#26: Supply Chain Digitization with John Urban Co-Founder of GT Nexus

Supply Chain Digitization with John Urban Co-Founder of GT Nexus Featured Image

John Urban was the Co-Founder and President of GT Nexus, the leading cloud platform for global supply chain management, which was acquired by Infor in September 2015 for $675 million.

Prior to GT Nexus, John was an executive with American President Lines, one of the world’s largest ocean liner companies, where he held several executive positions in Asia, North and South America.

Since leaving GT Nexus in 2016, John has become a board member and advisor at several tech start-ups in the logistics and supply chain space including Mercado, Slync, or ClearMetal.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Guest:

John Urban: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Lessons from 17 years of building GT Nexus to an exit of USD 675 million
  • How did the COVID-19 crisis affect the digitization of supply chain
  • Are 3PLs ever going to catch up in the digital game?
  • Startup funding during uncertainty 
  • Advice for entrepreneurs

Show notes:

  • [01:11] You’ve been in the shipping line business and then you set up over the course of 17 years, one of the most successful software companies, tell us a little bit about it and how it happened.
  • [05:34] After leaving GT Nexus, I helped young companies understand what they could do better and faster and help them avoid some of the many mistakes I made along the way in GT Nexus. 
  • [06:57] What would be some of the best lessons that you have learned in that journey of building and pivoting businesses that might also apply and help entrepreneurs who are building tech, software, or supply chain today?
  • [11:51] How do you best take the challenge of slowness when it comes to change and the old traditional data owners in the chain fighting back the change?
  • [14:11] I think one of the biggest drivers of change is that at the end of the day, carriers and 3PLs are focused on making sure they take care of their customers, and sometimes they just need a little bit of a push.
  • [14:49] Do you see this situation with the COVID-19 crisis as a factor of accelerating the adoption of digital solutions across supply chains? What’s your take COVID-19’s effect on the digitization of the supply chain?
  • [20:13] What are some pieces of advice that you would give startups in terms of getting funding during this time of crisis? 
  • [21:40] The lessons learned from the crisis are going to be very positive for people who are in the supply chain digitization business and I think it will create new opportunities.
  • [22:30] Spend all your time that you can to be close to your customers or your potential customers, not because you’re going to sell to them today, but you want to make sure that you’re ready to go when they return back to action.
  • [24:00] Can share some examples of what manufacturers did right or practical things they did that helped them during this crisis?
  • [26:27] Caterpillar manages to virtually avoid the major issues within their supply chain that would have resurfaced because of the natural disaster that occurred in Japan. I think that is a visual representation of what you’re trying to accomplish when you digitalize the supply chain.
  • [27:16] How do you strike a balance between looking after your P&L and looking after your people’s?
  • [30:37] What would be some pieces of advice you could share from your career, both in the corporate world as well as an entrepreneur that served you most in your 40 years in the industry?
  • [31:08] We learn more from failure than we do from success.

Quote from the Episode:

About the Host:

The host, Radu Palamariu is the co-author of “From Source to Sold – Stories of Leadership in Supply Chain”. He has been named one of the top 3 Global Supply Chain Influencers on LinkedIn and was featured in ForbesBloombergWEFBangkok Post, and MIT Supply Chain Talent magazine. Radu invites executives to share stories and perspectives around technology, logistics, e-commerce, supply chain, and manufacturing, and their views on how the future will look.

Alcott Global connects and upgrades the supply chain ecosystem by finding the right talent through executive search, developing talent through learning solutions, and meeting supply chain technology needs through a comprehensive crunch base marketplace.

The supply chain executive search has been our focus since the very beginning, offering recruitment services for top-tier supply chain roles at every level of the end-to-end supply chain: plan, source / procure, make, and deliver. Our consultants have years of experience in placing top talent, in North America, LATAM, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and APAC, and besides speed, one of our biggest strengths is our network within the supply chain industry, and we capitalize on it to find the best solutions.

Through the years, we have grown as an organization and our offerings with it. One of our initiatives, the learning solutions- training and supply chain academy, is focused on transforming leadership- self-leadership, executive presence, influence capital, and business acumen. Through Supplify, we aim to match corporations with the top technology companies to solve their supply chain and logistics challenges with a focus on innovation and digital transformation.

We are in constant touch with the leaders in supply chain, inviting them to inspire the supply chain professionals in thought-provoking podcast episodes and events, and showcasing what is possible at the yearly Leaders in Supply Chain Awards.

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