Inbound Logistics | September 2022


You’re Uncomfortable? Great! The upheaval of leaving Brazil with her Quincus co-founder in the wake of the Petrobras scandal hit Katherina-Olivia Lacey hard. “It took me a long time to regain the assertiveness I needed to be able to lead people,” she says. No one likes that kind of unease, and at one time Lacey was reluctant to force her employees outside their own comfort zones. But Lacey has changed her mind on that point. “I realized that being uncomfortable is fun,” she says. “When the job becomes too easy for someone, you push them.” Employees need space to figure out solutions for themselves, and they need to take credit for their accomplishments, Lacey says. So, for example, she recently gathered Quincus engineers—who generally don’t enjoy public speaking—to give a demonstration to their peers and the company’s product managers. “They should be able to say, ‘Hey, I did this!’” she says. “And that’s uncomfortable.”

the time I spent assisting one of the professors. My desire to be both an entrepreneur and an educator-leader helped to shape me. IL: What keeps your customers awake at night these days? It’s the margins they’re faced with. Customers want their products now. Logistics players pay a heavy price to fulll that wish, for example by paying drivers to deliver seven days a week. They stay awake wondering how they can make their routes smarter and how to improve operations on the oor. IL: How does Quincus help with those challenges? Small things can impact the entire supply chain. Say a customer asks a delivery company to hold their package. You need to make sure the warehouse can handle that, and for how long. Where should it be stored? Is there a weight limit? Who will send a reminder once the customer is ready for the delivery? If a customer changes an address, does the delivery now go to a different part of town? How do I shift it to another driver? We solve all these small but important problems. IL: How would you describe your leadership style? I’m always trying to become better at what I do. When people work with me, I want to teach them and also challenge them. I use a lot of trial-and-error. I’m fair, but I’m also strict. When it comes to nurturing talent, I need to show that I’m okay with uncertainty. Sometimes I have to put on a brave face to show people that it’s okay when things go wrong. Organizations go through a lot of growing pains, especially at our stage. We have to reward people who stay, but also make sure they understand why they’re there, despite the changes. IL: What’s at the top of your agenda these days? I’m thoroughly focused on process structures and workows. I’m looking at how certain departments interact and how we can automate some of the mundane tasks that slow us down. IL: What’s the hardest aspect of your job? Holding things together. When stuff hits the fan, you can’t panic or let people think that you won’t be able to bring a solution to the table. Over time, you learn to drive solutions constantly. I like that, but sometimes it’s exhausting.

When everyone looks to me for a solution, I want to say, “I need two minutes to think. I need to go to a quiet place.”

IL: When you get up in the morning, what excites you about going to work? Oddly enough, it’s the random things that get thrown at me. Also, it’s the thought of how hard Jonathan and I have been working at this since 2014. We’ve lived too many lives, gone through too many chapters. All this wakes me up, because no matter what challenges come along, there’s no way I’m going to give up. IL: What piece of advice would you give to your 18-year- old self? Don’t underestimate who you want to be and what you can do. If you say to yourself, “I can,” you will. You need to nd the door and create the solution. And if there’s no door, you need to create one. IL: How do you spend your time when you’re not working? I travel for work and pleasure at the same time. I like to play golf; the golf course is the only place where I can shut off my phone for a few hours. The silence is rewarding. I like to hang out with my Old English Sheepdog. I look for calm when I’m alone. n

September 2022 • Inbound Logistics 15

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