Voice of Supply Chain – July 2023
Featuring: Dupre Jones
Welcome to Voice of Supply Chain, brought to you by ISM New Jersey and SourceDay. The purpose of our show each month is to tell stories of people in the supply chain doing extraordinary things, and I must say we’ve had some guests on with some pretty interesting life stories and backgrounds, so it’s always fun to spotlight those personal experiences. I am your host, Sarah Scudder. I oversee marketing at SourceDay; our software prevents late supplier deliveries for manufacturers. So, if you are working in the supply chain manufacturing space and want to get more intel or insights on what’s happening in the supply chain for manufacturers, you can connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me at Women in ERP or Manufacturing Maven.
Today, our guest is Dupre, and him and I actually met at ISM, um, when was that now? In May, I guess. So, a couple of months ago, and absolute fun lively person, and we just hit it off. He has such an interesting background and life story about how he came into supply chain and some of the things he’s done. So, thought he would be a really, really fitting guest for our show.
So, for all of you that are joining us live, I’m going to ask you to drop us a note in the comments, give us a shout, tell us hello, let us know where in the world you are joining us from. And then, if you’ve gone on vacation this year or have a fabulous vacation planned, drop us a note in the chat as well and tell us where your vacay took you or where you are planning to go.
So, Dupre, we’re gonna start our interview going way back in time, so you’re going to have to really, really think hard about some of the things from your childhood as we kick off today. Okay, so I want to start talking about where you grew up because you have lived in many places, you speak multiple languages, so let’s start there. Okay, um, I was born in Durham, North Carolina. I’m currently based in now I live in the neighboring town of Raleigh, North Carolina, and yeah, grew up here. My parents actually, speaking of international, my parents actually met in Bangkok, Thailand during the Vietnam conflict. Mom was in the Peace Corps, dad was in the Army, but they met at a Protestant Church in downtown Bangkok. And when we came back, when they came back to the U.S, and then I came into the world, somehow everyone knew that Miss Jones spoke was fluent in Thai, and so I heard I heard Thai first and then and with some English mixed in. And as a white kid in the South, this is not normal, but that’s how I started my childhood.
Then, in elementary school, I just I lived in an elementary school. I spent I had a chance to go with my dad; my family went up to Ottawa; he worked for Northern Telecom. And so, we had a chance to live in Ottawa for a few months, and mom made me learn the Canadian national anthem in French, of all things. Well, there’s English too, why not? But I had a great time with that. Ended up learning Mandarin Chinese and French in elementary school at a public school here figured with a name like Dupre, I needed to learn at least some French. But stayed here until I was 15, then went off to the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and spent the rest of my high school there and switched to German. My mom’s side of the family’s German descent, and I wanted to learn a little bit more, and I had the best German teacher I could have, and I got to go to Germany with him in my 12th-grade year and was hooked – the people, the language, the food, the beer, all good things – and that’s kind of what propelled me into being a germanophile, so to speak.
So you mentioned beer, what is your if you had one beer you had to drink for the rest of your life, what would that be?
Germany spoiled me. I was just going to say that, but there is a brewery in Munich called Paulaner. It’s one of the four major breweries, and they have a hefeweizen that is wonderful. So, I’ll go with the Paulaner Hefeweizen. We’ll have to see if anyone…we have a quite a line of people joining us from all over, which is awesome to see. We’ll have to see if we have any other German beer fans with us today. If so, tell us in the chat, what is your favorite German beer, Dupree? And we’ll see if anyone aligns with your favorite beer.
So, Dupree, what I think is so interesting about your childhood (well, lots of things), but you were studying and living in Germany back and forth from the U.S since 12th grade. So, what was that like? I, like I said, I just got hooked on it first, and then I looked at… I looked at universities for college, and I looked at the curriculum for schools that allowed me to use my German language. I ended up at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and got involved… I was going to go into the Foreign Service, worked on Capitol Hill for a senator, and then on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during that time.
We have to give Chester a shout out, his favorite kind of beer is having one with Dupree. We should have had you with a beer in hand for this interview. A little too early, I’m still at work. Any event, yeah. So, I studied German that way, and then had a chance as part of our international relations curriculum. It’s kind of expected that you do something with it while you’re in school, and I had a chance to spend my junior year abroad in Germany, on the German-Swiss Border Town of Constance, and yeah, it was a beautiful vacation. It was like a resort-like town in the middle of the Alps on this on the lake Constance, and it was great and met some… I met some great people and figured, you know what, I want to come back, want to find a way to come back. So, then I finished up my degree at George Washington and found an opportunity to go back, and I got to work in the German Parliament, the Bundestag, to keep my political aspirations intact. Yeah, we’ll… we’ll get to that, but you definitely have some government ties throughout your career, which I think is also really unique.
We’ve got another favorite German beer shout out here. Yep, Sean, I agree. The Pilsner is good stuff. Love asking this question.
One of the weirdest things, I guess I probably shouldn’t have done, is I like to kind of veer off on my own and explore things. I was… and we were on a cruise ship, and it had a stopover, and with Carnival, they had a stopover in this little resort area that they created off of Labadee, and went off on my own. Parents, family didn’t know where I was, and I finally made it onto the last tender to get back on the cruise ship; otherwise, I’d been stuck in this random spot in Haiti. Not good, so I’ll say that you made it out alive, well.
What about favorite childhood memory?
When I was a kid, I got a chance to be on stage and perform with Mr. Bob from Sesame Street. He came here, and portions of the North Carolina Symphony were here, and somehow, I got picked, and I got to sing… Sing a Song, Sing It Loud, all that fun stuff with Mr. Bob from Sesame Street, Bob McGrath. Favorite… I was like… on Twitter, handles all the characters, so I love reading their tweets. Well, it can’t just be one, it was two. The two aliens, it would say, “Near and far” and “Nearer and far.” I think those were my favorite.
What in your childhood shaped you to be the person you are today? If you could call out a specific memory or specific example?
I would have to say growing up around a very multilingual, multi-cultural family, with people from all over the world that came to the North Carolina area from all over. Our area has now become very, very diverse in terms of ethnicities, languages, cuisines that are offered. I think that shaped me a lot, it gave me that international bug, so to speak.
What about the most influential person in your childhood, and why?
I would definitely say, like, teachers, like the teachers I had. There was my German teacher, like I said before. I also had the chemistry teacher in high school. Hey, Chris, sorry, some local folks. Yeah, I think… by like a chemistry teacher who showed that she believed in me, wanted, stood up for me when I was, and offered the time to help me through to understand some concepts in high school. So, as a child of a…
Of it, can definitely relate. I also, a very underpaid profession. Teachers are miracle workers and do so much.
Yeah, what is one childhood tradition that you’ve decided to continue on today as an adult?
I still like cartoons.
Well, of course, Looney Tunes, you know, it was fantastic. Yeah, I mean, I’ll take the Road Runner and Bugs Bunny all day, every day if I could. The Animaniacs, it dates me as well, but I just saw some recent reference to the Animaniacs. It wasn’t really child-friendly, this is how we say all the time, but they were witty, and I loved it, and you learned from it, right? Whether you had to sneak in your cartoon time is a different story. I think it may have shaped my sense of humor.
So I always ask our guests to share some rando personal facts about themselves; these are things that people may not, the average person doesn’t know about them, and you had three probably of the most interesting unique facts I’ve ever seen submitted. So, I need to call out a couple of these because I want more intel. So the first thing that you shared was that you… to bargained, used a toboggan to slide down from the Great Wall in China. Must… must know the story. So this is my last class in my MBA program. It took it… we started out in Beijing, and one of the excursions we did just so that we could say we could see the Great Wall was one of the entrances, access points just north of Beijing, and… wutan you, I think is the name of it. Well, we’re going up there as a group. Additional fun fact, as someone decided to teach me this Stanky Leg dance. Any event, we were all just… celebrate like we were all just exploring and seeing the… just the grandeur, supernatural architecture of the wall. Well, happened to be then also a complete and utter tourist trap there at the top where it says you can sled down or, you know, use it one of these, like, will toboggans to go down. I said, “Okay, I said to myself, self, you’re never going to be in China again, no one cares your American, act like it, pay the 10 bucks or whatever it was, and hop on the sled.” So that’s what I did, with other classmates as well. What happened going down? Well, and it felt like… it felt like those, like a big slide in the playground, but you were on a cart with wheels, like a… like you would… like a… yeah, like a sled down, like the Olympics but not really the Olympics but it… I didn’t break a bone, it was fun, I could now say I did it, and it was cheesy, and that’s all I got.
Like in Disneyland, right, where you pay the money and you go on the ride and then you get the picture at the end, yeah, exactly.
So, the other another one of the fun facts that you shared is that you are a descendant of Sam Houston, which I think is tied to the Alamo, which is here in Texas, which I’ve actually gone and visited since I’ve moved to Austin, and James Webb, who I think is from the Webb telescope family. Yeah, he was head of NASA. Yeah, so would love to get some more deets on this, these two folks as well. So my dad’s mother descended from the last name of Houston, and then learned from my grandparents about genealogy from them because they wanted to make sure we understood and where it came from. And then randomly, when I was in DC working there, my parents came up to visit, and I said, “Hey, let’s go, we’ll go walk around the Capitol and see Statuary Hall,” when my dad said, “Well, you know, this is… this is my old… this is one of my ancestors.” So we got a photo of him standing next to the Sam Houston sculptor and the same pose because he was a goofball, I loved it. Then later on, when we’re just chit-chatting one day, found out, yeah, Jim, our cousin. So my dad’s father’s mother, her main name is Webb, and found out, yeah, you know, Jim… oh yeah, we met him back in the ’60s when he was going back and forth to DC, running NASA. And then fast forward, we see that there’s a telescope named after him. I was like, “Hey, wait, I asked my mom, so Mom, is that… is that the same?” “Yeah, oh my gosh, they named a telescope after him, wow!” I feel like your family tree, if you don’t have one, would be a really interesting project to tackle. Yeah, yeah, we’ve got a comment from Fred in the audience, “Wow, Dupre, your connections and events of your life are amazing.” I agree, very, very interesting background, which I hope you’re able to pass on to future generations.
So, you graduated from school in the U.S from high school, and then if I followed your event life events correctly, you went to college in Germany for a year, and the rest of it was in Washington, DC, yeah? Okay, so what did you do in study in DC, and then tell me about your college year in Germany? So, yeah, I went to the George Washington University, go Colonials or no, revolutionaries. We changed their mascot just recently. It’s right in the middle of Washington, DC, only a few blocks from the White House, the center of everything, it was just exciting. I was in the international affairs college and then decided within international relations, it’s a degree that combines economics, political science, history, anthropology, foreign language, public international law, just a lot of a lot of things to basically prepare you for working in the Foreign Service of the State Department.
What was awesome is that my classes included people from all over the world. I got to hear multiple languages spoken in the dining hall. I mean, just… it was about as close to Heaven as you can get in my view. I guess it was just really cool. And in Germany, I got a chance to study there on the Germans’ West border, and I had to learn Swiss German and other dialects I’d never heard before in my life, and it… I got a lot of headaches for a few weeks, just training my ear to hear. Almost a few times, I was asked, “Can you just please write this down? I have no idea what you’re saying.” “This is where you flew into?” Well, I was proficient. I mean, I could get by at a Chinese restaurant or in a Thai restaurant with saying a few things and impress people with French. I could carry on a conversation, but it wasn’t like anything serious. But German, I could definitely say, outside of English, German, and Southern, let’s just be clear, I can say “bye,” “y’all,” and “hey, how you” kind of things, but yeah, German, I’ve… German, I pretty… pretty… people ask me where in Germany I grew up, and then I’m flattered every time. Yeah, and it means that it means you’re a legit German speaker, right? Yeah.
So, another fact that you had shared is that you were a Division I springboard diver in college. I don’t even know what this is. I went to a very small school in Sonoma County; we didn’t even have diving. Well, I mean, diving is on… on the board, as opposed to the big platforms, and our pool was too small, too small to have those really high platforms, but I was a diver. I was a diver in high school, and they wanted… they needed someone at the GW’s team to… to walk on, they needed another diver, and I said, “Well, I can do this and this,” and got like second, first place with whatever competitions in high school, and they said, “Alright, you’re on the team,” and George Washington University’s Division I, so I was part of the team. It was pretty cool. What was training like? Ever was it pruning in the pool? I don’t even know how you train to be a diver. It takes a lot of leg strength, so we ended up doing, you know, a lot of jumping or climbing upstairs, skipping stairs, and some run… running a little bit, some shoulder, like some weight training, getting your shoulders trained so you can do this kind of action, get those flips and twists and so forth, then training on the trampoline with trying to with a harness and ropes like this to help you with figuring out how to best jump high and so forth, and then obviously on the on the diving boards.
So, did you have Olympic aspirations? No, no, it was just fun. Yeah, my eyes were set on being in the Foreign Service or doing something like that, but it was great exercise. So what did you think you were gonna do when you graduated from college? Very good question. I thought I was going to be still staying in politics, going work for a think tank, maybe getting my… yeah, going to work for a Lobby firm or a research institute, doing International Development work, that kind of stuff after working in the Bundestag in the in the Senate. I just got a little cynical. At the same time, I figured if I’m going to be a good public servant like that, I gotta get some experience in the real world, outside of the Washington, DC area of Beltway, so I went to do some work outside, and good, bad, or indifferent, I never went back to working for the government. So, is it fair to say that you started your career in the U.S Senate? Yep.
So, after your stint there, you started your career is what I would call a project coordinator. I mean, I was an advisor, did some research for the senator, yeah, okay, to get that. So, you kind of then transition those skills, guild to more of project coordinator roles for two separate companies. So, tell me about those experiences, because very, very different than working in government they are. After I finished my stint in the Bundestag, I went to go work for a company in Berlin that was founded based on former East German, East Germany subsidies that funds that were still there but got trans… got redirected to bring in foreign direct investment into what used to be East Germany that they called them the new German states. It was fascinating to see, you know, to be part of that. There’s a little culture shock, first real job, about you know, real job outside of the government. So, I stayed there for a short while and felt like, okay, I don’t think I’m really ready yet to jump head-on into this is whippersnapper 20-something, so I came back to the US, and it was during the.com stuff, right, so I was… I connected somehow with this company that wanted to revolutionize logistics and shipping by bringing back blimps like Zeppelins, not filled with hydrogen but with helium, so we didn’t have a Hindenburg kind of situation, and they were going to be transporting big bulky freight that can’t go in an ocean container in the bottom of the airship. And so I got to… I got to learn, my eyes were completely open to International Logistics, and it was fun, it was a lot of fun. I got to ride in hot air balloons. We had a… for brand awareness, we had our own special shape Potter balloon, and got to go to the Albuquerque Festival twice. If you haven’t done it, totally recommend it, you guys. Yeah, from there, I… I wanted to get more involved in organizing, making things, things are organized and routine and so forth, and got an opportunity to be part of IBM’s PC division, also using my language skills actually with all the software that gets pre-loaded into a ThinkPad. I worked with our development teams to make sure every language matched the machine that you ordered, and it was… I was able, there were so many moving parts, trying to keep them organized, and if we had to change some software because it was causing problems, I recorded… I was trying to make sure to keep all that stuff straight, making sure, “Hey, you, what you agree to this change, you told us this change, don’t put in the old stuff, please,” and so it was neat. But, and I went down this project management train. However, through the PMI training for their certification, I discovered a part of the PM body of knowledge that included project procurement, and in many ways, it was… it changed the way I wanted to direct my career. I was able to look at creating equitable, fair, risk-appropriate relationships between two parties, a buyer and a seller, understanding the risk and reward for different types of contract types and pricing, and how it would impact a project and its success or failure. And I was able to land a job with a research institute here in North Carolina that just won an agreement with the U.S government to teach democracy to Iraq after Saddam Hussein fell. They didn’t know what kind of government these folks were only following what Saddam Hussein said, “I turn the lights on, turn the sewer on, turn it off,” so they didn’t know what democracy was, it seemed like. And so, we deployed 17 subcontractor teams to Iraq to teach democracy, and because I’d worked on the Senate Appropriations Committee, I knew how government worked. Because I had project management experience and knew what that was, I got hired and said, the hiring manager said, “Yep, that’s it, you’re perfect,” and here I am 20 years later, still in that kind of contract procurement space.
How would you describe your role in what you do in procurement and supply chain? I don’t know if there’s any sort of like specific title you’ve kind of shaped almost your own profession and your own roles, you’re very… you hit it right on the head. Have you… I view procurement in many ways. We’ve got to be able to use the left brain for the analytics, the looking at patterns, looking at data structures, looking at total cost of ownership, insurance, and how that impacts if Freight, how it impacts then products or services, how to leverage technology including Source day and those Technologies as well. At the same time, we need to be able to use the right… our right brain in terms of collecting requirements, asking the five whys, why do you need this, why do you need that, looking at contracts to making sure that we have the right wording in there, that it’s adequately protecting my employer on the buy side or if I’m on the sell side, protecting the revenue and profitability and sustainability of the selling company. So, I see it that way, but I also see it as far as being a subject matter expert or an advisor to my stakeholders to help them see, “Yes, you’ve done it this way, but do you understand that there are other ways to do this that can reduce cycle time, that can simplify who you work with, so you don’t have 10 companies to pick from, that has better pricing, that has easier ways of doing business, that actually has technology to see things.” So, I see our profession really is a very holistic way for occupation, and I’ve taken on responsibilities within procurement for temp staffing, for P-cards, for garbage collection, delivering wheels and brakes to the Delta Land Airlines plane so that they can leave the gate, definitely the… we’re in the… the wine from the wineries to get the first class, very important job, those types of things, and now I get to make sure that our Invisalign product gets to the doctors and these patients to make them have that smile that they always dreamed of.
So, I have to give a shout out. So, I was born and raised in California, lived there for 38 years until I packed up and moved to Austin to join the Source day team, and I spent a lot of time living in Sonoma County, Wine Country. So, for all of those listening today, I want to clarify that that is the real Wine Country. I’m not sure you can ever beat wine grown and made in Sonoma County. We’ll… we’ll have to have to take on a bet here. Anyone else thinks they have wine that can beat something made in Sonoma County, drop it in the chat and tell us, we’ll… we’ll get a list going.
So, Dupre, you towards the latter half of your career, it seems like you’ve been focused more on the logistic side at your last company, and now it aligns. So, would like to have you kind of describe and talk through what that looks like, because I think Logistics is something that can be kind of foreign and scary to people that haven’t worked in logistics before, and then we add COVID on to that, and there’s just been so much craziness happening. So, maybe kind of walk us through what is somebody in logistics do, and how are you adding value? Well, I would separate it into two pieces: Logistics as far as operations and Logistics as far as category management and sourcing, and sometimes, oftentimes, in companies, they get to be one and the same. My last company, I oversaw both at Align. I have the pleasure of having some really great people to work with who understand Logistics, they understand the different modes of transportation, the import-export regulations, you know, all that fun stuff. It’s really an honor to be able to work with smart people like that. I think we all like working with fellow smart people. So, when you look at on the logistics side, it’s definitely with COVID, we had, and not many… I had to convince a lot of people of this, if no passengers flew, there were no planes. If there are no planes, they carry no cargo or people. So, during the work, some of the worst parts of the pandemic, 30 percent of every aircraft that could have flown to ship people or cargo was not flying. So, it was only three out of 10 planes were flying. On the other hand, every boat, good like old sort of old new, that could carry a container, work was carrying a container. There was… there was more freight that still needed to be delivered than it could be because there was no air Air Cargo to go around. In that from a procurement perspective, we like to look, we’d make sure to look at cost, risk, legal, insurance, all that fun stuff. Well, container rates went up 400 percent because of supply and demand, and air freight was probably even more than that, six, seven, eight X.
And so, to there was a bat from a procurement perspective. It was a hard sell to executives in finance and shareholders and everything that freight costs are a real thing. Spending 50 bucks at Amazon and getting free shipping, that does… that’s not even close to the reality. Those and so having to be really… it forced us to be very creative and not only in production planning ahead of time, especially for manufacturers, but then making sure the production lines didn’t go down because that was costly or it would be costly. But then we could also contain our contain our costs so that we ourselves didn’t go under while service supporting our the success of our customers. And so it took a lot of analytics, turned a lot of scenario building, took a lot of really dissecting some of the… the different costs. Fuel prices were out through the roof, a big component of freight is fuel, be it in the oceans, on the ocean side with bunker to diesel to gas to Jet kerosene, then not having enough trucks, not having the containers being stuck at the ports. US has… I mean, there’s… the list goes on and on of things we have to consider.
And so within Logistics, you have to, in many ways, you have to be about an inch deep and a mile wide and to look at things from that mile-wide view and again from the cost of non-cost-related aspects of it. Now, in the logistics procurement side, sometimes it just… sometimes we just had no control. We had to rely on the spot market to see what we could find because there just wasn’t any… there’s not… The leverage wasn’t there, the buying power was really in the sales side versus the buyers. Now, thankfully, with some slowing down of the slowing down of those volumes, we’re able to get more stability, but it took a lot. It takes a lot of looking around and research all in parallel to understand what the opportunities are.
Would you say are needed for somebody to excel or be a high producer in logistics today because it seems like it’s very, very complex. It’s… it’s complex, but you’ve got to be able to look at something from multiple perspectives. You’ve got to be able to have patience and resilience and… and not freak out and try not to freak out, which I feel like is anyone working in supply collect. Yeah, but also have some humility about you that we all make mistakes, we’re all collaborating and making sure we all come together in one common higher purpose.
What would you say are a couple, or maybe there are just one, innovations or things happening in logistics that you’re really excited about? Because I, so I’m on the technology side, and I feel like in the last few years there’s been some pretty exciting technology enhancements in supply chain. I’m not as involved in the logistics side, so would be curious to get your feedback on, you know, anything that’s kind of groundbreaking happening in the industry.
There’s definitely a lot more focus on technology in logistics. Data analytics, freight procurement is not… we’re not buying office supplies. The cost structure is complicated, so data analytics, you know, machine learning, business rules for scenario building on a route, via from different road, different things. Sustainability is rearing its ugly… not it’s ugly head, but it’s… it’s forefront now, thanks to the EU green deal. Other countries like Australia, Singapore, many countries, the UK, and even many countries in Africa in the African continent are putting requirements into reducing single-use plastics. Now, with the evolution and research into sustainable air, you know, air fuel, they’re changing the… the airline commercial airlines and freight forwarders are in actual air cargo companies are changing the way that they do business. They know that carbon emissions are coming from their… from their assets, from their trucks and planes. I necessarily didn’t equate sustainability with freight and logistics maybe as much as I should, but it sounds like there’s a lot happening in that space.
Yeah, you can through changing from air freight to ground even or ocean, there’s so much more carbon emission savings you can do, just simple mode switch. There’s also, you know, just planning and shipping in bulk, being able to plan things out so that there are fewer flights or fewer trucks going. Shifting from just palletized one or two pallets to a full truck, it reduces a number of trips as well. That was part of what we had to do during COVID, is also trying to find ways that we could work on the orchestration and timing of shipments, but it has an impact, which was kind of like firefighting and shooting in the dark some of the time.
Is there a big win or project that you can share that you and your team have worked on that you feel has made a big impact at your company?
I think so. What I did in my last company and here is we’ve… I’ve had some great partners in our finance organization. We’re together, we’ve been able to create more visibility, more in more layman’s terms about what freight costing is and how to best take advantage of those opportunities through different modes, different countries, localizing operations. What the benefits would be of having an actual location closer to our customers has yielded some great benefits. So, it’s one thing if the project’s being done, but unless it’s recorded, documented, and put in charts and stories, it’s almost meaningless in that sense. And together, we’ve been able to really do that. And it hasn’t yielded cost savings, but it’s yielded… we’ve bridged the gap between those who are in logistics and those that aren’t.
Don’t you describe your job today? Like, what are you doing on a day-to-day? And the reason I’m asking is I’m curious to dive into a little bit for people that maybe aren’t working in logistics but are interested in that career and are maybe thinking about making a pivot.
It’s fun, I think it’s fun, but I’m biased, I guess, because I work in it day in and day out. If it’s become now front and center along with procurement that hadn’t been before, and a lot more… I mean, it’s a risk and reward, right? You get the front, you get to be in the front and center, but then guess what, you are front and center. You have a lot more eyeballs at you, and logistics procurement, there are just not as many of those… many of us in the procurement profession who go into logistics, IT, marketing, corporate services, facilities, capital equipment, that kind of stuff. There are a lot now in just logistics procurement. It’s a hard nut to crack because you have to then prove your value. “Oh, you’re just procurement, you’re just going to be a paper pusher.” Well, no, you gotta earn that seat at the table, and sometimes it’s hard. But when you do, it feels pretty cool after that.
Other things in logistics, if you enjoy learning about the world, then that’s what logistics is, is moving stuff from one place to another. Yeah, it’s a good simple explanation because I think sometimes logistics can be a little scary and overwhelming because, oh yeah, there are so many parts and so many different facets to it.
So I’m gonna, if we have any questions from the audience as well, feel free to drop them in the chat if there’s anything in particular you’d like to, pre, to cover as it relates to what it means to work in logistics, experiences that he’s had, or some of his thoughts or predictions on what’s next.
I want to move more into now kind of career advice reflection part of the interview. So, best boss you’ve had and why?
Alright, that’s… well, definitely the first best boss I had was the one that said I had the right skill sets and I should go into procurement. He was awesome. If he’s listening, we thank you.
And then I think one of my next favorite bosses was at Delta Airlines. She had a CPA plus the ISM’s CPSM credential. If you haven’t looked at it, you know ISM is a great place to get that credential. It’s a hard set of exams, but it’s worth it. And she believed in me. She said, “Hey, what’s… she asked me, ‘So what? What am I looking at? Why should I look at it multiple times?’ And it taught me to make sure I’m coming into a management presentation with a story, with a compelling story for taking action. She had a sense of humor, but she could be funny, but she could be serious too. And her heart’s not… She had a genuine heart that was for, to help bring out the best in her people, but also make sure that Delta was successful.”
Worst boss and why, and we don’t need to call out names here, but what was the disaster boss that you’ve had in your career?
I guess some of the bosses that tend to think about just themselves, they tend to think about, “Everyone needs to make sure that I succeed. I don’t really care about the company, I care less about the organization, I just care about me,” versus being a leader. I’ve seen that, I’ve seen that in folks that are at a higher rank than I am, and I feel sorry for them because I think they’re missing out on so many more opportunities to discover what collaboration can deliver versus looking out for number one, let’s say that. Yeah, I would just maybe put it that way or if you can’t say it, if you can’t give me feedback directly and you blind copy me on some stuff, it’s… Well, I’m being badmouthed, that’s, again, it feels like self-serving and not a leader, no.
But I’ve not… Otherwise, I’ve seen as a leader, career high. I’ve had a few. I think one career high was in my last role leading procurement for a heavy manufacturing company that also produced some pretty cool technology that’s revolutionizing retail. Is that my team got through COVID and there are three manufacturing hubs. They only had a line down maybe eight hours in two years throughout COVID, and we generated… We were able to use mode shifting to generate cost savings also through COVID. So the fact that that was during COVID and production was only shut down for eight hours total is quite remarkable.
Career low, where you just said, “Oh, I’ve hit the bottom,” I think it was in a hostile work environment where I was told, sometimes also during COVID, I just had one or two moments where I said, “Look, I gotta pay our suppliers, and I need to be able to have more money to their funding,” and I was told, “Don’t take threats, know your place, stay in your lane,” that kind of thing. Again, the self-serving versus not, that was pretty low.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I like to… I’ve been told that my leadership style is getting people out of their comfort zone just enough where it’s scary, but I’ve got a safety line for them. I step, put them out of the comfort zone just enough but watch, making sure that they don’t collapse but they’re growing at the same time. I also believe in a sense of humor and having a sense of humanity about it and praising as much as I can. And then on the other side, do that do the other firm conversations in private and not in writing if I can help it.
How did you start gaining leadership experience? I know it’s something that can be a challenge, especially someone like me who I’ve worked in startups, small teams, small environments. It’s not always easy to be able to move up quickly where you have the opportunity to manage teams of people.
I did it outside of work, actually. I did it through volunteer work. I was a member of the Jaycees, the Junior Chamber International, and got to work on some volunteer projects. One was running a Steeplechase, a horse race on the same day as the Kentucky Derby. It brought in… I had a team of volunteer team about 60 people, and on race day, it was raining sideways. I mean, so hard I was scared that these half a million-dollar horses were gonna flop over and break a leg or something. Every TV in the VIP tents was going out because of power gone out, except for one, and we needed our major sponsor still didn’t have a TV to then see the live video of the horses running around, and the owners of the land with whom we did this event lent their TV so at least that sponsor could see the race. So I learned from there how to write a business plan, how to set goals, how to work with people of various personalities and backgrounds, and they weren’t getting paid. There was no… They weren’t being paid. They were doing this out of the belief in a higher purpose. Yeah, I feel like if you can manage unpaid people, you can manage paid people.
So we’ve got a question from the audience that I want to make sure we get time to address. It sounds like this gentleman is a supply chain manager. He wants to know what difficulties you have faced when you work in a new country or you don’t know the suppliers and prices of the item, so kind of navigating the unknown in a country that you’re not familiar with. Casa, it’s a great question. I think first off when you said when you say in a new country, first know the call. First take some research on the culture. Bow, kiss, and Shake Hands is one of my favorite books to look at different cultures and how they operate in a business as well as a social setting. So first understanding that if you’re on time, is that if you’re really on time? If you’re earlier, if you’re late, what’s the custom? Do you shake hands? Do you not? Do you find out from vendors through other connections, getting that relationship? But it’s hot. I mean, you can find the global suppliers, of course, but it depends on the commodity and the pricing. The price, you just have to go out there and do some research and organ forums like ISM, forums like there are many out there as well that you could see even world the world world bank and the UN have some benchmarks as well. I would just be creative in how you research the pricing and so forth, but know the culture first. Okay, good, good feedback there.
What is next for your career? What have you not tackled or done yet that you’re looking to do? Good question. I don’t, I mean, I think in terms of really pursuing down the Avenue of procurement and Analytics, data analytics, AI, those skill sets are even more. They’re becoming every day, they’re more and more in demand within our profession, harnessing that, getting more understanding, more on the sustainability and Supplier Diversity space, now that it’s a global thing. Supplier Diversity is not just a GE-generated thing that the US government adopted, leading some of those types of things be next. Alright, so we’re going to move into our Spitfire round where I’m going to ask you some questions, and you’re going to respond with the first word or phrase that comes to mind. Accomplishment you are most proud of. Preventing shutdown of the Atlanta airport. Quality you admire most in yourself. Authenticity. Favorite TV personality. James Bond. Or a movie, but what are you binging? Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. What’s your dream happiness? Biggest pet peeve. Grammar. Favorite thing to do in your downtime. Play with my dog. Well, thank you for those that were able to join us live. I know we have several people that will be watching and listening to the recording after the fact. If you are not connected with Dupre, I highly, highly recommend you reach out and connect with him. Dupre, where should people go to find you if they want to connect? LinkedIn is great. LinkedIn would be great. Check out Dupre on LinkedIn, and we will see you all back for our show next month on August 16th at 2 p.m Eastern.