ISM World 2024: J. Shipman Award Winner Creates His Own Luck

May 01, 2024
By Sue Doerfler

Given annually by Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®), the J. Shipman Gold Medal Award honors an individual who contributes to the advancement of procurement and supply management while assisting and guiding other professionals. It is considered the most elite supply management honor.

The 2024 winner is Tony Milikin, MBA, C.P.M., chief supply chain officer at Athletic Greens, maker of nutrient supplements. Milikin previously served as chief supply chain officer at Keurig Dr Pepper, as chief procurement and sustainability officer at Anheuser-Busch InBev, among other positions.

“Every generation of talent stands on the shoulders and achievements of those who came before them,” said ISM CEO Thomas W. Derry during the opening session Wednesday at the ISM World 2024 Annual Conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. “That speaks volumes for the talent in this room. In the last several decades, our world and profession has experienced great change and many challenges. … (During those challenges), transformational leaders emerge and embrace that opportunity for change, and when they do, they leave a lasting impact.”

That is what previous Shipman award winners have done. And Milikin is no different, he said.

A video, shown during the opening event, captured some of Milikin’s thoughts on working in procurement:

  • “When you get into procurement, it’s imagining what the outcome is. I look at every sourcing opportunity with imagination.”
  • “It’s servant leadership. It’s about developing talent. And when I leave the workforce, I’ll look back and see the legacy of people that worked with me and for whom I worked. … It’s making sure I work for them as much as they work for the organization.”
  • “A gentleman I worked with before … brought this statement to me: ‘It’s better to be at the table than on the menu.’ I look at procurement professionals around the world — we tend to be on the menu more, not at the table, meaning we’re not always at the C-suite. If I had known that (when I started in procurement in 1986), I would have had a bigger voice; I would have tried to push myself more to be at the table and not have somebody speak for me. I think that’s the key for procurement professionals as we move into the future.”

In a short speech after the video, Milikin remarked that no matter the role, supply management professionals need to try for a seat at the table, “and that if you can’t get to the table, make sure your voice is still heard,” he said.

Other advice:

  • Embrace technology. Even though technology may change and advance, it can make a difference.
  • “My whole thing is to create your own luck. That means outworking your competition.”
  • Have aspirations. One of his was “to be on this stage,” he said.

About the Author

Sue Doerfler

About the Author

As Senior Writer for Inside Supply Management® magazine, I cover topics, trends and issues relating to supply chain management.