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Jeanne Duckett of Avery Dennison Printer Systems: “Why blockchain has the power to open business potential across large socioeconomic lines”

…Because of the open nature of blockchain it has the potential for opening business potential across large socioeconomic lines. For instance, a fisherman in Fuji could post his fish on the blockchain to document provenance and potentially demand a higher price for his product

As a part of my series about Women Leading the Blockchain Revolution, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeanne Duckett.

Jeanne Duckett leads the Transparency Initiative Development for Avery Dennison Printer Systems investigating: Blockchain, Distributed Computing, RFID, and other relevant technologies.

She also manages the Food IP portfolio for Avery Dennison’s Printer Systems. In addition, she holds multiple patents in imaging, RFID handling, and various aspects of printer functionality and design. Jeanne is a contributing member of AIM Global and GS1 inter-industry organizations. She currently sitting on AIM North America Board of Directors and chairs the AIM NA Food Policy Committee. Previously chairman of the IOT and Blockchain Council, RFID Experts Group. Participates on Technology Symbology, Wireless Communication, GS1 Supply Chain Visibility and the GS1 Foodservice Initiatives. In addition, she contributes as a member of the GS1 Global Traceability and GS1 Digital Link Initiatives. Jeanne has spoken at multiple cross industry events including food shows, RFID Journal Live, GS1 US Connect and State Association Restaurant Shows.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Jeanne! Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?

Life is a grand adventure and you should not be afraid to live it. People are fascinated to learn that in addition to a technical degree, I have a B.A. in Political Science. I have interests in a broad range of subjects and I always have. What really interests me is figuring out how things work; whether it be computers, communications, RFID or blockchain, how to improve it and solve problems previously not solved.

When I was in college, I took a class in machine programming and I was hooked. I was very fortunate to be employed by a company developing point of sales systems as my first job out of college where I had to learn to design and program interacting hardware, software and networked devices to enhance consumer efficiencies. I won a company award for developing an inventory system for a major QSR.

Something I’m frequently asked is whether I get bored doing the same thing in a technical field all day, every day. My answer is “no.” I started with Avery Dennison in 1990 and I have done many interesting and different things throughout my career, from system integration, programming and systems design, leading broad cross functional teams and developing proof of concept models for early product ideas. At the forefront of RFID and barcodes developing a digital identity for a physical product.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

For the last couple of years, I have been focused on enabling Avery Dennison product portfolio to address emerging industry/consumer needs for transparency across the food supply chain encompassing a wide variety of touch points in the supply chain from source to consumer. Food traceability is fascinating due in part to the wide range of technologies involved including blockchain, IoT sensors and RFID. Equally fascinating is the breaking down of silos both intra and interindustry. Everyone in the industry is on a different point on the transparency path — and most everyone arrived there differently. My advocation came through a new product concept I developed that had potential for a traceability use case. As I researched transparency I realized that Avery Dennison is in an ideal position to address the market through our long history of creating digital identities.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am grateful for family, especially my husband for all of their support. I grew up in Iowa; as children we always spent a great deal of time outdoors camping, boating and accompanying activities. I think it is really important to make the connection with nature, and learn how to solve the small problems that naturally arise when you are camping. Research has shown that spending more time outdoors is linked to higher levels of concentration, creativity, and improved mental clarity.

What are the 5 things that most excites you about blockchain and crypto? Why

  1. Blockchain has been embraced by the open source development community which enables people from all parts of the globe to participate in creating solutions. I have been involved with projects ranging from Thailand, Fiji and New Zealand.
  2. We have all heard that Blockchain is immutable, unchangeable and unhackable. Whenever I hear a statement like that, I take it as a challenge. So, what I have discovered is that it is difficult to make changes without collusion. Not that the data cannot be changed. However, this visibility of modifications is critical in chain of custody applications.
  3. Smart Contracts — At its simplest, a smart contract is a piece of code that exists on the blockchain. This smart contract can be used to define almost anything about the relationship that exists between supply chain parties. For instance, when receiving fresh produce, foodservice and retail grocery often have temperature ranges that they will accept. Using globally unique digital identities attached to items with smart sensors, a smart contract can develop to automate this business rule of rejecting produce that was outside the acceptable temperature range
  4. Blockchain has the potential of connecting supply chain participants from very diverse sectors that have no direct business relationship this has the potential of increasing inventory visibility, reducing out of stock, out of date and wasted product
  5. Because of the open nature of blockchain it has the potential for opening business potential across large socioeconomic lines. For instance, a fisherman in Fuji could post his fish on the blockchain to document provenance and potentially demand a higher price for his product

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

One of my recent favorite definitions of “sustainability” is the one I heard at a Produce Management Institute Science and Technology meeting; a sustainable process is people friendly, planet friendly and profitable. One of the things that success in my career enabled for me was to be a volunteer Girl Scout Day Camp Director for 10 years, and as a Girl Scout leader for 10 years before that. In that position I was able to work with over 300 girls and 50 adult volunteers annually. When she’s a Girl Scout, she learns to be a G.I.R.L. Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader.

As you know there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other women in the blockchain space to thrive?

Be passionate about what you do, believe in yourself and never stop asking questions. I have always enjoyed what I do and have tried to learn more about it. For instance, I was interested in exploring smart contracts so I used Ethereum to build a simple blockchain for our tools.

We have all heard the old adage that the only dumb question is the one not asked. I have the opportunity to participate, lead various voluntary and cross- industry organizations around the world. Sitting with people in meetings and asking any timely question shows that you are engaged and interested in the material. And who knows you might learn something!

Also, if you ask a question and you do not get the answer you are looking for, ask again or change your approach. The old truism is:” Ask you shall receive.’ But nowhere does it say ask once and give up. Be persistent and have confidence in your ideas.

Believe in yourself, if you don’t, then no one else will. As long as you give your best effort, no one can ask more of you (not even yourself). And, it is okay to make a mistake — everyone makes mistakes. I know that can be hard, even for me. Still today I attend a standards meeting to I find that I am often the only woman in the room.

I’m proud that my alma mater, Iowa State University, built the first electronic digital computer. I find it so inspiring that they didn’t know what they were doing and they made mistakes along the way but they believed in their idea and persisted. A lot of women tend to be perfectionists, so they don’t want to do things unless they are perfect at it. People who really accomplish great things — and I’ve had the good fortune to meet some of them — respect people who have made mistakes. Making mistakes is only learning what didn’t work.

Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the blockchain industry?

Don’t be afraid to get involved. I love Meetups — I joined a cryptocurrency meetup group in Cincinnati, that was totally outside of my work field, had to deal with finance. It was fascinating to listen to other people’s experiences and learn from them.

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?

Zig Zigler: “If you don’t see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner.”

I have introduced several pioneering products for my company; however, one really stands out. I was asked to develop the lowest cost product every designed in a line in the shortest amount of time. When I was sitting with our small group, I started out by giving my motivation speech on how we would be the first team in the company to do this. One of my senior designers looked around at our small number and asked,” Who’s we?” I said don’t worry about it, the hardest thing to stop is something in motion; when people see our success, they will join us. The product was released on time on budget with no major product deviations.

An example from my personal life that demonstrates this quote is the fact that I became a Judo instructor at an age that most people would not necessarily consider starting judo. I was brave enough to do it and even to compete and place in the Ohio State Judo competition. Fact: the U.S. has had only one gold medalist in Judo in the Olympics — Kayla Harrison, from Middletown, Ohio. I had the opportunity to fight with her on a mat simply because I said, “OK, I’ll do it!” That’s how I make things happen. Kayla herself is an inspiration and amazing young woman who overcame being a victim of child molestation, to become a true winner and lead the United States to a historic victory.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

The best advice I received was at my daughter’s college orientation: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth,” which was a quote from Muhammad Ali

Although I wouldn’t admit it at the time, I learned so much sitting around the campfire as a Girl Scout that applies to my professional life. Effort doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and experiences gained in one area may apply to many others.

Give back, have fun and enjoy yourself, because you are only passing this way once. Also be open to new ideas to try new things and listen to other people’s opinions. Inspiration comes from many places, and you never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

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