Executive Insights is a series by Shipping and Freight Resource that provides ongoing insights and thoughtful analysis..
This series features selected individuals from the industry and is aimed at enriching the knowledge of the readers with what is happening in the shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, and supply chain industry..
Executive Insights also gives you a chance to pick the brains of these industry veterans, leaders, and enablers..
In this edition of Executive Insights, we caught up with Wesley Mann, Senior Product Manager at Turvo, on how digitalisation helps create a common environment for smarter and faster collaboration in logistics..
SFR : Can you tell us a bit about your background?
WM : I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. I studied statistics and economics at Harvard, graduating in 2013. Right out of college, I spent 2 years on Wall Street, working in the Transportation group of the Investment Banking Division at Morgan Stanley.
After that, I transitioned into Technology. I joined SmartAsset, a leader in personal financial advice, as a Product Manager. I joined Turvo a little less than 2 years later.
SFR : How did Turvo happen?
WM : I was introduced to leadership at Turvo in late 2016. Turvo is a unique opportunity for me given my background on the financial side of Transportation at Morgan Stanley and my interest in SaaS companies. The vision and market opportunity are massive, so I am very excited to have joined Turvo.
SFR : Initially, as an outsider, what was your perspective on the industry?
WM : I think the supply chain and global flow of goods are some of the most interesting problems in the world. But the industry is very fragmented and has many stakeholders. This means there are a ton of opportunities and plenty of problems to be solved.
SFR : What do you think needs changing and how do you see that happening, given the traditional mindset that people have?
WM : I think the industry is realizing that visibility isn’t enough. Collaboration, data fluency, and common platforms are going to be hugely important going forward (hence the importance of Turvo).
Players in the industry will be forced to change, because their customers always require better service. If the traditional mindset doesn’t deliver the expected increase in service, then the industry will change by necessity. The need for a digital customer experience is coming to the forefront of the conversation in the supply chain as more organizations and transactions move online.
SFR : How does it compare to other industries?
WM : The industry is fascinating. It’s highly fragmented and many solutions exist to solve the same base problems. I reject the notion that supply chain is “boring”, I just don’t understand that description.
SFR : Can you tell about your career progression at Turvo? What is the scope of your responsibilities?
WM : Given my time at Turvo, my title has changed from Product Manager to “Senior Product Manager”, but my core mandate is the same. Leverage the brilliant people and tech of Turvo to deliver value to our customers by deeply understanding their needs.
My responsibilities may now include directly managing multiple Product Managers, but I’ve always been tasked with collaborating across the company from Engineering & Design to Sales & Marketing. A lot of my job involves communicating the company vision and executing on the most impactful endeavors at any given time.
SFR : Considering the events of 2020, who needs Turvo and why?
WM : With the forced distribution of labor and increased uncertainty in the marketplace, I think all players who have a stake in the movement of goods (Shippers, 3PLs, Brokers, Carriers, Drivers, Locations, etc) can benefit from Turvo.
Turvo is built from the ground up with digital collaboration and transparency in mind. The product is tailor made for this new environment.
It helps organizations bring their entire network – both internal and external – into a common environment to share, collaborate and execute faster and smarter.
SFR : With respect to technology adoption and readiness, what are your views – are we nearly there or light years away?
WM : I think the supply chain industry is full of companies that hustle, innovate and capitalize on opportunity.
Technology moves fast. It doesn’t care whether you are ready to adopt it or not. Either you adopt what solves your customer’s problems and delivers value, or you fall behind.
The industry adopts technology quickly, but individual players may take the lead at different times. I’m excited for the future!
SFR : What are the major concerns people have when “buying into” technology solutions? Are people accepting of the new buzz words such as AI, Blockchain, Big Data Analytics, etc?
WM : “Acceptance” of these terms varies among our customers depending on their size. I think our larger customers may inquire about them, because they are emerging opportunities, which their boards and investment analysts talk about often. Either way, if there are economic opportunities or problems that can be solved, all of our customers are open to these trends.
SFR : Considering your alma mater,
- Are there higher expectations from you and if yes, how do you manage that?
- What is the biggest learning you’ve carried from Harvard into your professional life and how do you apply it?
WM : I do often receive comments when people learn where I went to school; It happens. There are definitely preconceptions and stereotypes that I navigate, but thankfully it hasn’t affected how I work with my colleagues. Honestly, my colleagues at Turvo are some of the smartest people I’ve had the privilege to work with! I have to make sure that I keep up 😀
My biggest lessons are definitely around adapting to new environments, navigating interpersonal relationships and always updating your thinking based on new information. Harvard is a very humbling place; it’s full of people from diverse backgrounds, different world views and a lot of intellectual horsepower.
You quickly learn how to improve your mindset and knowledge by leveraging what others can bring to the table. My experience has helped me handle lots of interactions from presentations with fortune 500 C-suites to interviews with truck drivers. Everyone has a story to tell and important problems to solve. I’m glad that I get to experience such a vast range.
The changing technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a popular topic for any tech-related discussion. It has become an integral part of many industries and has many use cases. The latest McKinsey Global AI survey showed that the use of AI technology is showing a 25% Y-o-Y increase with applications in all areas of businesses.
The Shipping industry uses AI as its prime technology. Global cyber threats and the pressure to comply with environmental laws and norms have necessitated digitization in the shipping industry. Thus, AI has the potential to enhance the shipping industry in terms of its service quality and speed of delivery.