Seasoned Leadership in Action™ – An Interview with Lorrie Watts, Director Logistics at Red Stag!

Lorrie Watts

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At Supply Chain Game Changer we believe in sharing experiences and expertise from people in every industry and from across the globe.  As such we have introduced our “Seasoned Leadership in Action™” Interview series. This interview is with Lorrie Watts, Director of Logistics at Red Stag Fulfillment.

Since the inception of Supply Chain Game Changer our mission has been to share experiences and expertise for the benefit of everyone. One of the first proponents of the work we are doing here has been Jake Rheude at Red Stag Fulfillment. Jake has selflessly helped us provide and share content on this incredible forum.

Here is our interview with one of our great colleagues at Red Stag Fulfillment, Lorrie Watts, Director of Logistics.

Tell our readers a little about your background and experience.

I graduated from Carson–Newman University with a B.S. in Business Management. I worked for a small trucking company in East Tennessee while in college, and I fell in love with the fast pace and constant challenges that would arise. It’s hard to beat the rush you get when you accomplish the impossible for a customer.

What are some of your greatest achievements in Business?

After graduating, I moved into a role that allowed me to install an ERP system across multiple facilities for a large food processing company. As my first “real” job, this allowed me to accomplish my first notable business achievement.

I had the opportunity to train team members to use computers to track stock movements. That may sound trivial in today’s world, but many of the team members didn’t have a high school diploma. 

Seeing them learn and embrace change is truly one of the best experiences that I have had. 

Since then, I have helped successfully install ERP systems across several other industries. Other notable accomplishments include project management for an automotive supplier, managing international and domestic freight services for a large international manufacturer, managing domestic and international sales for a freight forwarder, and leading the purchasing team for a global chain manufacturer. 

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Most important to me, though, has been the opportunity to lead some of the most talented people I’ve had the privilege of knowing. 

How has Business and Supply Chain changed over the course of your career?

Business and Supply Chain have changed both dramatically and not at all throughout my career. I’ve seen incredible technological advances, including tools that allow us to better track, analyze, and predict.

We’ve seen huge sways in fuel, capacity, and total pricing, alongside port diversions, increased transloads, and pricing that made almost everyone cringe. Ports have grown, new ones have opened, and others added births and deepened water to accommodate vessels that handle up to 24,000 containers.

Export freight went from desirable to almost unmovable and back to almost desirable. LTL carriers went from begging for freight to being choosy about the type of freight they wanted to handle. 

However, it all comes down to how to move product from point A to point B safely, efficiently, and at the best possible cost. It seems to always circle back to what is desired versus what people are willing to pay. 

What are some of the lessons you learned in your career that you would like to share for others to learn from?

The one lesson I try to share is that we should always take advantage of the opportunities presented to us, even when they’re hard to see or handle in the moment. I spent about 3 years at a company that I really disliked. It was one of those times when I was overworked and underappreciated.

But while I despised parts of the culture, I was also constantly learning. It exposed me to new ways of thinking, processing, and presenting materials. It kept me out of my comfort zone, and I still find myself using the tools and experiences it offered. 

If I hadn’t embraced that opportunity, there are many situations that I would be ill-equipped to handle.

What challenges facing the world are important to you?

There are many challenges facing the world that are important to me, but the lack of basic necessities for all people hits me the hardest. The thought of people going to sleep without clean water, food, shelter, and clothes is unimaginable.

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What is the role of Business, Supply Chain, and Change Leadership in addressing these challenges?

Businesses have the responsibility to give back to the communities and people who support them. Not only can technology be used to help grow businesses, but it can also help us find more economical ways to transport food, water, clothing, and supplies.

One notable freight forwarder sets aside a specific month each year where they will match any employee contribution to a non-profit organization. This same company allows their employees a set number of hours per year for volunteer work.

What are you working on these days?

I’m currently working on ways to help make our clients more successful. By returning to my experiences, I can often offer solutions they may not have considered. The best way to help is typically to listen. Learning what their supply chain looks like from end to end will often present some overlooked opportunities to help them reach the next level.

What advice would you give to people who have a career in, or who are considering joining, Business and/or Supply Chain?

My best advice? Read Articles, listen to podcasts, and stay as informed as possible. However, at the end of the day, look at your circumstances and opportunities and then use common sense.

Also, if logistics is in your blood, please explain to your significant other that you will never have another text free November/December.

9. How can people contact Lorrie Watts?

The easiest way to reach Lorrie Watts is to email [email protected] and address the email to her.

Originally published on October 4, 2022.
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