TED@UPS 2017: Meet the Speakers

Take a closer look at those who dare to ask: What if?

In July, 12 UPSers took to the stage to ask a simple – but far-reaching – question: What if?

In a time of lightning-fast transformation, one reminder is more important than ever: Daring innovation can still solve our most complicated problems. That’s why we examined the potential of global connectivity and what it means to evolve in today’s ever-changing world.

And on this path to discovery, we asked: What if one person could change the world? And what if, together, we could spark a movement that harnesses our collective talent, insight and wisdom?

Get your first taste of this exciting event by watching the trailer below:

During the next few weeks on Longitudes, we’ll share some of the answers to these big questions. But first, we’d like to introduce our speakers:

Uma Adwani is a billing supervisor at UPS’s global services center in Pune, India. She grew up hating math in a small town in India, at one point suggesting she was allergic to numbers. But this all changed when she was assigned to teach math as a primary school teacher in the Indian metropolis of Pune.

She discovered something magical in multiplication tables, and her love story with math began.

Uma earned a bachelor’s degree in education, with a concentration in psychology and educational techniques from Amravati University. She also received a master’s degree in commerce from Amravati University.


Augie Picado is the country manager for UPS Mexico. As the leader of strategy and operations for the country, he has developed a nuanced understanding of the dynamic intricacies of international trade.

Prior to this role, Augie led various aspects of UPS’s marketing strategy, including positions as vice president of marketing for the Americas and senior director of marketing development in Atlanta. He began his career at UPS in 1985 as a loader in New Jersey. Augie earned his MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. He also earned a masters certificate in project management from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.


Jennifer Allison designs applications that simplify complex tasks for customers. Inspired by her personal experiences, she leads her team with a unique philosophy: Designing solutions for disabled users will ultimately improve the experience for all customers.

A user interface designer by day, by night, she’s an artist. She is an avid painter and has published several coloring books featuring her work.

Jennifer graduated from the American College for the Applied Arts in Atlanta, with a bachelor’s degree in commercial art. Friends and fans online know her as the “Rambunctious Kid.”


Jon Bowers oversees driver and delivery training at one of UPS’s next-generation training facilities. Through a combination of 3D-computer simulations, hands-on learning and traditional classroom teaching, Jon ensures the millions of miles UPSers drive every year are driven safely. The role has convinced him of the value of quality training and pursuing perfection. Prior to his current assignment, he worked in UPS operations for 13 years.

Jon is a Georgia native who graduated from the University of Georgia, with a bachelor’s degree in theater and film studies.


Tom Madrecki leads partnerships between UPS and city leaders to reduce congestion, increase quality of life and shape policy. Tom was a strategic communications manager before he took this position, overseeing public relations with a focus on federal policy in transportation and sustainability. Before joining UPS, Tom acted as the chief spokesperson for Smart Growth America, a non-profit organization devoted to sustainable urban planning.

In his spare time, Tom is an avid cyclist and even more avid cook, having worked as a chef in Paris and Copenhagen.


John McKown has driven more than 2 million accident-free miles since joining UPS Freight in 2005. He is proud to share his knowledge about highway safety with the nation’s youth as a Road Team Captain, a title bestowed on a select group of exemplary drivers by the American Trucking Association. To John, no text or phone call is worth a life.

His experience on the road has also made him aware of the devastating problem of human trafficking on America’s highways – and has made him an ally in the fight to stop it.

Before joining UPS Freight, John McKown was a cop and served more than 10 years in the Navy. He is a native West Virginian and umpires softball games.


For Jeff Kozak’s first assignment in the Air Force, he flew strategic airlifts during Desert Storm, transporting everything from military troops to vehicles and munitions. Maximizing fuel efficiency for the long flight legs between Europe and the Middle East was essential for success. During his time as a pilot transporting US leaders, he fine-tuned his planning abilities. Today he continues to move fuel part-time into contested environments. At UPS, he applies his expertise to implementing a new fueling strategy.

Jeff earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada in business management and holds a master’s degree in aviation management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.


Julio Gil has spent 15 years driving innovation and logistics improvements at UPS. He is always looking for the next great disruptive technology. As an engineering manager, he has pioneered new technologies for drones, 3D printing, the Internet of Things and wearables. As an inventor, he has developed four patents for drone technology and one for augmented-reality applications for sorting processes.

Julio holds a master’s degree in law from the University of Alcalá de Henares in Spain.


David Lee creates programs that spur company innovation. Prior to joining UPS, he was the director of innovation at SunTrust Banks, where he enabled employees to build startups internally and solve intractable problems through cross-team competitions. That same passion pushes David at UPS today, as he continues to shape the future of the company through its employees. Meanwhile, as the vice president of UPS’s strategic venture capital group, he also seeks inspiration outside the company through collaborations with startups, technology companies, global leaders and research organizations.

David holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the University of Chicago.


Christine Thach grew up in a culture of shared value. The daughter of a Cambodian refugee, a sense of collectivism threaded itself throughout the community that raised her. She now applies this style of thinking to her work, where she finds ways to add value to the customer and company in tandem. As a marketing analyst, she evaluates new product concepts that improve the consumer experience while yielding profitable corporate growth.

The current refugee crisis motivated her to rethink the lessons from her childhood experiences and how they might strengthen the culture she lives in now.

Christine holds an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.


As a mere teenager, Mike Kinney started on his decade-long path as an independent professional wrestler and promoter. To rival the eccentric characters he battled in the ring, he quickly found a way to create a larger-than-life persona. But long after the end of his wrestling career, his alter ego has endured.

Mike started at UPS in 2007 as a package handler and is now a business development supervisor in Minneapolis. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Minnesota State University in Mankato and is now pursuing an MBA at the University of Phoenix.


Sebastian Guo has witnessed many burgeoning millennial cultures. He grew up in China before living in the US and Germany. He began his UPS career in Atlanta as an international marketing intern, identifying opportunities in markets around the world. Sebastian now works in Singapore, where he develops marketing analytics and infrastructure to drive revenue growth across 14 Asian markets. Also an avid traveler, his experience has given him a keen insight into how young eastern and western cultures are changing – and intertwining.

Sebastian earned a bachelor’s degree in French linguistics and literature from the University of International Relations in Beijing.


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TED@UPS If there’s one thing every UPSer has in common, it’s that we have an irresistible desire to figure it out and get it done. And that leads to some amazing ideas. TED@UPS explores both the destination and the journey of ideas – big and small – that inspire us, challenge how we think or feel and even change the world.

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