The Digital Supply Chain podcast

How To Reach The Next Generation Of Supply Chain Professionals - A Chat With Megan Preston Meyer

October 01, 2021 Tom Raftery / Megan Preston Meyer Season 1 Episode 165
The Digital Supply Chain podcast
How To Reach The Next Generation Of Supply Chain Professionals - A Chat With Megan Preston Meyer
Show Notes Transcript

Do you work in Supply Chain? Ok, what do you tell your kids that you do? How to explain the intricacies of supply chain to children. Well, a new series of illustrated kids' books aims to help.

The Supply Jane Adventures bring supply chain, logistics, and inventory management principles to life. Our intrepid superhero Supply Jane and her canine sidekick Fifo teach kids simple but powerful concepts that make the world around us work.

I reached out to the author of these books, Megan Preston Meyer to ask her about the books (Christmas is coming), what was her reason for writing them, how have they been received, and where are they available.

If you need to reach out to Megan, you can find her online at:
Twitter: @mprestonmeyer
Instagram: @mprestonmeyer
LinkedIn: Megan Preston Meyer

We had a great conversation about publishing, kids' books, and supply chain concepts made simple connectivity and, as is often the case, I learned loads, I hope you do too...

If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to leave me a voice message over on my SpeakPipe page or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

If you want to learn more about how to juggle sustainability and efficiency mandates while recovering from pandemic-induced disruptions, meeting growth targets, and preparing for an uncertain future, check out our Oxford Economics research report here.

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Digital Supply Chain solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/digitalsupplychain, and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane! 

Megan Preston Meyer:

A lot of the books for kids right now are you know they inspire you to be a doctor or a lawyer or a fireman or, you know a scientist or an astronaut or something. And that's all great. But there was nothing out there that show kids that there's also you could be a procurement manager you could be a digital supply chain analyst you know, like the the astronauts stuff is great shoot for the moon and all that, but I wanted there to be something a little more down to earth to.

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the digital supply chain podcast, the number one podcast focusing on the digitization of supply chain. And I'm your host, global Vice President at SAP. Tom Raftery. Hi, everyone. Welcome to the digital supply chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery with SAP and with me on the show today I have my special guests Megan. Megan, would you like to introduce yourself?

Megan Preston Meyer:

Sure. First of all, Tom, thank you for having me. I am Megan Preston Meyer, and I'm the creator of the adventures of supply chain and FIFO. A series of kids books about supply chain and operations management. I'm an author and speaker and consultant. But before that I spent 10 years and supply chain or supply chain adjacent roles doing everything from reducing grain loss and inbound barley supply chains to demand forecasting for perishable food. And I was always really interested in digging into the data to see what stories that could tell and realize that data never tells the whole story. So now I focus on stories that that it doesn't tell, including Supply Chain Management stories for kids.

Tom Raftery:

Fantastic. And why Why? Why write books for kids about supply chain, it seems like an an unusual kind of constituency to aim for.

Megan Preston Meyer:

I would love to be able to say that it started from this super noble conviction to like bring the next generation into this, you know, this line of work. But really it It actually started with upon. And so I was hiking one day with my husband and we were talking about just in time delivery for something some reason decided that sounded good. Yeah. conversations you have in the wilderness, when we decided that sounded like a superhero. And so we started talking about the adventures that Justin time would have, but then realized that Justin time is already a superhero, I guess. And so then I came up with supply chain, which is an even better upon, and then FIFO, her canine companions sort of join, and then we just had to tell a story around it. So that's where that's where they came from.

Tom Raftery:

Nice, nice and why, why the children's market

Megan Preston Meyer:

there, I think, you know, once I had the story, I realized there is actually a hole in the market or a hole in the bookshelf. Because there are all kinds of there are career based books for kids, there's a whole category on Amazon stem is huge these days. But a lot of the books for kids right now are you know, they inspire you to be a doctor or lawyer or a fireman or, you know, a scientist or an astronaut or something. And that's all great. But there was nothing out there that show kids that there's also you could be a procurement manager you could be a digital supply chain analyst, you know, like the the astronauts stuff is great shoot for the moon and all that. But I wanted there to be something a little more down to earth too.

Tom Raftery:

Nice, nice. I'm supply chain is getting a lot of press at the moment.

Megan Preston Meyer:

It really is. It really is. So there's, you know, this. Another kind of problem that these folks solve is if you hear something on TV, or if you you know on the news, or if you go to the grocery store, and your favorite cereal isn't on the shelf, you know, how do you explain that to kids? And this is a nice little bridge into bringing some of these kind of everyday concepts into something that's a little bit more tangible.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, nice. And I mean, seeing as we're speaking about supply chain, and in this case, it's supply, Jane, your superhero. what's the what's the publishing supply chain? Like how was the story of creating your book and getting it published? How did that work out?

Megan Preston Meyer:

The book is self I published it here. I live in Switzerland and so once it was done once we had all of the illustrations finalized and everything I worked with a really great printing company. Just down The road. And so I've got two books in the series, and the first one printed without a hitch. And then very Ironically, the second one which comes out on October 26, the printing was actually delayed because of a supply chain issue. The paper wasn't available, so it pushed the print date back by a couple of weeks. So we're not immune.

Tom Raftery:

And is it? Is it the usual available on Amazon and all good bookstores kind of thing? Yep,

Megan Preston Meyer:

it's on, it's on Amazon, it's on gumroad, there's probably the easiest way to find it is by going to www dot suppli dash, Jane j and e.com. And that has all the links to where you can purchase the book.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, fantastic. So if people who are listening are, for example, supply chain professionals, and they want to tell their kids what it is they do day to day, this is a good kind of bit of collateral for them.

Megan Preston Meyer:

I would I would hope so. Yeah. And that's really one of the reasons that I wrote it is, like I said, there's it's much easier to explain to to your kids, to your spouse, to anybody, what you do, if it fits into a nice little box, you know, if you're a doctor, or if you're a lawyer, but so much of what you know, we do in this industry, what I used to do is it spans it spans definition, do you do a little of this, a little of that, and it's not always super, super clear. And so with with these books, you can explain at least one or two concepts that you probably work with during the day. And then you can help the kids see that, you know, in their, in what they do during the day, whether it's you know, first in first out whether it's dealing with bottlenecks. And if you can make some of these concepts a little more tangible that will help them understand what you know what you do when you go to the office or when you sit in front of Zoo calls all day.

Tom Raftery:

And, I mean, you were good enough to send me a copy of the book for review. Thank you for that. I absolutely loved it. I really did. I love the illustrations in it. I love the use of names in supply Jane and her dog FIFO living in logistics Ville, and there's a guy with a sharp his his name, the name of his shop is but his name is Perry, Perry chable. And his shops name is perishable goods, a lot of use of puns there to talk to me a little bit about the book and the illustrations and stuff like that for people. I've seen it. But a lot of the people who are listening won't have seen it. So tell us a little bit about it.

Megan Preston Meyer:

So they're fully illustrated, I worked with an illustrator named Anita almost Darfur, and she's incredibly talented. And like any good picture book, I would say, you know, maybe 50% 60% of the story comes through text and the rest comes through the details of the illustrations. I can't believe I've made it this far without mentioning the dragons. There are dragons in in both books because what better way to talk about complicated logistics principles than with Dragons. So lots of little details and and both visually and like you said, Tom, I'm glad you picked up on the ponds with the names. And I think that's a lot of that's a lot of the fun part about these books is that they're sort of the very superficial layer, read the story and they'll flip through the pages. But then if you go through a little bit more, you can see there's there are dragons peeking their toenails, there are people picking up shelves, or eggs from shelves with with their canes and with all sorts of different just little tiny notes that you wouldn't necessarily pick up on the first read which from I don't have kids personally but I understand from some of my friends that once a kid likes a book, it gets read multiple times. Maybe on the second time the third time there's still something new to pick up on.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah, I mean that there's one page where there's dragons roasting marshmallows over a fire. There's another page where as you said there's a woman picking up dragon egg and a sharp with a cane. But there's also in the same picture there's a guy picking up a dragon egg and there's a tattoo of a dragon on his arm, which I thought was a lovely little detail. So no it's the illustrations are fantastic and even little things like the dog's name is FIFO Tell us about that.

Megan Preston Meyer:

FIFO is so FIFO again, also upon us In the first book called FIFO, saves the day. The book really it centers on the concept of first in first out. And so that's this is just one other little nod to to this concept of stock rotation and inventory management.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah. And there's this kind of legend I guess not even a legend but idea that in comics that dogs are called Fido, I've never come across a dog called Fido. But, you know, so naming the dog FIFO is a nice kind of allusion to that.

Megan Preston Meyer:

Exactly. And yeah, that's exactly right. I I was sort of basing it off of vital but I have never met a real dog named Fido either now that you mentioned and I wonder where that comes from?

Tom Raftery:

Not a clue. Not a clue. Fantastic. What's the reaction been like to the books?

Megan Preston Meyer:

The reaction has been? It's been great. Actually, I get a lot of people who say the first question is always okay, but why? Why are you writing kids books about supply chain management? But after that, it does seem to be people think it's, it's a great idea. Everyone loves the illustrations, like you said, and I have gotten really good feedback that kids like it to, actually which is, which is nice. Because I i've always sort of thought when I wrote the book, and when I marketed I was more thinking about people like me, I was more aiming at the parents, professionals and people who were more interested in this kind of from an adult point of view. But kids really, really like it and they are able to you know, it's not, it's not too boring, which I think is one of the best compliments that the book could

Tom Raftery:

get. Yeah, no, it's it is great. It's great. And yeah, the illustrations are phenomenal. I gotta say, you said the next book is coming out towards the end of October 21. October, you said 26? When you say October, okay, and where to after that? It? Is this gonna become a Harry Potter type thing, you know, multiple sequels and supply chain, saving the date over and over again, or have you other plans.

Megan Preston Meyer:

There will be more books in the series. There's all kinds of concepts out there that can that are yet to be explained. So I think the the next challenge is more deciding what is the best? What's the best next subject for a book? And right now, I'm not completely sure, actually. I have some thoughts and I have some ideas. You know, I'm toying with I think the bullwhip effect would be great. I think last mile logistics would be interesting. I think multimodal transport would be really cool. I would love to see the illustrations for that. So you know, birdie back and fishy back on dragons. I think that would be really, really neat.

Tom Raftery:

offshoring and home shoring.

Megan Preston Meyer:

Yeah. Yeah, this would be this is this would be great. And actually, I would love if your listeners have any suggestions or ideas, they could get in touch with me on Twitter or Instagram or LinkedIn and let me know what they would love to see.

Tom Raftery:

superbe do send me your links to your social accounts. I'll include them in the show notes and people can find you that way. Well, okay. Superb. Megan. We're coming towards the end of the podcast now. Is there any question I have not asked that you wish I had are any aspect of this we haven't talked about that you think is worth bringing up as well?

Megan Preston Meyer:

I don't think so. I think actually the all of the questions that I had hoped you had asked you already have which speaks to your expertise as a podcast host.

Tom Raftery:

Thank you for doing so. Okay, fantastic. So if people want to know more about yourself about the books, where should I direct them?

Megan Preston Meyer:

The books you can find more information at WWE dot supply dash jane.com. Like I said, they're also on Amazon and gumroad. And then if you want to find out more about me, I'm on Twitter and Instagram at m Preston Meyer. m p r e s t o n n e y e r, and then you can find me on LinkedIn under Megan Preston wire.

Tom Raftery:

Super. Megan, that's been great. Thanks somebody in for coming on the podcast today.

Megan Preston Meyer:

Yeah, thank you so much for having me, Tom. Really appreciate it.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to sa p.com slash digital supply chain or simply drop me an email to Tom raftery@sap.com. If you'd like to show please don't forget to subscribe to it and your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as possible. published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.