Building a platform for flexible warehousing with David Glick CTO of FLEXE

Building a platform for flexible warehousing with David Glick CTO of FLEXE Featured Image

David Glick is the CTO of on-demand warehousing and fulfillment company, FLEXE. He’s responsible for the design and development of the FLEXE Technology Platform. Before FLEXE, he spent nearly 20 years at Amazon, including five years as the VP of Fulfillment Technology, where he oversaw the development and functionality of the technology within Amazon’s fulfillment centers, as well as the technology for Amazon’s transportation systems.

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Connect with the Guest:

David Glick: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • [05:20] Working with clients like Walmart
  • [10:19] Engineers working from the warehouse floor – take your engineers close to the pain points 
  • [14:54] Recognizing heroes who prepare – so that on peak season you don’t need to firefight 
  • [16:13] Hurricane Heroes – case study 
  • [20:17] Jump In and Running Towards the Fire – FLEXE Culture
  • [31:50] Career advice: Solve problems for your boss!

Show notes:

  • [00:57] As we usually do, just to set the scene, it would be great to have a short introduction and better understand your career path so far and maybe the big milestones of it. 
  • [01:38] I had a boss who told me, IT is a dead field and it’s moving all to the cloud. If you’re not in software, your career is probably done. And so I was like, okay, well I better be in software. And I started with a small team in retail systems and ended up building the pricing engine that sets all of Amazon’s first-party prices
  • [03:55] What are some of the trends that you see? It can be connected to the supply chain in general or to warehousing, but because of the interesting circumstances with the pandemic, what do you see in the next few months or in the longterm as trends? 
  • [04:37] Every year the market segment share would increase from 9% to 10%. And so over 10 years, it went from 6% to 16%, and over 10 weeks it went from 16% to 26%. So we basically had in 20 years, 10 years of conversion from retail to e-commerce in 10 weeks, which is amazing. 
  • [05:22] We are working with the world’s biggest companies, Walmart’s a big customer, ACE hardware, and others. So we are helping them break from traditional in-store to how do we compete with or work with Amazon to how do we have our own B2C experience where we’re doing one-day or same-day shipping. 
  • [06:29] What are the biggest problems you at FLEXE are trying to solve? 
  • [08:56] If you are to look back at the career so far with FLEXE, what are some of the features and tech milestones you are most proud of? 
  • [11:16] I wrote a LinkedIn post that says, put engineers close to customers. And we did that with Amazon. We rotated all the engineers and fulfillment technologies have to go to the warehouse and pick and pack. 
  • [13:43] Multi-unit orders, which Amazon is the best in the world at is hard. And so we built a technology to sort orders or consolidate them at the pack station, which simplifies the process significantly improves quality and allows us to scale doing multi-unit orders.
  • [14:54] One of the things I would tell the team is I don’t want to see anybody cross their fingers; I don’t want to see anybody knock on wood because we don’t need luck if we’re prepared. 
  • [16:13] Is there a case study that you can talk more about, maybe some results, some improvement numbers that have been seen using your solutions?
  • [18:59] And when you think about the markets that you want to cover and serve, I imagine the US is the main one, are there other markets that you have in mind? 
  • [20:07] How you define the culture at FLEXE? What’s most important to you when it comes to culture? 
  • [21:00] That culture of everybody wanting to chip in and everybody wanting to grow the business, I really love that.
  • [22:14] What are the things that you look for when interviewing? 
  • [23:54] We want people who like to achieve and to build solutions for our customers.
  • [24:18] What’s your approach to integration? Is it like throw them in the water and learn to swim? Or how would you define it? 
  • [24:50] For people at the Director level or VP level, I want them to run their show. My leadership style is I will give you full autonomy and then also hold you accountable.
  • [26:52] Are you doing something different during COVID, is it a lot of zoom calls or whatever technology or how do you do it? 
  • [27:24] I am worried that all of the hard conversations we’ve pushed off in 2020 are going to hurt us in 2021 because it’s important decisions we need to make strategically that we may or may not have made effectively.
  • [28:10] If you were to look at it, when do you know that you’re successful?
  • [29:39] Are you involved in a couple of steps or is it just the final most important interview when recruiting somebody?
  • [30:51] When people come to work for me because they want to work for me, that’s when I know I’m successful.
  • [31:51] What would be a piece of advice for a successful career from your perspective? 
  • [32:21] You don’t know what you don’t know. So on day one when you walk in the building, figure out what your boss’s biggest problem is and solve that and then find out what the next one is and solve that.
  • [33:19] One piece of advice for a successful career in leadership is it’s about your people. Hire great people, coach them, and manage poor people out. You can’t do two of the three.

Related Episodes:

Theory of Constraints with Dr. Alan Barnard CEO of Goldratt Research Labs

Control Tower and Real-Time Tracking with o9 Solutions and FourKites

Bringing Order to Supply Chain with Robert Garrison CEO of Mercado Labs

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