As Blume Global’s CIO, Yamini Vellore is responsible for protecting Blume data and ensuring we provide our customers with the resources and support they need to succeed. She also leads the customer success, professional services and tech-ops teams. As someone who has spent her entire career in the technology and supply chain arena, we’re excited about the unique perspective she brings to the role and her drive to continuously innovate.
The following is an excerpt from our interview with Yamini:
As Blume Global’s first CIO, what is your vision for your role?
Yamini: As a SaaS company, we essentially serve as de-facto CIO for every customer. That means I need to constantly think about how to best protect our customers’ data and the new technologies we can provide them. We take the responsibility off the customer’s shoulders and move it onto ours. In my opinion, we can most effectively do this by offering leading edge technology. As CIO, I want Blume to lead by example for other companies, including our own customers and the rest of the partners in our ecosystem, when it comes to the products we offer and how we conduct business. The best solutions we offer need to come from our full team – and not a single person. As CIO, I can help facilitate that collaboration. I believe that teamwork and a strong sense of empathy is what will bring the team together. If you’re growing, then so is your company.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in a role and field that is still predominantly men? Any advice for other women in the supply chain industry?
Yamini: I am honored to be Blume’s first CIO. Blume is a very diverse organization and I’m proud to say that it has more than one woman on the executive team. When I began my supply chain career, there weren’t many women in the industry. At every other organization I’ve worked at, I’ve either been the only female employee or one of very few. I’ve been fortunate to have great managers that have helped me grow and pushed me to the next level. This helped me tremendously and has brought me to this point in my career. As a minority at a company – whether that is based on gender or ethnicity, it can be easy to look internally and not take your deserved space at the table. Don’t doubt yourself!
What message do you think that Blume’s commitment to diversity sends to employees and customers?
Yamini: Having such a diverse executive team sends an important message to both our employees and customers. Having an executive team with different genders, ethnicities and life experiences helps to move the organization forward – and people notice. In fact, one of the customers from our advisory board recently came in to the office and even made a comment about how diverse Blume is and how great they thought that was. In the long run, more diversity helps deliver different solutions to challenges.
How did you get your start in IT?
Yamini: I’ve been interested in technology development for a long time, even in college. I attended school in India and there was only one computer in our entire college. Every person got one hour a week on the computer to write their code and make sure they could compile and execute it. My professor would say, “the fewer errors you make, the more it means that you are meant to be here.” It was a friendly competition among classmates and I always thought it was a fun way to motivate people. I felt a sense of succeeding under pressure early on.
What made you move into the supply chain?
Yamini: I began working in the supply chain industry completely by accident. I started my career in banking and then joined Manhattan Associates. In the early ‘90s most units did not have a barcode on them. Many naysayers said it was not possible for every unit to have a barcode because it was too expensive. The founders at Manhattan Associates saw that this was the future and that it was inevitable, so they invested in building a software for the supply chain that could utilize the barcode on every single unit for inventory and shipping accuracy. That was my introduction to the supply chain. By working in what was a small company at the time, I learned more about how to work with customers, and could see and solve challenges and have brought those lessons into every aspect of my career.
How is emerging technology impacting the supply chain?
Yamini: Companies like Blume Global that use emerging technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, set an example for the rest of the software vendors in the supply chain as well as for our customers. It demonstrates that they can take a leap of faith and use new technology to provide a better customer experience. There is a large amount of waste in inefficient supply chains, such as empty miles in trucking, that technologies like AI can help minimize. Even reducing that waste by a small percentage is socially responsible.
Which technology over the past decade has been the most exciting to you or has had the biggest effect on the supply chain?
Yamini: Mobile phones have had the biggest effect on the supply chain. Applications have influenced how we purchase and how we share information. Massive amounts of data are collected from all of these applications. In the coming years we need to make sense out of all that data and how to use it to benefit everyone. Ten years ago the biggest change in the supply chain was the introduction of the mobile smart phone and over the next ten years it will be how machine learning and AI capabilities change how we interact with our devices.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
Yamini: It was to have confidence in myself. Very early in my career, the founder of Manhattan Associates asked the class about something very specific. He then asked me if I knew it. I said, “I think so.” Then he walked away from me. The other founder with a similar cultural background as mine said, “Yes, she knows.” He pulled me aside and said, “If you know, don’t say you think so, say you know so.” So my advice to others is, “don’t doubt yourself and be confident.”
Do you remember the first technology gadget you bought?
Yamini: I had a Boombox! It is completely obsolete now but it was great then.