ThomasNet, ISM’s 30 Under 30 Hopes to Keep Sparking New Supply Chain Careers

The world of supply chain management today faces a major challenge: too many of the professionals in the industry are nearing retirement age, and not enough workers from younger generations are entering the field. But one program powered by some major procurement players is tackling this issue – for a second year in a row. and the Institute for Supply Management have teamed up again to launch this year’s “30 Under 30” Rising Supply Chain Stars Recognition Program. The organizations began taking nominations for exceptional procurement professionals who are ages 30 and below last month. The deadline for nominations is July 31.

Check out the Spend Matters Almanac for what providers you need to know about this year.

The top 30 winners for this year will be announced January 2016. They will receive a complimentary membership to ISM and be recognized at the ISM annual conference next year in Indianapolis. Spend Matters also gives the winners a free 12-month Plus subscription.

A ‘Perfect Storm’ on the Horizon

The “30 Under 30” program was originally launched in May 2014 and was aimed at calling attention to the millennials working in the supply chain field. It also aimed to calm what ThomasNet and ISM have called “the perfect storm” – something the organizations say the supply chain management industry faces as baby boomers retire and too few younger, talented folks take their place.

“The best way to address something like that is to put forth people who are bucking that trend,” said Linda Rigano, executive director of media relations at ThomasNet.

Looking to Continue Year 1 Success

Last year’s program garnered 225 nominations – many more than ThomasNet and ISM expected. In fact, the organizations were worried for a bit about receiving enough nominations to fill all 30 slots in the program. But the success of the first year inspired the organizations to continue the program in 2015, hopefully drawing attention to more millennials (specifically those 30 or younger) in the profession and inspiring others to enter it.

This may, at first, sound like a difficult task. Even we here at Spend Matters will admit procurement and supply chain management may not seem like the sexiest of professions for younger generations. But, just as many of the first round of “30 Under 30” winners admitted, while they didn’t necessarily plan for a career in the field, they are surprisingly passionate about the profession.

“When they are able to make a connection between their jobs in the supply chain and their personal values, that’s where this passion really ignites,” said M.L. Peck, senior vice president of programs and product development at ISM.

While misconceptions about millennials exist – that they are in it for themselves, only care about the money, etc. – M.L. said the “30 Under 30” program winners showed this generation is in fact looking to make a difference at their company, in their community and in the supply chain field.

Linda agreed. And as more rising supply chain stars are acknowledged, ThomasNet and ISM hope to inspire more millennials to join the field.

“Millennials, as a generation, when you think about all the different things that are important to them, it just matches so beautifully with the supply chain industry and a career there,” she said.

Additional Program Details

Winners from Year 1 of the program, which come from companies including Shell Oil, Boeing, Johnson & Johnson as well as smaller companies and even public sector organizations, are also being encouraged to nominate their peers for this year’s “30 under 30,” Linda and M.L. said.

You can find out more about the program at, and by reading previous Spend Matters coverage below.

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