Inspiring leaders creating jobs and innovations are not getting the acclaim they deserve. Specifically women leaders in manufacturing. In this column, I will be shining a light and sharing a first of a series on tremendous heroes in our midst that our school systems and media and Hollywood overlook to our detriment. They should be a model for our young people.
Here is the first in an occasional series - meet Hannah Kain:
Q: What is your Title?
A: Founder and CEO of ALOM, a global outsourced supply chain company.
Q: What does ALOM do?
A: Corporations outsource part or all of their product and marketing supply chain, including procurement and production, to us.
Q: What do you do everyday at ALOM?
A: I feel I was born to have this job. I love that my job varies so much, from meeting customers and suppliers, negotiating contracts, supporting my staff and developing a strong team, to advocating for an improved business environment.
Q: Why do you like your job?
A: Being able to shape my life and fulfill my dreams make me feel very blessed. The opportunities and my dreams were instrumental in making me immigrate to the US from Denmark in 1990.
Q: When did you realize entrepreneurship was for you?
A: Since I was very young, I dreamt about starting my own company, and I was always fascinated by creating something three-dimensional. Yet, I am also fascinated by technology and by making everything come together. So, it is marvelous that I get to work in supply chain, producing and distributing technology-rich products.
Q: What is critical to growing a successful business?
A: Innovation and collaboration are critical to growing a successful business. We love innovating for our customers by staying ahead of their needs. It also appeals to my personal creativity. It is not easy staying competitive in today's business environment. We create new business models to keep ourselves and our customers competitive.
Q: What should an Entrepreneur or Manager worry about?
A: Complacency is the enemy. I believe in surrounding myself with brilliant and accomplished people. We have much fewer staff members than our competitors; however, my staff has high-level skills, collaborate as a team and has the tools to succeed.
Q: Tell us about your team?
A: We have a very diverse and inclusive culture that's performance driven. I love to pamper the staff. While we have an excellent benefit package, a bonus plan and very competitive salaries, I believe that we are winning the awards for best workplace because everyone is a valued member of the team.
Q: Other issues a Manager should be considering at all times?
A: Another critical requirement for companies is to be resourceful. In a change-oriented world where bureaucracy holds big corporations back from fast action; small and midsize companies need to be agile and resourceful.
Q: Tell us about your biggest setback and how you overcame it?
A: I also had to use my resourcefulness when my company was suffering severe loss of business during the 2001 Silicon Valley crisis. It hit us hard. I like to talk about it, because we are seen as such a success story now. Yet it is important for other entrepreneurs and everyone involved in making commercial policy decisions to understand that setbacks are part of the reality.
Q: Who were your mentors? What did they teach you that would be useful for others?
A: Living in Silicon Valley is inspiring. Since my teens, I've made it a point to hang out with and learn from very accomplished leaders. Many of them took the time to make me see the world through their eyes. I have had mentors, coaches, advisors and brutally honest friends. My Dad was my first business mentor. I was involved in his part-time business starting at age 11. It was my first paid job; later I had all kinds for jobs while I studied. After graduation, I worked in the Swedish Alfa-Laval group in a manufacturing environment. Today I think daily with gratitude towards the people who supported me. I now enjoy the opportunity to pay it forward and am mentoring other business owners and some young women, and it is tremendously gratifying.
Q: Who are your clients?
A: Our customers are Fortune 100 companies. They are global and expect us to be able to perform in all regions. It has been challenging to build and grow the company globally while maintaining full ownership. For many ALOM clients, we produce in the US and ship globally. It is challenging with regulations and compliance management.
Q: What Policy Issues should Washington DC focus on to grow jobs?
A: I am very concerned about the overall US business environment. The US has the lowest level of entrepreneurship on record. Regulations and penalties combined with high business taxes sour young people. The Return on Investment is simply not there. We need to make our nation more business friendly and increase the number of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy.