LEADERSHIP Conversations with the Captains of Industry
“I Am Never Giving Up”
Born in Bolivia and raised in the United States, Cameroon, and France, Katherina-Olivia Lacey took a world-circling route to her current position in supply chain technology. Lacey is co-founder and chief product ofcer at Quincus, a Singapore- based logistics software rm that serves industries such as food delivery, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail, and e-commerce. We recently talked with Lacey about her history, leadership approach, and current business concerns. IL: How did you come to co-found a logistics IT company based in Singapore? I was preparing to start on my doctorate in business at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, and my co-founder, Jonathan Savoir, was already working on his doctorate at that institution. We concluded at about the same time that we would not continue our work toward those degrees. But we didn’t want 9-to-5 jobs, either. We wanted to start something that was meaningful and solve problems in countries where the solutions weren’t obvious. That led to our rst version of Quincus, which began as a B2B intra-city delivery logistics player in Sao Paulo, Brazil. After Brazil imploded due to the problems surrounding Petrobras, the state-owned oil company, we decided to go to Singapore, which was heavily investing in nurturing startups. Beginning again from nothing, we used our technical solutions to consult and help companies use optimization tools to improve their logistics operations. But our customers told us they wanted a product they could implement themselves. We now have four solutions adapted to different industries, and we operate globally, including in the United States. IL: How did your early career help shape you as a leader? When I completed my MBA, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was lucky to get a job with a small B2B e-commerce company that sold plus-sized swimwear. I worked there for no more than one year, but I did everything— inventory, packaging, handing boxes to drivers, climbing around in the warehouse. I saw how difcult it is to focus on just one thing. You always have things that are backlogged or problems coming forward. Weirdly, I loved all that. There was never a dull moment. At the same time, I loved my experience in academia, including
Katherina-Olivia Lacey Co-founder and Chief Product Ofcer, Quincus
Despite the exhausting challenges of helping demanding customers with small but important supply chain problems, Katherina-Olivia Lacey puts on a brave face, holds it together, and constantly drives new solutions.
by Merrill Douglas
14 Inbound Logistics • September 2022
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