Lively discussion with Lisa Anderson and David Ogilvie, my colleagues from the Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC) Supply Chain Special Interest Group about how companies can overcome the barriers to growth arising from supply chain disruptions.

In this episode of Interlinks we take a look at how businesses can overcome some of the barriers to growth and to scale in the face of the supply chain challenges that have emerged over the last couple of years and continue to emerge as geopolitical certainty reigns on a global level.

Recent years have seen a succession of disruptions to international supply chains resulting from international trade tensions, COVID, and the war in Europe between Russia and Ukraine. What challenges to growth and scale do these disruptions present to businesses and what can and should enterprises be doing to overcome these obstacles?

To discuss this topic I am delighted to be joined by two of my colleagues from the Supply Chain Special Interest Group of the Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC), Lisa Anderson, President of LMA Consulting Group, in the Los Angeles metro area, and David Ogilvie, Principal consultant at David Ogilvie Consulting, in Brisbane, Australia.

Click here to read transcript

Patrick Daly (00:09):

Hello, this is Patrick Daly and welcome to Interlinks. Interlinks is a program about connections, international business, supply chains, and globalization and the effects these have had on our life, our work and our travel over recent times. Today on Interlinks, we’re going to be taking a look at how businesses can overcome some of the barriers to growth and to scale and to face of the succession of supply chain challenges that have emerged over the last couple of years, and continue to emerge as a geopolitical uncertainty reigns at a global level. So to discuss this topic, I’m delighted to be joined by two of my colleagues from the supply chain special interest group at the society for the advancement of consulting. So we have Lisa Anderson, president of LMA Consulting Group from the Los Angeles Metro area. Welcome Lisa.

Lisa Anderson (01:00):

Great, glad to be here.

Patrick Daly (01:02):

And David Ogilvie, principal consultant at David Ogilvie Consulting from Brisbane in Queensland Australia. Welcome David.

David Ogilvie  (01:09):

Thanks Patrick. Thanks for having us.

Patrick Daly (01:12):

Very welcome. I think maybe before we get into things, I think maybe we should just first send our thoughts and wishes to the so many innocent people being killed, injured, and exiled due to the war in Ukraine and hope that the mayhem there can be brought to a stop soon. And I guess it also reminds us of other conflicts causing pain and suffering around the world. Some of which tend to be kind of forgotten, but there are things going on in Syria, in Yemen where I was actually born, in Afghanistan, in Ethiopia, Somalia, Myanmar, Mozambique, and many more. So guys, how is this war being processed where you are, by people in general and by businesses and their supply chains? And what’s the reaction there in Brisbane, David?

David Ogilvie  (01:58):

Well, firstly, I’m very grateful that I live in a peaceful country like Australia. I’m extraordinarily fortunate to have been born where I was born and that thought never leaves my mind when you have events like this. I just cannot imagine what it would be like to be living there in any of those sorts of places at the moment. So personally, I find it extraordinary that people have to live through those sorts of events. It is not getting… Well, obviously the press are covering it very heavily, but again, they’re focusing on all the destruction and there is plenty obviously, and the despair, as the media does, but that’s really all we’re getting. We’re not getting anything under the covers or an understanding of what’s motivating Putin or any of that sort of stuff. And it’s certainly getting a lot of coverage.

Patrick Daly (02:50):

Yeah. Yeah. And Lisa in California, west coast, what are people talking about in relation to this? And is it turning up in business in any way, in the supply chain?

Lisa Anderson (03:00):

Well, definitely people are talking about it and of course it’s horrible. With that said, it is starting to affect… There’s conversations about how it’s going to affect the supply chain. Certainly, one of my clients uses nickel and if anything is supplied by Russia or the Ukraine, they’re in jeopardy. So from that point of view, any commodity based… There’s a lot of commodities supplied by Russia and Ukraine, and there’s a bunch of agricultural products, not generally to the US, but there’s concerns about price increases because there’s going to be less for the overall world. So corn, wheat, and other agricultural products. So definitely so far, it’s just leading to concerns about further increased inflation. I mean, aside from obviously the horrible things related to war, but from a supply chain point of view, that’s largely what’s coming across so far.

Patrick Daly (04:07):

Yeah. I guess here in Ireland, Europe, and in general, we’re seeing a spike in fuel prices, which is affecting…

Lisa Anderson (04:19):

Oh, well that too. Yes.

Patrick Daly (04:19):

Most consumers and the logistics industry, especially in the transport industry. So I actually paid two euros and 3 cents for a liter petrol in my last fill. So I don’t know what that turns into in dollars per gallon, but it’s probably something like $8 or something. So what would you pay for a gallon of petrol in the US?

Lisa Anderson (04:45):

Lord, it keeps changing, it depends where you are, but $5. There’s some places that are $7 a gallon and even higher. So it’s skyrocketed, not just because of the war, it was skyrocketing anyway, because of the energy policies we have, but now it’s gone up like crazy since the war started as well.

Patrick Daly (05:06):

Yeah. So we’ve, we’ve begun to see government intervention. So they actually reduce the taxes on fuel in an emergency measure, brought them down by 20 cent a liter, which is quite extraordinary. And then we’ve seen the government urging our farmers, because it’s planting season now, to plant more grain because there’s going to be a grain shortage after the next harvest because in Ukraine and Russia, well, particularly in Ukraine, they’re not planting grain when usually they would be at this time of year. And I guess what we’re seeing on the ground as well is Ukrainian people are coming here. So we expect to receive maybe a hundred thousand or so, here in Ireland. Basically they’re being brought into the European union with full EU citizen rights for three years, so they can live and work and they will be moving into the different countries as a proportion of population.

Patrick Daly (05:59):

So we reckon in Ireland, given that 2.7 million have left Ukraine and entered the EU, we reckon about a hundred thousand here. So that means schools and housing and all the services that have to be provided. So it’s going to be a challenge. So our topic today is scaling up. So in essence, talking about what are the obstacles that are currently in the way of businesses, maybe that have opportunity, have demand and maybe even have the wherewithal to scale up, to grow their businesses as we come out of COVID and economies recover, and now we’re met with the war and the risk of escalation and everything else that’s going on, inflation, potential interest rate hikes, and so on. So very uncertain environment. So Lisa, what kind of obstacles are being encountered by your clients in the west coast, US, in terms of the growth that they would wish to take advantage of and what are they doing about those obstacles?

Lisa Anderson (06:58):

Well, so first of all, I’ve been working with clients throughout US and actually they have operations in Europe too. So I can speak more to that really than even just the west coast. But from that point of view, they’re still suffering in terms of getting enough materials. So there’s shortages, extended lead times, they’re still suffering with admin, by all means suffering with high prices. So they’re having a lot of issues from that point of view. And I would say that there’s… Just thinking about that. Something else, but when I remember it, I’ll tell you, but basically the extended lead times and high prices has really caused some challenges. I would say- oh, that’s what I was going to tell you. From the demand side of things, one of my clients has lower demand right now, but it’s mainly because their customers can’t get the commodities they need, which is copper in their case to be able to produce. So they still expect the same amount of demand, but it’s delayed.

Patrick Daly (08:08):

Okay. So what kind of things are they doing about it?

Lisa Anderson (08:14):

So really, they’re just having to wait because their customer’s getting copper from before. So what we’re having to do is produce ahead because we just don’t have the capacity to produce their entire amount that they would like, when the copper finally arrives. So we’re having to produce ahead, which is actually causing havoc. I forget, should have mentioned this because we don’t have enough space and there’s not enough space throughout the US. And if you can find the space, they were able to find some space, but it was really expensive. So they said it wasn’t actually worth it to get the business if they had to buy the space, that was that expensive. So it’s a catch 22.

Lisa Anderson (08:53):

So now we’re trying to expand space. We’re trying to prioritize customers and figure out where we’re going to store things for when the business does come to fruition. It’s not all because of copper, but on the other side, there is some additional volume they’re expecting that’s over our ability to produce. And in that case, the problem is finding people. So we can’t find enough people to run the lines. And so we’re having to at least produce the timing of the orders and when they come in versus when we have people, which is… Well have what we have. So basically we’re needing to produce in advance because we certainly can’t get more people when we need them. So anyway, it’s just causing space problems as well.

Patrick Daly (09:44):

Yeah. That’s a topic that’s hot here at the moment as well, and has been for quite a while. The shortage of space, particularly quality warehouse space, because here in Ireland, we have a lot of pharmaceutical and med tech, medical devices and so on and food production obviously, and you need kind of high grade warehousing facilities for that. And there’s been a lot of pressure coming from all sorts of developments. So Brexit put of pressure on that. COVID put pressure on that. The removal of milk quotas here in 2015, put pressure on it. We have very strong economic growth from 2014 forward, put a lot of pressure on warehousing space. And now, I anticipate that the disruption with the war in Ukraine is going to pile more pressure on there. So it’s one of the common things that I’m encountering with businesses all around, not enough space and not enough quality of space.

Patrick Daly (10:49):

And some of the things I’m seeing coming out of that is companies now being more open to investing in storage solutions that are not just your run of the mill bulk standard pallet racking, but they’re looking at high density storage systems. And often, in order to make use of the space, they sacrifice the aisles and they have dense storage, but in order to get the selectivity, to be able to get the products out or to get the pallets out or get the boxes out, they need quite a lot of automation to do that. So we’re seeing both more sophisticated storage systems and more automation in warehousing. And there is quite a bit of ambition in investment, in warehousing that we’re seeing now that will come through over the next two to three years, which is kind of maybe a change from five or six years ago. So what kind of obstacles are you seeing David? [crosstalk 00:11:50]

David Ogilvie  (11:50):

Very similar Patrick. Yeah, very similar. I’ve got clients at the moment who are extraordinarily constrained with where they can get their product from. One client in particular just cannot get the chassis they need from the manufacturers and that’s constraining their ability to build anything. It’s creating a lot of noise in their business in the sense that they go constantly re-plan because of whatever chassis they can get. So it’s creating a lot of additional work in the business that really shouldn’t be there. So we’re working on trying to come up with resolutions for that. That piece on warehousing is the same. Trying to… Even personally, I was looking to buy some warehousing a little while ago and the price of warehouses have just skyrocketed because of the demand that’s out there at the moment.

David Ogilvie  (12:41):

So it’s very difficult to find a reasonably priced warehouse that’s providing a decent yield at the moment and there doesn’t seem to be an appetite to be building them just yet. So maybe the commercial pressure will change that. And high quality people. We’ve had our borders locked for a long time. So we are very much an immigrant nation in many ways. And most of our skills come in from overseas. Our birth rate is extraordinarily low, naturally here. So we are extraordinary highly dependent on immigration. And with our borders being shut, the price of some people has just gone through the roof. Consultants in the ERP space, for example, are pulling extraordinary salaries at the moment. So that’s putting the price of all of this sort of stuff up, not to mention the energy prices, as Lisa mentioned before. And you did, with our petrol price here has gone through the roof.

David Ogilvie  (13:43):

However, I suppose some of those shortages that you’re talking about provides opportunities for Australia, at least because we are a commodity nation. So we are the second biggest producer of wheat in the world, so the fact that Ukraine and Russia aren’t exporting wheat means that there’s an opportunity for us. Whether we can grow anymore is another kettle of fish, because I’m pretty sure the wheat board nearly sells [crosstalk 00:14:10].

Patrick Daly (14:10):

I would imagine David, that your wheat season now is…

David Ogilvie  (14:15):

Counter cycle.

Patrick Daly (14:16):

Well advanced. So what you’re going to have for this season is already planted, right?

David Ogilvie  (14:21):


Patrick Daly (14:21):

So it’ll be the next cycle, I guess, where there might be an opportunity.

David Ogilvie  (14:25):

And Lisa was talking about copper before. Well, obviously we’re a big copper exporter. So from a national level, I think these things are creating some opportunities for us, but getting back to the topic in the sense about what’s constraining growth, all of these things stop businesses growing and create roadblocks and impediments that are difficult to get around. If you’ve got good people, then you should be maximizing that. And that’ll give you a great opportunity in the marketplace.

Patrick Daly (14:59):

Yeah. I’m seeing as well people beginning to use their connections and relationships in more creative ways and investing maybe more in their relationships, their business relationships, whether it’s online, which we can do now much better because we’re accustomed to it. We know how to do it. It’s not the same, we know, but it’s a lot better than not being with people. And also, the face to face has started again. So in terms of getting access to, whether it’s skills or space or assets that you need, say for example, containers to export. So that is a major problem that we have here in this country. And we also have an imbalance within the country because most of our imports tend to come in one port. And a lot of our exports are generated in another region of the country. And they’re always looking for empty containers, which are in the wrong place. So there’s a kind of a business there in moving empty containers around the country. [crosstalk 00:16:08].

Lisa Anderson (16:07):

We have a big problem with that.

Patrick Daly (16:10):

Yeah. Sorry, Lisa, you were saying?

Lisa Anderson (16:12):

Sorry. I was just going to say we have a huge problem with empty containers. So we have that issue as well, to be sure.

Speaker 4 (16:19):

93.9 Dublin South FM.

Patrick Daly (16:22):

So, and David, you mentioned also earlier that resilience in the supply chain, which is a little bit kind of related to what I was talking about in terms of looking after those relationships, is something that you feel is important ingredient in helping people work around these challenges.

David Ogilvie  (16:41):

Hundred percent. And as in dual sourcing. Now, whether that’s dual sourcing from multiple companies or whether it’s sourcing from the same company with different manufacturing locations or whatever it happens to be, I think you need a second source of supply for your key components. So taking that chassis example, if we can’t get a chassis from Mercedes, well, then we build something on a Renault or we build something on a Fiat. So it’s that balancing act and having that at least gives you the alternative, so while that’s creating more work to re-plan and those sorts of things and make sure our MRP is running properly and we have the right material in the right place at the right time. That’s additional work that potentially shouldn’t need to be there. It at least allows you to stay in business.

Patrick Daly (17:34):

Yeah. Yeah. I was reading an article the other day in one of the UK newspapers and the guy was talking about the succession over the last hundred years of different periods of instability, upheaval, and then kind of quiet periods. And there’s been several of them going right back to maybe 1900. And I guess in our lifetime, he was talking about the period of upheaval that started with the oil crisis in 1973, that lasted until about the fall of the Berlin wall or when the Soviet Union collapsed around 1990, 1991. And then we went into this period of kind of stability and growth. And so on that lasted maybe from 1990 up until the financial crash in what, 2007, 2008. And now we’ve been in this period and it seems like this just one thing after another. So you remember we had the credit crunch and the property bubble, and then we had geopolitical tensions.

Patrick Daly (18:37):

We had the election of Trump, here in Europe, we had Brexit and we had COVID, we’ve had the war. So it’s almost like businesses need to be adapting and adapting and adapting all the time. Because I have one client and during COVID his supply, so he brings in furniture and homeware to the market here and distributes. And a lot of his supply was coming from China and Southeast Asia. They’re wood products made from wood and he was having problems during COVID. So he actually stopped bringing certain products from that part of the world. And he shifted, he thought he was very clever and he was very clever and he shifted. And where did he shift to? He shifted to Russia. Okay. So now he was bringing this stuff out of Kaliningrad and into Ireland, and now we’ve got this war and we’ve got the embargo and…

David Ogilvie  (19:29):

But that’s the point though, Patrick, did he shift all of it or did he shift…

Patrick Daly (19:33):

No, no, no. He shifted part of it, but I’m just making the point, that businesses have to be ready to change and change again and change again and change again. So now he’s going to have to do something else. So have you seen any examples like that?

David Ogilvie  (19:48):

Well, not so much examples like that, but what comes to mind when you talk about that to me, is, are you a student of Ray Dalio? Cause he’s an interesting character.

Patrick Daly (19:57):

Yeah. I actually have his book here.

David Ogilvie  (19:59):

Yeah. And he talks about these long cycles. Right. And when you look at history after that’s the…

Patrick Daly (20:08):

[crosstalk 00:20:08]

David Ogilvie  (20:10):

After every pandemic, there is a massive social upheaval follows each of the pandemics and it creates a lot of social unrest. And I don’t think we’re seeing anything different than what has happened in the long cycles in the past millennia ago. So if you go back far enough, so this seems to me to be just part of the cycle. Now, obviously you and I, our memories don’t go back far enough to know those. So you need to be a bit of a student of history. That’s the one thing I’ve learned from him around that is you need to be a student of long history. And if you had been that, this is potentially foreseeable or events like it are potentially foreseeable.

Patrick Daly (20:56):

Yeah. I guess one ingredient of the current situation is the role played by technology and the way it affects the speed with which things happen. So Lisa, maybe as we come to the end, maybe comment from you just on that kind of idea of having to continuously adapt and how maybe technology is kind of the special ingredient today that makes it maybe different from before.

Lisa Anderson (21:24):

Yeah. Well, I definitely am seeing that my clients are continually adapting. And so one of the things that I’m seeing is really important, is folks who are looking at sales, inventory, operations, planning processes, because it’s a good way to keep in touch with all the changing conditions. And it forces you to at least look at it on a monthly basis, if not more so that’s critical. With that said you’re absolutely right, Patrick, that technology can help. And what I’m actually seeing is some of the simple things are really the things that work today. Or they might be considered basic even. So ERP upgrades to a modern ERP system is critical in today’s environment because the modern ERP systems generally speaking, will cover things like eCommerce. And they’ll…

Patrick Daly (22:14):

Automation, for example.

Lisa Anderson (22:15):

They’ll work with IOT, in terms of your machines and those kinds of things. So a modern ERP system. And the other thing that’s critical is looking at your data. Every client that I’m working with, especially if you’re looking at cy-op which is, like I said, critical for staying on top of this, is no client’s data is perfect and it doesn’t even need to be perfect. Just needs to be directionally correct. But that alone is difficult to get out of their system in a way that they can make decisions. Like, should I offload, should I outsource, should I bring on a new supplier? How do I figure out how much additional nickel to bring in so I can avoid price increases or whatever. And so looking at data integrity, and also a BI tool, business intelligence for getting data out of the system. Predictive analytics is more of a progressive concept, but those types of things are key today.

Lisa Anderson (23:09):

So to some degree, stick with the basics and expand upon them with some of these tools is what I’m seeing. I mean, that’s aside from of course robotics and AI is incorporated in the modern ERP systems. But those kinds of things are popular today too, but it’s more about offsetting the lack of people, whereas the modern ERP systems and related data systems are more about how do you function? How do you meet customer requirements? How do you get ahead of all this stuff? And it can help you too with needing less people.

Patrick Daly (23:43):

But I’ve noticed as well, kind of a greater level of ambition and in preparedness to actually do things and take decisions. And I don’t know whether that is because during COVID, there were many examples, both quite publicized examples and other smaller examples that people would’ve seen in their personal life or in their work life where things that seemed very difficult to do were done very quickly. And people kind of went actually, when we want to do things, we can do them. And we’re probably still in that cycle. So we haven’t got back to any kind of stability where people have got used to a status quo again, and I’m getting kind of this feeling of people going, “Yes, we can do this, we take this decision we want to automate, or we want to integrate, or we want to build.” And I’m getting that kind sense from clients around the place that they seem to be more willing to take decisions that before they would’ve hesitated more about, have you seen that kind of thing going on?

David Ogilvie  (24:45):

Yeah, Patrick. A hundred percent. So my business, I have a number of pillars to my business. An ERP selection is one of them that Lisa was talking about before, and I’ve never done more selections in the last two years than I’ve done in my whole life. So there was a lot of businesses making the decision that they weren’t getting the data that they needed and all the things that Lisa was talking about. They weren’t getting that properly, so they changed their systems and they quickly made the decision. And there was a flood of people looking to do that. I am finding that starting to tail off now. So whether everybody’s changed, which I doubt. So maybe the preparedness to make those decisions, those that were willing have made them, those who won’t probably won’t, continue not to.

David Ogilvie  (25:25):

I think that might be more the reality, but likewise with the robotics and those sorts of things, because if we’re looking for productivity changes and we’re resourced, as in people constrained because of our borders being shut and people costing more money and all that sort of stuff, they’re starting to make those decisions around robotics. How do we put in automation? How do we put in smarter tools? As Lisa mentioned, can we connect our ERP systems to the internet of things and get better data from our machinery? All of those sorts of decisions are being made.

Patrick Daly (25:58):

Yeah. Okay. Any final thoughts Lisa, before we wrap?

Lisa Anderson (26:02):

Well, since David brought it up, another area, and I know it relates to you, Patrick is one of the pieces that I would consider part of modern ERP and that I’m seeing clients do, especially with the increase in eCommerce is that gets back to warehouse management systems and automated warehouse equipment. So I know you specialize in that area as well, but I’m definitely seeing an increase in that. And also, David it’s interesting you brought this up, but I am seeing a slight slow down also on the ERP selection side. So they still need it. But I think that you’re right, it’s just that the smarter people are getting ahead of the pack.

Lisa Anderson (26:35):

So the other thing I would bring up, Patrick, that I’m seeing is that I think no other time, other than the great depression, which I’m hoping we don’t go through that again, but I’m seeing more opportunities for clients that are strong to get stronger and clients that are weak are going to get absorbed or go out of business basically. So I think, it’s more opportunity right now than ever before, but they have to be resilient and agile and have modern ERP. And it’s a lot of hard work, which is why some of them are choosing not to do it.

David Ogilvie  (27:07):

So Lisa, I think that’s a very good point. Because there was a lot of talk about many zombie companies just prior to COVID and there was going to be sort of an economic clean out of those organizations that happens because they’re just not strong enough to survive and from an economic perspective, but COVID stopped that because there were so many government subsidies to keep businesses alive, keep people going, all that sort of stuff. So COVID has done nothing, but just delayed that inevitability of those businesses actually coming to a realization that they shouldn’t be in business.

Lisa Anderson (27:37):

Yeah. That’s true. So I see more of that happening in the future. I don’t know if you see that as well, Patrick?

Patrick Daly (27:43):

Yeah. It looks like we’re looking at kind of a great reckoning, of sorts so opportunity, but danger and maybe a clear out and maybe more of a kind of a consolidation or concentration.

David Ogilvie  (27:59):

The answer is business 101, do your basics properly.

Lisa Anderson (28:03):

Yeah. It really is, because the clients that are getting ahead of these supply chain disruptions are taking business from the people who aren’t getting ahead. And so it is business 101 in a way.

Patrick Daly (28:14):

Yeah. Yeah. Good lessons there for all. So thanks. Thanks again for being here this evening, guys, it’s been a pleasure. Wish you continued success personally and professionally, and look forward to seeing you back here next month.

David Ogilvie  (28:28):

Thank you, Patrick.

Lisa Anderson (28:29):

Yep. Thank you.

Patrick Daly (28:30):

Thanks also to our listeners for tuning in and you can find Interlink’s podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Acast and other podcast platforms. So for any comments or questions, drop me a line on And in the meantime, keep well and stay safe until next time.

Interview with CEO of Hatio, Bernard Hor discussing digital supply chain solutions in warehousing and distribution in Southeast Asia

In this episode we talk to Bernard Hor, Founder and Group CEO of the Hatio Group, who joins us from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

The Hatio Group is a technology business founded in South Korea specialising in digital solutions for warehousing & network distribution management.

Since 2012, Hatio has a proven track record of envisioning and delivering major transformational change, cost reduction and operational improvement programs.

At Hatio, Bernard leads a strong team of software engineers, project managers, and designers on large scale digital transformation projects in the telecommunications, healthcare, supply chain & logistics industry.

In this conversation we chat about Bernard’s career and the founding of a technology start-up providing digital solutions to a traditional sector of the bricks-and-mortar economy, how the business has developed since its inception, what the future holds and what Bernard likes to do when immersed in his work.

Click here to read transcript

Patrick Daly (00:10):

Hello, this is Patrick Daly and welcome to Interlinks. Interlinks is a program about connections, international business, supply chains, and globalization, and the effects these developments have had on our life, our work, and our travel over recent times.

Patrick Daly (00:24):

Today on the show, we will be talking to Bernard Hor, founder and group CEO of the Hatio Group, who joins us from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The Hatio Group is a technology business based originally in South Korea specializing in digital warehousing and network distribution.

Patrick Daly (00:41):

Since 2012, Hatio has a proven track record of envisioning and delivering major transformational change, cost reduction, and operational improvement programs. And at Hatio, Bernard currently leads a strong team of software engineers, project managers, designers on large scale digital transformation projects in the telecommunications, healthcare, supply chain, and logistics industry. So thank you very much, Bernard, for being here with us today. You’re very welcome.

Bernard Hor (01:09):

Thanks, Patrick. Thanks. Thanks for having me on the show. How’s it going for you?

Patrick Daly (01:13):

Very well. Very well. And you’re very welcome. So maybe just to kick off, Bernard, could you tell me in overview about your career today, particularly the international aspect and how did you come to be where you are now as CEO of a technology business?

Bernard Hor (01:31):

Sure, absolutely. So I guess a lot of people ask me how did I come to the technology business and eventually how do I come to the supply chain and logistics space? And my simple answer has always been, very humbly, logistics and supply chain found me.

Bernard Hor (01:53):

I’m a marketer. My base is basically in communications and, in fact, I started as young as when I was 21 in PR and events management. And then, I eventually moved into corporate comms. And we were basically designing corporate communications programs and projects for publicly listed companies.

Bernard Hor (02:21):

And one thing led to another, and I think we were very much pushed by the market changes, and as things got more and more digitalized over at this part of the world, and that’s where the opportunity came by for us to pivot ourselves, our business model, into the digital part in technology. And it was really as simple as [inaudible 00:02:49] development, and then of course, eventually, the whole mobile app thing boomed.

Bernard Hor (02:55):

And it was at that point in time, and I remember at one point in time, we had a problem with talents because, as you know, in Asia, especially in this part of the world, in Southeast Asia, there’s a lot of unicorns, the Grabs and the Lazadas and all that. And they were grabbing, they were paying good money to all the software engineers.

Bernard Hor (03:16):

So it left small, medium SMEs like us, and we were like, “Where do we get these talents?” And that pushes us to our first acquisition in Vietnam. And that’s where we, I remember going, booking a flight ticket, I was telling my partner, as we were scratching our heads, “How do we solve these problems of software engineers, and getting the right talents to work on stuff?”

Bernard Hor (03:40):

So we said, “Hey, let’s book our first ticket out to Vietnam to… ” I remember it was to Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City, and we didn’t even know who to meet there. And it was really going in there, and we Googled, we just Googled “top 10 mobile development companies in Saigon” and there’s these guys, these are the top 10 companies that you should meet.

Bernard Hor (04:01):

And we contacted a couple of them and very quickly. And this is one thing I learned about, and this is one thing I learned and I strongly believe in is it’s all about the relationships, right?

Patrick Daly (04:11):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bernard Hor (04:13):

And it’s all about the culture and how you make relationship matters. So we quickly became very good friends to the Vietnamese. I remember [Gabriel Tuan 00:04:23], and we became really good friends, and it was the following day in day two in Saigon, they’re like, “Hey, come to office, let us host you.” And, yeah, that was a long story short. A couple of months later, we acquired these guys, and we became their co-founders and partners.

Bernard Hor (04:40):

And here you go, all of a sudden we are like, “Hey, I’m a full fledged technology business owner,” and we have a setup down in Vietnam. And then, the projects grew. We were capturing more and more digital transformation. Because, at that time, Southeast Asia, especially where I was in Malaysia, it was really going through a fast pace of change as far as digital is concerned.

Bernard Hor (05:04):

And one thing led to another, and the whole interlink of how we eventually started working on a project with Korea, a Korean company. And that is the thing that led me to my connection with Korea. And there, we started, again, it was all about the relationships, people we meet, companies we connected with.

Bernard Hor (05:28):

And one thing led to another, and it was really in one of those trips that I have with my family in Korea, and of course, through a couple of friends, through a couple of my current friends, and we connected to each other, and that’s where I met my co-founders of Hatio at that time. And that’s how we started.

Bernard Hor (05:49):

And fast track to 2017, 2018, the leadership of Hatio says, “Hey, look, I think it’s time… ” Because we were having good traction. We were having good fun in South Korea with CJ Logistics, with Amorepacific, with, setting up their regional distribution hub. We were even working with Lazada, the Lazada group in Shenzhen, kind of optimizing all their consolidation centers down in Shenzhen.

Bernard Hor (06:22):

And then it was really in 2018, the leadership decided, said, “Hey, you know what? It’s time to get out of the comfort zone, and let’s go into a new region.” So I’m the Southeast Asian kid, very naturally, they’re like, “Let’s go there.” And, at that time, there was a huge push by the software and government to help software businesses expand to Southeast Asia.

Bernard Hor (06:46):

So there I was, which is why I always say logistics found me. I really believe logistics found me. Technology found me first, and then it was connected to logistics and supply chain. And here I am, with very-

Patrick Daly (06:55):

You’re back home in Malaysia, yeah?

Bernard Hor (06:58):

I’m back home. Yeah. I’m back home. In my business card, I have my Korean name. It’s a direct translation from my Chinese name. So I have a Korean name, and it’s worked wonders in terms of a [inaudible 00:07:14].

Bernard Hor (07:14):

And because the way we look, so when we are in Korea, people are, “Oh, Hey, you’re a Southeast Asian guy, right?” And when we come back to Southeast Asia, where I am right now in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore or in Vietnam, and every time I share my business card, and there’s the Korean name called Young-Jae, and they look at me, “You’re Korean,” and it’s a good conversation starter.

Bernard Hor (07:33):

It’s been a good journey. It’s been a good journey, very fun going all over. And really, that’s the one key thing I learned really is it’s really all about the culture and the people you’re connecting.

Patrick Daly (07:45):

What are the cultural differences between you as a Malaysian, you’re a Chinese-Malaysian, right?

Bernard Hor (07:54):

Yeah, yeah, that’s right.

Patrick Daly (07:55):

And then, say, Korean or mainland China. So what are the distinctions that maybe Westerners would not necessarily pick upon?

Bernard Hor (08:03):

We’re very different. Okay, so key factor number one is this, the Chinese in Malaysia, the Malaysian-Chinese, most of the time, or all the time, we are a proud Malaysia, and we don’t really call ourselves Chinese. We are just Malaysian, and Malaysian, it’s multiethnic and multi-race, right?

Patrick Daly (08:25):


Bernard Hor (08:26):

The mainland Chinese is like the super loyal Chinese factor. We’re China, we’re China, all right? They’re China, they’re not Chinese. They’re China, all right? So that’s one. Although I never really had the opportunity to really to immerse myself in the China culture before.

Bernard Hor (08:48):

But I can tell you, however, in Korea, I guess the culture really, where it’s different from, is because number one… And I always love this part of the Korea story, how they got out from the war between the south and the north. They weren’t really advanced nation.

Bernard Hor (09:10):

And if you actually look at the Samsung story, how Samsung started as a mini market, and it’s not even television or mobile phones of what we look at Samsung today, at smartphone and all that. And the motivation, the inspiration behind Samsung story of the reason why they started Samsung and why they grow Samsung is to basically help save a country. And look at where they’ve come from and where they get to today, which is really they’re one of the very few advanced nation in Asia.

Bernard Hor (09:51):

Malaysia probably achieved their independence many years longer than where they are, but look at where they are today with Kia, Hyundai, LG, and the likes that you have. So, really, that’s where I find it really interesting, and that has basically driven the behavior of the people, whether it’s Koreans or whether it’s Malaysians. And that has also…

Bernard Hor (10:17):

I don’t like to say that Korean are more cultured people. I think everybody has their own culture, and we should respect it. But the fact that I have the privilege to leave and immerse in these two different set of cultures, I guess it has sort of, in a lot of ways, made me a very hybrid culture kind of kid.

Bernard Hor (10:38):

Yeah, so even here where we expand in Southeast Asia, the one very interesting thing here is that when we expanded into this region, the one, the first thing, in fact, the first thing that we told ourselves among my co-founders was, “We got to keep and we got to preserve the strong culture that we have brought and put together when we are operating out in South Korea.”

Bernard Hor (11:02):

A lot of hard work, a lot of respect, the respect beat, how to stay respectful, at the same time, stand firm. It’s one of the hardest things [crosstalk 00:11:14]-

Patrick Daly (11:13):

It has broadened your mind.

Bernard Hor (11:16):


Patrick Daly (11:17):

So maybe I’ll ask you about you describe Hatio as a digital supply chain platform. So could you explain to us in simple terms what that is and how it works?

Bernard Hor (11:31):

Sure. It’s basically a cloud… So what would we do is that we run a cloud supply chain platform. Where we started really was… And it’s really thanks to Southeast Asia. In South Korea, we were all about warehouse controls and execution systems, so automation, robotics, IOT, and all those stuff.

Bernard Hor (11:48):

When we came to Southeast Asia, we thought those would work here. But, however, after a quick, a considerable amount of time that we spent studying the market, we kind of learned and realized that the market wasn’t ready for this yet, this level.

Bernard Hor (12:02):

But, however, at the same time, we realized a huge opportunity and a huge addressable market of local SMEs who is in need of digitization. So that’s where we started with a very simple mere warehouse management software, a WMS.

Bernard Hor (12:17):

And, Patrick, let me tell you this, we’ve got our first two customers in Malaysia. The first two customers bought a WMS from us before we even have a WMS proper. So we don’t have a software, and they gave us the contract. And so, we did, we used the capabilities that have from all the work that we’ve been doing with CJ Logistics and all those guys, and we put together a quick WMS, and we delivered.

Bernard Hor (12:41):

And we saw the major transformation. So, from a WMS, and then what happened then very quickly was fast forward to 2020 was COVID and the pandemic lockdown everybody. And I think it has upended the entire global supply chain. And one of the key things that happened in Southeast Asia very actively was eCommerce. So eCommerce took the fastest pace ever, lightning speed. It was moving at a lightning speed.

Bernard Hor (13:06):

And we pivoted very fast from a mere warehouse management software, and here’s how the whole cloud supply, how the whole platform comes together. From a mere WMS, we pivoted the product into connecting with first connecting with the ERPs of the world like Oracle, SAPs, [inaudible 00:13:21] and API ready. We were connecting to all the major marketplaces very quickly.

Bernard Hor (13:26):

Basically, the plan to connect the marketplaces was basically fast tracked two years, 24 months, imagine product timeline, fast tracked 24 months. We connected, and then we connected with the last mile delivery guys. We had our own last mile delivery model. And before we know it, and then we came out with a… We basically developed into our product roadmap, a new product that manages the marketplace. So it was a marketplace management and intelligence.

Bernard Hor (13:52):

So when you put these four, when you look at them and put these four things together, eCommerce marketplace management, orders management, we’re doing B2B and B2C, inventory management, and warehouse management, so these four key modules of the logistics and supply chain world, we unified it in one technology.

Bernard Hor (14:10):

So instead of selling it as four different products, we kind of saw that, hey, the only way to go seamless and the whole cost saving and all of that is to basic unifying these four technologies together and make it look like an orchestra. So that’s what we did.

Bernard Hor (14:27):

And we said, we didn’t know it would look like that, but I guess, what was really interesting was we were co-creating this product called the cloud supply chain platform with the local players in Southeast Asia. So remember, we didn’t build something and sold to them. We sold offers to customers before we even have a product. And we were just downloading notes, “What do you need? Why? How do you do this? How would you like to change this?” And then, we put all these things in and like, “Okay, what do we do from here?”

Patrick Daly (14:55):

What kind of companies are your client companies?

Bernard Hor (15:00):

Yeah. So our primary target companies that we work with are the retailers. And, yes, the last 20 months, the eCommerce retailers has been a fast growing market for us. It’s amazing. That’s the first market. The second market are the distributors. So we are working with the distributors distributing into thousands of points daily on a daily basis. So we are powering up all these guys.

Bernard Hor (15:28):

And then, the third segment that we’re working with, and we are also working with them very closely as partners as part of our network distribution, are the third party logistics players. So we’re powering up a lot of third party logistics warehouse operators.

Bernard Hor (15:40):

And when I say powering up, a lot of times people just thought, “Oh, so you install a software in the warehouse?” I say, “No, it’s not as easy as that.” Installing a software in the warehouse, most of the time, you have more damage than good.” So we’re like, “No, no, it’s not about that.”

Bernard Hor (15:56):

It’s really about powering up. And it’s not only in the software, it’s not only the technology, but also the operations. You know what I’m talking about, right? The whole end-to-end transformation. And people and operations and machines have got to work together.

Bernard Hor (16:09):

I’ve seen a lot of cases here, Patrick, just to share with you, where they are local, the bigger voice, the slightly bigger, medium, the bigger voice, and they deploy automated guided vehicles, the AGVs. So deploy like 10 AGVs in their warehouse, but they don’t use a WMS.

Bernard Hor (16:25):

So how does that work? I mean, ASRS, and they don’t have…. They have whole investment in ASRS, it’s a pharmaceutical company here, whole ASRS investment world for about 10 or 15 million dollars. And their biggest challenge today is they don’t have a visibility on their inventory. How does that work? That doesn’t make sense.

Speaker 3 (16:48):

93.9 Dublin South FM.

Patrick Daly (16:50):

I’ve heard you talking about the supply chain as first mile, middle mile, last mile.

Bernard Hor (16:56):

Last mile, yeah.

Patrick Daly (16:56):

Your slice really is the middle mile, right. These players-

Bernard Hor (16:59):

The middle mile.

Patrick Daly (17:00):

Retailers, distributors, LSPs, they’re in the middle mile, right?

Bernard Hor (17:05):

Yeah, yeah, very much in the middle mile. We do attract the first mile, especially the manufacturers right now. And what is really interesting… Oh, yeah, speaking of which, what is really interesting right now, over the last 12 months that I’ve been having that conversation with the manufacturers… And these are guys that’s looking at D2C, the direct to consumer approach.

Bernard Hor (17:28):

So they’re basically shifting their gears. They’re saying, “Hey, look, we’ve be working with all these distributors and dealers, but because of COVID, because of all these retail lockdowns, we have been forced, we have been forced and pushed to basically look at and consider strategies of how do we get our product closer to our customers, our consumers?”

Bernard Hor (17:48):

So we’ve been getting a lot of conversations around this area. We are actually working on one or two, a couple of projects directly with the manufacturers where they have basically shift… They’re starting to shift gears and their decision is, “Hey, look, moving forward, we don’t know what’s going to happen.” I mean, today we have what? Omicron, right? Maybe next week, there’s now the new variant called Decepticon. But we don’t know what’s going to happen next.

Bernard Hor (18:12):

So they’re really future-proofing there. And it’s very encouraging to see this right now within local SME space where they are looking at really future-proofing their supply chain as a manufacturer. So they’re saying, “How do I deploy a strategy to do a direct to consumer?

Patrick Daly (18:27):

Yeah, yeah.

Bernard Hor (18:27):

And that’s where we’re coming from.

Patrick Daly (18:30):

Okay. And will you or can you provide solutions to companies outside of Southeast Asia?

Bernard Hor (18:37):

Yeah, we do have our customers, of course, in Korea so far. And we are in all the key markets in Southeast Asia, like Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Indo-Asia, of course, Malaysia. We are currently studying the visibility of deploying it out of Southeast Asia somewhere in the Canada space. So we are talking.

Bernard Hor (19:01):

Because we are a SaaS model, we could do remote deployment. Also, thanks to the lockdown, the last 20 months, we thought we were going to go out of business, but it has really pushed us to digitalize all our stuff, and we could now do remote deployment. So we’re definitely looking into that.

Patrick Daly (19:18):

Say I’m a retailer and I have a distribution center, and so I’m a middle mile player. And maybe I have several dozen retail outlets, and I’ve experienced a huge surge in eCommerce orders direct to consumer, and I’m kind of struggling with the physical operational challenges of that. How might I use your digital supply chain platform and your services to improve my situation?

Bernard Hor (19:42):

Sure. First things first is basically the visibility to inventory. So it’s a very common case that we have now here and that we’ve been helping and working with a lot of… Most of our clients in this case, where, like what you just mentioned, multiple channels, multiple sales channels, brick and mortar retail’s falling back on eCommerce.

Bernard Hor (20:06):

And when they go on eCommerce, the one thing, Patrick, the one thing very interesting that I observe and realize is when they fall back on eCommerce, first, they always think that’s easy. And then they start having more and more stores in the marketplace, and every marketplace is like a sales opportunity.

Bernard Hor (20:21):

And that’s where the nightmare starts because they will go in overselling, out of stock, and all that. So that’s where we come in and we say, “Hey, look, first it’s basically to streamline.” So sign up to the platform, we’ll set you guys up. First is to streamline all your channels, whether it’s B2B web store,, multiple marketplaces, or even your retail outlets.

Bernard Hor (20:47):

So you streamline all this and you centralize, so you’re looking at it like a control tower view. So you centralize where all these orders, centralize all these orders into [inaudible 00:20:58], which is a cloud supply chain platform, to the platform. And then, basically these orders get kicked into the fulfillment process.

Bernard Hor (21:04):

So the fulfillment process, one of the things that we have been getting more and more of these cases is where they have multiple distribution points, and it’s also multiple distribution points, we also have multiple distribution points across border, so one in Singapore, one in Malaysia. It’s the same brand. It’s the same retail guy. And he’s saying, “How do I streamline this right now?” All that’s coming from Singapore, the orders goes into the Singapore fulfillment.

Bernard Hor (21:27):

So what we’re doing, we’re doing this right now, we’re helping, I think, I guess the easiest way to put it is we’re helping our partners, our clients on the retail side to basically first streamline the [inaudible 00:21:41] channels, move it all towards consolidating all the orders, centralized it, and then put it in back to their fulfillment based on all their inventories space, and how they pick, pack, and ship it out to their end customers. And all this is done in one single platform, like a control tower view.

Patrick Daly (22:01):


Bernard Hor (22:02):

Yeah, so that’s what we do.

Patrick Daly (22:03):

So that’s the information side of it. In the operations of your clients, are clients moving to automate their fulfillment centers, or are they mostly still conventional, manual order picking and so on?

Bernard Hor (22:19):

It all starts with conventional, manual. So there’s a lot of manual labor. There’s a lot of human decisions.

Patrick Daly (22:29):

[crosstalk 00:22:29] eCommerce, there’s lots of implications for that. It makes it more [crosstalk 00:22:33].

Bernard Hor (22:33):

Yes, yes, huge implications because it comes in so fast that you totally… And thanks to the lockdown as well, because of the lockdown now, we used to only have like 11/11 and [inaudible 00:22:45] as the big sale day, the Lazada days. But today, because of the lockdown, there’s 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, every Monday, people just take opportunity of that. And there’s going to be a… The flat gate of all this is going to open, and it’s going to just come in, and that’s where the nightmare begins.

Bernard Hor (23:02):

So, yes, huge implications. And right now, what I’m observing here is a lot of eCommerce retailers, especially the retailers in eCommerce, a lot of eCommerce retailers are really moving very fast. They’re really moving real fast to ensure that right from the other point and all the way to the ship out point is all streamlined. It’s all streamlined, it’s all controlled, and there is a clear visibility of how the SKU move from point A to point B, and the pick, pack, ship process.

Bernard Hor (23:36):

So we are looking at, I shall call it the first level of automation, if you like, where they moved out from manual labors into a system guided operations. The next level, which we are starting to see also, is where they are now less dependent on human decisions.

Bernard Hor (23:56):

So one of the jokes here is basically always on a daily basis is we always tell the bosses, “You can go play golf now. We don’t need your decisions. The data makes the decisions.” So it’s fine, the system makes a decision. Yeah, so we are seeing the shift from human decisions to making decisions based on data. Because now there’s more and more people looking at data.

Bernard Hor (24:17):

And then, of course, well, hopefully, hopefully I would say that maybe the next two to three years, we will start to see more and more of the automation moving far more towards the side of AGVs, IOT, pick-to-lights, pack-to-lights and all that, yeah.

Bernard Hor (24:32):

But as of now, I guess, of course, the other parameter to consider is basically the volume of orders. If you don’t have a big volume of orders, you can’t make sense of the ROIs of all this investment, yeah.

Patrick Daly (24:46):

Very interesting. So as we come into the last few minutes of the interview, we might just change tack slightly. And I might just ask you a little bit about yourself. So when you’re not thinking about digital platforms and eFulfillment and so on, what kind of things do you like to do in your spare time? Or do you have any spare time, given time [inaudible 00:25:11]?

Bernard Hor (25:11):

Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Over the last couple of years, as I grow older, over the last couple of years, Patrick, I have two boys. I have two boys, Zachary and Thaddeus. One is seven and the other one is five, five years old. And it was really when my second son was born, and I told myself, “You know what? It’s time to… Not slow down. At my age, there’s no such thing as slow down. But it’s time to make time and intentionally and purposefully make time.”

Bernard Hor (25:41):

The key word there is to be really intentional with things. As much as I’m always intentional in work in my business, there was a point in time when my second son was born, and I say, “Hey, look, it’s really time to be intentional with the family. And this is not just play, play.” It’s like, hey, there’s two boys and a wife. You got to take this seriously, dude. So I make time for the family.

Bernard Hor (26:02):

And, to your question, I’m a triathlete, so I swim, bike, and run. It is only when I’m in a pool doing my two kilometers of laps or on my bike when I’m anchored to the [inaudible 00:26:15], and doing hundred kilometers, that’s where I don’t think about work. That’s the only…

Bernard Hor (26:21):

Okay, apart from cooking, apart from making dinners, that 15 minutes, because I’m a lazy husband, so I make very quick dinners. So apart of cooking, swimming, bike, and run, training for a race is really what takes me off work totally, and I don’t think digital, and I don’t bother whether someone is going out of stock or over sale.

Patrick Daly (26:43):

That’s a good balance. Are you reading anything or listening to anything at the moment that you find particularly inspirational that you might like to share?

Bernard Hor (26:51):

There’s one that I’m reading, which is Start with Why by Simon Sinek, a very simple book. The other one that I am currently reading is Robin Sharma recently published a book, and it’s called The Manifesto of the Everyday Hero. And it’s a very nice, a short chapter, small little nuggets that one day, every reading session, you can pick about three chapters on the go. And it kind of like puts your mindset at a proper… Yeah, so Manifesto of the Everyday Hero by Robin Sharma is really good. Yeah.

Patrick Daly (27:23):

Excellent. And where can people find out more about you and your company and your services?

Bernard Hor (27:30):

Sure. I’m available on LinkedIn, Bernard Hor. You can find me there on LinkedIn. Or you can visit our company’s website at Yeah, that’s H-A-T-I-O.

Patrick Daly (27:42):

Hatio is H-A-T-I-O dot Asia.

Bernard Hor (27:44):

That’s right. That’s right. H-A-T-I-O dot Asia. Yeah.

Patrick Daly (27:47):

Excellent. And then, your name on LinkedIn, you’re Bernard. Hor, H-O-R, isn’t that right?

Bernard Hor (27:52):

Okay, wait. On LinkedIn is my Korean surname, which is H-O-R.

Patrick Daly (27:58):

Okay, very good.

Bernard Hor (27:59):

Yeah, okay.

Patrick Daly (28:01):

Well, thank you very much, Bernard, for being here with us today. It was a pleasure, as always. And I wish you the very, very best for the future, both professionally and personally.

Bernard Hor (28:13):

Thank you so much, Patrick, for having me on the show. And I really, really look forward to learning more from you.

Patrick Daly (28:18):

You’re very, very welcome. Thank you also to our listeners for tuning in. And for any comments or questions, just drop me a line on pdaly, that’s P-D-A-L-Y So keep well and stay safe until next time.

Patrick Daly’s Interlinks podcast with Sanchoy Das, Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

In this episode we talk to to Sanchoy Das, Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the US and author of the book Fast Fulfillment: The Machine that Changed Retailing.

This is an extremely timely publication, given the way so many businesses around the world have had to embrace online retail to survive and thrive through the period of the COVID pandemic. Indeed, many have made a virtue out of the necessity that has fueled new thinking and new strategies among retailers regarding the place of online retail in their business models as they realise that it is very different in an operation and commercial sense from what they have been accustomed to up to now.

Sanchoy’s book is fascinating and takes a detailed look at the paradigm shift ongoing in retail logistics focusing on the very necessary condition of speed and how this can be achieved through physical and digital innovation. If you want to learn how, in a practical operational way, to build a fast fulfillment machine for your own business, then this book by Sanchoy Das is a must-read for you.


This is Patrick Daly and welcome to Interlinks. Interlinks is a program about connections, international business, and globalization and the effects these developments have had on our life, our work, and our travel over recent decades.
Today on the show, we will be talking to Sanchoy Das, professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the US, and author of the book, Fast Fulfillment: The Machine That Changed Retailing. This, I think, is a timely publication given the way so many businesses around the world have embraced online retail to survive and thrive through the period of the COVID pandemic. That, in many cases, has fueled new thinking and new strategies among retailers regarding the place of online retail in their business models. Welcome, Sanchoy, and thank you for being here with us today.
Patrick, I’m so excited to be with you on this talk show. It’s a really an exciting time here.
Excellent. Tell me, Sanchoy, maybe first to get going, about, say, your career to date and your current role and work at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
I’m a professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. I’ve been there for a relatively long time. My specialty or expertise, if you will, is in the supply chain area, the logistics areas, the way goods move from across the globe, within countries, et cetera. And those are what I have been teaching and researching for several years.
And then a few years ago, I started this particular topic and now I wrote the book, I’ve been teaching it in the class, making presentations. And obviously, when the pandemic hit, this thing just took off like a rocket ship. So it’s really a timely piece, as you said.
So you are a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and yet you’re passionate about supply chain. Perhaps, on the face of it, they’re not two fields of expertise that people would naturally associate with each other. How, as an engineer, did you become interested in the supply chain and what do you see as the link or connection between engineering and supply chain?
It’s a very good question because a lot of people don’t see that connection. Very frequently, topics like supply chain are taught in a business school. So people who are in a management role, they learn about supply chain and a very common phrase is “supply chain management”. But at the end of the day, these products are moving in a mechanical or industrial world. There are warehouses, there are robots, there are trucks involved, boxes are being packaged, boxes are being opened. So without that engineering, you cannot have the supply chain. And a lot of the technology, including the IT side, is all connected to the supply chain.
So if you went to an Amazon, for example, more than half their supply chain, people are actually engineers. They’re not just managers. So a lot of them, people are in the management field, are doing supply chain contracts, they are negotiating price, et cetera. But whatever is happening in the background is engineering. I teach classes which are called supply chain engineering, [inaudible] handling in warehouses. These are all the bits and pieces which make that supply chain click along.
So the book you’ve written, Fast Fulfillment, what is the premise of the book? The title is Fast Fulfillment: The Machine That Changed Retail. What are the key objectives that you wished to achieve by writing it?
In the late 1990s, obviously, companies like Amazon are starting to become bigger and bigger and they are building some kind of supply chain. And supply chains have been there for many years. Since the 1980s, Walmart has been a supply chain champion and we are teaching those kinds of supply chains, models, engineering in the classroom.
But around 2013, 14, I started to visit some of these facilities with these online retailers and particularly in Amazon. I discovered that something new was going on. These things didn’t look like the ones I was teaching in the class. I was in a kind of shock. What the heck is going on here? Stuff I was teaching in the class, they were doing the opposite kind of things. And that’s when I realized that this new supply chain was forming, including the engineering aspects of it.
The most critical part of that was fast. When you click that submit order button sitting in your pajamas at home, some magic starts to occur. Some gears are clicking somewhere so that next afternoon, there is a knock on your door and there is a package. It didn’t occur by magic. Something happened. And that what happened is the machine. That’s the machine which brings you there. So any retailer which assumes that, “Hey, we’ll put up a website, people will put in orders and we’ll take on Amazon.” Ain’t happening. You need that machine. My goal in writing the book was people will start building their own machines so that they can catch up or keep up with these technological giants which are out there.
And who was your principal target audience for the book and how should they use it when they buy it?
When I started writing the book, as a professor, you have really two avenues. You can write a textbook so that people are going to use it in the class and it’s going to be taught or you can write a business book that people can buy and read and hey, they get an idea and they go to the office, they go into a project team meeting and they’re innovating using some of the things I’m saying. That’s what I chose. I chose that route and it makes a big difference because this book is only $25, a textbook is $250. So your audience, just the basics, is a completely different audience. That was my goal, to get that message out quickly because you know that a lot of retailers are basically shutting because they can’t compete in that online space.
So you’ve described, Sanchoy, what the fulfillment machine is, but perhaps more importantly, how do you build this machine for your own business, a retailer who wants to really get involved in online fulfillment?
Excellent question again, Patrick. What happens is the fulfillment machine includes both a system which interconnects parts and parts. And in many cases, these parts are not the same as the parts from before. So for example, if you entered an Amazon fulfillment center warehouse, it doesn’t look like any other traditional warehouse. There are no large pallets moving around, et cetera. They have already opened the pallets, packages are everywhere and it’s highly IT-driven. It’s very large scale, models and information systems are controlling these warehouses. So companies have to start building similar warehouses. Either that, or they adopt a fulfilled by Amazon or some other company kind of model, one which is building that.
One of my fears is that lot of retailers are adopting what I call a store fulfillment strategy, whereas when they get an order, somebody in the store, instead of the customer, walks around, puts some stuff in a box and then they ship it out. That is just not cost effective and neither is it speed effective. Both of those are relatively short term strategies.
In the book, I talk about ideas and techniques that they can go about to build their machines. Now, there is a caution there. Some of the machines which the big guys like the Amazons have built are highly capital intensive. Require not only a lot of money, they require also a lot of talent. So you need both of those. And if you don’t have both of those, then you have to find solutions which you can do within your resources. And my hope in the book, some of the innovation pathways that I propose, they could adopt to build a solution for themselves.
Yeah. It’s interesting. I have clients who are retailers who have been looking to build their own machine. And one of the things that they do is they advertise themselves to other local businesses to be their fulfillment partner. Do you see in the future that we may have a number of fulfillment offerings from people who may be retailers themselves, but in effect have transformed almost into logistics service providers or fulfillment partners as a service? Do you see that happening?
I see that absolutely happening and that has to happen because the cost and talent is so high. If we can pull together multiple retailers and run some kind of common collaborative venture, that would work out and they’ll be able to distribute the cost and sort of get in with each other. Because as I said, these machines, you cannot just go to any traditional warehouse and make it into a fulfillment center. It has to be reconfigured. So now, if I reconfigure, say, a hundred thousand facilities and like you said, two or three other retailers said, “Okay, you set it up, we’ll come in, we’ll pay you some kind of subscription fee and we’ll take it.” And to put that in perspective, right now, I think it is in 2018, more than 50% of the Amazon merchandise which is sold is actually just a service, a subscription service. That these are other companies who are piggybacking on the Amazon machine. And that threshold crossed in 2015 and that is 18 and that is the year that Jeff Bezos, in the annual report, highlighted that fact.
It’s interesting how people don’t always realize what kind of a change online fulfillment means for their business operationally. I have been looking at the data for a client of mine who got heavily involved in online retailing during the pandemic. It saved them, in a way, but the order profile is totally different. So whereby in the past, they were picking orders to replenish main street shops, the orders were multiline orders and every line in the order had many items. Whereas now, with online retail, every order is one, maybe two lines and every line has only one, maybe two items. So therefore, the labor intensity of picking that kind of profile is totally different. Is that what you see as well?
Absolutely. And that is what is causing the huge inefficiency in the traditional systems. The traditional systems are designed for bulk. I make a move in the warehouse, multiple items are booked up, picked up, and I’m aggregating the cost out. Now somebody orders one tube of toothpaste. Okay, that’s a problem. Now I’m going to spend more money to pick that tube of toothpaste than it costs to deliver that toothpaste. That is causing inefficiencies. That’s why I keep saying the traditional warehouses, the traditional supply chains, they just can’t make it in this new online world. We need new systems.
So we’re talking about automation, we’re talking about automatic storage and retrieval, conveyor systems, pick by light systems, those types of things?
Not only those type of things, a lot of IT technology.
I see.
So when a person is going out to pick, that’s where they do. A lot of people don’t know the history of AWS, which is the Amazon Web Services. That division was created to make all those IT models for the fulfillment machine. They did such a great job that somebody at Amazon said, “Hey, let’s start selling that too.” So they started to sell those web services to other companies. But that is what I call the talent pool. You need that sophistication to pull it out. And coming back to what you very correctly said, if we had pools of retailers together, maybe they could be more competitive because they’re pooling those intellectual and capital resources.
That’s interesting. How do you think the experience of the COVID pandemic over the last two years has affected the way businesses think about the online channel?
It’s an excellent question. In the past, people just looked at it as an additional channel, some additional revenue. Now they’ve realized that this is the channel. This is the main one. And if you’re not on it, it’s just going to be go away. So the physical stores are now supporting the online business, whereas in the past, it was the other way around. Without an online plan, it would be very difficult. Unless you are some kind of very special store, it’s going to go out. But even though very special store, the problem is now you are competing with a very special store 600 miles away. Now, the competitive environment is also changed. So you’re selling stuff to all kinds of people.
So in the future, what’s your vision of retail in the future, say in five years or further out? Where will online be and what will be, say, the role of the high street retail outlet? And do you see things being different in America, where you are versus Europe, where I am or perhaps in Asia? Will it be different in the different continents?
Obviously, there will be differences across the globe, but in general, every retailer presumably will be doing more than 50% of revenue through some online channel. And even where some of the customer experience is occurring in the store, parts of the customer experience will actually become out of the store. For example, let me just take a very simple business of somebody who is selling cakes. It’s a bakery. So obviously, we go to the bakery to pick up the cake. The first time I visit the bakery, I pick it up. I see their cakes. I taste it, I pick it up. But my sequential transaction will become more and more online. I may go to the store to actually pick up the cake, but I’ll just park in front of it. Somebody will come out, put it in the car, and I’m gone. Even though that touch experience may remain, the online experience is going to become more and more. I’m going to require speed. I’m going to require fast fulfillment. I order the cake at 12 noon, I pull up in the parking lot at two o’clock. I want to be out of there in one minute. That’s all going to affect every kind of businesses. So you have other vendors like Shopify and all, they’re actually trying to help in that part of the experience.
The way you see the differences between the high street shopping area, say, in an American city or a European city, or say, a city in India, they are quite different in the intensity and the busyness and the hustle and the bust is quite different. Do you see Europe and India becoming more like America in the future with those shopping areas, having fewer people and less things going on?
I like the phrase you use, “high street shopping.” High street shopping usually assumes that it is an expensive item and it’s an item that I have to try on. You were referring to India, people buy saris. Presumably, I go to the store, they drape the sari on the customer. I have 20 saris and then they select one and buy. That touch experience will remain, but the wide mode is disappearing. Increasingly, virtual tools are coming into place. People are able to get that experience even from wherever they are. Plus, I’m offering you don’t like it, no worries. Ship it back. I’ll send you another one. If you look at companies like Stitch Fix, et cetera, which ship packages of apparel to people. They select the skirts and the blouses that people will wear, the people select three, four of them. They send the rest back. So you see, all of that is occurring. Those are all things that are going to eat out the business of the high street stores. At the end, they will remain, but the online experience is going to expand without doubt.
Okay. Interesting. Maybe we’ll change gears a little bit. There’s a question I always like to ask my interviewees about globalization. This explosion in e-commerce, I think, is one of the manifestations of globalization that we’ve seen. We have infinite choice of high quality, affordable products available anywhere, anytime at the click of mouse without even getting up off the couch. In recent times, over the last five or six years, we’ve seen for various reasons around the world, a kind of a pushback against globalization. We’ve seen natural disasters. We’ve seen human disasters like COVID that have challenged globalization and the efficient supply chains that it depends on. Right now, I guess, we’re living through a supply chain crisis in many parts of the world in US and the UK and Europe and so on. In globalization in general, where do you think we are with the process of globalization? Is it stalled? Are we going backwards? Or maybe is it just a blip before resumption of business as usual or a change in form? What’s your take on it?
I think, obviously, globalization will be there and how much further it will grow, probably we are reaching at some kind of capacity. One of the interesting things about online retail fast fulfillment is globalization made it very difficult for local supply chains actually to survive because they were competing with mass-produced stuff, which there was large economies of scale, products being shipped across the globe. Now what happens is a small supplier, who is maybe based literally a hundred miles from where I am, is able to quite efficiently market product to me. They’re able to ship product to me. And so, as a result, they’re able to take on the global suppliers.
Again, going back to the bakery example, a small baker is now able to compete better with a larger, more established bakery chain because now they’re able to market their product. They’re able to ship their products within a small zone more efficiently. And then I guess people are also becoming socially conscious of local supply chains. They want to help out the local economy. They’re willing to pay maybe a few percentage points more to get that product. So we may see, and actually we are seeing, a rebirth sort of in a lot of local supply chains.
Maybe we change direction again as we come to the end and maybe just ask you a few questions about yourself. What kind of things do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working and not writing books about the fulfillment machine?
Obviously, I like a lot of stuff. Fine foods and fine wine are sort of my pet peeves. Two years ago, I took a sabbatical. I was in the Lombardi region and I was researching actually artisanal supply chains. And it’s a completely different thing. People who are making cheese and wine. That was the best research project in my life, because not only was I enjoying the product, I was understanding what they were doing. And actually, I was trying to tell those people that there’s a small cheese producer who selling maximum within a 50 mile radius that the internet allows them to take on the Barilla makers and the big pasta makers. That is what I love to do. So those are some of my hobbies that I do in the food and wine industry, both the supply chain and the consumption side.
Apart from your own book, are you reading anything at the moment that is inspiring to you that you would recommend to listeners or any audio books or podcasts that you find inspiring at the moment?
Yeah, the book that I completed just a few months ago and I liked. Scott Galloway wrote a book called The Four, in which he talks about Amazon, Google, Facebook, et cetera. And he says how these companies are changing the social and economic behavior and this has become more relevant because nowadays, people are a little worried that some companies have become way too big and they control everything in our lives. He talked both about the social aspects and the technology aspects in that book.
So this is The Four, by Scott Galloway?
Scott Galloway. Yeah.
Scott Galloway, thank you very much. How can listeners find you or contact you or find out more about you and your work? And where, importantly, can they purchase your book, Fast Fulfillment and maybe access your blog also?
Okay. The book is available in Amazon, obviously. So Fast Fulfillment, if you type it in, it’ll come up. To support the book, I created a website. It’s called That has blogs, it has some articles. I also create templates or spreadsheets that people can use to back up their innovation efforts, et cetera. I can download those kinds of things. And they can always send me an email at and it’ll reach me.
Excellent. And how do you spell “fulfill”? You know there are different ways to spell it?
Yeah. Excellent. Because whenever I was writing the book, I used to keep getting different spelling. I spell it F-U-L-F-I-L-L.
Okay. So one L and two Ls.
One L and two L, that’s the model. But different dictionaries have it different ways.
That’s right. I think it’s probably different in America as in Europe as in the UK, maybe.
Thank you, Sanchoy. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you today, and I wish you every success personally and professionally in the future.
And thank you, Patrick. I loved your questions and it’s a great show that you have going. Thank you.
Many thanks, Sanchoy. And thanks to listeners for tuning in. Remember, any comments or questions, just drop me a line on That’s P-D-A-L-Y at Albalogistics, A-L-B-A logistics, all one word, .com. Keep well and stay safe until next time.

Patrick Daly’s Interlinks podcast interview with Alan McKinnon, Professor of Logistics at Kuehne Logistics University.

In this episode we talk to Alan McKinnon, Professor of Logistics at Kuehne Logistics University, Hamburg, and Professor Emeritus at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

Alan has been researching and teaching in freight transport and logistics for over 40 years and has published extensively in journals and books on many different aspects of the subject and much of his recent research has focused on the links between logistics and climate change.

This is very apposite right now given that freight transport in all its guises by land, sea and air and the associated facilities such as terminals and warehouses are among the major contributors to global emissions and the COP 26 UN Conference on Climate Change gets underway in Alan’s native Scotland this very week.

In this episode Alan and I discuss how the freight transport industry will change in the coming years as it transforms itself to the reality of a low carbon future while continuing to support the modern economies and standards of living that we have become accustomed to.

Click to read transcript

Patrick Daly:

Hello, this is Patrick Daly and welcome to Interlinks. Interlinks is a program about connections, international business and globalization, and the effects these developments have had on our life and work and travel over recent times. Today on the show, we will be talking to Alan McKinnon, professor of logistics at [Kuhne] Logistics University in Hamburg, Germany, and professor emeritus at Hariot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Alan has been researching and teaching in freight transport and logistics for over or 40 years and has published extensively in journals and books on many different aspects of the subject. And much of his recent research is actually focused on the links between logistics and climate change.

Patrick Daly:

So this is, I think, very apposite right now, given that trade transport in all its guises and warehousing and logistics, terminals, and warehouses, and so on, are among the major contributors to global emissions. And given that the COP26 UN conference on climate change gets underway in Ireland’s native Scotland this very week. So I’m looking, forward, very much, to discussing how the freight transport industry will change in the coming years as it transforms itself to the reality of a low carbon future while continuing to support the modern economies and standards of living that we have all become accustomed to. So welcome, Alan, and thank you very much for being here with us today.

Alan McKinnon:

Thank you for inviting me to take part, Patrick.

Patrick Daly:

You’re very welcome. Maybe to kick off, Alan, would you tell us a little bit about your current academic work and the areas of research interest that you’re currently involved in?

Alan McKinnon:

Yes. Well, most of my research really is on the links between logistics and climate change. Mainly on the mitigation side, how we cut emissions from logistical activity. I’ve also done some work; however, on how we adapt logistic systems and supply chains to all the climate change that is in the pipeline, because I think there’s a general recognition that freight transport is going to be very vulnerable to extreme weather events, for example. So, yes, I’ve just recently finished some work for the World Bank, which has been looking at how we can try to decarbonize logistics in less developed countries, because so much of the research has been done in this field really has focused on the developed world. But there’s going to be an extra challenge, it seems to me, in cutting carbon emissions from these [inaudible] in the developing world.

Patrick Daly:

And in terms of that research that’s ongoing, are you actively looking for PhD candidates who are interested in looking into this space?

Alan McKinnon:

No, I’m not. As you said, I think I’ve been 42 years in academic now. So, I’m nearing the end, really, of my academic career. So I think I have one more PhD to examine and then I will probably complete the process. I’ve not been taking on any new PhDs [inaudible].

Patrick Daly:

Very good. So, in your work on greening logistics, some of the work that I have read, you talk of five strategies. And one, which is perhaps the definitive long-term one, is to change power sources to lower zero-carbon sources. And then you have these other four, which are mitigation strategies that you referred to such as improved efficiency, increase utilization, model shift, and reducing demand. So just coming back to the first one first, which is the definitive long-term solution, what do you think are the most promising technologies for changing power sources for transport and logistics currently on the horizon or in development?

Alan McKinnon:

Yes, that partly depends on the transport mode that we’re talking about. Let’s suppose we’re looking at road freight. So for short distance, road freight movements like great deliveries in urban areas, I think it’s going to be battery/electric power that’s going to be used. We’ve already seen a reduction in the cost of batteries, quite a dramatic reduction. The total cost of ownership now for small vans that are battery powered are broadly comparable with diesel and petrol powered vans. So I think that process is underway.

Alan McKinnon:

We’re also seeing an increase in the charging facilities for these vehicles. But that’s in a sense, the easier part of the logistics system to electrify. Long-haul freight, I think, presents more of a problem for us. For many years, people felt that we would not be able to power long-distance, heavy trucks with batteries because the batteries would simply be too heavy. So the battery might be weighing, say 12 tons in a truck that would have a payload of only maybe 20 or 25 tons, and therefore that would be too heavy a weight penalty.

Alan McKinnon:

However, there have been quite remarkable advances in truck technology and battery technology in recent years. And I think that now in smaller countries like Ireland and Scotland, where the length of haul is probably less than say 300, 400 kilometers, I think ultimately batteries will be able to perform that task, supplemented in some countries, it seems to me, with an electrification of the highway. As you may be aware, Patrick, I mean, currently in Sweden, there are two trials underway. There are three in Germany where the highway is electrified and where we run trolley trucks. [crosstalk]

Patrick Daly:

Okay. So yeah, so this would [crosstalk] look like when we see the trolley buses in some European cities, something similar, but on the highway.

Alan McKinnon:

Exactly, or in railway, I mean, we’ve had many, many decades of electrified railways. So, this is a fairly mature technology that we’re just transferring really from rail or from urban trolley bus systems to road. I mean, to justify the capital cost of doing that you have to have a fairly heavy traffic in trucks. So, it’s going to be in, I think, particular corridors. So I think that’s another option.

Alan McKinnon:

And then, of course, the final option I haven’t mentioned yet is hydrogen. A lot of people are very enthusiastic about using hydrogen to decarbonize long-haul trucking. And there are problems with that. I mean, one is almost all the hydrogen we currently have is essentially a fossil fuel. I mean, it’s made from natural gas with a process called steam-methane reforming. This will only become a decarbonization option once we can produce enough green hydrogen from the use of low-carbon electricity to electrolyze water.

Alan McKinnon:

There are ambitious invest plans to set up what they call [gigastacks], this new generation of plants that will electrolyze large amounts of hydrogen. But the other problem with using hydrogen is the amount of energy you use in the process. If you do the life cycle analysis, going from the low-carbon electricity to the wheel of the vehicle, you can lose as much 70% of the low-carbon electricity. And studies done in Germany and elsewhere have compared the capital costs and the long-term costs of decarbonizing long-haul trucking. And so long as the traffic volumes are sufficient, actually electrifying the highway comes out as one of the most cost-effective ways and hydrogen comes out as the least cost-competitive option.

Alan McKinnon:

But I don’t think there’s any one of these technologies will necessarily dominate. I think they’ll coexist, and there will be some operator, some countries that will tend to adopt one more than the other.

Patrick Daly:

It’s interesting that those technologies, whether it’s batteries in HGVs or whether it’s electrifying the highway or whether it’s using hydrogen, which I assume is with a fuel cell, it means a fleet change, right? Is there any scope for drop-in fuels that would be carbon-neutral, maybe advanced biofuels or e-fuels? Is there any scope there?

Alan McKinnon:

Yes, there is, because I mean the technologies I’ve just described are in such a longer term. We’re not going to have, it seems, to be mass production, mass adoption of hydrogen fuel cell or battery long-haul trucks, probably until the late 2020s, maybe well into the 2030s. And, of course, we have to meet quite ambitious carbon-reduction targets between now in 2030. So there are things we have to do in the short to medium term, and that’s when we have to think about these alternative fuels. So people are portraying some biofuels, particularly things like biomethane or hydro-treated vegetable oil as a way of getting some deep carbon reductions. In the meantime, of course, in Europe and other parts of the world, we have been mixing biodiesel with conventional diesel for many years,

Patrick Daly:

There is a certain percentage, right, in the-

Alan McKinnon:

It’s about 7 to 10%, typically it’s 7% in Europe. The only problem with that is where you source the feedstock for the biodiesel, because if it’s coming from waste material, that’s fine. If we’re getting it from the tropical lands, either from palm oil, we’re in the process. We’re deforesting tropical rainforest. Then when you do the life cycle analysis that biodiesel can have a greenhouse gas footprint three times that of conventional diesel. So, it seems to me there’s a limited amount of what we would define as sustainable biodiesel. But when you do the life cycle analysis, I mean, the two biofuels that really come out strongly, as I said, are, are Biomethane [inaudible] with aerobic digestion of waste material and also hydro-treated vegetable oil, again, which is being essentially recycled. So both of those can give you quite a deep reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from road freight, but again, there’s a limited amount of that available.

Alan McKinnon:

So I think people are seeing these as helping with the transition to lower carbon trucking and helping us until we move to this new generation of low-power train vehicles or battery-powered or powered by hydrogen.

Patrick Daly:

So, if you are, say the fleet manager of a business that’s looking to do its bit here, and you’re looking at fleet renovation over the next five years, what should they be considering?

Alan McKinnon:

Well, you mentioned the five decarbonization levers. So we’ve only focused on one at the moment. The other one is just to improve the energy efficiency of those vehicles, right? So we reduce the amount of energy they’re consuming before we get to the stage when we’ve got to convert that to renewable sources. So, I mean, one thing that’s encouraging in Europe is that we have fuel economy standards now for new trucks. So, new trucks sold after 2025 will have to be 15% more carbon-efficient than the current ones. By 2030, it’s going to be a 30% improvement in carbon efficiency. So, for the new vehicles, things are going to be improving. But for existing vehicles, you can retrofit devices. You can make sure that they’re properly, aerodynamically profiled. You can put in anti-idling devices onto the vehicles. You can move to low-rolling resistance tires.

Alan McKinnon:

There are a combination of things that you can do. And each of them may reduce emissions by a few percent, but collectively, I mean, that can add up. And then leaving the technology aside. I mean, there are operational improvements. I always say the most cost-effective thing you can do to cut carbon emissions in road freight is train the truck drivers to drive more fuel efficiently and then monitor their behavior. And if necessary, give them further guidance on how to improve their fuel efficiency.

Alan McKinnon:

So, yeah, my worry is there’s currently a lot of discussion about switching to renewable energy. And as you said, in the longer-term, that is how we will completely decarbonize road haulage, but that’s a longer-term option. And we’d really have to do a lot of things in the interim really to get the, [crosstalk].

Patrick Daly:

I’m a fleet manager, there’s an awful lot of stuff I could be getting on with, in that regard, both on the efficiency side, the utilization side, and the operational changes to the way we run the business. And even if I am looking at fleet renewal, there are more efficient vehicles coming down the track, and we may have some biofuels and e-fuels and so on. We can use in the period, say up to 2030, and then we might be into a different scenario thereafter.

Alan McKinnon:

We’re going to see these decarbonization initiatives being time-phased. The beauty is there are many of them. Most of the things you can do to cut carbon emissions, certainly road freight, are mutually reinforcing. The last thing we want to do is simply sit back and wait until a new generation of low-power train trucks becomes available. So we don’t have that luxury, unfortunately.

Patrick Daly:

So getting on with a lot of those mitigation efforts, the challenges might be more managerial than technical actually, because the technical solutions are there, right?

Alan McKinnon:

That’s true, yep, yep. So, but are what I call the MOB` initiatives, managerial, operational, and behavioral. These are things which very often don’t involve much capital investment. They often have a fairly low or even negative carbon mitigation cost, and it can be implemented in the short and medium term. And I think that’s where we should be focusing our attention currently. And one thing that’s going to assist that is the current digitalization of road freight. And I use that term as a collective term for whole suites of computing, IT, artificial intelligence developments. I mean, we’re seeing quite remarkable advances, in fact, online load matching, for example. And things that have been around for a while like online freight exchanges, computerized vehicle routing systems. But with advances in computing, we’re now getting an upgrade in the potential of these things to improve routing of the vehicles, the level of loading and so forth.

Alan McKinnon:

And I think all of that is going to translate into lower carbon emissions. My university with the European Freight and Logistic Leaders Forum last year did a survey of about 90 senior executives in logistics in Europe. And one question we asked them was about the likely effects of digitalization on the decarbonization of logistics, and they were very positive. The vast majority of them said that digitalization would be transformational in this respect. So I think that’s a really good-news story.

Speaker 3:

93.9 Dublin South FM.

Patrick Daly:

Som we’ve looked at changing energy sources. We’ve looked at efficiency and utilization improvement. The other two strategies you speak about are model shift in just reducing demands. So, we’ve seen this supply chain redesign that’s already been underway as a result of COVID and other disruptions like Brexit and natural disasters, accidents, and geopolitical tensions and so on. So do you think that shift in supply chain structure that’s already underway will accelerate this reduction in demand and model shift, or will it make it more challenging? What’s your take on it?

Alan McKinnon:

Well on model shift and, and I think we’re probably talking here predominantly about shifting for road to rail, is that right?

Patrick Daly:

Yeah, road to rail and maybe to water, short-sea shipping and so on.

Alan McKinnon:

That’s right. There is a feeling that rail freight operations, certainly in Europe, actually benefited from COVID because the lockdowns in various countries reduced rail passenger movements to greater extent than rail freight movements, right?

Patrick Daly:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alan McKinnon:

So, therefore, there was a lot more available capacity in real infrastructure in Europe to move freight. And so the transit times improved, their liability improved, the overall service improved, and that also demonstrated to companies just what the potential was for using rail. Of course, we rebounded from there and traffic has returned, not to the level it was before, but the feeling is people get talking about building back greener. And I think that does apply to logistics as much as it does to other sectors of the economy. And I think it will probably help to tilt the balance away from road towards rail, but that’s got to be put into context. Because there are major policy initiatives now, certainly in Europe, to get much more freight onto rail. Some of the European Commissions Smart and Sustainable Rail Mobility Strategy that was published in December last year, said they want to increase the amount of freight moved by rail in Europe by 50% by 2030, and doubling it by 2050.

Alan McKinnon:

And now that’s going to be really difficult to do. I mean, but at least there’s the policy dynamic in place there to try to get as much freight off road and onto rail. And the reasons for that, I think, are quite obvious because if you compare the carbon intensity of roads, typically in Ireland or the UK or elsewhere, you’re looking at an average, I think of 90 grams of CO2 per [inaudible] road, as opposed to maybe 20 to 30 for rail. And again, with rail it depends if it’s diesel-powered or if it’s an electrified service. And if it’s an electrified service in France or Sweden with electricity, it’s got very low carbon, then you get an even bigger differential between [inaudible].

Patrick Daly:

So, I’ve been reading a lot about this space and in recent times. Bill Gates and Mark Carney and some of your own work and so on, and I get the distinct impression that the challenge here right now is not so much technological. Though there are still technological challenges, but the bigger challenges are actually economic and political. So have we been moving politically in the right direction over the last 20 years, do you think? And what would you consider as a good outcome from COP26 in this regard?

Alan McKinnon:

Yes, that’s a very good question. So if you asked yourself the question, to what extent have policy initiatives over the past 10 or 20 years helped us decarbonize freight transport, some things have certainly helped. One thing we haven’t mentioned at all is the relaxation of truck size and weight, moving to what we call high capacity transport which has been well established for decades now in Scandinavia, since 2013 in Europe. We’ve seen more countries relaxing the restriction and truck size and weight. And the analysis that’s been done suggests that does create greater consolidation of loads, reduces vehicle kilometers, cuts fuel, and therefore, reduces CO2 emissions. So, that’s been one policy initiative where it seemed to.

Alan McKinnon:

And there has been a lot of policy effort, as I said, to try to get more freight onto rail. That’s not been so successful. The EU in its 2011 white paper on transport came up with this target that by 2030 they wanted 30% of all freight moving more than 300 kilometers to either be on rail or on inland waterways. And if you look at what has happened since then, there has been hardly any movement in that direction. The freight model split in Europe has been pretty static over the past decade. So, it looks very unlikely that target will actually be achieved.

Alan McKinnon:

So there are other policies. I mentioned the fuel economy standards, which are now imposed on trucking, which won’t happen overnight but through time, aa companies replace their truck plates with this new generation of lower-carbon vehicles within these fuel economy regulations, I think that will help as well. So it’s a mixed mixture.

Alan McKinnon:

There is one policy initiative which, I think, was introduced prematurely and that has not delivered the greenhouse gas savings that were expected. And it’s something we spoke about a moment ago, mixing biodiesel with conventional diesel. The renewable fuel directives that were introduced, what about 12, 14 years ago. Because that was done, I think, before we did the fuel life cycle analysis, before we looked at the amounts of biodiesel we would require, and where the feedstocks would have sourced, but now we realize there are a lot of the biodiesel were mixing with this actually has a pretty high carbon footprint. So, that was a policy initiative that misfired, it seems to me.

Patrick Daly:

Coming out of COP26, if you said, “Okay, that’s a result.” What would that be?

Alan McKinnon:

I just wonder in the core COP26 negotiation, if they’ll be drilling down to look at transport initiatives. I think the main inter-country negotiation there will be focusing on more general issues, which then will have an impact on all sectors, right? So, and it would then be for individual governments, it seems to me, to translate these wider policy commitments into things that will impact on the transport sector. In July this year, for example, in anticipation of COP, the UK government published its transport decarbonization strategy. And, in fact, uses an illustration of what other countries might do. It involves phasing out diesel-powered cars, for example, diesel-powered trucks. Or they want to stop the sale of diesel-powered trucks by 2040, for example, in the UK. Again, they want to get as much freight off the road network onto rail and onto waterways as well, if that is possible.

Alan McKinnon:

But there’s some things that I would like to see emerging from COP. I mean, I believe that we need to monetize CO2 emissions, right? We need to get that into the balance sheets of companies, because it seems to me, that would be a game-changer. And therefore we need a lot more work and commitment to introduce carbon pricing and emissions trading and so forth. And that will affect all sectors. I mean, at the moment, logistics is not covered by many carbon-pricing schemes worldwide, but through time I think it will. And I think then the price mechanism will be the thing that will drive logistics decarbonization.

Patrick Daly:

Either the economics or the politics of the topic shifts rapidly at some point where we get a paradigm shift to get us out of this. We’ve been going through this tortuous, slow process. And you can see maybe at some point either the politics or the economics, or both are going to shift at some point quite rapidly. Would you concur with that?

Alan McKinnon:

Yeah, it might be wishful thinking that will happen. I mean, it needs to happen because we’re getting so close to exhausting our carbon budget. I mean, we do need radical shifts of that sort. If you take a global perspective on this, the problem is that the fossil fuels are still heavily subsidized around the world.

Patrick Daly:

Yes, it’s quite ironic, yes.

Alan McKinnon:

Exactly, so it’s not that we have an increase in carbon pricing. In fact, we’re doing the opposite. We actually-

Patrick Daly:

Carbon discounting, right?

Alan McKinnon:

We’re promoting demand for fossil fuel, but by offering subsidies. So, I think the first step is to get those countries which are still subsidizing fossil fuel to phase that out ASAP. And then really moving to internalization of the environmental costs of freight transport. And the key part of that then would be the price that you then attach to carbon-related externalities.

Patrick Daly:

One financial aspect of this or economic aspect that we don’t hear a lot about is the issue of stranded assets, which could destabilize the financial system. So, if you’ve got companies that have oil reserves or countries with oil reserves under balance sheet, and suddenly these reserves are worth nothing because the paradigm shift, that could cause disruptions in the finance system, right?

Alan McKinnon:

Yes, [inaudible] and I mean this has been researched and in big banks, for example, in their stress testing, they’re seeing the effect this could have on their balance sheets and their survival. One rather worrying scenario, which hopefully we’ll never materialize, is one where the owners of those fossil fuel assets realize that the future demand is going to collapse, right? There are going to be radical climate change policies put into place which will phase out fossil fuel probably faster than people are expecting.

Alan McKinnon:

Because what will happen then is the owners of those assets will want to offload them as quickly as possible while they still have value. And we might then have a fossil fuel binge. That will drive down cost of the fossil fuel, right? And it’ll make it harder for companies to justify investing in renewables because the cost of the fossil fuel alternative is so low.

Alan McKinnon:

So one would hope that there’ll be policy initiatives put in place really to minimize the risk of that for happening. Because, as you know, there’s still a lot of coal, oil, and gas in the ground, and there’s no way we can burn all of that. And we really have to stop consuming it as quickly as we can.

Patrick Daly:

So, I have lots of clients who are SME logistics operators, owners of transportation fleets and warehouses are concerned about the economics of this transformation. They’re fearful of both, maybe being victimized in the media on the one hand, or hung out to dry economically. And they’re also getting pressure then from their own clients who, a lot of them, are multinational corporations who are quite sensitive and keen to be seen to be green as well. So, what would you advise the owners and managers of these types of businesses to consider now for their future strategies in terms of, well, we spoke about fleet renewal, but say energy sources, people skills, collaboration with supply chain partners and so on? How should they be thinking about that 5 years, 10 years in the future?

Alan McKinnon:

One thing they can do, and an increasing number of companies are doing that, is shadow pricing. Their businesses aren’t necessarily subject to that at the moment, but almost certainly in the short term, but in the medium to long term, they will really have to factor that into their calculations. And, so if they’re having to make an investment decision, then factor into your investment appraisal, some future estimate of what the carbon price might be. And I mean, I understand financial institutions these days and the stress testing they have to do to satisfy the needs of national banks. They’re being asked to say, “What would happen if the carbon price was £300 a ton or €1,000 just to see how vulnerable their operations would be, not just to the impact in a physical sense, but in a financial sense, if we move into a world where carbon is priced at a relatively high level?”

Patrick Daly:

Yeah. I think that’s the reality. And it’s worthwhile looking into. Inevitably, I think, there are going to be casualties, but if you have the wherewithal, you start looking at that. Because I guess if you don’t, some of the choice business you’re not going to get, because these multinational corporations are not going to contract your services, right?

Alan McKinnon:

Yeah. I think the good news on this is that there’s still a lot of low-hanging fruit around.

Patrick Daly:

That’s true.

Alan McKinnon:

Because we looked at the five decarbonization levers. The one where you make better use of the assets, fuel the vehicles better, and also improve the energy efficiency, a lot of the things you do there give you a fairly rapid payback and are self-financing in the short to medium term. So a lot of this is simply good business practice that the gratis, the harvesting of all the low-hanging fruit, isn’t going to deliver the really deep production innovations that we will require, but at least it gets us started in the process. Right?

Patrick Daly:


Alan McKinnon:

And then there’s a diagram I often use in my presentation. So the first part of it is where we’re sliding down this low-hanging fruit curve, if you like, where we’re cutting costs, as well as cutting carbon. Eventually, we will exhaust all of that low-hanging fruit, and there’ll be a rebound when the carbon mitigation costs start to rise again. And it may be to get to net-zero by 2040, 2050, we really have to then start to do some fairly draconian things. And that’s when it’s going to get tough and where companies may have to sacrifice mobility. And their investment returns may decline and so forth. But that could be 10, 15, 20 years away. In the meantime, there are things that we can do that, as I say, will be self-financing.

Patrick Daly:

So, we have our work cut out for us. So, as we come into the last couple of minutes, we might just change gears. And maybe I’ll just ask you a question or two about yourself. So, when you’re not thinking about decarbonizing the logistics industry, what kind of things do you like to do in your spare time?

Alan McKinnon:

My main recreation is playing the piano.

Patrick Daly:

Really? Interesting.

Alan McKinnon:

I’ve been playing the piano since I was eight.

Patrick Daly:

Okay, excellent.

Alan McKinnon:

And I find that so relaxing and creative. So that’s-

Patrick Daly:

I often think that about people who are musicians, that it must be a great kind of solace for them, a great kind of comfort. Because you see when they’re doing it, they’re almost in trance, right?

Alan McKinnon:

[inaudible] And when I’m working, because my home is in Edinburgh here, when I go to KLU, I’ve actually got an electronic keyboard in my office there, sitting right beside my desk. So, when I get to relax, I put the headphones on and just play away and that’s a wonderful distraction.

Patrick Daly:

Excellent. So to finish then, how can listeners find out more about you, more about your work and your research online or bookshops or so on?

Alan McKinnon:

So I have my own personal website, which is So, all my life’s work is on that website, including some of my piano playing as well.

Patrick Daly:


Alan McKinnon:

But also my university, KLU, Again, I’ve got a personal page here, which is has got my publication listed, and I always plug my book, Decarbonizing Logistics.

Patrick Daly:

Decarbonizing Logistics by Alan McKinnon.

Alan McKinnon:

That’s right.

Patrick Daly:

And then you’ve got, which is the university website.

Alan McKinnon:

That’s correct.

Patrick Daly:

And then’s, which is your personal websites.

Alan McKinnon:

That’s right. [crosstalk].

Patrick Daly:

That’s about-

Alan McKinnon:

The university is, I think, So it’s

Patrick Daly:

Yeah. And that’s the university in Hamburg, which is a private university, dedicated to logistics.

Alan McKinnon:

It is, exactly, which I’ve spoken about. So it was founded in 2010. It’s in its 11th year, and it’s a university. We think it’s the only one in the world, really, which focuses very much on logistics operations.

Patrick Daly:

Well, thank you, Alan. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you, and I wish you every success both personally and professionally.

Alan McKinnon:

Well, thank you, Patrick. That’s great.

Patrick Daly:

And thanks also to our listeners for tuning in. Any comments or questions, just drop me a line on So keep well, and stay safe until next time.

Interview with Xavi Sanz Branch Manager of the Hangzhou (China) Office of Across Logistics.

In this episode we talk to Xavi Sanz, Branch Manager of the Hangzhou (China) Office of Across Logistics, an international logistics operator and freight forwarder. Xavi is originally from Barcelona in Spain, and through his career he has lived, studied, or worked in several countries including the US, Denmark, Singapore and China.

Likewise, Across Logistics, a Spanish logistics company providing services in airfreight, sea freight, road freight and rail freight, as well as customs brokerage, warehousing and distribution logistics, is truly international with offices or joint venture partnerships in Europe and Asia giving the company a wide reach in countries such as the Netherlands, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Given the challenges that both manufacturing and distribution companies have been experiencing in Europe over the last year with their inbound logistics from Asia, I am looking forward very much to finding out from Xavi what the latest developments are in this area and what businesses should be considering as they plan their logistics operations to support their business strategies for 2022.

Click to read transcript


Hello, this is Patrick Daly and welcome to Interlinks. Interlinks is a program about connections, international business, supply chain, and globalization. The effects these have had on our life, our work and our travel over recent times. Today on the show we’ll be talking to Xavi Sanz, branch manager of the Huangzhou China office of Across Logistics. Xavi is originally from Barcelona in Spain, and through his career has lived, studied, or worked in several countries including the US, Denmark, Singapore, and China. Likewise, Across Logistics, a Spanish logistics company providing services in air freight, sea freight, road freight, and rail freight, as well as customs brokerage, warehousing and distribution, is truly international. With offices or joint ventures in Europe and Asia and countries such as the Netherlands, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.


So given the challenges that both manufacturing and distribution companies have been experiencing in Europe over the last year or so, with their inbound logistics, I’m looking forward very much to finding out from Xavi what the latest developments are in this area, and what businesses should be considering as they plan for 2022. So welcome Xavi, and thank you very for being here with us today.

Xavi Sanz:

Thank you, Patrick. The pleasure is mine.


You’re very welcome. So to kick off Xavi, could you tell me a little bit about your career to date? How did you go from studying economics at the University of Barcelona to running the branch office of an international logistics company in Huangzhou, China?

Xavi Sanz:

Yes, of course Patrick. Well, as you said, I did my economics degree in the University of Barcelona. Previously I had the chance to study my last year of high school in the US where I could learn my English when I was 17. Then, while doing my economics degree, I had the opportunity also to do an [Erasmus] in Berlin in Germany for one year to learn German. Then, also a six months in Switzerland in Fribourg on the French side of Switzerland. Well, after finishing my economics degree, I just landed, I don’t know how into the logistics field. Which I had completely no idea about it, right? So I landed in one of the leading logistics companies by the time 12, 13 years ago in Barcelona. Where I worked there for one year.

Xavi Sanz:

After that, I got some scholarship from the Spanish government [Effix]. I had the chance to study six months in Madrid, and work on the Spanish embassy in Denmark for one year. Then also moved to Singapore to work for one year, which was one of my dreams by the time to work and live in Asia. But this is back in… Yeah, more than 12 years ago. After that period, Patrick, in 2010, I had the pleasure to join Across Logistics. What I’m working right now. A company made by three people, only three people, by the time in 2010. Since then, the idea was to open the office already in China. That was my duty to come from Singapore to Spain to open later in China. But it wasn’t possible for the next six years, because we couldn’t find the right partner to open in China. It wasn’t until 2016 that we could open. Then 2017 I came to Huangzhou, the city between Shanghai and Ningbo, to open the branch by myself. Here I am fighting against everyone.


Excellent. Tell me then, a little bit about the business of Across Logistics. What are the main activities of the business in general, and there at the Huangzhou office in China? What kind of clients do you have?

Xavi Sanz:

Yes, Patrick, we are what it’s called the freight for water. We are a logistics company that what we do is, we ship cargo by sea and by air. When it goes by sea it’s by containers, usually. We do also breakbulk, and other type of movements, but by sea and then by air. It’s a very traditional old style business to transport things from point A to point B, there is no secret on that. Well our customers, mainly our customers, are small and medium companies. Small, medium companies. At the end of the day, I come… I’m Spanish, our headquarters are in Spain, and as you know very well. So Spain, and I would say 98 to 99% of the companies in Spain are small and medium enterprises.

Xavi Sanz:

Our company, our customers are also small companies. Although, during the last, I would say, the last two years, more and more bigger companies that are not finding the right solutions or the right alternatives into the logistics industry with our competitors. They knock on our doors and they come to us to find if there is an option. Nowadays I’m proud to say that we work with the small companies, but also with some big companies.


Where did the motivation or ambition come from, in Across, to go to Asia and actually have an office in China?

Xavi Sanz:

That’s a good one, Patrick. Actually, we started in Spain and most of our business comes from China. Most of our customers, they import from China. There was… China has been here for a while already, but it has been always very, very important. I would say that China… There is a busy road in Barcelona called Passeig de Gràcia. It’s a commercial street in Barcelona. Let’s say like a [Spanish]. Okay. Where it’s a very busy commercial street. If you put a store in Passeig de Gràcia you put a store or restaurant in [Spanish] I don’t know if you will make business or no. But, I can guarantee you that you will have a few low of potential customers going through your door.

Xavi Sanz:

So as a logistics company that we are, having an office in China, it brings a huge potential to increase your services. For us, it was not an option. It was mandatory that the logistics company like us, with a very international view, we had to open to China. We had to open to China to be present in China to know what’s going on in China from firsthand. To help our customers in Spain, and then from here also offer other services. Because while you open here in China, you can expand and extend your services, and not focus only on Spain.


I see. So then, as someone from Spain, what kind of cultural differences and similarities have you encountered while working in Asia? What have you had to do yourself in order to adapt to those differences?

Xavi Sanz:

Yes. I’m still on my process to adapting, Patrick. I’m still on my process to adapting. Okay. Since I arrived to this wonderful country and I think I will be adapting here for the rest of my life. China and Europe… Let’s say China and Spain, okay? But I would say China and Europe, or Asia. There are huge differences on terms of cultural, and I think that this is one of the key points why some foreign managers, like myself, comes from headquarters to overseas. One of the points of course, is to [inaudible] also to reduce this cultural impact. One of the examples always I say we receive an order, for example, we receive an order in Spain, “Please contact this supplier. He has some cargo, blah, blah.” So our team in Across China, immediately they would contact the supplier and check the status of the cargo and everything. Right? But for example, the supplier, it might take maybe one day or two days sometimes to reply. Or we might take one or two days to get the full information. Right?

Xavi Sanz:

From the Chinese point of view, if we don’t have information to give, they would not reply the customers in the overseas because, we have no information to give. So because we have no new information to give, we don’t reply. While our Spanish office, or our customers in Spain, due to the big time zone difference they wake up at seven o’clock, eight o’clock in the morning expecting some news from us. Like, “Well, let’s see if Across Logistics contact or not contact.” So, I’ve noticed that at the beginning, maybe we wouldn’t reply on time because there was no news, so we have been working towards this direction. Although there is no news, people likes to know that there is no news. That’s one of the big cultural gaps we had here.


Yeah. There’s lots of tricky differences that are sometimes difficult to process isn’t that right?

Xavi Sanz:



In Europe then, over the last year or so, we’ve seen rates for 40 foot containers coming from China jumping from maybe a thousand, $2,000 to anything between, I don’t know, 14, $20,000. How did this situation come about? What do you think are the main contributing factors?

Xavi Sanz:

Yes. It’s right, Patrick. We saw in 2018, rates around 1,000 per container every thing started during the pandemia. I would say everything started in March, April, and May, 2020, I think or ’19, I don’t remember when all the outbreak. When all the people was at home and couldn’t go out, couldn’t travel. Couldn’t go to the restaurant. You know, couldn’t spend money on services. What people did with all my respects, a part of suffering, of course, because it has been hard for all of us. It’s sitting at home and spending money online. In Amazon and all those things. Many people also had to move office and to work at home. So, because they work at home, they buy a new chair, they buy a new table.

Xavi Sanz:

They buy a new laptop. They buy a new computer. Also, people spending more time at home, they see the bathroom, they see this toilet is not good. So they start to fix the house. All these small things that you didn’t do that you expect to do it on the summer. Right? And now you’re sitting there every day, you see this dirty wall, this hole in your wall. You want to fix it, right? So, during that period, Patrick, the demand increase a lot on the products. This demand was shifted to the production in Asia. Don’t forget also, Patrick, that during that time of pandemic, March, April, May, the shipping lines, who are making lots of money right now, I’m hoping to say that. They suffer a lot also.

Xavi Sanz:

They suffer a lot because the international trade dropped down dramatically. I mean, it was amazing. It went down and the shipping lines, they had to take out the vessels. They had to take out the vessel, just park it in the ports because there was too much vessels on that. When the businesses start to recover after a couple of months, let’s say June, July, August, some of the vessels they were out. So imagine that you are a shipping line, Patrick, you have some vessels and you are making money. You’re making money with the existing vessels that you have, and you have 20% of your fleet, or 30% of your fleet it just parked in the port. You see that the prices starts going up, and up, and up. Not because there is increase on demand.

Xavi Sanz:

There is a shortage of supply, right? You, Patrick, as a shipping line owner, you have no incentive at all. You have no incentive at all, Patrick, to bring out those vessels who are not working to bring them on the sea. You have no motivation at all, because if you bring more vessels, what you do is to increase the supply. If you increase the supply of the space the price of the containers goes down. So at the end, I would say, it’s a mix of things what happened. The demand, the international demand, increased a lot. The COVID 19, it’s true that it’s hitting hard. There are a lot of restrictions on the ports. There are some ports are working at 50% of the capacity.

Xavi Sanz:

The vessels they take, I don’t know, they take maybe 10 days, 15 days to unload, Patrick. So why should you take vessels out in the sea? While you see that to unload in Rotterdam, or south Hampton, or Felixstowe you need to wait for 15 days. You have no motivation to do that. So at the end, it’s a mix of things of happen. I think there are some forces in the market that do not want the prices to go back what it was in 2018.

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So yeah, this doesn’t really auger very well for the future. What do you think will happen with ocean freight rates through 2022 and beyond?

Xavi Sanz:

I would be a bit pessimistic on that Patrick. Or, realistic on the same time. I think that it probably will be hard to see those 20,000 euros, or 20,000 US dollars per container that we sold to Felixstowe in this year. I think it would be hard to see again. Or, 25,000 we see from China to some parts of the US. But on the same time, I think it will be impossible to see those rates drop to 2,000.

Xavi Sanz:

I think that rates might go down a little bit still, but will keep high. We saw an increase of the prices went 10 times up. I think that for these 2022 the prices will still be like five times up what it was in 2018. I think Pat, because I was commenting to you, there are many interests in the international trade, and not only shipping lines. There are many interests that the prices do not go down, and on the moment that they go down, the market will readjust maybe. It’s very easy to bring them up again, you know?


Yeah. I’ve seen some clients here shifting their sourcing decisions, say from different parts of Asia, maybe to closer to home, to Russia, to Ukraine, to Turkey, to Morocco. Or, maybe some of my American clients looking at Mexico. That’s a trend, I think, that we is underway before COVID due to environmental, technological, and geopolitical factors. A sort of regional reconfiguration of supply chains. Is this a trend that you have noticed from your vantage point in China? Where do you see this going in the future?

Xavi Sanz:

Yes, Patrick. I’ve seen this, and I think that this topic has been, as you said, it was previous, pre COVID. This topic has been for many years, Patrick. But, it’s like all of us, “Oh, we should do this. We should do this.” But we never do it, right? I think the globalization is a present right now. Of course, it’s normal that many companies, they suffer a lot about that, and they’re suffering a lot. It’s normal. It’s normal that many companies, they look for an alternative, for suppliers who are near their headquarters. I think that for some companies it can be good.

Xavi Sanz:

Of course, it can be good. It can be feasible. It can be workable. It’s true. But you know, all the industrial areas and everything that they’re not born from one day to another. Right? As we move on, China is so far, it’s going in a so high speed. They have been growing so much lately, and we have seen many, for example in Europe. We have seen many companies in Europe that they closed. Or in Morocco also, right? There are many factories also that they left Morocco. So, it’s difficult that now you want, all of a sudden, to find a supplier in Morocco.

Xavi Sanz:

Well, you didn’t buy to Morocco for the last 10 years. Now you expect that to find this same product that you want in Morocco. While maybe that area is no longer there. So what I want to say is that it can be workable for some companies, Patrick, but I think it’s a bit difficult. On top of that, I’m seeing here in China that China has the capacity of production. One thing is, if you can find the same product in another place, which it can be, the other thing is, are they able to produce the quantities that you want? Do they have the production levels that you request? That’s another point, right? It’s not only finding a new supplier, but it’s also making sure that they can produce and they can deliver the product that you want.


Yeah. It’s not a simple question. There’s lots of factors to consider. So, what do you think should be the main factors to consider for company owners, and managers, when developing their logistic strategies for the future? Say, for next year, and for beyond?

Xavi Sanz:

I would… Well, this is my humble advice, Patrick, because I’m not one to give advices to too many managers. But, I would say just to focus on two things. The first thing is to work more closely with the suppliers. To work more closely with the suppliers. I think that all of us are suffering. I think it’s very important to work with your suppliers. Sometimes, we look for different, “Oh, I’m going to buy this in this supplier. I’m going to buy this in another supplier.” It’s good to diversify the risk. It’s good. It’s good not to have all the eggs in the same basket. I agree on that. I think it’s important, for example, not to have all the supply, for example, in China.

Xavi Sanz:

For example. And this point could be good that you mentioned, to look for an alternative. But saying that, I think it’s important to work closely with your suppliers, talk to them and listen to them and tell them what is your forecast and everything. So work good with your suppliers, because most of us, we depend on them. The second thing, Patrick, is the price of the logistics. As I commented to you before, I think the price of the logistics will keep up already. People know that. I think that by the time, right now, I think that all companies should have updated their selling prices because the logistics went up. I think that at the first stage, many companies, they absorbed this. They absorbed this increase in the logistics because they were not able to increase the price.

Xavi Sanz:

But come on Patrick, 2022, it’s a new year, it’s a moment to update the prices. In this increase in the logistics, you should put it on your P&L and put it on your product, on your cost forecast. Once you put this cost and this cost is part of your cost of the product, and the market can accept it, then just forget about logistics, because logistic will be high anyways. So, just focus on what you do best.


Yeah. So it could be a case of, as you say, in Spain, “New Year, new life.” Right?

Xavi Sanz:

Yes, exactly. New year, new life. Ha ha!


So as we come to the end of the interview, Xavi, it has been really interesting. I think we’ll change gears here a little and maybe just ask you some questions about yourself. Living in Huangzhou as you do, what kind of things do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working?

Xavi Sanz:

Yes. When I’m not working, which is unfortunately it’s not that much time, Patrick. Because, we work in logistics and people are expecting… Working globally you have customers in Europe, you have customers in Latin America. When customers in Latin America, they wake up, it’s already eight o’clock, nine o’clock at night here. They expect to reply something. I would say I’m a gentle guy, you know? So, I think it’s always nice to reply sometimes. So anyways, jokes aside, I’m a very familiar guy, Patrick. I’m a father of three kids, wonderful kids. I’m here with my wife who is also working. Well my time, my free time, is spent with my kids. I try to do some sports, but I do it on my lunch time so I can take advantage. My free time, I spend it with my kids, Patrick.


Excellent. Are you reading or listening to anything at the moment? You know audiobooks, podcasts, and so on that are inspiring you and that you would recommend to listeners?

Xavi Sanz:

Yes. I’m trying always to be updated. Basically I like a lot, all those topics about sales. I like it. I also like the topic about China, and related to that, I’m reading right now one of the guides from Daniel Disney. He’s a sales guy in LinkedIn. The book he’s called the Ultimate LinkedIn Sales. It’s a book about, I don’t know if you heard, it’s a book about sales. How to take advantage of LinkedIn. I think LinkedIn is a very good platform nowadays. It’s very professional. I think it’s very useful right now on this online. So I’m trying to learn a little bit more, be more present on the net, and be there.

Xavi Sanz:

Then one other book I’m also reading, but I’m taking this more [inaudible]. It’s called The Governance of China from Xi Jinping. It’s a book about some of the talks of Xi Jinping, the president of China. While reading the book, can see, and you can imagine what will be China in the next year. Because in China, China is a country where they plan things. It’s so huge country that they need to plan things. They don’t plan things from one year to another, like it’s in Spain, for example, or the Western countries. These guys, they’re doing like a 10 to 30 years planned. So, they have a really long term view. A long term vision on the country and everything. I’s a very interesting book that it’s teaching you what will happen on the next years.


Okay. How can listeners find out more about Across Logistics and the services that you provide? Whether in Europe or in Asia?

Xavi Sanz:

You can always reach me also always in LinkedIn Patrick, as you know, Xavi Sanz. Also in our website,, or my email, Xavier, X-A-V-I-E-R Or if not, Patrick, they can always contact you right?



Xavi Sanz:

Feel free to connect me.


Exactly. Thank you very much, Xavi, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Wish you every success personally and professionally in the future.

Xavi Sanz:

Thank you. Thank you very much, Patrick pleasure was mine. Thank you.


Thanks to our listeners also for tuning in. With any comments or questions, drop me a line on So, keep well and stay safe until next time.

Interview with supply chain thought leader John Gattorna, founder and principal of Gattorna Alignment in Sydney Australia on my Interlinks podcast.

At Gattorna Alignment, John works with selected clients from around the world to help them develop customer-focused and innovative supply chain strategies.

John’s career stretches back over several decades and includes executive roles in the corporate sector, academic research, university professorships, the authoring several books and, of course, expounding thought leadership in supply chain through his advisory practice.

In this interview we first look back at John’s career milestones and how they have come to shape his view and conceptualization of supply chains today. We then move on to explore some of the key concepts from his latest book Transforming Supply Chains: Realign Your Business to Better Serve Customers in a Disruptive World such as dynamic alignment, outside-in design, and tailored supply chains for flexibility.

Never before has the mission to develop and implement innovative supply chain solutions been so critical as it is today as our economies emerge battered from the impact of COVID and we face into doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the road to decarbonize our global economies in the coming few years.

I am thoroughly delighted and privileged to explore these topics with John Gattorna, widely acknowledged as being one of the most respected supply-chain thought leaders in the world today.

Click to read transcript

Patrick Daly (00:09):

Hello, this is Patrick Daly, and welcome to Interlinks. Interlinks is a program about connections, international business, supply chain, and globalization, and the effects these have had on our life, our work, and our travel over recent times.

Patrick Daly (00:23):

Today on the show, we will be talking to John Gattorna, founder and principal of Gattorna Alignment, a boutique advisory firm based in Sydney, Australia that works with selected clients around the world to help them develop customer focused and innovative supply chain strategies.

Patrick Daly (00:39):

John is one of the most respected supply chain thought leaders in the world today. So never has this mission to develop and implement innovative solutions been so important for everybody as it is today as our supply chains emerge reeling from the impact of COVID, and must now phase into doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the road to decarbonize our global economies in the coming years.

Patrick Daly (01:01):

So welcome, John, and thank you very much for being here with us today.

John Gattorna (01:04):

Thanks, Patrick. And nice to be with you.

Patrick Daly (01:07):

You’re very welcome. So John, your career stretches back over several decades and includes executive [crosstalk 00:01:13] corporate sector, academic research, university professorships, authoring several books, and now thought leadership through your boutique advisory firm. Could you tell us a little bit about your career milestones and how they came to shape your view and conceptualization of supply chains today?

John Gattorna (01:29):

Mm-hmm (affirmative), well, I started off as an engineer, did an engineering degree at Melbourne University and worked as an engineer for about nine years. And in that time, I worked for a public works type of road construction authority, and two American companies. I worked for Vickers Detroit Hydraulics and also another company called FMC Corporation, both of them American. It was a good experience for me, but towards the end of that, I was getting a bit fed up of engineering and did my MBA at Monash University, also in Melbourne.

John Gattorna (01:58):

Now it was during that time I met Mark Doctoroff. Mark Doctoroff was a Fulbright scholar, he was out from Canada, and he was the one that brought the idea of teaching physical distribution, what was that called in those days, in the mid-70s, to Australian Universities. And I did it, and I got sort of hooked on it, and I got to the stage where the interest or the hobby became greater than the career, as it were. I decided, “Boy, I think I might get into this.” Looking back on that it was an amazing preconception because four decades later, if I could have imagined that everyone would be talking about supply chain, and yet back in those days, no one even knew what logistics was, it was just a very lucky break.

John Gattorna (02:46):

Anyhow, make a long story short, I decided to go and do my PhD to leapfrog into the field and looked around and decided to go to Cranfield. I knew Martin Christopher, I knew Gordon Wills, David Walters. There was a whole group of them that’d come down from Bradford to start the new business school at Cranfield. I arrived about three years later in ’75 there and started to do my PhD. And really, we stayed there for five years, I almost got to the point where we just decided we were going to stay in UK, to tell you the truth, but we had two young boys and the weather was getting us down, so we decided to come back to Australia and we came back here.

Patrick Daly (03:28):

The [crosstalk 00:03:28].

John Gattorna (03:28):

And when I came back, the only way I could get back in was to take an academic job at University of South Wales, teaching marketing and logistics. But to answer your real question there, I guess my mindset was really framed at Cranfield because they are unique, there Martin Christopher’s approach to logistics was very much the marketing logistics. In other words, it wasn’t an operational field, it was very much a field that focused on the customer and that’s the way it was researched and taught.

John Gattorna (03:57):

So when I came back to Australia, I taught it that way. And then after a few years, I got fed up with the academic scene here because it was not a shade of what it was at Cranfield. So I started my own consultancy in the mid-80s and built it up over 10 years and to the point where Anderson consulting approached me, and eventually became Accenture, and bought my business and I went and started there. And that was a break for me because I was getting to a stage where I needed a bigger pond to swim in, as it were, and that gave me a lot more resources. And I built the whole Asia-Pacific practice up over seven or eight years and retired from that in 2003-4.

John Gattorna (04:36):

Now for a couple of years, I sort of recovered, but then there were people calling and wanting to do stuff, and then that’s when I got the idea, “Why don’t I get a small group of us and just work solely on, not ordinary stuff consultants do, but wicked problems, and try and develop a theory.” Because the big problem in all through this was that logistics and then what became supply chain, it was very operational and it didn’t have a lot of underpinning conceptual strength. And so, a big part of my life then was to concentrate on developing frameworks and templates which would guide us in the design and operation of our contemporary supply chains, and that’s what happened.

Patrick Daly (05:18):

And one of the key ideas I think that possibly came out of that was this idea of dynamic alignment.

John Gattorna (05:24):


Patrick Daly (05:24):

So, what is the essence of this idea and what does it look like in practical implementation?

John Gattorna (05:29):

Well, it’s funny because I was very fortunate when I first got back in my consulting I was joined by a guy who came from South Africa, who had a PhD, and his strength was very much looking at… In fact, his PhD had been all around this idea of aligning internal culture with a strategy. And his hypothesis is that if you don’t actually align the internal subcultures in the business with the strategies that you write down, you get a lot of spinning of wheels and you end up not delivering the strategies you said you were going to deliver. Now that, we all know this has been a problem for years, implementations are never as good as we thought.

John Gattorna (06:10):

And he joined me in the business early on and we started talking about this concept of alignment, but extending it. We said, “Well, why don’t we go further out and look at the marketplace and say, ‘What is the marketplace telling us?'” And then we had the strategy bit in the second level, and we had the cultural bit at third level, and the fourth level we added was leadership. And we came up this idea, and we wanted to test it. It was a business model, it wasn’t a supply chain model in first instance, it basically said, if you want to run a business, and make money, and do well, or it could be a not for profit, there’s four things you’ve got to line up. You’ve got to understand your customer’s expectations, align and come up with value positions which beat those, and the third level is create subcultures in the business that can propel these value propositions into the appropriate segments.

John Gattorna (07:09):

And finally, you need a leadership at the top that understands what’s happening in the marketplace and therefore knows how to shape the cultures to drive the strategies. And the fascinating thing was that we had all this conceptually, and then people started asking us, “I’m sick of this one size fits all supply chain…” You know, the big question then became, well, if one size fits all is flawed because it implies that all customers are the same, and therefore we have one supply chain meeting them. The question then becomes, if one size fits all is flawed, how many supply chains running through the business, or pathways, do you need impractical terms to actually get about an 80% fit to the marketplace? Because in a lot of companies, the one size fits all was creating about a 10% fit, and everyone else, and then creating too many exceptions.

John Gattorna (07:58):

And so we spent years, and I mean decades, researching and working with companies, until we found the answer. And the answer, was 4+1. The +1 is the extreme situation, which you’ve just seen with COVID, where you do something incredible, you forget about costs, you just have to be creative in overcoming disruption. But the four, sort of business as usual type supply chains really came from us understanding that there were four major behavioral segments that we found for most products and services, out of a possible 16, but there were four that we saw a lot of, and that was the segment that tended to buy on loyalty, and would share things and be collaborative. The segment that was just looking for lowest price reliable, people call that the lean segment. The agile demanding segment, that’s sort of opportunistic and won’t share.

John Gattorna (08:50):

And one that we found later on, we called it the project segment, or campaign segment, where in a major construction, you need a different supply chain than you do an FMCG. And so we started testing all these in depth with companies like Venture Challenge in New Zealand, Schneider Electric, globally. Shell, Unilever, and everywhere we went and everything we did with it, it just got better and better. And it just proved our point that supply chains are actually driven from outside in, and we’ve got to get away from just designing them from inside out, as it were. And that was our big thing, and practical breakthrough.

Patrick Daly (09:28):

Sounds like a systems approach, a whole of business approach to thinking about the supply chain.

John Gattorna (09:33):


Patrick Daly (09:34):

So, you know how in companies you get siloed disciplines, so how are the best companies managing this? Is it through having maybe a supply chain supremo in the business, or educating all the departmental heads in supply chain, no matter what their specialization? So how is that done in practice?

John Gattorna (09:49):

Well, in practice, the best companies have CEOs that have a vision, that meeting customer expectations and improving customer satisfaction is the way to go. The question is, well, how to do it? And say, in the case of Schneider Electric, the chief exec there, they had a very good company running, they’d made great product. And they initially started to try and re-badge some of their production people as to become supply chain people, and it just didn’t work. So the CEO went out and he head hunted and found Annette Clayton who’d come through General Motors and was working for Michael Dell in the high tech industry at that time. And she came across, and I had met her early on when she arrived.

John Gattorna (10:34):

And she brought into this whole idea that the verticals are fine, we need specialisms in production and finance, and marketing and so on. But actually, the customers buy horizontally. And because, particularly when you got to around 2000, and customers started using the internet, and things started moving very much faster. It was impossible for a functional head to run a vertical and also be part of a horizontal. And that’s when companies like Zara recognizing that they’re in the fast fashion business and they had to do something different. They started, and others like Adidas tried it as well, and a number, they [inaudible 00:11:18] people out of those functions and put them together in a multidisciplinary team, and then focused them on particular segments in the market. Which, like cross-functional flows, that went across those functions. But they had contacts with those people because they had informal contacts with people inside their own team contacting and being in touch with the people.

John Gattorna (11:37):

And that’s really, I can’t think of a better model. It’s not a matrix model, it’s a dual model where they both, the vertical and the horizontal, work in sync, help each other, with both of them having KPIs, which contribute to get getting maximum custom satisfaction and doing it quickly. And that’s really what the strength of Zara is, and people like that because they’ve been able to increase the clock speed of their business to roughly about, I don’t know 15 days, against the nearest competitor 30 days, or a department store might be 120 days. So the organization design is crucial to tell you the truths, yeah.

Patrick Daly (12:16):

You mentioned there along the way, this concept of outside in thinking, so what is this? And what are the implications of it?

John Gattorna (12:23):

Look, the problem is that for the first 50 years, from about ’67, when supply chain was first written about in the Harvard Business Review for the first 50 years, we had people sitting in businesses with all the right intention saying, “I think the customers want this.” Most marketing departments or commercial departments weren’t really telling or helping the logistics arm of the business. They just expected them to, from virtually a standing start, to do a good job. You can’t do that.

John Gattorna (12:56):

So the idea of outside in is to say, how do we, as a supply chain group, get a direct link and understanding of the customer’s expectations? And in the case of Schneider Electric, we didn’t just ask marketing Annette Clayton had such credence with her chief executive that she had our own budget and we went and did our own research. So, it’s about segmentation really it’s about segmenting customers. Don’t segment them along institutional, industry lines, or big or small, or profitable, those things. You’ve got to segment them based on what expectations do they have as they look back towards their supplier. Is it they’re looking for a safe sort of relationship for which they’ll pay a premium? Or, is it they’re looking for the lowest cost, leanest sort of supply? Or, are they looking for something quick response from time to time?

John Gattorna (13:51):

And the real complication is that the same customer can have different buying behaviors depending on the situation they’re in, so they could be lean one day and then suddenly they’ve forgotten something. They want a quick response, so they want an agile response. And that’s why the word dynamic has crept into this, that you have to design a range of processes inside your business so that you can switch a bit. It’s a bit like switching train tracks, a product can switch across and be delivered in different ways depending on how the customer wants to be serviced. And it could mean different pricing, different time schedule, different packaging, even different branding.

John Gattorna (14:31):

And that’s the bit that’s really stumped it’s made it very difficult to do because many marketing people thought that you could segment customers and put them in a box and just assume that that’s what they were at forever and that they would stay there. But the answer is, the customer’s moving. So if we have a static supply chain and the customer’s moving, we’re always having to follow the customer. And it becomes a question of exceptions, whereas if you’ve got four or five guns pointing out the window and the customer’s moving, you just start to pull the levers depending on what approach the customer is requesting. So that’s the way it is.

Radio Announcer (15:08):

93.9 Dublin South FM.

Patrick Daly (15:11):

Yeah. In your latest book, Transforming Supply Chains, published just in 2020, of which I have a copy here on my desk. You speak about this and you set out these five main supply chain types, which I think are the collaborative supply chain, lean, agile, campaign, and fully flexible. So could you just set out briefly the key distinctions between those types?

John Gattorna (15:32):

Yeah, basically they’re the mirror image of the segments that they’re serving. So the collaborative supply chain is very much servicing that group of customers that we know as generally collaborative. I know, this word collaborative has been overworked a lot, but in every market, every product market situation we’ve found, is that there is some percentage of collaborative customers who… And the best way to gauge whether customers are generally collaborative is if they will share their data with you. So if you’ve got people who will share with you what their forecasts are, or sit down with you and therefore that makes life very easy. The cost of producing for those people is a lot less because you’re not having to use a lot of capacity, you know exactly what you want for them, and everything’s scheduled, and they pay a premium and they’re risk averse, and that’s great.

John Gattorna (16:22):

The next group is the transactional customers that probably are 40 to 50% in some markets, and that’s the lean supply chain. And basically they don’t want any of this relationship stuff. The great thing about them is they tend to buy the same thing all the time, so if you look at your data, you can sort of see what people are buying and you can forecast. So for both collaborative and lean supply chains there’s a fair bit you can do around forecasting and getting it pretty right.

John Gattorna (16:51):

But then you move beyond that to what we call the dynamic customer, or the demanding customer, who’s opportunistic, they don’t share anything, they turn up on your doorstep and you haven’t seen them for three years. Yet, they want this, they want that. You can’t see them coming. And so to service them, you need to carry a lot of redundant capacity in your system. And that’s the fashion market for you to some extent. If you go to look at Zara’s outfits, it’s amazing, though they control it to some extent because a lot of their fashion is going into their own stores, they still have surges of product coming from their suppliers, and some of their own factories, into their DCs and out again. And if their DCs weren’t empty, then they wouldn’t be able to absorb them, on top of sort them out and send them out. So, the big problem with the agile supply chain is it does require capacity, redundant capacity, and that costs some money and the big problem is people want agile response for lean price, if you like, right?

Patrick Daly (18:00):

Yeah, yeah.

John Gattorna (18:00):

And then there’s what we call the campaign supply chain, which is big projects like London Airport it takes several years, a lot planning involved, putting assemblies together, everything. It’s not just like making baked beans in a factory and shipping it to a wholesaler, there’s a lot of design work, a lot of assembly, a lot of crane lifts, and putting things together, it’s a different sort of supply chain. We call that the campaign supply chain, and it’s all about grouping things together and making sure that the products that you’re going to use in putting these assemblies together are not stolen by another part of the company and shipped out somewhere, and suddenly you end up on site with something that’s short and you’ve got to expedite it. So they’re the four main ones.

John Gattorna (18:44):

And then the final one is the fully flexible supply chain, which is a positive and negative if it could be used in a time of great disruption, like a volcano like we saw in Iceland years ago, or the floods in Thailand, where it creates havoc with production. You need to have thought through what you do in advance. Have you got alliances? Have you got other sorts of substitute suppliers that you could pull in? And at a national level a very good example of it is the bush fires. You know, the Bush fires in Australia, or the bush fires in Southern Europe, none of those governments have got enough equipment to fight them. So whole governments take equipment, they help each other. They bring in air tankers, and send people across, it’s the same at the company level, you’ve got to do a lot of thinking so that when the (beep) hits the fan you can’t just start thinking about what you’re going to do, you’ve set it all up.

John Gattorna (19:37):

The positive side of fully flexible, another example of that is chocolate, Easter eggs if you like, you spend a year building up and then you release them on the day, so there’s a massive sort of distribution if you like throughout the country in a very short time, that takes a bit of creativity. So they’re the five that tend to pretty much cover, but there’s some variations around those because in behavioral terms, there’s about 16 if you talk to the psychologists, there’s about 16 different mindsets that we in human race have.

Patrick Daly (20:11):

And I, as a business person then, how would I find out from my customer profile who’s who? Would I be going into my data, my order data records, and doing analysis to find out?

John Gattorna (20:25):

Yeah. Yes, you can.

Patrick Daly (20:26):

And is the implication of that then that most businesses will have to be able to work on under five? Or, would it tend to be one principle, and then maybe two or three of the others? How does that pan out?

John Gattorna (20:38):

You can make some choices, yet there may be you’ll find that those five will be present, but four of them, the last one is something that happens only in extreme conditions. But of the four you’ll find that the only thing that differs from country to country, or product to product is the different proportions. You know, in some country products you may have more lean. Or, if you go to South America, they may be more collaborative.

John Gattorna (21:00):

But to come back to your original question, a lot of it’s in the data. That’s why I say to people, frankly, if you’re a billion dollar firm and you haven’t got a bunch of data analysts culling through your data, conducting analysis, like coefficient of variation, where you look at the fluctuations in the actual demand data, you can actually see the base load type data, which is largely repeat buying, which is that collaborative demand pattern, or even some of the lean shows a very sort of shallow…

John Gattorna (21:34):

But when you see big spikes like that, it’s clearly you’ve got some agile thrown in. One thing, one analytical approach won’t help you. The other sort of corresponding thing you do is, from time to time, and you don’t have to do this very often, but every maybe five years, you go out into your marketplace and you do some sampling and you use conjoint analysis, or trade off analysis techniques that they use in marketing all the time, and marketing people have been using this conjoint analysis for years, where you just don’t go to people and say, “What would you like?” Because they’ll say, “I’ll have everything.” You give them a number of choices and you force them to trade one thing or another. And the combination of those techniques and the data you start to see broadly what…

John Gattorna (22:19):

And it doesn’t have to be accurate. You might see that roughly 10% of my market is collaborative, 40% transactional, 30 or 40% is agile, and 15% is a campaign, and 1% is fully flexible. Once you know that you can do some reverse engineering to make sure you’ve got those sorts of things covered.

Patrick Daly (22:39):

And you’ve got to be updating that I guess, because next year it might be different, or in five years-

John Gattorna (22:42):

Yeah, well the good news is that it doesn’t change rapidly unless something really desperate happens, which is what’s happened just recently with COVID, it has actually changed the buying behavior hugely because what it, by having people isolated at home, there’s been a big shift away from spending money on services, and restaurants, and traveling and all that stuff. And what are people doing? They’ve embraced e-commerce.

John Gattorna (23:09):

And so you’ve seen the amount of e-commerce has gone up, I can’t remember the figures now, but it was something like… the growth has been about 20 or 30% per annum in the last few years. And then in the last year or so, it’s been about a 40% increase in e-commerce over just standard sort of purchases. So, the big trick here of course is when things flatten down again in another year, or 18 months, after COVID settles down, will people go back completely to where they are? Or, will they stick with a lot of this e-commerce, which is very demanding because it’s very much the expectation of short lead times.

Patrick Daly (23:52):

At, Gattorna Alignment, your firm, you a run supply chain retreat series each year-

John Gattorna (23:58):


Patrick Daly (23:58):

… in different venues around the world. And for 2022, the theme of the series is resetting global, regional, national supply chains for a post-COVID world. So what are the major factors and trends that you’ll be examining then in this next series?

John Gattorna (24:12):

Well, I think what we’re going to try to do is bring to people’s direct attention that we are now in a post-COVID, now in a sort of two tier world, if I could call it that. We reckon business as usual volatility is probably going to be greater than we’ve seen before, so we could be looking at 30 or 40% fluctuation in supply side and demand side. Because supply side is also a problem with components, and things coming in, and raw materials. And we want to talk about what sort of supply chain configurations can cover that type of fluctuation. And then on top of that, we’ve got to be prepared with the fully flexible supply chain to cope with a once in 10 year, or once in 20 year extreme fluctuation, which may happen at the regional level, it may be a flood, or it may be something like that. Or, it could be another virus getting out of China and creating havoc across the globe.

John Gattorna (25:09):

And the major part of it is we are trying to get people a way… we’re looking at this idea of de-globalization, if I could use that term. I think globalization has gone too far, driven by procurement people who have had KPIs to reduce cost of all costs, sort of thing. And so they’ve extended our supply chains to extreme lengths. What we want to do is reduce the length of our supply chains. So look for regional and local sources of supply, so that if things go wrong, we’re not extended so far. And we want people to start changing their priorities around, from again lowest cost at any cost to resilience. And saying, “Look, we want to be able to survive the volatility of the future. Yes, we may have to pay a bit more, but isn’t it better to be around than forced out of the business?” So that’s really what reset is, trying to get that balance right, Patrick.

Patrick Daly (26:07):

Sounds like we, maybe after the 2022 series there might be another book in the pipeline after…

John Gattorna (26:11):

I think there is. Every four or five years, the blood rushes to the head and we’ve got enough content in our heads to get it down on paper and get it out there. We love doing that because that’s part of our whole vision, if you like, is to develop our thinking and then put it out there for people to use and interpret.

Patrick Daly (26:29):

Okay. So as we come to the end, now how can listeners find out more about you, about your work, your thinking, your writing, and of course the supply chain retreat series?

John Gattorna (26:37):

Well, look, I think Patrick, the best thing is to go on our website. Everything I do, my blogs, articles, books, et cetera, they’re all on, or, either one. And there they’ll also see some details around the forthcoming series of global retreats. Which by the way, another forum for us to take a small group of senior people and explore some of these things that we’ve been working on over… in this case, we’ve missed the last two years, so we’ve got quite a buildup of material to discuss, and we love doing it because we get back into that interactive mode. Zoom’s been useful, but it’s not the same as having a good pow wow locked in a room with 30 very motivated people.

Patrick Daly (27:25):

Sure. So that’s

John Gattorna (27:27):

Alignment. Yeah, just one word. GattornaAlignment, one word

Patrick Daly (27:33):

And Gattorna has got two Ts.

John Gattorna (27:35):


Patrick Daly (27:35):

Is Gattorna is that Maltese, Italian I think?

John Gattorna (27:39):

No, it’s Italian. It’s got two Ts, G-A-T-T-O-R-N-A Alignment, just the normal word alignment. And that’s the whole idea that everything we do, we’re trying to… We started out business to business alignment, then we realized that within businesses, there’s a whole lot of strands running through a business and we’ve got to make sure they’re lined up. And in many ways the analogy I’ll make, we use the sort of term it’s the supply chains now are very much the central nervous system of our business and our enterprise. So yeah, it’s Italian descent out Genoa a long time ago, but we’re here in Australia now. And in fact, I’m going to write a book about the family when I get a chance, but I haven’t got time at moment.

Patrick Daly (28:18):

Okay. Excellent, very interesting. I look forward to that. So thank you, John, it’s been an absolute pleasure, and wish you the very best for the upcoming series in 2022.

John Gattorna (28:26):

Thank you. And we’ll make sure… Well, you’re coming to one of them anyhow, so you’ll get a firsthand view of it Patrick.

Patrick Daly (28:33):

Yes, I’m looking forward to it very much.

John Gattorna (28:34):


Patrick Daly (28:35):

So thanks also to our listeners for tuning in. Any comments or questions, just drop me a line on Keep well and stay safe, until next time.

In this episode we talk to Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks, who joins us from Colorado Springs in the United States.

Karen is President and CEO of TRANSLEADERSHIP, INC., and the 2021 recipient of The RHR International Excellence in Consultation Award. Karen hosts The Voice of Leadership podcast, as well as the Dr. Karen Speaks Leadership TV show. She is author of the book Lead Yourself First: The Senior Leader’s Guide to Engaging Your People for Greater Performance and Impact.

For more than 30 years Karen has worked with values-based and Christian corporate executives in secular businesses. She advises executives on how to create a powerful leadership legacy that leaves the organization, the people, and themselves transformed and equipped for the next chapter. She is a trained clinical psychologist and served in the U.S. Army on active service as an officer and psychologist.

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Patrick Daly: Hello, this is Patrick Daly, and welcome to Interlinks. Interlinks is a program about connections, international business, and globalization, and the effects these elements have had on our life, our work, and our travel over recent times. Today on the show we will be talking to Dr. Karen Wilson-Starks who joins us from Colorado Springs in the US.

Karen is a president and CEO of TRANSLEADERSHIP, INC and 2021 recipient of the RHR International for Excellence in Consultation, Award host of the Voice of Leadership Podcast, host of the Dr. Karen Speaks Leadership TV Show, and author of Lead Yourself First!: The Senior Leader’s Guide to Engaging Your People for Greater Performance and Impact. For more than 30 years, Karen has worked with values-based and Christian corporate executives in secular businesses.

She advises executives on how to create a powerful leadership legacy that leaves the organization, the people, and themselves transformed and equipped for the next chapter. She’s also a trained clinical psychologist and served in the army as an officer and psychologist. Welcome, Karen. Delighted to have you here with us today.

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: Thank you so much, Patrick. I’m very glad to be with you today.

Patrick Daly: Tell me, Karen, in an overview say what has been your career today? How did you come to be where you are now? Because as I said in the intro, you served in active service in the army. Isn’t that right?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: Yes. I was an active duty army officer and also of psychologists as well. I’ve done many different roles in my current company. Been in my current company for about 26 years. Also worked for about five years for the Center For Creative Leadership. For people who are familiar with that organization, they’re premier training organization and leadership with corporate executives as well. It all started really, Patrick, in childhood, because when I was in the sixth grade, that’s when I decided that I wanted to be a psychologist.

My vision of it at the time was being in private practice, which I did do for a number of years as well, and it was really when I was in the army that I saw the potential of the psychology tools for business. I thought, well, later on, I’ll probably do a business application of psychology, because in the army we had to do both. We had to do treatment of soldiers and we had to look at organizations and deal with leadership. I thought, oh, that sounds fun too, although I originally had not started out thinking of about it.

Patrick Daly: Okay. How come you wanted to be a psychologist at such a tender age? How did you become even exposed to that at that time?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: That’s a good question, because certainly no one in my family was in a field even remotely related to psychology. I had a vision that there was a column in the local newspaper in the United States that was called the Dear Abby column. People would write in. They’d have problems and issues, and then she would answer. And I thought, this is what psychologists must do. They must have people in their office and address this. I’m the oldest of four children, so I kind of functioned in that role with my brothers and sisters anyway.
And then with my parents, they always consulted me. I was a consultant at childhood. They consulted me about many things. And I was very much a leader, very much had viewpoints and opinions about things that were used by other people. I think it was just a gifting early on in my life.

Patrick Daly: In TRANSLEADERSHIP, which is your business today, what services do you provide to your clients and how do they benefit from working with you?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: Predominantly what I do is executive advisement. Generally speaking, I’m working with the executive leader of the company or someone whose one of the executive leaders of some very large global organization. Historically, I’ve worked more with global publicly held companies. Currently, I’m doing a lot more work with more mid-sized to large privately held companies and still working with the executive leaders and the executive teams.

With the leaders themselves, I’m really focusing my efforts with them on critical conversations about the business that they really need to have, thinking about what’s going on and what decisions need to be made. And very often these people don’t have other places where they can just talk about anything. That’s one of my roles. With the executive teams, just getting them to think more enterprise wide, what can they do collectively as an executive team that’s different from what they might do in their individual silos that advances the business.

It’s really helping with that lens. And then occasionally at times I’m working with what I call high performance teams in an organization. I really do believe that it’s high performance teams that do the bulk of the work. They’ve got to learn how to communicate with one another how to operate in such a way that they’re going to get the best results for the business. I’m often called in to do some work with them.

And then I would say for my medium size to large small companies, I also do some executive selection work so that they get the right people in the right places. They’re integrated into the organization, and then we develop those people as we go along. All of this really facilitates what I call getting the company to a place of creative advantage. What’s going to benefit them in the marketplace and also benefit their customers in the marketplace and what will allow them to become what I call a partner of choice.

Moving beyond just vendor or commodity to really becoming a partner of choice. And overall from the executive’s perspective through doing all of these things, they’re creating a powerful leadership legacy and they’re resourcing their organization, resourcing the people in their organization, and making a good decision about what’s next for them.

Patrick Daly: At the individual personal level psychologically, what is the greatest obstacle that you find with people in reaching their potential? What stands in their way?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: Very often I would say it’s being stuck in doing things the way they’ve always done them or believing that there are more barriers than really exist, and not taking the time to spend the time to think creatively enough about the business, to identify ways of operating that they may not have thought of or didn’t occur to them. And very often these senior leaders and executives also have to remember they’re not the only ones alone who have to come up with this.

That’s why they’ve got great people they’ve hired around them so they can have those conversations internally as well and figure out the best pathways forward. Sometimes it is the success of the past, not knowing how to do something different, getting stuck in that comfort zone.

Patrick Daly: Is self-esteem an issue? In a way, people look at us from the outside. We might be managers or we might be broadcasters or whatever. People look at us and they see us as being successful and being confident and so on. But we inside ourselves see our own flaws and that knowledge of our own internal flaws, does that sometimes impede us from taking the next step, from moving on from where we are? Do you find that?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: I’m sure that’s certainly true of some people. What I see most often… Because some of the companies that I work with, they’re in what I call a transition phase. They’re transitioning let’s say from a large small to mid middle size company or from medium size to large. And when you’re in those transitions, you have to think about what’s required to build the infrastructure and the foundation we need for our larger size. Very frequently, they don’t have always the experience for the next level.

May not even have the exact skills, interests, or inclinations to do what’s needed at the next level. It’s a hesitancy to move forward because that’s not their superpower or it’s not their strong suit. If anything, it might be how do I step into that and learn it or hire someone to run this part of the business while I rise up to even a higher level in the organization. That’s what I find is challenging. Because it’s hard, I’ve never done it before, and I don’t know how to do it.

I’ll just keep doing what I was doing, which doesn’t benefit the business.

Patrick Daly: You have published the book called Lead Yourself First. Could you tell us what’s the premise of the book and what are the main arguments that you set out in the book?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: The book is really designed for the individual leader to think about their own life journey. Because I’m really a strong believer that your experiences along the journey of life and what you’ve encountered, these are the treasures in essence that you can share with other people that also inspires and encourages them to get through some difficult times. Yet a lot of leaders have not taken the time to think about, well, what are those milestones in my own life?

What have I learned from my own leadership journey that positions me to really be credible in my own organization? The book is my way of saying here are some examples from my life. Not that these are relevant for you, but the point is, there are questions in there to get the person to reflect on what happened in my life that I could pay attention to and also share. I mean, I could give you an example.

When I was in the army, one of the things that I just never wanted to do and it was certainly a factor in whether I wanted to be in the army or not, I was not naturally an army oriented person. It was repelling off of mountains. I said to the recruiter, “I just don’t want to ever do that.” And he says, “Well, you’re a psychologist. You’re probably never going to have to do that.” And here I am one day looking up at this 25 foot tower about to rappel and thinking back to that conversation with the recruiter and I was petrified.

It was the last thing in life I wanted to do. And of course, I learned. It’s daunting from the ground and it’s even more daunting as you climb up that straight ladder that has no incline to get to the top of the wall. That was more frightening than I ever imagined it would be. I get to the top of the wall. There’s a sergeant standing up there and he’s saying, “Okay, now it’s start to rappel.” I say, “I think I’m going back down.” “No, you’re not going back down.” I had to figure it out, and I wasn’t elegant about figuring it out either.

Because I’m at the top of the ball and I forgot everything I had learned in the training on the ground. I’m holding myself up there. I said, “I can’t hold all this weight.” “Well, you’re not supposed to. Let go of the rope.” “I’m going to die.” “No, there’s someone down here. The belay master is there to… If anything happens, they could yank you in midair.” When I think about this story, I mean, I pushed through the fear to get this done.

I went up the tower several times to mastered the 25 foot one, then went to the 50 foot tower, mastered that, then that afternoon, we were rappelling the mountains. I said you need someone at the top of the wall in your life who won’t let you quit on yourself. That’s one of the things. You also need that belay master who could stop you in midair if need be. There were lots of lessons out of that I learned. I learned that even with fear, you can get something done that’s difficult, and you can practice it and be enriched as a result.

Patrick Daly: Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. In your work today, what kind of practical issues… Not so much the psychological individual issues that people face. What kind of practical business issues are companies and executives in companies facing today as our societies across the world are emerging now from this emergency phase of the coronavirus pandemic? What’s on their plate?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: Quite a lot, because the pandemic at least… I don’t know what’s happening in Dublin, but in the United States, the pandemic is far from over, Patrick. It is far from over. We have a lot of confusion in the United States and a lot of division in terms of where people are and what they understand. This affects business, because you’ve got people who are vehemently against taking the vaccine. Some for some reason it actually makes sense and others maybe not, because there’s a lot of misinformation that’s out there and people don’t know what’s true, what’s not true.

I think that the business leader has got to think about what is so sound, accurate, and true information that I can provide to the workforce so they can make informed decisions about what they’re going to do. A lot of the clients that I’m working with who are in manufacturing and in construction, they’re working on government projects. They’re working on big projects where it’s required to be vaccinated to be on site. If their employees choose not to be vaccinated, then they have a problem of not having enough personnel who can really go and do the work.
Being able to allow some degree of personal flexibility and choice with certain consequences, like our president, President Biden just announced last week that those who choose not to be vaccinated in private companies, they will have to be tested on a weekly basis. So managing all of that, dealing with the fallout in the workplace has been huge.

I think over this pandemic year and a half, a lot of the work I’ve been doing with my clients is related to messaging about the whole pandemic and how are we going to continue to do our business in spite of it and managing the emotions of people in the workplace. Initially, fear, fear of dying, fear of bringing some kind of contaminant home to their families. And now it’s a fear of being poisoned by vaccines and other things. I mean, there’s always something.
And it’s not even the core work of the business, but it affects the ability of the business to do its core work.

Patrick Daly: Yup. I guess these challenges, the fear and the regulations and the resistance, are giving rise to shortages, shortages of personnel that then turn into shortages of service and shortages of supply and so on. This is why I think everybody is talking about supply chain, right? Like years ago, nobody ever spoke about supply chain. It was there and your yogurt turned up in the fridge and your newspaper turned up and your download turned up and the whole thing was there.

And now everybody from television reporters to politicians are talking about supply chain. What are you noticing in the US now with regards to supply chain knock on effects of these difficulties that people and companies are having?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: Yes. Thank you, Patrick, for that question. Let me frame it in this way. My expertise is in leadership. I’m always looking at the leadership lens of supply chain or whatever else my customers are facing. Here’s what I see, and you’re right that there is definitely a talent challenge because I have some clients that are working in very specialized industries that require a lot of expertise on the part of the workforce. You can’t just hire someone off the street.

They’ve got to have gone to specialized schools to learn the craft of the business that they’re working in for the construction industry and so on. Those people are hard to find. Depending on where the client is located, it may be difficult to attract a person to that geographic location and particularly at the salary rates that the person wants or with the benefits that they may be accustomed to. For example, if they’re moving from New York to Colorado, that’s not going to feel like a good deal for them.

Although the cost of living is lower in Colorado, but they may not understand all of those dynamics. You have those kind of issues for sure with personnel keeping enough to really do the work. In addition, I think what’s really going on now with customers, customers are less flexible than they had been in the past. With that being the case, a lot of I’ll call them one sided sort of contracts written everything’s in favor of the general contractor and so on.
And those who are the suppliers and deliverers of the specific services, who would normally be my clients, they’re sort of left to hold the bag of if things don’t go right, even if the general contractor did not do what they was supposed to do and it causes the calendar to shift in an unfavorable way. They’re much more likely nowadays to apply the liquidated damages approach and really charge exorbitant fees to people because maybe they can’t meet the debt.

And not just because of failings on their own part, but the job sites weren’t ready from the GC point of view and all of that. I think we’re dealing with a lot of those kinds of issues, as well as employees thinking, “Do I really want to work 24/7 because we’ve got personnel shortages? Maybe I’ll retire early, or maybe I’ll just stay home with my family.” There’s all of that.

Patrick Daly: There’s a lot of pressures from different sides coming on. I have noticed quite a few people, professionals in particular, reassessing their career priorities. Have you seen that? I’ve seen some people make some spectacular are very surprising changes.

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: Absolutely. What we cannot forget is what is going on in people’s personal lives. This really varies significantly from person to person and also different ethnic and cultural groups. For example, in the United States, African American and Native American people are disported negatively affected by the virus and also the vaccine. Some people have got to make decisions about needing to be home to care for relatives that are going through difficult scenarios, or they’re going through a lot of personal loss, a lot of deaths amongst family and friends.

It does call to question, what’s important to me? Where do I want to spend my remaining years and my time? The priority may shift from the workplace more decidedly let’s say to the family or personal interests, because I think death has shown people life is short. Life is short.

Patrick Daly: Do you work internationally, Karen, as well as in the US?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: Oh yes. In fact, over the I’d say 30 plus years that I’ve been doing consulting, my business has always been international. I’ve worked in Germany, worked in France, worked in Belgium, worked in Bahrain in the Middle East, worked in Saudi Arabia, all kinds of places. And that’s been over the years now and the last Canada, that’s right up right above us. I have worked often enough in Canada. I actually had a work permit there to do some work with clients I had in Canada. Since the pandemic, I’ve been working predominantly in the US.
Although if it’s a larger company, those global companies have historically also had operations elsewhere. My work has always involved speaking with leaders in other countries, even if it’s a country I didn’t go to. For example, I’ve worked with leaders in China, India, and so on. I never went there, but sometimes they came here or we worked virtually on a platform similar to this. But before we had these platforms, companies had their own telephone, and so on. So yeah, always in the past globally.

My family is less excited about me working globally now, as you know, in comparison to the past. When I went to the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, it was right after some bombings of some American territory and things and they were worried to death. They didn’t know if I’d come back alive or not. There’s always a safety issue too.

Patrick Daly: Over the last 30 years or so, there’s been increasing globalization. It’s become easier to do business overseas, to move money, to communicate, to exchange ideas, and so on. But in the last four, five, six years, here in Europe we had Brexit, then you had Trump election in the US and he kind of moved things away from multilateralism. We’ve had the pandemic as well, which has kind of caused countries or regions to close in on themselves.
Where do you think we are in this process of globalization? Has it stopped? Are we in reverse? Is this just a blip, or is it changing form? What do you think?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: I think everything in this season is changing form, I’ll say. I’ll put it that way. I think globalization is here to stay. I don’t think that anyone’s closed the door on that. And in fact, some of these virtual formats have increased the kinds of conversations that we can have with people globally without necessarily having to travel. I think that if this had been five years ago, you and I might not even be talking in this format. I think there are more opportunities. It’s probably going to look a little different in the future.
We don’t even know exactly what that might mean. I think there’s so much to be gained from globalization that you’re not going to be able to put that genie back in the bottle. That’s what I think.

Patrick Daly: As we come towards the end now, maybe I’ll just change gear and just ask you a little bit about yourself. What kind of things do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working and so on?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: And when there’s not a pandemic.

Patrick Daly: And there’s not a pandemic on.

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: One thing I can do all the time, pandemic or not, I love reading. I love reading books, I’m reading things all the time. My favorite place to go for relaxation, vacation, and a refresh of the mind is the ocean. It’s at the ocean that I really feel the sense of I call it the awe of God in creating the universe.

Patrick Daly: I know I make you envious now. If I look out the top window of my house, I can see the ocean.

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: Oh my gosh. Yes, because that’s where I always go.

Patrick Daly: You’re in Colorado Springs, right? You’re in the middle of the country?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: I can look out the window and see Pike’s Peak, which is a wonderful site. We’ve got mountains here. I grew up in the US on the East Coast on the Atlantic Ocean. That’s where my heart is, is always the ocean. It doesn’t have to be Atlantic. I love the Pacific. I love any ocean. I’d come to Dublin and be at that ocean as well. That’s my favorite. Because other things I enjoy, I love international travel. I like meeting people from different countries, different cultures and engaging with them. That’s fun to me. I love Broadway theater in New York.
There’s nothing that beats that when I’m in New York and just going to a play. I love musicals, but I love straight plays, just straight drama. That’s one of my favorites. And then music, music in small venues like watching a jazz ensemble or something like that.

Patrick Daly: Are you reading anything at the moment or any audio books or podcasts that are inspiring you that you would recommend?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: Yeah. Let me mention a couple of podcasts that I find interesting. One is a podcast. The host is out of the UK. The podcast is called The Business Elevation Show with Chris Cooper. He recently just celebrated 10 years of doing his podcast. He was an early adopter to the technology. One of the things I love about his show is he brings interesting people who are not only doing great work and challenging themselves, they’re also giving back to society in some profound ways. I find a show inspiring in that way.

I also would recommend JV Crum III, who has numerous, but the two that I really like is a brand new one that’s called Limitless, because it’s all about taking yourself outside of the constraints and the boxes to really do more than you thought you could do, and the Conscious Millionaire Podcast. He’s written a book on that as well. Those are the podcasts I’d recommend. As far as books now, this will seem like an odd one maybe to have on the list. I find the Bible to be an excellent book to read, even though it’s older and ancient.

Patrick Daly: I believe it’s a bestseller, right? I believe that book is a bestseller.

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: It’s a bestseller. There’s a lot for life in it. I read it every day. That’s one of the books that’s always on my list. And then may be a bit more traditional, a book by Kevin Harrington, who’s one of the Shark Tank originals, and Daniel Priestley’s called a Key Person of Influence. I really like that book because not only is it useful for individuals to think about how to be more influential, I find the principles applicable to my clients and to their businesses as well.

And then a third book I’d say is by Earl Nightingale, and this book is from the success culture and industry. He was a radio host back in the ’50s, wrote many books, but one that I really like is called Lead the Field. And again, it’s being a leader in whatever it is that you do, and it talks about the mindset that’s important behind that.

Patrick Daly: Excellent. Where can people find out more about you and your work and how can they contact you if they wish to?

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: They can find out about me from my website, which is They can also write to me at doctor, dr.karen, K-A-R-E-N, They can also find my podcast, The Voice of Leadership, and listen to that as well.

Patrick Daly: Excellent. It’s been an absolute pleasure, Karen, talking to you today, and I wish you every success both personally and professionally.

Dr. Karen Y. Wilson Starks: Thank you so much, Patrick. A delight to speak with you as well. Thank you for having me on your show.

Patrick Daly: You’re very welcome and thanks to all our listeners for tuning in. Any comments or questions, just drop me a line on pdaly, P-D-A-L-Y, @albalogistics, A-L-B-A Keep well and stay safe. Until next time.

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