In this edition of Veteran Voices, hosts Scott W. Luton & Kevin L. Jackson interview the founders of PRJKT VET: a Black, Disabled Veteran-owned company that focuses on helping veterans in their ventures after the military. Co-founders Jermaine Cohen and Rod Lee share their backgrounds, journeys & vision for the path ahead.
Scott Luton (00:02):
Welcome to veteran voices, a podcast dedicated to giving a voice to those that have served in the United States, armed forces on this series, jointly presented by supply chain. Now in vets to industry, we sit down with a wide variety of veterans and veteran advocates to gain their insights, perspective, and stories from serving. We taught with many individuals about their challenging transition from active duty to the private sector, and we discuss some of the most vital issues facing veterans today. Join us for this episode of veteran voices. Hey, good morning, Scott Luton and Kevin L. Jackson
Scott Luton (00:43):
With you here on veteran voices. Welcome to today’s show Kevin special guest cohost. How you doing, sir?
Kevin L Jackson (00:50):
Hey man. You know, this is one the topics I really love doing with you, this, uh, veteran voices. Thank you very much for having on board. Okay.
Scott Luton (00:59):
Absolutely. We got to, you know, I still, it reminds me, we still got to do a deep dive into your time with the us Navy.
Kevin L Jackson (01:06):
I don’t want to bore people with that. I mean, I I’d make you look too bad. I mean, I’m sorry, but you know, the Navy has the best pilots we land on aircraft. We fly in space. I mean, we do all the good stuff, man. You air force. Well, nevermind. Well,
Scott Luton (01:24):
I’m just so pleased that we, the air force, we we’ve got two representatives myself and one of our special guests are strongly representing the us air force here today. We’ve got the army representative, of course the us Navy, but we also most importantly have got two outstanding guests that we’re gonna be talking to, uh, and diving into a lot of cool things they’re doing to serve the veteran community and, and, and just doing good stuff, big things across the business landscape. So let’s do this quick programming note, Kevin, before we get started here today. So this program is part of the supply chain. Now family programming proudly present it, serving our veteran community can find veteran voices, wherever you get your podcasts from subscribe for free. As we like to say money back guarantee, if you don’t like any of the shows. Um, but our show is also conducted in partnership with our friends firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Luton (02:13):
They’re a nonprofit that are doing wonderful things for our veteran community that we’ve got to get everyone here connected to vets to industry. You can learn more about Brian Arrington and the whole team over there, uh, at V2 at vets, the new more to industry.com. Okay, Kevin, you’re ready to get going. Yeah, let’s get going, man. This is great. All right. Let’s bring in our two featured guests here today. Jermaine Cohen, managing partner, and co-founder at project vet Jermaine. Hey, doing and tastic. Thanks for having me. You bet I’ll already have enjoyed the conversation so far. We should’ve been recording the previous session, but you brought with you your partner, Rodley partner, and co-founder at project Ben. How you doing rod? Well, thank you, sir. Appreciate y’all having us on you bet. Uh, and, and rod who were talking earlier as a fellow air force veteran Jermaine is an army veteran. And of course Kevin is our Naval aviator, uh, with the U S Navy. So, all right, so let’s start, let’s start with you Jermaine up front. You know, we want to talk, we want to talk about, uh, some fun stuff, right? Where you grew up, like some, some memories of those formative years. So where are you from and tell us about it.
Jermaine Cohen (03:20):
Born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Yeah. I grew up a family of three, really played a lot of sports. Growing up. Baseball is in the band, do all that. I wasn’t really a pretty mild-mannered kid and do a whole lot. One day I came home from baseball practice, my senior year in high school. And there was an army recruiter at my house.
Scott Luton (03:47):
Well, it was that it was already bad. Then bullet point couldn’t you early.
Jermaine Cohen (03:52):
Oh really? And that was pretty much also really after that, I signed up shortly after alcohol. So
Scott Luton (04:00):
Sports in high school was baseball. Your strongest sport.
Jermaine Cohen (04:04):
Baseball was my thing. I was probably better at football considering I actually walked on to play football at Texas state when I was years older, like when I was 25. Right. But I didn’t play football. My friends didn’t play football. My friends who were in the marching day with all the girls. Right? Yeah, absolutely.
Scott Luton (04:29):
So one other question. So sports aside, and it sounds like you are a music lover, what else? And by the way, I was born and raised essentially in Aiken, South Carolina. So just up the road or down the road from the upstate there, what, what else did you really, were you passionate about, you know, in your early,
Jermaine Cohen (04:47):
In my earlier years, I was really passionate about music and definitely spending time with my family. We had, we did a lot of stuff together. I had a lot, I had a large extended family growing up that was back in the days where, you know, people grew up and they didn’t move away. So I knew all my cousins and now I’m an adult. I don’t know any of them. I enjoyed those things.
Scott Luton (05:12):
Yeah. I’m with you because everything, man, that’s right. I had some big, big reunions as a kid and loved the big football games, everything else we did. So I’m with you. All right. So rod, let’s talk about, uh, your upbringing a bit. We learned just a moment ago before we went live that you’re, you’re from Texas. So tell us about where you were born and raised and some of the things that you love to do as a kid.
Rod Lee (05:34):
So it’s pretty much the same story as Jermaine, except, you know, Texas is football, so lived a little different. Um, I was born in West Texas Midland to be exact. So Friday night lights was, you know, my, my real life. I saw, I knew some of those guys growing up, moved to Fort worth, which is where I live. Now. Most of my dad’s family is here to this day. You know? Um, I live right down the street from my grandparents. Uh, my grandmother now lives right down the street from me. So family is everything, but for the most part, grew up playing sports. Both my parents are, uh, college athletes. That’s how they met, you know, my birth kind of stopped my mother’s college career before that. I’m sure.
Rod Lee (06:23):
But you know, now it’s, it’s really been a focus on helping the community. And, and a lot of that comes from my mother. She is a newly elected Constable and a precinct out here. So she’s all about giving back to the community. Uh, that’s kind of what she’s preached my whole life. I joined the military because of my uncle, her youngest brother, he and his wife are retired army. So my first interaction with the recruiter was taking the ASVAB for the army. I wanted to become a tank mechanic. My uncle told me you’re too smart for that and go to the air force.
Jermaine Cohen (06:58):
Rod Lee (06:59):
Kind of what led me to the air force. I actually then took the, went back, talked to the Navy first because I was really interested in, in, I couldn’t swim. I didn’t grow up swimming. My dad was hard, but I didn’t grow up swimming. So I was like, all right, I’m going to get in the Navy, you know, work myself out like air, air force,
Scott Luton (07:21):
Rod Lee (07:24):
Hey, say he scared me wrong to tell you the truth. I know hot bunking. It doesn’t sound too. I am glad when my choice. Uh, and I thank him for that
Scott Luton (07:36):
Aqua rocks in the Navy. So. All right. So germane we’ll circle right back. Because one final question, before I pass the Baton to Kevin here, you kind of, you spoke to maybe the cause of what got you in the army was that recruiter in your house at an early age, but what was, what was your, wow, what made you ultimately sign a dotted line? And
Jermaine Cohen (07:59):
So there were several things going on. So my oldest brother, uh, recipes, he was a Marine. I always looked up, don’t ask me why I didn’t go into the Marine Corps at the time he was in. And I couldn’t talk to, you know, I wanted that autonomy. I got, I knew that my parents didn’t have a whole lot of money. My dad had had a stroke my senior year in high school. So I mean, days were going downhill and the sister’s in college and it was kinda my, you know, that was my step into it’s a mandate, right? Go out, take care of myself. And I didn’t have to depend on my parents. So that’s really what it call came down to. And I have to add this, they offered me money and they told me they paid for my college. I was a huge part.
Scott Luton (08:49):
So I appreciate you sharing that. And what was your brother’s name? Linco Lee Cohen. All right. Rest peace. Hate
Jermaine Cohen (08:56):
To hear that. So, but thanks for sharing to you both. All right. So Kevin, uh, on a much lighter note or are we going
Kevin L Jackson (09:02):
Well, actually, I was very interested about what you did while you were in the military, in the military, your branch, or your, your MOS, Rodney. What, what did you do? Uh, you didn’t want to do tank, so when you become ordinance, man, what,
Rod Lee (09:21):
Oddly enough, shortly after, you know, I took the ASVAB, I actually got into a private school, uh, college or so I kind of delayed that for a bit, but I had friends that were joining the air force just as mom, but told me one of them became an avionics technician. He was like, you know, I love it. We get to work on the aircraft without being on the flight line. It takes a lot of high technical expertise. I’ve always been a technical guy. So that kind of led me down that road. I like to put together computers when I was younger, you know, take things apart, put them back together. So that’s, that’s exactly what I, I went to do. I went to become a, uh, aeronautics engineer. Most people call it a technician, but because I was on the F 15 and F 16 side, and then from there, after doing that for about eight years, there were phasing out our job.
Rod Lee (10:13):
It Tyndall air force, base, Florida. So I had a decision, you know, what could I go and do I really wanted to go to Germany? My job just wasn’t going there. So I decided to become education and training manager. I had just got my bachelor’s degree from Emory riddle. So I was like, well, let’s, let’s try this out. See if I can go get deployed overseas, uh, go to, I’d been to Japan, wanted to go to Germany or back to Japan. So that was kind of my thought. And then they sent me up the road from Florida to Georgia. I got stuck there for a couple of years doing the same thing. And then, so I left active duty and became a guardsman here in Fort worth. And, and did, uh, training again for another two years.
Kevin L Jackson (10:52):
So you, you, uh, went through quite a few changes there. About how about you Jermaine? Did you, uh, you know, how did you pound at ground?
Jermaine Cohen (11:01):
Oh, it’s funny you ask because, you know, initially I just wanted you to you, you know, the easiest way to do that. It’s obviously 11, 11, 11, Bravo, and Charlie and I talked to him, my best friend is, is that Joe told me, he said, Hey, he’s like, ah, I don’t want to get you to do anything just tangent. He said, think about what you can do. And he said, you told me the longer the training, the more technical, the more valuable you get out. So yeah, I chose this job and I remember the recruiter. He was like, I said, well, what is this? And he couldn’t explain it to you, but it was 28 weeks of training, which is about eight or nine months. And it was a radio concept. Oh, well, I went to the fourth infantry division and it had four, it was four 21.
Jermaine Cohen (12:01):
We had all the new equipment for the army. So I couldn’t work on any radio or anything, any COMSEC nothing because it was all in the contract. Uh, so I ended up becoming almost like a SMI in life and I learned how to use it to MCs and I started training. And that was really, that was what I did. And, you know, when we got deployed, you know, you mentioned that, you know, we, they’ve got, they’re missing all the Cowboys and stuff, the birth tour with that. Um, you know, I, it was, uh, it was a great experience. Um, you know, I, I learned a lot while I was there. You know, we lost one guy, uh, rest in peace, uh, named Daniel. Paul will always mentioned it that you first got the die on camp call. Well, they named it ASAP. Um, but yeah, that was, that was it. I, I did sit, this is considered ordinance, but a lot of,
Kevin L Jackson (13:07):
So I mean, sometimes like I noted, there are quite a few lessons I learned in the military from, you know, people that I followed. Um, my, my commanders, my, my leaders, what, what stepped up in your mind, you know, we’re any leaders or people that really, you know, made you who you are.
Jermaine Cohen (13:31):
So Andre canny, uh, yeah, he, he, he has our first class canny. Uh, he was my NCO in the army and I actually ended up working for him as the contact for Apple, but he was the, he’s probably the best leader I ever had. He was representative of all the values of the army held to a high standard. It wasn’t an act. It was just who he was. He was fair. He did the right thing and B, he worked like no other. And so I getting out of the army and being in, working for him as where I learned everything I can learn about just even being a man, you know, the 19 year old kid first got there. And he said, you may, excuse me, probably Cohen. Uh, most of these guys, they’re not going to go to school or do whatever. He just, he kind of direct me in the right direction. Remolded you, huh? Absolutely, absolutely great guy.
Kevin L Jackson (14:29):
So who made you Rodney?
Rod Lee (14:35):
Well, that would be Kevin and Sandra Lee who made me in the military. I’d probably say from an early, um, like I said, my, my first duty station was Okinawa, Japan. So when I got in there, you know, we were in the height of, uh, OIF and OEF. Yeah. It was, it was, uh, you know, kind of, it was a culture shock for me. Like Jermaine had a long tech school, uh, and, and that tech school was spent in Texas. So I went from basic training in San Antonio. They drove me across the street to go to my first tech school. They drove me, uh, or I drove myself up seven hours to Wichita falls. So I was never far away from home. Right. And then, so they shouldn’t be over to Japan. That’s my first time being a way away. And so, you know, Robert Sumlin, he was one of my chiefs there.
Rod Lee (15:29):
Colonel land got a lot of kernels that I could name that kind of, uh, because I worked close with a lot of the squadrons. I was kind of one of the young NCO coasts that people came to for information. And they just help me understand, you know, what I was doing it for and why you should always give 110%. You know, I never really, and Jermaine can attest to this. If somebody asked me to get stuff done, it’s going to get done and it’s doing to them, you know, you never had to ask them twice. They were gonna knock it out, uh, out of the park. And that’s why I really liked working for those guys. So, and also Derek Lewis, he was at my last duty station and more than anything, he taught me how to live outside of the military. So I was, I was in Georgia by myself for the first year waiting for my family to come up. And I spent a lot of time just kind of following him. He was, uh, uh, outside of the military, he coached his son, uh, in football. And I watched his interaction with his kids. He was, you know, top notch guy on and off base. And now his son is playing at Texas tech. So it’s just, it’s great to see somebody put that much work and effort into their children and watching them grow as well as in their professional career. So those are the guys
Kevin L Jackson (16:46):
Working with at 15 Eagles. I mean, that’s a, that’s an awesome, uh, airframe. So what I mean that in and of itself could be, I could see as a great accomplishment. I mean, you have to feed you only plane. It actually shot down a satellite with a missile, right. So what are your accomplishments that you’re really proud of?
Rod Lee (17:05):
So while I was in tandem, which typically is a training base, so most of the 15 pilot, well, all of the 15 pilots comes from Tindle to get their certification
Kevin L Jackson (17:15):
As a Kohler right down the street.
Rod Lee (17:17):
Right. And I actually graduated out of that, uh, that Naval air station. So it was all the place. And so I did actually go back and forth between those two, uh, locations. And, and I learned a lot about how different bases operate. So you have your operational base down the street in Eglin, um, and your training base at Tyndall. So my biggest accomplishment, I would say I got technician of the year for our MAJCOM and that was due to a lot of work between basis. So we’re having a lot of, uh, fails on a specific radar receiver. I was learning a lot from the diff from a lot of different people on how to properly troubleshoot and maintain aircraft. And I think had it not been for that interaction between multiple sites, multiple basis, understanding crosstalk and how you can come together and solve a problem as a group. You know, I think that’s helped me now in my career and in project vet, you know, depending on partners, depending on outside resources and not putting everything on yourself, allowing others to have accountability and things that you do,
Kevin L Jackson (18:21):
That’s really important in life. And I think we want to talk about your transition, but before we do that, Jermaine, what, what was your biggest competition? I mean, force 21 when I was in the military that was really driving a lot of decisions at the higher level. So, you know, what you were really proud of, are you in the military,
Jermaine Cohen (18:42):
I guess to that point course 21 is that whole integration process. I was a pretty big part in that unit training a lot with my warrant officer, uh, learning how to use C2, MCs and helping train the units. I mean, we support it, our shop support it the entire day, you know, one thing cab and there’s a lot of Bradley’s tanks. And so that was, to me, that was a big, we did a lot of small little teams. I’m actually very proud of that.
Kevin L Jackson (19:15):
Well, yeah, leaving, uh, the military and to, uh, it’s advanced technology that we just take for granted today. Uh I’ll remember that
Scott Luton (19:24):
Agreed. All right. So I’m a huge, I don’t know if y’all are, but I’m a huge, uh, military aircraft, nerd and F when you mentioned F 15 Kevin, a gorgeous aircraft that was at Shaw air force base, where we had three F 16 squadrons and one eight, 10 squadron back in the day, my first stent. And I’ll never forget, uh, demos. Do you remember demos when they fly over the flight line? And Charlotte was a pretty small base. I mean, it was, you know, when you’re eating at the chow hall, you weren’t far from the, from, from the, uh, the, um, the ramp at all. And man, I remember in my car eating my sandwich from my, that styrofoam box, listening to sports radio or something, and, and the pilot would kick in Kevin, whatever y’all do as pilots, it’d be a huge boom in a roar. Right. It’s tough to even describe to people that, that haven’t heard. Just the fountain, the fury of military,
Kevin L Jackson (20:19):
I ain’t going there after burner. Yeah.
Scott Luton (20:22):
And they’re there. Uh, if I understand it correctly, they’re remanufacturing new 15 platforms. I believe Kevin gorgeous, gorgeous aircraft. All right. So let’s talk about transition, appreciate what y’all shared already. It’s always tough to do these conversations justice in an hour or so, but let’s talk about transition cause we want, we’re gonna talk about project vet in a minute in great things you are doing across the veteran community there, but transitioning, we get a ton of questions and we talked about pre-show, you know, when I got out no two and really, since as I’ve interacted with with, well, I mean, heck I couldn’t find a job. Right. And I wasn’t a combat veteran, you know, I didn’t have some of those challenges. I had a four year degree, uh, broad, much like you, but I was enlisted, you know, and I had had a strong, you know, friends and family network.
Scott Luton (21:06):
I didn’t know how to get a job, but you know, that’s okay. That’s w S on a long list of things I didn’t know back back then, but I couldn’t find, I didn’t know what to do. Didn’t know how to use the recruiters had no professional network. And really a lot of those elements have been very commonplace in the thousands of conversations we’ve had with veterans since. So I want to talk to y’all about your transition first, and then also want to, y’all both to give some advice to our listeners for their own transition, whether they’re about to get out already out, or if they’re kind of entering the professional space, I want to figure out how to, how to move up. So germane, let’s start with you. Let’s talk about your transition out of the army and then we’ll circle back on.
Jermaine Cohen (21:46):
Absolutely. And so I got out in 2004 when I came back from Iraq, uh, November of 2004. And you knows when you’re young, uh, 22, 23, really just ready to go, right. A cab them a book, so I can get at it, you know, hit the door. Right. And there are likely resources that either there, or you don’t go out when you don’t really care about your daddy. And I’m sure I passed up a lot, but I kinda just started carving out my own path. I got a job very quickly. Uh, it was a security guard or good. I started continuing med. That was the main thing for me. You know, I wanted the degree, I wanted to be a teacher and all this other stuff, but there wasn’t a lot of directions. And I know I mentioned before that worked for my in CYC action of going to await, to work as a contractor.
Jermaine Cohen (22:42):
And I guess to clear up what I said earlier, like when I said, I said that he said these other guys, won’t what he meant was that I volunteered to go back to school. Gotcha. I volunteered it. It was free tuition assistance. And they, they told me they would let me go leave work a little bit, really take classes, but I wouldn’t work overseas for a while. And then I came back and went back to college, Texas state that was kind of the path, but it wasn’t, I still was kind of in limbo all these years, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or how to do. I was kind of just wonder, like I went to college for something that I didn’t really want to do. I don’t need that degree to this day. It wasn’t until 2017. When I went back to school at UT uh, the same program that Ronnie was in MSTC, it homes. That’s when I realized like, Hey, like, this is more aligned with what I want. I have an entrepreneurial spirit. And I want be that I want it to be involved in that world. I didn’t know exactly where I fit in. But, um, this is kind of how all of this thing about, you know, Ronnie and I, we became friends in 2014, working on aviation. And, you know, we just kind of grew from there and here we are the same, we founded project.
Scott Luton (24:06):
I love that. Um, there’s so many elements of that. 70 folks, I think never found that passion in their life. Right. And, and they just, they clock in and clock out every day. They don’t, they don’t maybe know any better. Your passion, your passion is your life. If you don’t find it, you just get lost. Amen. Amen. So, Jermaine, I love that one more follow-up before I move over to rod, do you think, um, so what I’ve picked up, you know, I got, as I mentioned in Oh two, so it’s been a long time. Uh, and as I’ve taught with people that got out when I got out, and then of course all the points in between, and then here recently, it seems like the services in general have gotten a lot better about how they prep, you know, airmen and, and see, uh, semen and, and soldiers getting the Marines, getting out. But did you, was it the G to get a mix of good prep and not so good prep as you are getting out of the army
Jermaine Cohen (24:59):
Back back then, Scott, uh, you know, I remember seeing the transition to CEO, you know, if you, if you’re not staying in and this is, it’s not throwing anybody under the bus, you’re not staying in that. They’re kind of just like, okay, he’s getting out. There’s no point in doing anything to this guy anymore. And that’s kind of how, you know, that’s kinda how I felt it may not have actually been that this guy’s getting out over. They let them go. So, but there wasn’t, there wasn’t a whole lot of,
Scott Luton (25:29):
And so that was a four that’s. Right. So I’m thinking, I was thinking, when you, when you, when 2017, did you founded the company, which we’ll touch on in a second, but, uh, all of the good, the good news there is, it seems like at least my air force, but as I speak to, it seems like they’ve gotten a lot better, whether you’re staying in or you’re transitioning out and separating that they’ve, you know, they’re, they’re preparing folks better for the gap we all have as we’re serving and trying to tackle the private sector. All right. So rod, let’s move over to you. Let’s talk about your transition. I’m going to circle back to both of y’all about advice. As you share your transition stories. Our listeners are going to probably pick up advice regardless, but we’re going to circle back and get you all really spell it out. So rod, tell us about your transition. Well, so as I mentioned, I left the active duty air force to go to the, then it was reserves and I was kind of already thinking full time reserves. So I was transitioning to Texas. My original plan was to go to Arizona, become a reservists there that didn’t pan out. Then I went to Houston, was going to work at the resiliency wing. So that’s what I did my last two years in the air force. I actually worked with Jay stars, EA wing surveillance, wing, awesome guys
Rod Lee (26:44):
Out there. And I really wanted to stay in that, that operations field. They told me that I was nondeployable. So I couldn’t be with the reservists wing, but the are their resiliency wings are, uh, so the reserves didn’t take me, but the international guard did, but I was going to have to be a traditional guardsman. So I went from thinking, I’m still going to be a full-time airman to, you know, what do I do now? I had just tried to get commission, as I stated, I was trying to get overseas, but that wasn’t working. I just literally graduated from, with an MBA in January of that year. So it was may timeframe. And I was like, well, you know, I got my MBA because I wanted to have my own business. I had been tinkering around with some things they didn’t really pan out, but now being a traditional guardsman, that was kind of what I needed to focus on.
Rod Lee (27:37):
Kept running into hurdles. As Jermaine mentioned, I started working with this aviation company for Maine and I kind of clicked. That was my first trip to Canada. Uh, we shared some, uh, share some time up there and yeah, w where did we go wrong? All the Roxbury break from it. Um, so I just kind of stayed in contact. I went to a couple of different aviation companies, and then I actually started working for a, uh, aviation software company out of Canada. So then I was going to Canada every other week there. I kind of learned how to run a business, being a product manager. So from start to finish, you kind of own this vision. And what I was doing was trying to figure out the best way to keep maintenance going within different sectors of the, of the globe. So I worked with a sob out of Sweden.
Rod Lee (28:37):
I worked with BAE out of the UK. I was working with the Canadian air force, and I was trying to figure out the best way for them to transition from, you know, a local maintenance program into a global maintenance program. And that got my years thinking about, okay, if I can build this thing, create something and make sure that these different entities are able to use it. Why can’t I do that with my own, my own thing? Right? So that’s where Jermaine and I, we started talking, I ended up going to a MSTC, as he mentioned, which is a technological commercialization. They figure, they teach you how to become an entrepreneur. And that’s really, when things started clicking Jermaine went the next year I graduated in 17, he graduated in 18, and then we kept trying to figure out ways to become business partners. And last year it finally clicked things that we love to do, you know, help veterans and, and the communities that we were a part of. So love it, figure on how to deal with change. That’s what’s important resiliency all day. Yep.
Scott Luton (29:42):
Hmm. So, and we’re going to talk about project vet here in a second. Um, I want to circle back one more time. If you had one or two things to share with veterans again, whether they’re, whether they’re about to get out and if you’re doing what I did, you wait until, uh, you’re already out to start looking for a job that was one of my mistakes, or if they’re, if they’re out, they’re in transition already, or if they’re, again, if they’re, you know, in industry, maybe we get lend to their first job and trying to figure out how to advance and make connections and build network and whatnot. So what’s one or two pieces of advice germane that you’d offer those folks.
Jermaine Cohen (30:17):
First is a USO Pathfinder program. This is, I, I actually had a call with them this week, cause I’m inspired by them because what they do is essentially assign you a scout and the scout actually puts together somewhat of a, obviously a roadmap, but to suit it to your needs and what you want to do. And they have the connections to do it within your region. So whether it’s education, employment, all types of there’s so many different resources out there, but the problem is, is, well, it’s not always, it’s a problem with, you know, everyone can’t market, all their services or national, right. As I’m going through these, you know, these companies, they’re just connecting me with more and more people that are doing all of these things. And they’re all free resources for veterans, but people just don’t know about. So, you know, reach out to the USO Pathfinder program. I think that that’s a good start, right? And that’ll actually spider without too, a lot of other resources actually get them to things where they
Scott Luton (31:28):
Wonderful USO Pathfinder. We’ll see if we can’t find the link and put that in the show notes. I appreciate you sharing that. And by the way, a little plug for our non-profit partner, they, they do similar things. So vets to industry they’ll vet, you know, there’s a plethora, a real resources and then some not so real resources out there that, that tout their service to veterans. And, uh, they do a good job of vetting that and then adding, or, uh, kind of maintaining a library of resources of those folks they vetted at that’s to industry.com. So it sounds like USO Pathfinders is similar with Quintin. Of course, everyone knows USO. Right? I love those folks. All right. So Rob, let’s talk about what’s that one or two key pieces of advice that you’d offer the same folks.
Rod Lee (32:09):
I would say with both of you kind of mentioned building that network, knowing what resources are out there probably three or four months before you get out, give yourself some runway so that you can hit the ground running literally. Cause that’s probably what we’ll be doing running from interview to interview, trying to figure out what it is that you want to do and who you want to do it with. So I think building that network going on, LinkedIn, making sure you have the right connections, making sure a part of the right communities doing outreach to your veterans commission. So whatever local veterans commission can reach out to, uh, I’d advise doing that as well as department of labor and, and things of that nature, understanding how to articulate what it is that you did while you were in the military and convert that into civilian terms. I think that’s another key piece.
Kevin L Jackson (32:55):
Yeah. You mentioned a network, something that when you’re in the military, you don’t realize how powerful a network is and how much you really needed when you, when you leave, uh, the military. And you gotta think about that before you leave things like LinkedIn and stuff. So, you know, people that you meet in the military become your business network when you leave. So you, you just got to build and maintain that, that network.
Scott Luton (33:22):
Excellent point excellent point. Um, I believe, uh, Kevin LinkedIn has made it free at least for a year, I believe, uh, for veterans to use the enhanced product, which was a nice move by, I guess, the folks over at Microsoft. So, but, uh, Kevin, so before we move on to project vet, which I’m, I’m looking forward to hearing about, what’s one, one other key thing that maybe we didn’t hear here, here, here yet that folks transitioning should keep on the radar. Kevin.
Kevin L Jackson (33:48):
Well, actually the fact that everything is constantly changing and you have to leverage these technologies, these communications technologies, you know, like social media, people say social media is just something to play with, but really it’s a communications technology. And, and over the past year with the, the epidemic pandemic, I guess, online communication, we would just talk them before about, you know, one you’re using zoom, then you’re using WebEx, then you’re using teams and you’re, you know, you, you have to know how to present yourself and communicate electronically. So, you know, having a camera and being able to deal with these, uh, collaboration technologies and having a good microphone and headset, all of that is really part business life today. And when you’re in the military, you don’t, we may not recognize that. And that’s, that’s a critical learning skill for business today. So, uh, you know, as part of your transition, learn how to use these tools, be
Scott Luton (34:57):
Excellent points there. And I would just add one more that we’ve mentioned before, and I’ve really enjoyed, of course, the supply chain space, right? Uh, beyond a military aircraft nerd, I’m a big supply chain nerd too. And there’s, uh, there’s a lot of associations, professional associations that serve that space. And many of them offer free or highly discounted memberships to, to veterans. And that’s a great way, especially if you start, you know, a year out and if, you know, you’re getting out of no you’re retiring or separating, you know, a year out kind of work backwards, identify what you want to do. Find the influential association that served that space. And then first to see if they offer discounts for veterans and military members, but then getting their network, add those members to your network and, and piece together kind of how they made it to where they are. I wish I’d done that looking back, but all right, so now we’re going to get to the cleanup hitter portion of today’s podcast. I’ve really enjoyed learning from Kevin and tr and tracking you on social, the great things that you are doing at project vet. I’ve just saw earlier on LinkedIn and th this will, I’m not, I’m not enlisting my own advice. I’m dating this stuff, guys.
Scott Luton (36:10):
Y’all, y’all got a culmination of a wonderful tournament. Uh, that’s going to already have taken place by the time this publishes, but let’s start with you, uh, Jermaine, tell us about project vet and let’s start with why you, why y’all founded the organization first.
Jermaine Cohen (36:24):
So it kind of goes back to what we talked about earlier in the conversation. So when I got out of the military, you know, there, there wasn’t a lot of guidance or direction, at least I didn’t know where to find it. And, and that was kinda, you know, it was really free social media days too. So it wasn’t like I could pull out a smartphone and be on Facebook or whatever it was just wherever I can get information. And so, you know, kind of just thinking about all of that, where me arriving, where I’m turning 40, I spent all these years working in these jobs that I really, I could’ve done without. Right. If I read them really get down to the meat potatoes on, I probably shouldn’t have worked a lot with the work that, that, uh, you know, you gotta, someone’s got to pay the light.
Jermaine Cohen (37:16):
And so we started kind of brainstorming and we make heaven along that process. Um, I I’ve dealt with mental illness, the majority, all of my adult life, even my childhood, there’s a lot of it goes in and, you know, finding resources for that has always been Brown, especially when you’re in the military. When we got back now to camo and all this guy, and what did you do? And there’s, there’s all these things and stigmas, and you kinda just shy away. You don’t go get help. And what happens if years later when you’re alone and single man or whatever, you can, you can take off for a weekend and get your mind, right. I can drive as far as I want to no responsibility, but when you have a family that no longer works and what happens, you know, you don’t want that to bleed over into your children’s house. And so project vet to me, like that was a big part. It’s like, Hey, we need to figure out a way to connect these veterans, have these communities, because especially now during this pandemic where everyone was at home all the time, especially guys who are home, you know, domestic violence rates are going up. There’s so many things that are happening.
Speaker 6 (38:36):
It’s like, how do we provide, how do we
Jermaine Cohen (38:39):
Provide a path to where we can bring more together? And we started brainstorming different initiatives, Kevin, you know, he reached out, it’s like, Hey, what about, you know, naming? And I had done some research from Johns Hopkins. They just research on the effects of mental health, right on the, how war veterans, these things did active, go play with your friends. And it’s just talking comradery because when you’re a veteran, the thing that I miss the most is the comradery. That’s like my battle, but the guys that I, I live everyday network. Absolutely. And so we’ve, we’ve wanted to be involved with that. We want to be the guys who help guys transitioning. We wanted to have these resource initiatives to kind of be that type of platform. And that’s what essentially, that’s what we’re doing. So, and I don’t want to run over Rodney’s time during that, but I just wanted to outline a few of them.
Jermaine Cohen (39:41):
This is just that we’ll work more now to kind of give you guys an update. And so the video games for pets that is ongoing online gaming, it’s done through an app company, we partner with a Whirlpool. You guys can go in and register at any time and play and they can click points and convert those into tokens through our platform. The beauty of all of this is the tournament that we’re running. We’re actually going to issue the prize money in USD comb. So we pride ourselves on being forward, thinking with technology as well, because you know, now the commercialization. So if we did, like, we want to be, we want to be out in the front and the front of things when it comes to technology. So there’s so many things we have going on. I think really good position there. We partnered with a, another company that actually does most of emotional support you, which are the evil dogs who have, and you know, if anyone of you guys know anyone who has a service animal, you know, that takes an average of three years, mostly it gets serviced. Wow. We can do that three
Speaker 6 (40:43):
Years. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Jermaine Cohen (40:46):
And you know, we, we can do it, these emotional support animals and these dogs are heroes because they save their people, dogs. They, they, they freeze their blood platelets and these dogs save dogs. But when they miss their capacity, um, you know, they have to retire them and they need homes. And who better than, you know, veterans out there who may want a pet or a companion, right? So there’s, there’s that aspect right there. We also help with VA claims through one of our partners as well. And lastly, I’ll just end with this. I don’t want to run over on time, but our, our main cornerstone is being able to provide a platform, allows transitioning veterans to learn how to start business, to start a business, to learn what it’s like to work in a startup. Um, where I, I mentioned before the USO Pathfinder program had a lot of inspiration into what we arrived.
Jermaine Cohen (41:52):
We started rainstorm because our background with university of Texas in STC has everything to do with that. And we know that people who are getting out, a lot of people want to work for themselves, but they don’t really know how, like, I, I didn’t know how, like, you know, now that I messed up so many things, even the handler Roddy, Roddy’s my name. We all did. We all do still riding my rock. I got I’m up so much stuff. You know, he’s, he’s just on top of it, but you know, we’re learning as we go. And, uh, so, so yeah, that’s in a nutshell, you know, we’re a company out here we’re trying to help as many veterans, whether it’s transitioning out of the military, whether it’s mental health, some of the partners like the warriors resource with the, to the Cohen veterans network, we partnered with all those guys to be resources for those veterans. And that’s how we want to grow up.
Kevin L Jackson (42:52):
Yeah. One thing I just wanted to highlight in case people, the audience missed, you said that people could get on and play online games and get real money. You said tokens, but that’s funny.
Jermaine Cohen (43:10):
Let me, let me, let me, let me be clear. So it’s not real. So the prize money is real because the USD coin is real USB point is backed by the us dollar. That’s, that’s the stable. However, we, the brother that store, we have our own token positive Bitcoin, which can be converted from points from playing the video games to, you know, win, or could we buy or redeem, you know, some of our merchants from our store search, t-shirts things of that nature.
Kevin L Jackson (43:49):
So, so that really can, uh, support you and help you grow and help you partner and support the bets and transitions. Cause, you know, cause you know, you need to get those gamers, they get addicted and that’s, that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing for a good cause.
Scott Luton (44:08):
Well, and I’ve seen some studies, uh, I w I wish I had had them here right on my fingertips here, but I’ve seen studies where that sense of community and connection and connectivity that, you know, some folks get it by going to a local coffee shop during normal times. Of course, some folks get it by going to church, some folks get it in the video game community. Right. Uh, so, and, and we’re all different strokes for different folks. Some folks get it through all those. And then some before rod, before I get you to weigh in on some of what Jermaine has shared, and Kevin has shared about project bet, I think it’s really important that you remain what you said earlier about halfway through about mental health. Mental health is not a bad word. It should not be stigmatized. We all have mental health, whether we want to embrace it or not.
Scott Luton (44:53):
And, and to your point germane, I think one of the challenges that, that at least I’ve seen, not, not don’t stones or anything, but, you know, we don’t want to admit when something’s just not right. And unfortunately, it’s a lot of folks not getting some of the help they need, whether it’s a small, some small issues or challenges or mental health things that, you know, they want to address or that they need to address or some of the bigger challenges. So I think that’s really an important message folks should, should pick up on and embrace. I appreciate you bringing it up.
Kevin L Jackson (45:23):
Yeah. And I think it’s really important also because the military, as a culture teaches people to be strong and not to ask for help. And if you, you know, have a, um, uh, mental health or you need help with that, they people won’t ask, then it gets even harder if you’re leaving the military and you’re transitioning because now you feel that you’ve somehow let yourself down if you go ask for help. So, so project bed is really filling a, a critical role. These, uh, people that know the military culture know what it means to transition, and you can really help someone understand that, you know, if you need help, get help, and don’t be afraid to ask
Scott Luton (46:17):
Love that. Love that Kevin great point. All right. So Rob, let’s see, based on what you’ve heard, I really appreciate Jermaine’s point, you know, kind of the story of y’all’s founding and connecting and then founding, and then the point by point, some of the programming and initiatives are driving, what else would you add to the project? That discussion?
Rod Lee (46:34):
Well, I want to go back and talk about something. Kevin just mentioned throughout my time in the military, you know, I had a good 10 years, I would say where things were kind of sporadic, you know, you move around a lot. And I think that’s also what kind of got me in the entrepreneurial mindset is that I can’t stay in one job doing something for a very long time because the military always has you moving, whether you keep the same job or not, you’re kind of always transitioning. And so that’s what my continuous career was, was just continuous transition. In 2012, the us air force, um, started something for the first term airman’s course, which we call it F tech, which is called resiliency training. And this was based on, you know, recognizing mental health expect, especially for those new, um, men that coming to base, being away from family for the first time, trying to figure out how to maneuver, whether you’re a young airman or you’re young Lieutenant.
Rod Lee (47:39):
I think it’s, it’s a culture shock, right? It’s, it’s something new. And the military does tend to, you know, I don’t want to say sweep it under the rug, but not pay as much attention to it. And they kind of leave it on you. And that’s something that I wanted to bring, uh, to project vet, not putting it on that person and not having them deal with their mental health alone, but bringing that community together where we could have discussions, even something like we’re doing right now, and the zoom call talking about our military careers, just sharing stories, you know, positive or negative. It’s something that we can connect on. And it’s something that, you know, makes you feel like I’m okay, these guys, you know, they experienced the same thing I did. I’m okay. So that’s one of the best things I think we’ve done so far is this tournament and focusing on mental health, connecting with the Cohen veterans network, something else we have big that was supposed to start this year, but it’ll start next season is where we’ve actually partnered with the NBA G league team out of Dallas.
Rod Lee (48:44):
So they’re not Texas legends. And what they’re going to do for us is they’re going to allow a hundred veterans and their families come with them to game. So they’ll have free seats at home games, just showing support for veterans mental health and otherwise. Uh, so that’s, that was another big initiative that we wanted to, you know, hit the ground running with was letting the local community, uh, show support to veterans and, and keep those things moving throughout the year. And not just focusing on what, uh, mental health month or things of that nature, because it’s, it’s, it’s continuous, right? We talk about the, uh, 22 veterans that commit suicide a day. You know, it’s, it’s yeah. Numbers up, you know, especially during the pandemic. And, uh, you know, I’ve worked from home for about six years now, and sometimes I can get star crazy.
Rod Lee (49:36):
I traveled a lot when I was doing the, the thing with the Canadians, you know, they had me all over Europe and the coldest months of the year. And then I got to come back to Texas and sweat it off in the summer. But, you know, being on the road all the time and not being able to see family that did wear on me. So I may not have got the PTSD from, you know, being out in the, uh, in the desert. My deployments were actually pretty fun for the most part. So, um, not to brag, but that’s another air force perk.
Speaker 7 (50:08):
Rod Lee (50:09):
Coming back was, it was still, you know, hard to be away from family, but we weren’t doing it. Uh long-term as a summer, other brothers and sisters in arms, uh, were doing so most of mine was just traveling, everything wearing down on me. And, you know, I went to a lot of folks for support. I have a, a great system with a lot of veterans, uh, whether I met them at UT. And that’s the tower that you see behind me. I met a lot of great veterans through that program. Uh, army air force, Navy Marines, and a lot of them were still in trying to figure out their next moves. And that was, you know, the thing that the Jermaine and I talk about is, you know, what programs are out there that really do these things? What can we do to help these guys that are coming out, don’t really know their path.
Rod Lee (50:57):
They’re trying to, they may have an idea of what they’d like to continue doing, but they don’t know who they want to do it with. They don’t know if they necessarily want to go work for someone. So we’ve actually applied through a DOD skill bridge to become one of these companies that as members are transitioning out of the military, they can apply for an internship or mentorship with us. And they’ll spend some time learning what we know when it comes to entrepreneurship. Like Jermaine says, starting a business, how to get your business plan together, developing marketing strategies, pricing strategies, things of that nature. So we’re trying to, you know, further arm, our brothers and sisters, as they’re getting out of the military and not really leaving them out of the coal and introducing them to the programs that we know about. Right. So,
Kevin L Jackson (51:44):
Yeah, that’s, that’s great. And it’s perfect segue. I was thinking, well, how can people really reach out to you couldn’t even get connected because you have such great services that can help actually help anyone, but especially veterans that they’re transitioning, or if they’re find themselves, you know, way too long at home, you know, isolated from people, you know, how can they reach out and connect with you?
Rod Lee (52:10):
So project vet.com, if you go there, that’s P R J K T that, and I’ll give you the phonetics. That’s a Papa Romeo, Juliet, kilo tango, right there listing you. Can’t see. Uh, so it’s a project that.com you can go in there, you can fill out, uh, a form to request any type of service that you see on the site. Or if you just want to get in contact with us, reach out there are LinkedIn and you should have access to our LinkedIns. Uh, after this, this podcast is posted. And yeah, I really encourage people to give me a call just because I like to have these conversations, whether it be zoom, I’ve reached out to a couple of Marines in the last couple of weeks, and we’ve just talked about their transition, some of the things that they’ve experienced, and that’s really what I like to do. I like to, to understand what it is that you’re dealing with and how we can help. So even if it’s something that we don’t necessarily do with ourselves, we’re definitely here to connect you with the people that do so love that. And then, you know, we’re gonna make it really easy. We’re going put, uh, links to your LinkedIn and
Scott Luton (53:26):
Your URL in the show notes where after one click here, really trying to help connect folks love what you’re doing well on, on, on a variety of levels. And it’s really neat to, uh, Kevin, as much as you and I collaborate. It’s neat to kind of hear a wrinkle in, in all the stuff that you do. Kevin L. Jackson is kind of, it’s neat to kind of hear, you know, the world is so small. You start, you start really peeling the layers back and, and, um, you know, it’s just really how small the world is. And, and, but Hey,
Kevin L Jackson (53:55):
Yeah, I really believe in and the mission and what project vector is doing. And, uh, my daughter is even involved also and helping somebody, uh, gaming operations and, um, talk about network, uh, Ruth Cohen. He’s a long, long time friend of mine. We’ve worked together in cloud computing and the government, and we maintain that network and he actually, he’s an entrepreneur and he, and he started award pool. So I got project bed in touch with award pool and boom,
Scott Luton (54:29):
It’s a beautiful thing. And, and huge things lie ahead, uh, beyond all the, all the great, uh, service work you’re doing for the veteran community. So we look forward to supporting the cause in any way, we can hear it veteran voices, love, uh, Jermaine and rod, the time we spent here, Jermaine, anything else to add in terms of how to track you down? Are you, are y’all both of y’all active on yeah.
Jermaine Cohen (54:51):
Yes, yes. Uh, LinkedIn definitely, uh, hit me up. Uh, you can also email me, it’s the same thing. Just put a hyphen in between project event and that germane at project, that.com I was on.
Scott Luton (55:07):
And you know what we didn’t touch on really quick, uh, to our listeners. And we’re talking pre showed some of the different ways that you can, that you can get involved and to help support from funding the organization, right? Like, like any early stage startup, whether you’re, non-profit, for-profit doesn’t matter. You’re after that funding oftentimes. So that that’s the big opportunity. I believe volunteers or employees, even Jermaine and rod that I think that’s another opportunity. There’s a third opportunity that I’m forgetting right now.
Kevin L Jackson (55:34):
I don’t know if this is the third opportunity, but if you’re a gamer jump on in games and play games, I mean, go to discord. You know, it’s a community, you know, this happened, this works when you build community community by interaction.
Jermaine Cohen (55:50):
And that, that third little thing there was, if anyone works for EA sports and they didn’t want to give us access to the back into their API, it’s for a good cause it’s for veterans develop awareness, help us out.
Scott Luton (56:04):
Got it. Yeah. Let’s see if we can’t do that. We just interviewed someone that was formerly with EA sports. And now she’s in the freight tech sector and y’all probably have a lot better connections than I do. I, I was talking about Madden football games. Uh, I grew up, we all grew up with so, but Hey folks, get involved. Love what, uh, Jermaine and rod are doing. Uh, we’ve been talking with Jermaine Cohen, managing partner, and co-founder at project vet and his partner, rod Lee partner. And co-founder at project bet. Big, thanks for your time here, germane and rod. I really, really appreciate what you’re doing and look forward to reconnecting with you again real soon. Don’t go anywhere because we’re going to talk about you now. Like you’re not here. Uh, so Kevin puts you on the spot. I really appreciate you bringing this story to veteran voices and the supply chain. Now family love what we’re doing with you and digital transformers, but what’s one thing that you heard Jermaine and rod speak to here today. That folks really need. If they, if they forget everything else, what’s the one thing
Kevin L Jackson (57:03):
Reach out. Don’t be afraid to reach out. You have friends everywhere. You’re not alone, right? You’re not alone in the world, especially if you’re in the military community. Look at this. We got, you know, four people from different walks of life, different beginnings, different branches of the armed service, but look, we’re all working together. We’re all community. So,
Scott Luton (57:28):
Uh, that’s a wonderful, uh, point to finish on there. So on behalf of our entire team here, Hey, thanks for joining us for this episode. Big thanks to the project vet team. Big, big, thanks to my special. Co-host Mr. Kevin L. Jackson who served in the second best.
Kevin L Jackson (57:44):
Uh, I’m a non aviator. I can’t pick on you. Don’t make me do it. Don’t make me do it to our community.
Scott Luton (57:55):
Hopefully you can see how much fun. Hopefully you enjoyed this episode. As much as we have. Hey, find us wherever you get your podcasts from subscribe for free. Hey, reach out like Kevin just mentioned and, and, uh, connect with Jermaine and rod and the project vet team. There’s a variety of ways we’ll get plugged in and, and you help them help serve the veteran community. So really appreciate that as always, you can find us on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. If you have a veteran, you got a story to tell, reach out. We’ll try to work into our production calendar. And, um, as we sign off here on behalf of Kevin L. Jackson and our team, our team here, veteran voices, Hey, Scott Loudin challenging you to do good. Give forward, be the change that’s needed to be just like Jermaine and rod here. And with that said, we see next time here, own veteran voices. Thanks.
Speaker 8 (58:42):
Thanks. See you later. [inaudible].
Jermaine Cohen is an Army Veteran with a passion for helping people and the co-founder of PRJKT VET. He always had dreams of helping people and that’s what he has decided to do. Whether you’re a transitioning Veteran, Mompreneur, Entrepreneur, or simply seeking forward-thinking technologies and or opportunities, PRJKT VET offers various tools and services to help and wants to work with you.
Rod Lee is the co-founder of PRJKT VET , and a tech enthusiast who spent 14 years in the US Air Force and Air National Guard as an electronics technician and education/training advisor. After the military, Rod has worked as a product and project manager in both Aviation and Cyber Security. He works with a cyber security not-for-profit managing the technical projects focus on reducing the cyber risk for the global community.
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), a “Top 1000 Tech Blogger” (Rise Social Media 2019) and provides integrated social media services to AT&T, Broadcom, Ericsson, and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and Engility Corporation 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 “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross-Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016), and “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, Germanna Community College, 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, 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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
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.
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, 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.