Who am I?

Who am I?

This is a question I'm rarely asked, but one that I end up receiving many second hand comments about.

Some of my favorites:

Anthony, that guy who has a personal vendetta with project44?
I heard that he lives in France and was never actually in logistics
He is just an AI designed to trigger people who hate tech

I guess it is time for me to write about me, and not about this brilliantly mad industry we're taken by.

That's me right there. Rocking the Boris Johnson hairstyle before it was cool. Back then, I didn't have a clue what logistics meant. I was as blissfully ignorant about supply chains as Joe Biden claims most people to be. Where did it all go wrong?

The WiseTech days.

Back in 2014, I'd just wrapped-up my last year at Uni with a 3-month internship at WiseTech Global's Milton Keynes office. A few weeks later, I had Richard White calling me on Skype (yes, it was Skype back then), offering me a job in Sydney.

Ok ok, I'll get to the interesting parts.

WiseTech was a brilliant experience, albeit taxing on the mental health side. There is something about working for a fast-growing tech giant in the logistics space that keeps the pressure on. Constantly. After three years in marketing and dealing with multiple layers of management and influence who all thought they knew better than each other, I was done with that. Moving goalposts I can take, but multiple referees who live to contradict each other? Hard pass.

Those three years were intense. I chose to sit with product teams rather than the marketing team, and got involved in some product work. Seeing how some of the best tech teams at WiseTech were organized and delivering on product was extremely valuable, and would help me for my next challenge.

That's when I seized the opportunity to work in Corporate Development and Mergers & Acquisitions with Vlad Bilanovsky, the now CXO at WiseTech (I'm still not sure CXO is a real role).

Let's take a second to talk about Vlad.

This was my second time working for Vlad, as he had a rather brief stint as Head of Marketing (and was smart enough to GTFO of that role before he became another casualty - it is clearly a hot seat at WiseTech). The first time round, Vlad was a crap manager. Great guy, but a freaking shark. It is always hard mixing business and pleasure. The fine lines between friendship and being colleagues. As an impressionable 20-something year-old from rural France, it was a big change.

The second time around was a blast though. I had grown much thicker skin, we had real work to do with huge strategies to implement. We achieved some great things, and aside from that one time I made us miss our train in Belgium, I think it worked out pretty well.

And there was a ten-hour time zone difference between us as I had moved back to Europe. Perfect.

Those three years taught me more about logistics, logistics technology, building a business, and strategy, than I'd ever learnt previously. We're talking multi-million dollar acquisitions at an insane pace. Geographical expansion on all continents. Tackling the customs and compliance problem. Huge. The set-up was great, basically Vlad and myself backed-up by the amazing finance and legal teams we worked with.

Bye Bye WiseTech

Of course it had to be Covid-19.

As soon as Covid started, I knew I was done for. WiseTech seemed to be in an unrecognizable state of panic, and I was on the wrong side of the world. Even if they had asked me to come back to Sydney, I was helping my mum through her first fight with cancer. My time at WiseTech was coming to an end.

And after spending May 2020 through to November of that year on gardening leave whilst they figured out how to legally fire people in France from a company with solid results (still trying to wrap my head around that one), I was gone. The process was all quite unnerving really, but very WiseTech-like. Minimal communication from anyone for about six months, followed-up by a "we'll only talk to your lawyer" request. Fun.

Listen, to anyone going through this, it really does help you grow, and is a character-forging experience. After the unceremonious layoff which consisted of lawyers negotiating compensation packages and then Vlad jumping on a call to read a script from a prompter, I was cut-off overnight. They paid out my 3 months notice and I was free.

A quick sidenote here: this is why I laugh so much reading the usual comments from people who think I'm "bought" by WiseTech. Guys, is it hard to believe that I'm just a logistics technology nerd and think they actually have half decent software?

My role in logistics today.

I'd love to say that I'm building the next big FMS that will really shake things up.

Maybe tomorrow, we'll see.

In the meantime, my past experience with WiseTech and the hundreds of companies I'd researched and spoken with for potential M&A and partnerships has given me a certain perspective on the industry. There is so much money to be made in logistics and logistics technology, and quite a few founders use this to enrich themselves, without delivering any value.

When the Slync debacle started to unfold, it was obvious that we were having our WeWork moment. Fast cash. Fast cars. Private jets. Golf tournament sponsorships. You can't necessarily blame someone for trying it on. You can however wonder how the investors and the board allowed this to happen, and reach the heights it did.

Thankfully Slync is a rather outrageous outlier with few peers. We do have our fair share of questionable Logistics Technology solutions in the market today. Those who raise (and burn) far too much. Those who try to solve problems of their own creation. And those who are simply copycats, trying to cash-in on the hype and funding that flowed freely into the logistics technology space.

Of course Slync aren't the only ones... p44's burn rate is close to Freightos' market cap. Let's hope they've ditched the private jet and the Champs Élysée office since they let go of double-digit staff numbers last year.

This is what I'm looking to challenge today. I'm trying to help the logistics world get past the marketing smoke and mirrors of the various logistics technology offerings out there. Is it a smart idea? Gosh no. But it is quite fun. The thing is, there is real value out there. There are real logistics technology solutions that will enhance productivity, provide visibility, and actually solve supply chain problems in real ways.

Of course it doesn't pay the bills, which is why I offer consulting, marketing, and content creation on the side. Maybe one day I'll make some LogTech too, as it clearly doesn't seem that difficult to convince the likes of Goldman Sachs to part with their money.

It is still early days for Logistics Technology. But with the right moves from investors and founders, we can contribute to the betterment of global supply chains with immediate effect.

Game on.