warehouse is whole lot of stuff in our computer driven age. We like everything to be well labeled and organized and sorted. We don’t just stack stuff up. We learned that probably pretty quickly when we’ve started building warehouses, you don’t just throw it all together. You put place things in their specific place. And so everything’s got a slot that it needs to live in how we organize those slots, what lives, where, uh, how much to keep on hand, because we gotta be concerned about those inventory carrying costs. Are we doing too many replenishments, not enough replenishments tying up, you know, labor hours. That’s a lot of what I focused on is how things fit into the giant puzzle. That is the warehouse. Do we put it on shelf? A, B, C, D. We put it at the front of the aisle, the middle of the back. How many different, you know, aisles do we even need? I’m just a small part in that big process, because a lot of other people figuring out bigger strategic goals, how much business do we want to move from this warehouse to that one? Uh, so I focus a lot on that kind of tactical application of how do we better organize and sort everything in the warehouse? Well,
Scott Luton (42:57):
Think of the good old, uh, when I hear slotting, I think of, um, the spaghetti diagram tracking footsteps and motion and, and how can we eliminate a lot of the wasted motion? Yeah.
Aaron Freed (43:07):
Right. It’s, that’s what it is. It’s part of that.
Scott Luton (43:10):
I know that when you, when you go broader with global supply chain, as we start to wrap up here, what makes your folks know how to connect with you? You know, what’s, what’s a topic or a trend or development or an issue challenge. You name it that you’re tracking more than others right now. What, what really, what are you really diving in deep on that gets you passionate?
Aaron Freed (43:30):
Honestly, I kind of just like listening a little bit about everything. I don’t really have anything at this moment. That’s really got me. Cause I’m, I’m kind of in the middle of my own work stuff, you know, I’m middle of a big, big project. I can’t talk about, I’ve got so much going on with me that I honestly, I have just like what, I just want to keep a pulse what’s going on out there, but really when it comes to data and how do we use it better? I’m always fascinated by that. How do we make it more accessible? How do we do it smarter and better is the kind of things that really intrigued me
Scott Luton (44:01):
Take the Liberty of by extension it’s it’s. How can we make accurate data, the actual data, uh, transparent data, but make it for the people that may not be data analysts. I’m not, uh, I wasn’t great at math, you know, and that’s Maff, by the way, Aaron, it just didn’t come naturally. For me, I went from, from an engine. I wasn’t cut out to be a, an engineer, or certainly not an advanced data. Finesser if I’m a coin of word here, but really making it where in this information where all the data and ideally all the accurate, relevant data is at our fingertips. How can we make it easy for folks to consume it and make smarter and faster decisions with it?
Aaron Freed (44:41):
That’s perfect. That’s a great analysis, Scott it’s because, you know, we’ve got a lot of statistical illiteracy out there. You gotta remember lies, lies and statistics and how we help people better understand it. How do we make it easier to understand how do we get the right data? Because garbage in garbage out that’s a big passion of mine is just, you know, getting those fundamentals because often what we talk about when it comes to that global supply chain, a lot of it just boils down to just good, basic fundamental principles.
Scott Luton (45:10):
Last thing I love that love that you kind of just exude to the interview, is this not crunching the data and all the numbers to say, I got ya, it’s the opposite. It’s crunching all the information and say, Hey, here’s how we can help you use this in, in empowering others. And, and really, you didn’t really use those words, but that’s what I pick up on through the last hour, spending time with you. That’s, that’s worth the price of admission. So thanks so much for that, Aaron. All right. So let’s make sure it’s. I imagine you’ll have some folks that may want to compare notes or at least connect with you. What’s the easiest way to connect with. Ehrenfried
Aaron Freed (45:44):
Probably LinkedIn, despite being all this computer data stuff, I don’t do Twitter or anything like that. I ain’t got time, but I can be reached on LinkedIn. My profile is Aron, a R O N dash freed F R E D 42, because 42 is the answer.
Scott Luton (46:01):
We’re going to make it even easier. We’re all about one click. We’ll have a link to your LinkedIn profile. So folks can make the connection and follow up with you and really, really appreciate all of your time and what you do. And, and you know, how you view things, Aaron, it really it’s enlightening. Uh, it’s a breath of fresh air, especially from kind of your, your niche, so to speak when, when it comes to data and information and, and leadership.
Aaron Freed (46:24):
Appreciate it, Scott. Thanks for, thanks for having me. I don’t really feel like, you know, all that important guy. I’m just kind of, I’m just a guy who does, who does some work?
Scott Luton (46:31):
We need hundreds of thousands of folks just like that guys and gals that just want to do the work. So really appreciate it. We’ve been talking with Aaron fried warehouse, slotting analysts with McKesson and us army reserve logistics, officer Aaron. Thanks so much. Thanks, Scott. All right. So we’re going to wrap up here. Hopefully our audience has enjoyed this as much as I have, uh, really enjoy Aaron’s perspective on behalf of the entire team here at veteran voices. And we invite you to find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from fondest to, we waste too much time around here. Aaron find us on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, but most importantly, because we want to hear from you. We want to amplify your voice. And if you’re a veteran with a special story to tell or a story that you’d like to tell, reach out to us, we’ll try to work into our programming. Finally, Scott Luton wishing all of you, nothing but the best. Hey, do good gift forward and be the change that’s needed. Be like Aaron. And on that note, we’ll see you next time here on veteran voices. Thanks. Bye-bye
Aaron Freed grew up in Thousand Oaks, CA and now resides in Chester, VA after a decade of service on Active Duty in the United States Army as a Logistics Officer. He served in a variety of roles while assigned to Germany, Fort Campbell KY, Kuwait, and Fort Lee VA in addition to a deployment to Iraq. He now is part of the Operations Analytics team for McKesson’s Medical-Surgical division and continues to serve as a Major in the Army Reserve assigned to the Defense Logistics Agency Joint Reserve Force.
In what little free time he has, Aaron enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons with his spouse and friends, staying active with the Richmond VA chapters of Team RWB and APICS, and drinking craft beer.
Aaron earned a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from San Diego State University, a Masters of Science in Supply Chain Management from Virginia Commonwealth University, and will be starting a Masters of Science in Business Analytics program from William & Mary in January 2021.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Host of TEKTOK
If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.
With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.