Livingston International

An interview with the company’s Vice President Matthew Goodman

Next up on our Game Changers feature is Matthew Goodman who joined Livingston in April 2012 with the acquisition of the customs and trade compliance services business of JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., formerly known as Vastera. He has been leading this global trade management operation since 2005 and is now responsible for overseeing all aspects of Livingston’s global trade management business, carried out on behalf of clients in North America, Europe and Asia. Prior to heading up this business, formerly known as global managed services, Matt was vice-president of the trade management services group at UPS, responsible for managed services operations and product commercialization.

During his career, Matt has held a number of increasingly senior and diverse management positions, including roles at General Electric and Excell, a customer service provider. He has also served in both the US. Army and the US National Guard, and received recognition and numerous awards for his leadership. A Six Sigma Black Belt, process-driven and quality-focused professional, Matt holds a BS in business management from Colorado State University. He is a member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and the American Association of Importers and Exporters.


How did your career path lead you to your current position? What have been the main challenges that you faced along the way?

 I’ve always been intrigued by the world, other cultures and the idea of doing business on a global scale. Early in my career I focused on staying flexible and learning new skill sets. I worked in customer service, e-commerce and quality as a Six Sigma black belt. These areas provided great insights into the interconnection of process, services and the power of technology. The most consistent challenge we deal with is the increasing rate of change in business. A balanced business is critical in absorbing and dealing with change. Today’s trend is yesterday’s buzzword. It’s important to stay focused on what’s important to the client and delivering value.


What do you do to motivate your team to provide best in class service?

 Being passionate about our offering and finding ways to instill that same passion in our team is critical. What we do is a majestic function of business. Trade management is about facilitating commerce, connecting people from all over the world, opening doors for developing nations and windows of opportunity to ambitious entrepreneurs around the world. It’s important we all understand the value that we bring to the table when we support our clients, and the impact that has on their business.


Global Trade Management has become a hot topic for many businesses over the last few years, can you share your thoughts on why it has become so important to the health of global businesses.

Many of our customers see the potential of expanding their global supply chains, but aren’t sure where to begin. It can be a daunting endeavor, but there’s tremendous value to organizations that optimize their international supply chains. There are countless cost-saving opportunities, from mitigating customs delays and penalties to optimizing the flow of goods to risk mitigation and partner selection. Navigating the complexities of overseas markets is something that comes with decades of experience, and as an organization at the forefront of global trade, Livingston is strategically positioned to support global businesses in their international commerce activity.


What major challenges or opportunities should business be aware of in the next 12 to 24 months?

 We are entering a period of uncertain change regarding international trade. Emphasis on the value of Free Trade Agreements, nationalistic economic priorities like Brexit, changing regulations and increasing dependency on technology all point to the potential for significant changes in trading practices. Companies will have to adjust quickly or risk increased cost and inefficiency.


Global trade has become a particularly hot topic lately with the Brexit vote and some of the commentary about NAFTA coming out of the US election, what advice would you offer business leaders engaged in global commerce?

 This is an incredibly interesting but also volatile period for global trade. There are critical trade agreements that are set for ratification, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), but there are also movements taking place that could contain the free flow of goods, such as Brexit and a promise to renegotiate NAFTA and possibly not ratify the TPP. Right now we’re in a holding pattern, but business leaders with global supply chains should be corresponding now with their consultancies to better understand what impact these events could have on their business. Depending on the industry, product or service type and geography, a company can be adversely or positively affected by these changes. The critical thing is to not get caught off guard and to have contingencies in place to ensure supply chains aren’t disrupted as this can have an unfavorable impact on operations, cash flow, customer service, warehousing costs, inventory control, supply fulfillment and a host of other considerations.


Is it fair to assume that Livingston is in favour of all trade agreements?

 Certainly we’re in favour of the free flow of goods across international borders as we believe this serves to break down barriers to business activity and economic development. However, we recognize that each trade agreement is unique and that not all trade agreements will be equally advantageous to all industries and all business types. Our role is not to convince businesses of the virtues of free trade, but rather to help them maximize the potential of each trade relationships they have based on their specific business goals, and to help them mitigate risk and identify new business development opportunities.

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