The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and Thomasnet.com have announced the winners of the 2016 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars Recognition Program, which serves the dual purposes of recognizing promising young professionals and encouraging the millennial generation to pursue careers in supply chain. Now in its third year, the competition has undergone a significant change by opening up to the international level, whereas nominees were previously limited to the United States.
This year, three of the 30 winners work outside of the U.S. — to be precise, in Angola, Mexico and the U.K. “We actually talked [about going international] from the very beginning,” said M.L. Peck, chief content and engagement officer at ISM. Although what the judges at Thomasnet.com (who selects the 30 winners) and ISM (who selects the Megawatt winner) look for has remained constant throughout the years — passion, creativity and contributions to supply chain — there were certainly noticeable trends that characterize the 2016 cohort.
Ambitious, Well-Traveled, Community-Minded… Bookworms?
“A lot of the winners have international experience,” Peck said. Take Barbara Noseda, global sourcing associate for Johnson & Johnson, who is from Switzerland, graduated from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and speaks five languages. Or Abhishek Dahiya, global commodity management senior advisor at Dell Technologies, who spent years working as an engineer in India before making the leap to supply chain. Or Amanda DeCook, sourcing associate at A.T. Kearney, who has worked and volunteered in Australia, Tanzania and the U.S. before taking on her current role in London.
The 2016 “30 Under 30” winners are generally active in their communities and close with their families. “Parents and family influenced this generation like no other generation before that,” Peck said. “We ask them things like who their role models are. Overwhelmingly it’s their parents. One of them [Sara Robichaux, strategic sourcing category lead at Apache Corporation] started out in accounting, didn’t love it, but her mother-in-law was in supply chain management.”
Volunteer work also stands out as something that characterizes this group. “[They mentioned the] need to give back to their community,” Peck said. “A lot of the nominations included volunteer information. Volunteering is so important to this cohort that they want it to be part of their nominations.”
Another notable trend is how many more of them planned on a supply chain career as opposed to falling into it by chance. In 2014, when the “30 Under 30” competition was first started, only 17% of the winners had originally planned to go into supply chain. This time, the percentage is up to 40%. “This is one of the things that we’re trying to accomplish with this program,” Peck said.
Lastly, reading books may be making a comeback. A number of the winners are avid readers, including Megawatt winner Dan Kaskinen, who read a remarkable 28 books in 2016. “I wonder if there’s a trend toward reading and we haven’t asked them,” Peck said.
As for the achievements that helped these 30 young people stand out among hundreds of nominations, they are truly impressive. For example, Dahiya transformed the reporting framework at Dell from a Microsoft Excel-based system to a database and created an online portal that saved the company more than 450 work hours a week. Bernadette Quiriconi, operations manager at Fluke Corporation, formulated a plan that raised the company’s biomedical business’ on-time delivery rates to 96% from below 70% and reduced expedited freight costs by more than 70%. Quiriconi was nominated by Amy Georgi, the 2015 Megawatt winner.
As Peck rattled off the long list of accomplishments that the 2016 “30 Under 30” cohort boasts, it made me even more aware of what a big deal it is to be named the Megawatt winner, who has to stand out among such an accomplished group. “With all the talent that was nominated, I was having a hard time processing it all,” Kaskinen told me. “I called my wife as soon as the initial shock wore off to share the amazing news.”
For Kaskinen, it was all about inefficiency — that is, finding it and stamping it out. His work as strategic sourcing manager for Sonic Automotive won him the coveted Megawatt winner title. Fortunately for Kaskinen (and for Sonic), his manager gave him freedom to find and resolve organizational inefficiency in what Kaskinen described as a “roving position.”
“I remember I was sitting at my desk when the email came through announcing this year’s 30 under 30 winners,” Kaskinen said. “I was surprised and then thrilled when I read I had been selected as one of the 30. It was the next sentence that threw me off. I was shocked, beyond flattered, and humbled to discover I was named the Megawatt winner of this year’s class.”
Kaskinen was tasked with creating and innovating processes, and his achievements at Sonic saved the company $3 million. “He was seen as the go-to person for when something lacked an instruction manual,” Peck said. Kaskinen created a formal RFP process and a support library for contracts, forms and templates for sourcing events, and $13.35 million in spend has been managed through the formal RFPs. In addition, he created a partner request process along with a web portal and a submission database.
In February, Kaskinen moved to Premier Inc. to be the company’s manager of strategic sourcing, but according to his “30 Under 30” nominator and manager, Jeff King, Kaskinen’s RFP process and formalized partner request process have counted among his lasting impacts at Sonic. As Peck told me, “it was really his role in forming the procurement department at Sonic” that prompted ISM to select Kaskinen as the Megawatt winner.
“I was in the crowd at the ISM conference in Las Vegas when the program was initially announced,” recalled Kaskinen. “I remember thinking whoever wins that award will be someone I’d love to hear more about and learn what they did to get there. Never did I think just a few short years later it’d be me being named the Megawatt winner.”