Diversity of Thought:

Connecting the dots with Jonathan Sterling

Jonathan understood there was fundamentally something different about the way others around him lived, but it wasn’t until he grew up that he realized that was part of what made him want to pursue a career in supply chain. He wanted to understand the connections and the macro system that facilitated two such separate ways of life.

From a young age, Jonathan Sterling was interested in understanding where products were made and how they moved from point A to point B. That curiosity led him to pursue an industrial distribution degree at Texas A&M University because as he says, he “became obsessed with the world behind the words ‘Made in China.’”

That desire for knowledge has served him well throughout a career that’s taken him to China to work in supply chain management, Mexico to work in enterprise sales and, eventually, to Bellevue to join the tech world at Blueprint Technologies. As a product and delivery manager at Blueprint, Jonathan is gaining valuable insight into how problem-solving technology is built – the next step in his journey to discovering how technology improves and optimizes the supply chain.

Jonathan Sterling at the unrestored Great Wall

Jonathan hiking Jiankou, a part of the unrestored Great Wall outside of Beijing.

Growing up in Texas with a physician father, Jonathan and his family spent every spring break volunteering at border town health clinics. Playing soccer with children who didn’t have shoes and who lived in homes with dirt floors and no running water made Jonathan more curious about other people and places, but also more introspective toward his own life. He understood there was fundamentally something different about the way the others lived, but it wasn’t until he grew up that he realized that was part of what made him want to pursue a career in supply chain. He wanted to understand the connections and the macro system that facilitated two such separate ways of life.

“It’s the supply chain that connects the dots between everyone and everything – it connects the world,” Jonathan said.

Directly out of college, Jonathan took a job in Beijing working for the world’s largest chemical distribution company. There, he learned more about the economics that facilitate the movement of product from places like China all the way around the world to a person’s doorstep.

After three years, a mentor suggested Jonathan move to sales because, in his opinion, supply chain and key accounts would soon be the most critical components to businesses’ success. After studying supply-chain management in Beijing, Jonathan transferred to the company’s Latin American division, taking on a strategic account sales role in Mexico City.

Jonathan and his wife in front of Nevado de Toluca, a stratovolcano outside of Mexico City.

“That’s the job where I really learned the impact information has on an organization,” Jonathan said. “Because I knew all the people to call to get the information, I was able to dive in and succeed without any official sales experience.”

With a feeling that he now had a well-rounded background in commercial business, Jonathan realized the key to fully understanding and making improvements to the world’s supply chain was technology. He would talk to customers who were overwhelmed by the complexity of their supply chains – the commercial negotiations, ordering, shipping, managing the inventories, deliveries – for their raw materials, and recognized that the solution was technology-based. He also recognized that many companies were not capable of building those technologies themselves.

“We hosted tons of data. As a distributor, all the supplier and customer data passed through us. The data held a lot of value, but we didn’t know where to start in terms of capturing, organizing or utilizing it,” Jonathan said. “I wanted to learn what it takes to build technology-based solutions.”

Again, he found himself switching to a new career motivated by his desire for more knowledge.

He left his job, learned the Python programming language, brushed up on statistics and enrolled in a three-month data science boot camp to position himself for a new job in technology. After participating in a Blueprint-sponsored hackathon, he soon joined the team.

“I don’t want to be designing algorithms for weeks on end,” Jonathan said. “But I want to understand how the algorithms work so I can be great at unlocking business value through technology and data.”

His understanding of processes, information gathering and different cultures, and his willingness to dive into unfamiliar industries and thrive, are emblematic of the diversity of thought and background Blueprint looks for in its employees.

Jonathan’s unique set of experiences has made an immediate impact on the delivery and product teams at Blueprint as he has used his knowledge to define specs and timelines for clients, to set expectations and to always help the team deliver above and beyond. He does this while remaining true to his goal, always evaluating how Blueprint’s solutions can be applied to the improvement of the supply chain.

“The intersection of that supply chain management experience and product development is coming to a head,” Jonathan said. “I’ve always thought that doing the same thing as everyone else just isn’t exciting and the products Blueprint’s developing truly represent unique solutions.”

The future of your career begins now.