Leveraging the Internet of Things to promote supply chain innovation, delivering more than $16 million in cost savings, transforming processes to save 450 work hours per week and reducing expedited freight costs by more than 70 percent are just a few of the personal achievements of this year’s winners in the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars Recognition Program. Run by THOMASNET.com and Institute for Supply Management (ISM), this is the third year of the program, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated leadership, innovation, collaboration and other outstanding attributes.


“Our 30 Under 30 winners are fast becoming leaders in the digital industrial economy,” says Tony Uphoff, president and CEO of Thomas Publishing Company. “They combine talent, innovation and technological savvy in their work, and we’re excited to honor them.”


One of the aims of the program is to help position supply chain careers as viable and rewarding choices for the Millennial generation. This is especially important given that the industry faces a looming talent shortage as the Baby Boomers who dominate supply chain management begin to retire.


“Creating a pipeline of young talent needs to be a top priority across the industry,” Tom Derry, CEO, ISM, said last year when kicking off this year’s program. “By showcasing the talent, accomplishments and passion of our program’s winners, we help build awareness and enthusiasm for the profession. We encourage everyone in supply chain management to nominate more deserving superstars for the program.”


Due to changing demographics, younger generations in the workforce are stepping into leadership roles earlier than their predecessors. This is particularly evident when looking at this year’s winners, with some as young as 24, who are making an impact at companies that include SpaceX, Dell Technologies, 3M Company and GE Aviation, in the aerospace & defense, oil & gas, automotive, healthcare, pharma, retail, manufacturing, business services, operating services, non-profit, military and government industries.


This year’s “Megawatt Star” is Daniel Kaskinen, 29, who was recognized for his significant achievements as strategic sourcing manager with Sonic Automotive. He is now manager, strategic sourcing at Premier, Inc.


In nominating Kaskinen, Jeff King, director of procurement at Sonic Automotive, said that Dan is a “go-to player [who] is tasked with things that have no ‘instruction manual.’” He explained that Kaskinen was able to design processes that create more efficiencies for Sonic Automotive, such as a formalized partner request process and a formal RFP.


When asked about the value of careers in supply chain management, Kaskinen said he believes procurement and supply chain are “fantastic fields to evaluate opportunities and come up with strategies on how to execute new initiatives.” He went on to say that, in many ways, procurement is a “great environment to practice and hone” entrepreneurial skills.


“It’s a very unique line of business that allows you to scratch many, many different itches—you can grow your professional career in such a wide range of exposure, all from within the same department,” Kaskinen said.


What are your thoughts on the 30 Under 30 program? Secondly, do you work with or know any “rising stars” who are Millennials?