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GS1 - Everything you need to know but were afraid to ask

Mister Beacon Episode #127

· Mr Beacon

Do you know the global language of business? The language of Unique Product Codes (UPCs) that identify products and companies for sale in stores and major online marketplaces? This language enables barcodes, playing to the beat of 6 million scans a day, all over the world.​

This week we sit down with Melanie Nuce, SVP Corporate Development at GS1 US, to learn why more than 300,000 companies across 25 industries turn to GS1 US for guidance. GS1 is a not-for-profit global standards organization, most known for supply chain identification. 50 years after the barcode was first scanned, GS1 continues to help brands and retailers leverage unique identities, capture information in a machine-readable way, and share data with trading partners to drive business decisions. Tune in to get a behind-the-scenes look into business, and to learn all the things you need to know about GS1 and it’s standards.

Transcription

Narration 00:07

The Mr. Beacon Podcast is sponsored by Wiliot scaling IoT with battery-free Bluetooth.

Steve Statler 00:16

Welcome to another episode of the Mr. Beacon podcast we really appreciate you joining us on this journey where we discover all the things that solutions architects need to know when they're building the next generation of Auto-ID solutions, beacons, and tags and all of the technology and protocols that what we deal with. This week I'm very excited to have an important chapter in what we study we're going to be talking about GS1 and i have Melanie Nuce from GS1 she's part of the senior leadership team there and we're going to be talking about GS1 i think it's really key that people understand the organization some of the standards and then what's happening in this next generation of supply chain technology and and systems that are rolling out so Melanie thanks so much for joining us.

Melanie Nuce 01:15

I'm so glad to be here, thank you for having me on the show.

Steve Statler 01:17

I think you know GS1 is one of these terms that most people have heard about a lot of people don't really understand super well it's it's really a very significant organization can you introduce this to GS1 and what should someone who's entering this industry and wanting to build solutions what should they know about the organization itself.

Melanie Nuce 01:47

Sure GS1 is a global standards organization we're most well known for our standards and supply chain identification starting with what we now refer to as a humble barcode whether that's a upc or an ea n depending on what part of the world you're in which was first scanned in the 1970s approaching 50 years of this very simple but powerful linear barcode technology and that was how we became an organization was a coalition of industry members in the consumer goods space that wanted to facilitate a better checkout experience and more accuracy in price for consumers and we started there in the 70s and now all over the world GS1 barcodes are scanned 6 billion times a day but to your point steve around being sort of the littlest known and really the backbone essentially of retail commerce right this this notion of the barcode that goes beep what what we've done over the past four decades is expand the notion of standards not only around core product identification but all of the notions of that product within a supply chain cases and pallets and assets a data model that surrounds supply chain information and how partners can exchange meaningful data to drive business decisions and of course most recently how do we take advantage of emerging technology and what role do we play while we continue to maintain that not for profit neutral reputation that we're most appreciated for and bringing industry collaborate collaborators together but i work at GS1 USwe are one of 115 member organizations of GS1 all over the world so it's a federation the the global standard is how we all feed into ensuring consistency but we do local implementation timezone and language support in each of our different countries and about 2 million businesses all over the world use GS1 standards and so i've had the great fortune in the past couple of years of self checkout has become more prevalent when you sit on an airplane and somebody says oh what do you do um which my husband used to say she works in accounting and i don't know why that is but counting products but not accounting so i you know you get the chance to say to someone have you tried self checkout oh i've done that and i said well the you know the little barcode that goes beep when you when you pass that over the scanner there's actually a standard for managing that those numbers are unique and that the bag of potato chips rings up at its correct price and you know the four pack of toilet paper rings up at its correct price so it's it's very interesting when you get to talk about the foundation that GS1 standards provide but the criticality of the technology that then enables those standards for all the members around the world

Steve Statler 04:38

so how many people work at the organization it's bigger than i think most people would have initially thought when they think about you know a team or the the groups that curate rfid or bluetooth is a big organization but my sense is that you have a lot more people here and how many

Melanie Nuce 04:59

Well in the US, we have 175 employees and but i would say there are some GS1 member organizations that have to i think when one of the ones in central america that i had looked up has seven so we range from right i'm and GS1 USis the biggest i think geographic geographically right we represent significant amount of commerce and so we're we're probably the largest member organization but others like germany australia united kingdom france of course in asia and the work that they're doing around sensors and iot between hong kong japan china and then we sort of augment how big we are with partnerships with other organizations like the auto id labs there are seven of those all over the world and in the us my team manages the relationship with mit and so we kind of use them as an extension of staff to help us accelerate investigation into intertek and standards and how your nonprofit but you get revenue somehow what's what's the mechanism our primary revenue model is licensing identifier so every part of a global trade item number or what most people understand as a upc is a company prefix and that company prefix system is managed by the member organizations so GS1 global confers a essentially a bank of numbers to each member organization and then we license those out to our members in varying capacities right for a large company may hold many many prefixes if you're manufacturing apparel you're turning over a lot of products you probably have in the 10s or maybe even the hundreds of different prefixes that you pull from and then again you might be a really small business that i know someone who happened to launch custom coffee sleeves the little you know warming sleeves and kind of an environmentally friendly way and she had i think four or five designs and so she has a very small allocation of GS1 identifiers but our primary revenue comes from licensing those identifiers out to our members so if i'm a brand i might have a few 100 so what is it is it a prefix for each category or it's not a prefix for each product no so a prefix has varying capacity if you're in the us the largest capacity we licensed is 100,000 so when you license that number from us you can create up to 100,000 unique trade items and that would you know in apparel it would be sort of like this level style color size footwear one particular size of a shoe in a particular color is one gtin so you can imagine in footwear you need lots of numbers but by the same token and beverages you would need a different one for each flavor and a different one for each size because again when you scan that barcode at the point of sale that drives the price lookup and so you have to have those different price points and different identifiers to support that but if we go all the way down to the single actually in november of last year was the first time we released the ability for a business to just come in license one trade item number from us now the the flip side of that is that we're not only just about product identifiers in the GS1 system supports location asset entity identifiers documents and service relationships and so a GS1 prefix is actually the key that unlocks your ability to create a whole suite of unique identifiers for different supply chain contexts and so a lot of what we do in the us has helped educate our members about the power of that unlock it's not just about being able to assign that to your you know your box of rice but also to every distribution center and and you can even put embedding in advanced data carriers asset identifiers on trailers and you know test for cold chain purposes or other things so there are 12 different GS1 keys and are we're the stewards over that numbering system and then helping members implement them in in different ways to achieve business benefit so what would an example of a GS1 key mean that's a type of of code is it yeah so the global trade item number is one of the keys that's the most common one that gets put into a upc barcode we have one called a global location number that when these all of course are acronym based and so that we call a gla a gln those identify either entities or locations most commonly used in in supply chain transactions right so if you and i are going to exchange data electronically we need to know who each other is and so you have kind of that entity identifier that says i'm company a and your company b or you may have location identifiers say this product came from this warehouse in malaysia or this distribution center in new jersey but also at an asset level where we've seen a lot of interesting implementation is in things like rail and you You know, this is in Europe primarily where they've used the global individual asset identifier to put sensors at different points along the railway, and right in order to track maintenance and performance. And so those those GS1 keys are essentially what in what ways can I use my GS1 prefix to construct unique identifiers, that I can then apply in a supply chain context for different use cases. Right? So tracking product, creating relationships, exchanging electronic information, there's a whole variety of different ways you can bring them together.

Steve Statler 10:34

So what why do I need to as a as a maker of railroad infrastructure? Or brand? Why do I need to get these numbers, I guess, is essentially what we're talking about from GS1, why don't I just make it up myself? Yeah.

Melanie Nuce 10:57

Well, you know, it's interesting, because if if the world was just about one company, and you were only you were in charge of everything, you probably wouldn't need a GSM identifier. But this was the real key, right? Even back in the 70s, when they were first talking about putting a barcode on a package was to say, I have to know the difference between scanning a product from Coca Cola and a product from Pepsi, and Coke and Pepsi, were distributing their products into every grocery store every mass merge every convenience store, and you needed a common identifier in order to drive First of all, global uniqueness so that you don't have a clash of numbers. Because if you and I both create proprietary numbers, there's a risk that will create the same number. You have also, I think that the notion of governance over those numbers to ensure that there wasn't going to be duplication at an issuance level, every country has a responsibility, right to make sure that we're following the principles of the system. And I think then the other pieces, because we are a complex ecosystem of companies, when we want to abstract data out of our four walls and pass it along to another trading partner, we call GS1 the global language of business, right? It's about making that common way to abstract data. It's, it's been really fascinating as you've seen technology, like blockchain come onto the scene and things like blockchain is gonna solve all the problems, and it'll create these traceable supply chains. Well, sure, but you have to have data, a blockchain is just a mechanism to exchange and store data. But if you don't have a business agreement on what that payload looks like, and so those those unique identifiers sort of became the anchor for additional information, whether that be attributes or transaction data, that when you and I exchange that we know that we're speaking in a common way. So that was really where the genesis of standards came from. And certainly, I think, as we've moved from a purely physical world where going beep at the checkout makes so much sense that I need to have a unique identifier that's well understood by all the parties. As we move into a digital environment, I would say that the additional value of those global identifiers is all around analytics because now we're seeing just this proliferation of distributed data. And I need to be able to get all that together, assemble it and make some decisions about it. And the best way is right through linking that up linking a common identifier to all of that data,

Steve Statler 13:23

it makes me think about your IP addresses on the internet the internet wouldn't work unless everyone on it had a unique address and it seems like GS1 serves a similar functions for identifying products you have this uniqueness, this ability to interact and, and exchange information. How much does it cost if I'm, I go into business, I'm going to start making Steve Statler perfume I want a GS1 code. What am I paying for $30

Melanie Nuce 13:55

if you just want to make one one bottle, one type one size, one cents $30 actually, so it ranges in price the GS1 US and each country, right? We're independent so I can't speak to what what other countries may may offer in terms of pricing but in the US our pricing is public. It's available on our website. But it ranges from that again that lowest one have a single item. I'm just going to create one thing I met a woman many years ago strangest thing that probably doesn't even people don't use it anymore because we're all at home for one so we don't wear earrings but she made this tool that adjusted the the tightness of your clip on earring and at the time when I was working with her I was very young in my career and I was like people were clip on earrings. You know my I guess my grandma did. But um, but as you get older you understand like earrings are painful and there's some value in that but she she made a tool that was just this one thing she made. So it's just one GTIN, she didn't need a bunch. And so today, you know and these capabilities back then didn't exist. But today we have the ability to offer that single at $30. Our largest capacity, as I mentioned before, in the US that we licensed is 100,000. Those I believe go for 10,500. And so when you start looking at your per item price, there's right it scales down as you as you license more capacity, but $30 for a single, and you know, and so if you're curious, you can always just go out to the website and and acquire a single, then you'll have a GTIN. Someone was telling me yesterday, we were on a call with a customer. And they said Don't underestimate the idea of of a vanity claim by a small brand. Because a small brand would say, well, to your point, like why do I need a unique identifier, I'm just a small brand I'm selling out of my garage, I'm, I'm listed on one marketplace. And you know, I'm managing my own supply chain. Like I'm using local small personal provider to send products to customers. I don't need this. But to be able to say right, I'm affiliated with a global standards organization, I have a unique identifier, if I ever get that promising deal with Kroger or Sephora or PetSmart, you know, they're gonna need its it's gonna need a barcode and physical retail. It was just interesting, because I had never thought about we always think of, you know, what is the value proposition around unique ID, it's our job to make sure people understand that for the value of supply chain efficiency. But when she said Don't underestimate the small brands might be interested in this vanity. vanity ID I'm like, Alright, perfect. We'll add that to our list of, you know, reasons to license but a lot of different reasons, I guess.

Steve Statler 16:35

Yeah, we were we just joined Willie out. And so we got our first identifiers. And part of the reason we joined was we wanted to, because we have these battery free Bluetooth tags that are going to be used for conveying this sort of information. We felt like well, we need to kind of eat our own dog food, we need to understand we need to use this, the standards so that we can organize our own products. And that's actually it's been great. And and also I have to say we just feel a little bit more grown up, we've moved from that early stage of prototypes. And that's the thing. We're shipping in volume, we have our own jesslyn codes. And so it's felt good for us. So why have different GS1 organization's in different countries, it's kind of one standard, presumably.

Melanie Nuce 17:28

So the interesting thing is the business still happens very much locally, right? The the notion of walking into your your market and your village, your hometown, and, and your local language being on the packaging, and the people who produce that. You know, I think ecommerce is certainly driving more of the idea of a global marketplace. But satisfying the just the quantitative needs inventory wise of a global consumer community is probably daunting for anybody. Some years ago, I can recall that when we're talking about part of the GS1 standard is what we call the global data synchronization network. And it's essentially a network of data pools that have information about items in trade. And before we started this idea of data pools that would interoperate, and I think there's probably 30 some odd that I might be wrong, there might be 40, all over the world that said, I know about these products, and you know about these products. And you know, we'll create an orchestration to allow people to exchange information globally about them. We had one really large retailer say, look, I just need to keep frozen peas on the shelf. And I need to know where can I find frozen peas. So there are those players who need that sort of global view of where our peas available. But producers tend to still be very local. When you think about coffee bean farmers in South America, or people who grow strawberries or lettuce here in the United States are leafy greens, which have, you know, been very interesting in a supply chain context in the past decade. That's still happening very much at a local level. And so it would be probably very difficult as a single organization for us to service all of those language, timezone and implementation needs. And frankly, priorities are a little bit different. If you're in a very advanced country, that's looking at things, you know, like IoT based sensors, whether they be Bluetooth or NB IoT, or UHF or NFC, you know, your smorgasbord of acronyms which we're all dealing with, certainly, in lead led companies space. In some other countries, it's really more of the question of Look, I grow strawberries and information about the strawberries is important as they move down the chain. But I don't have the margin or the technology to invest in making sure right that all of that rich, automated data is available, and very simply, right, someone can provide me a little bit of local support and likely a sensor that I can drop into the each tray of strawberries as it loads onto the truck and somebody else is actually going to then reap the benefit of that data. But even to get to that farmer and explain to them the value of that sensor requires boots on the ground, right? Somebody who's got cultural knowledge, language knowledge and the time within their business data support them.

Steve Statler 20:25

So if you were to enumerate the handful of key functions that GS1 fulfills, what would those be part of it is obviously, this, making sure that the codes that people use a unique, there's some standards, there's a lot of standards that exist, and presumably new ones that are being built out? You work in this innovation space? What are the other areas that where you're helping the industry?

Melanie Nuce 20:59

Well, I think the the coalition of the willing is a big part of what my team does in an innovation. How do you get a retail retailer, a manufacturer, maybe a distributor, oftentimes, transport providers, especially now as we're looking at the criticality of some supply chains, whether it's food or pharmaceuticals, cold chain is a very interesting space really now, right? And making sure that you maintain the integrity of that. And GS1 has always been known as the convener. So our core standards, identify, capture and share, right, give something a unique identifier, capture information about it in a machine readable way, share that with trading partners in order to drive business decisions. That's the foundation of the standard. Well, then, of course, the practicality isn't how do I implement that. And so those are a little bit of where we talk about right implementation services across the world. How we connect communities with an education about the standard driving awareness, because to your point, GS1, maybe some company you've heard of, or it may not be, when you talk about a UPC barcode, for example, in the US, most people get that, oh, it's that thing with the bar bars and spaces, you know, on the back of a package, but they don't, most of them will say, Oh, I didn't know there was someone overlooking that system. And so educating people as they're entering the the commerce landscape, new business owners, you the majority of our new members in the US are very tiny companies commenced commensurate with what's happening in the in the marketplace space, right, as lots of anybody can launch a business now, I think the pandemic also really highlighted the ability of anybody who has an idea, now's your time, you're all stuck at home, some great ideas, we're coming out of that. And so helping people understand how to implement the standard. But I also think the one of the most important things that we are passionate about in the US is getting the technology community to embed standards in what they're taking to market. Because as I said it before, Stan Lee is good as the technology that enables them. So if we aren't helping technology providers create that baseline, then there isn't that scale. And so, you know, I like to talk about the multiplier and how we're small, even at 175 people GS1 US is a small organization. But if I can get the partnership of, you know, Willie Ott and other partners that you guys work with to be talking to all of your customers and prospects about how standards can enable what they're trying to do with their supply chain. That's just an incredible benefit of having that community. So we're very committed to that technology provider community in the US, and how you guys are exponentiating. What standards can do for the end user?

Steve Statler 23:54

Cool, that's great explanation. I'd like people who listen to us to be able to go away and feel like they're a bit smarter than they were before. And I think you've laid out a lot of new information, at least my perspective, but help us really nail what is a UPC and what is a GTIN? I mean these acronyms that are used extensively. Yeah.

Melanie Nuce 24:20

No, that's such a good point. A barcode a UPC is a type of barcode. So oftentimes it gets mis mistaken that a UPC is a number a UPC is actually a symbology and it's the symbology that appears on bags of lettuce and jars of salad dressing, you know, as I mentioned before, bottles and cans of soda. That is that is a UPC. There are other types of barcodes. So you could just say right a UPC is a type of barcode and there are many different barcode technologies and as you know, other sensor and Advanced Data carriers but but a technology like a barcode or an RFID tag has to have something embedded in it a unique identifier That says when I read this, I know what you are. Now I can actually start to tie data to you in a meaningful way. That global trade item number what we call the GTIN is the number that then gets translated into that barcode symbol. Or that's the number that gets embedded into a UHF RFID chip. So that when a fixed infrastructure reader right is reading a floor of inventory inside of a department store, it can actually tell the difference between all of the things that are sitting on the sales floor. So the numbering system is essentially part of when we talk about identification and GS1 keys, those are all numbering conventions they write they follow specific size, they usually have a check digit so that you can confirm it's been calculated correctly that it is a valid number. And then when we move into capture, we say how do you take those numbers and embed them into something a machine can read, because that's where the benefit of automation comes from. And those are barcodes. And what a lot of people don't realize is that not all barcodes are the same, right? There are very simple barcode like a UPC that's used to drive a checkout experience, and very complex barcodes. Even in the linear barcode space, like we have a serialized identifier that you put in a barcode called the GS1 128, which is all about moving cartons through distribution centers. And right so I'm sure many of your listeners are too young to know this. But I know back in the day, all receiving that happened in a supply chain was manual. And right you were opening boxes and looking are pulling packing slips off cartons. And when we went to barcode technology within distribution centers, they created this notion of cross docking, where I could read a carton, it had a barcode that tied to an electronic record that said, this has 15 t shirts in it, and they're destined for store 100 right, and you didn't even open that box, your conveyer system sent it off to the truck that was waiting for store 100. It's as a regular consumer, you just don't real. I love how one of our board members, he always says, you know, the challenges we have around data and managing data and exchanging data within supply chains are quite cumbersome. They're definitely challenging for us. But the miracle of trade still happens. And the miracle of trade is because over time, we've invested in these technologies that have allowed us to really accelerate how things move through a supply chain. And all of that is different types of barcode and RF technology, where the unique numbers get embedded.

Steve Statler 27:35

So this may be confirmation bias. But where I see a significant change that's happening, it's been happening for a while, but it really seems to be accelerating as this move from to serialization to giving more and more things, not just a general description, a skew or whatever. But giving them each individual item, this ID because that's enabling authenticity, traceability, recall management, better linking of the owner with the product, and so many reasons why people are doing it. How help us understand where this unique, serialized identifier fits with scuse and gtins. Can you map out their interrelationship?

Melanie Nuce 28:31

Yes, and I'll try to do you know, I know you have an astute audience. So they'll this will probably not be a big leap for them. But the the GTIN, the global trade item number, what you see in a UPC barcode is just a class level identifier. So every bag of nine ounce regular flavored potato chips from Brand X all have the same one, right? So to your point, if you want to get value from expiry management, or recall, support, inventory rotation, it has to be a little bit more robust. And our biggest frustration, like me as a as a, an innovator, maybe it's not even very innovative, to be honest, is there are these little printed codes on every package that you see, right, if you pick up a beverage, you'll see there's this little printed code, and it's the Bachelot identifier, which gets added at the time, the product goes into the package because the package has been manufactured somewhere else it's brought to the plant and then the product goes inside of it. And this is really why we haven't gotten to a great level of serialization in sort of fast moving consumer goods, but it is 100% needed in order to automate some of these terribly manual processes that actually not only continue to perpetuate, like labor inefficiency within you know a retail environment but actually have major impact on the consumer. You know, the example of where you go into buy a product, and the product itself is not recalled, but there has been a recall on something, a different batch of that same product. The problem is because those codes aren't machine readable, that store is either making a decision to not sell you that product, because some recall flag came up when you tried to scan it at the point of sale, but they don't have a way right through the barcode or the sensor to tell. Or they're pulling wholesale product off shelves. Or, in fact, they're selling you something they shouldn't sell. Because right, nobody went and did the homework to pull the recall batches off the shelf. So this move towards serialization is 100% required. And what we would even say is, if you just sort of skip batch lot, because that's a thing. And in low margin, consumer goods, we all get Bachelot serialization seems so scary to us. But the truth is, if I just serialized every package when I printed it, then I could add the batch slot data as a cloud reference, when I put the product inside the package, right, serial number one, got batch one, serial number two got batch two, then this, you're bringing now what's on the package with what's in the cloud together to drive that efficiency and experience. And so this is a really, the strongest message that my team is working on right now is how do you get from, you know, a UPC what we would call a class level identifier. Yes, I know, this is a bag of nine ounce potato chips, too. I know it's this nine ounce bag of potato chips that maybe you know, Melanie bought it, maybe you didn't know Melanie bought it. But certainly if you recalled it, you would be able to say probably through my loyalty card, hey, customer x, we think you bought a recalled product, you should probably return it to the store. Those sort of experiences are right around the corner, if we can move to serializing. And then putting that serial number in the machine readable likely a 2d barcode as one mechanism, I think sensors as a more advanced mechanism, but some combination of a human readable element and right then a very strong high speed machine readable element. This is what we're we're trying to push industry towards. But in all fairness, Steve, it took us a lot of years to get the UPC on product. And so we've kind of set some target goals for industry around 2027 to move from these 1d barcodes to a more advanced data carrier and start to take advantage of the use cases that are available that we're just not exploiting today. Because right, we've made a particular technology choice that now needs to be swapped out.

Steve Statler 32:25

Fascinating. I unfortunately, we've run out of time, I we could go another hour. As far as I'm concerned, there's a lot more that I'd like to talk to you about. But Melanie, thanks so much for coming on the show. It's been really a great pleasure talking to you. Yes, thank

Melanie Nuce 32:42

you so much. It was great to meet you and do this. I really enjoyed it.

Steve Statler 32:46

And so I'm going to thank you, our viewers and listeners for spending time. If you have been thanks for listening, I'm going to thank Nelson Hernandez who edits the show Jessie Hazelrigg, who is our producer, Don Rayner, who created the opening titles and does voiceover introduction. And once again, thanks so much for listening. Melanie, can you just tell us a bit about what your role is at GS1?

Melanie Nuce 33:23

Yes, I am the Senior Vice President of corporate development. It's our fancy term for innovation. I lead a team that looks at the intersection of emerging technology and standards to solve current and future business problems. You know, we're a member driven organization GS1 is not for profit neutral, we have always sat in that collaborative space of solving industry problems that will allow scale adoption at scale. And so a few years ago, the company decided that we needed to continue to focus on looking around the corner. And so my team was formed. And we will look at all kinds of interesting topics and I think some that we'll get to explore today.

Steve Statler 34:05

Sounds like a super interesting role. I can imagine you get to think about challenging problems and work with people that are on the cutting edge. How did you get the job?

Melanie Nuce 34:18

I got lucky. Um, you know, it's funny you asked because at the time I was working on the industry side of the business, I was leading the apparel and general merchandise industry engagement community, which is working with all those members in that sector, really around kind of just common supply chain challenges, but apparel was one of the first communities to go down the RFID path with item level RFID and really tried to fulfill that omni channel promise. So I think I had a little bit of the bug for sort of being on the, the edge of where we're going with standards. And when we several years ago we got in a room. We call this project George and it was two different an innovation process. I don't know why we pick the name George, we were trying to be very agnostic to the name, right? Just pick a name, that means nothing. So we picked the name George. And we, we sat in a room for a couple of months and formulated, what does innovation look like in the realm of standards, right? Because standards are kind of the opposite of innovation to most people. Were waiting for industry to reach these adoption plateaus where they hit a wall and say, Hey, we need a standard to kind of level the playing field so we can move forward. And for the first time ever, we were saying, we're actually going to take a leading position, we're going to have a point of view on things. And we're gonna start researching emerging technology. So I helped with the team that formulated it at the time, still doing my day job. And a few months later, after our senior leadership team had gone to the board, they came and asked me to run the function. So I've been doing that now four and a half years, I love it so much. I never knew that I wanted to be an innovator. But I was just remarking to my boss the other day that I feel so fortunate that we, we invested in an innovation practice, really, at the same time, a lot of our other corporate partners, right in the consumer products and healthcare space, we're doing the same thing. And to that point of technology, innovation, not just product r&d, but really how to technologies enable supply chain businesses to progress. In addition to putting good products in on the shelf for consumers,

Steve Statler 36:25

we work in an industry, which in my opinion, has just got terrible, terrible problems with diversity. I mean, I work in a company, we're all super well intentioned. And I'm really conscious that for women in, in this business, how have you defined this business and our company's semiconductors and cloud services and auto ID? There's not a lot of women, senior positions like you are. Was it a battle for you because of that? Or did you know did you have to be super conscious of your gender and getting to where you've got to? What's it been like for you?

Melanie Nuce 37:19

It's actually I, I adopted this philosophy early on in my career, that merit wins. And if you do a good job, and you show that you have an aptitude for learning, intellectual curiosity is the thing I tell my team, if you want to be in the GS1 US corporate development team, you better be curious, because you're probably going to be lying on the floor with a cold washcloth, press to your head many nights of the week, just absorbing all these concepts that we're learning. But actually, I, I have to say when I joined, and I started this role, I was not part of the senior leadership team. And then about a year into it, our CEO, added me to the senior leadership team where he already had essentially a 5050 split between men and women. And so I have been the recipient of just a some way that had been paid before me. And I actually kind of got accused of having the opposite problem. My team was all women, until I got to our team is now about almost 13 people. But we were we were all the way up to six before we added a man and now we're we run about we're almost half and half women and men, we did find that having and also I have to tell you, Steve, the other important, diverse elements that we've added, because we have good cultural diversity among the team as well. But also it was generational diversity, when you're working in an innovation role. If you don't bring on some early career professionals, you inevitably will infuse so much confirmation bias into what you're doing. And you can tell yourself that you're willing to change. But it really comes down to having someone on the outside. Right challenge you and say no, this this isn't the way the current consumer thinks or This isn't how my generation views sustainability or circular economy. So it's been really great to have some of those younger voices. And we were all joking a bunch of the, you know, more senior folks on our team were joking that this is who we were 20 years ago, when people were shepherding us and, and really helping us formulate our career trajectory. This is who we are now and training up the next generation. So that's been another exciting angle of diversity that we've employed in our team.

Steve Statler 39:33

Yeah, that's such a win when you get that I think that just makes a much better environment. When our company was formed. It was formed by a bunch of really experienced veterans. I think we part of the capital raising was made easier by that. But there's a downside to that. And so we made a conscious effort to get younger people in the organization. Speaking as someone who's not younger And it is just really, I think everyone wins you, the older people enjoy, like, passing on some of the experience they've had. But then they're like, you get you feel younger when you're around younger people, and they kind of challenge you and you're like, Oh my god, I really need to work hard to keep up with these people that don't need to sleep and have all this energy,

Melanie Nuce 40:27

no doubt, oh, the sleeping.

Steve Statler 40:31

So I want to get in our standard, warm up questions here and ask you a bit about music. So do you, is music a big part of your life? Or is it just kind of the the wallpaper in the background?

Melanie Nuce 40:45

I love music. I actually studied piano for many years and was able to employ that in the church context as an accompanist for quite some time. But also, I have a boxer who of course, I've had her since she was eight weeks old, she's now 11 and a half. And she used to love to dance with me. And so that was when she was young, she'd come up on the two back paws, and we would just, you know, play some music with a great dance beat. And so I music has been very much I don't, I don't like silence. And so I do really enjoy to have something musical Of course now, you know, with the proliferation of podcasts in the world, sometimes you have to balance how much time you get to let yourself go with some music. But anytime I'm working out anytime I'm doing household chores, there's definitely the the shuffle in the background of a variety of genres.

Steve Statler 41:38

That is funny, you mentioned that I am feeling that conflict. There's just so many good podcasts and like, but I like to listen to music. And so your your year time is being stretched between these two, two things. So when you do listen to music, and if you had to come up with this list of three songs on this trip to Mars, which, as of this last week seems like it's more and more probable and we just saw amazing High Definition footage from this spacecraft landing which is so inspiring. What What would you be listening to what would be the three songs you would take to Mars? If for some reason you could only have three songs? Sure.

Melanie Nuce 42:17

Well at night, it would be hard to go without my my dog, I suppose because she was the genesis of sort of the passion for dance. But definitely There's a song called when love takes over. It's by David Guetta. And Kelly Rowland does the singing on it. That was, that's my dog. Her name is pretzel. That's our jam. And so we always love to dance to that would get her barking and everything. But I also love Can't Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake again. How can you not get excited and just start moving when you hear that? And I would say last but not least is levitate by hadoken because my nephew is just an amazing aerialist gymnast, great breakdancing skills. He's 14 now. But I I lived with my brother and sister in law for many years when he was little and just got to be there as he learned all the skills. And I was that was our song. And he would go out in the greenbelt and do backflips. And we would play that song. So that's what I'm taking to Mars.

Steve Statler 43:13

I love it. What about I mean, you seem to travel maybe not to Mars, but it seems like you travel a lot around the world in your time you go to other countries and help out? Do you? Do you hear different things when you go on those travels? Is that part of the landscape that changes?

Melanie Nuce 43:35

Most definitely, you know, people's traditional roots in music have been very interesting as someone who's had the benefit of going to places and hearing and you know, Latin America, and I just love Latin American influences. There was a year where I actually had spent some time traveling to Spanish speaking countries. And so I put my radio on Spanish pop music, not so much kind of the traditional, you know, Latin music but but top their top 40. And so I have quite a few of those songs, that that are still part of my library. And the other one was I was in Germany some years ago, and that this song came on and it sounds like it's called help me in English. The English translation has helped me and it's this man is brokenhearted over the woman leaving him and I wanted the song so badly. And the only place that you could buy it at the time was to get on Amazon's German music platform. This you know, talk about interoperability. We should probably chat about that today. But there was such a lack of it that I had to have a German colleague download the file, get me over the file so that I could have just had to have the song. But you know, interestingly, I think the theme of music is very similar all over the world, but just the execution. And maybe that's why I like sort of the upbeat dance because anywhere you go you can always generate a spirit of happiness and joy with with kind Have a dance beat.

Steve Statler 45:01

And I mean, some of the the situations that you deal with kids who are often that's pretty sad, but it sounds like music is kind of a balance to, to these tragic situations.

Melanie Nuce 45:17

Most definitely. And I think where you have a language barrier music can be just a great way to kind of alleviate the stress of not being able to exchange words. I'm very fortunate and that I know how to speak Spanish. But my husband was just commenting to me that our last trip to Mexico, we went down to build a house over Christmas, he was struggling because people assume if one of you speak Spanish, you both do. And so I'd have these great conversations with the kids that we were partnering with there. And they would just be looking at both of us. And he's kind of nodding his head, like I have no idea what you're saying. So right, but but always playing a good tune and, and getting a lot of diversity in the music and a lot of other countries really enjoy what I think American music brings to the table as well.

Steve Statler 46:03

Yeah, I mean, I grew up in England, and and so I kind of got to see America from afar. Even though I was born in America, I kind of appreciate it from the outside perspective. And yeah, that our culture is probably one of our strongest diplomatic tools, the movies and TV, the music, the clothes. And so where in the world have you been on these on these philanthropic journeys that you take?

Melanie Nuce 46:33

Primarily, well, Honduras, Peru, Mexico, I have a real passion for Latin culture, it was something I was very latent inside of me, even when I was about 11 years old when I started to study Spanish. And so the I, you know, traveled a lot for work to many places, I've but also, my husband and I did a trip to the Philippines in 2018. That was a phenomenal trip. And when you talk about, you know, just the the economic challenges that you see in another country, and Metro Manila, being as large as it is, has just real poverty of just a high community. That's right, experiencing homelessness and poverty. And they kind of shipped all those people away from Manila, about two and a half hours to these little, for lack of a better word, you could call it a relocation camp. And I mean, it's a neighborhood, it's a community, but the joy, people who don't have what we have in America still have this probably even more joy in some cases, because they're not distracted by all the things that we are, but just so much fun, and we have the chance while we were there to somebody had a basketball hoop and happen to have some angle iron and happened to have a welder this the whole community comes together. And my husband was able to help put this basketball hoop but at this little property where we were working and play basketball with the kids and so Philippines is probably the furthest I've gone on a on a mission trip but but South America and Central America is probably where my heart, my heart think stays there every time I come back home. Wonderful.

Steve Statler 48:13

Well, one adventure. It's been great talking to you about it. Thanks so much.

Melanie Nuce 48:17

Yes, thank you.

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