Adriene has always been drawn to those problems where the optimal solutions may not be the obvious ones. In a word: puzzles. “As a systems engineer by training, I’m always intrigued by situations where there is complexity and what might seem obvious on the surface could be driving you to an action that is really not in your best interest – and I seek out those kinds of problems where you must dig deep to fully understand the influences and forces at play that need to be addressed to deliver the desired result,” she says.
After graduating university, there was nothing more exciting as a new consultant at Oliver Wyman than to be able to work on tough network optimization and corporate restructuring problems across the transportation sector. “I was fascinated by and determined to find solutions to the hard problem of running a reliable and cost-effective transportation system that meets the needs of customers with a wide variety of operating constraints and rules of engagement,” Adriene says.
In her late 20s, she joined a US Class-1 railroad to lead their newly formed service design function. For the next 25 years, she worked in leadership roles for transportation providers – from railroads to intermodal to truck brokerage to international freight forwarding and contract logistics. “The common thread was always a transformational challenge that needed to be solved – whether in a line commercial or operating role or in the strategy/development chair,” says Adriene.
The interconnected and interdependent nature of the global transportation ecosystem makes disruptions extremely costly, as witnessed by the COVID-19 pandemic. But she’s excited by the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. “The global supply chain is full of potential and has an imperative to be more resilient and more efficient. The ability for multiple parties to integrate information and orchestrate operations across organizational boundaries holds the promise of unlocking a tremendous amount of value for the world – and to eliminate costly bottlenecks and failures within the system,” Adriene says. “We will need to treat the global supply chain as a shared and vital asset and develop trust-based standards that allow for greater integration and visibility across the ecosystem and methods of responding to and optimizing our responses to disruptions at scale.”