A strong link in the global supply chain

Junior Joe Noonan is steering his studies and out-of-class experiences toward a high-octane career in global supply chain management. His drive to cross the finish line began after a trip to Detroit, Mich., last fall to participate in the third-annual General Motors/Wayne State University Supply Chain Case Competition.

Joe Noonan
Joe Noonan, third from left, is completing a summer internship at General Motors in Detroit. 

The three-day competition brought together some of the best and brightest supply chain students from 20 outstanding universities across the country (UNI is the only Iowa college or university represented at the competition).

Supply chain management focuses on the flow of goods, from sourcing raw materials all the way to disposal.

"There are so many things you can do within the supply chain management field," said Noonan. "You can go down almost any path and be involved in almost every piece of the business. Right when I think I know all the different jobs you can do within Supply Chain, you discover another avenue you can go down."

During the GM/Wayne State competition, Noonan was charged with obtaining advanced technology components while considering such supply chain issues as logistics, costs and sustainability for the Cadillac ELR. Noonan performed well during the competition and caught the eye of a GM executive director, who encouraged him to contact Human Relations. Noonan was the only student to land a coveted summer internship position with the automaker.

"I'm a few weeks into my internship and I'm loving it," said Noonan, who is part of GM's Program Purchasing production team. "I've already gotten an array of assignments to visit suppliers in the U.S. and Mexico. And I'm working on developing cost models and determining ways to reduce costs and create efficiencies with our suppliers." The lines Noonan is working on include the GMC Sierra, Denali and Yukon; Cadillac Escalade; and Chevrolet Tahoe and Silverado.

"I attended a meeting where GM CEO Mary Barra and senior leadership updated employees and the media on the recent recall. I was just one row behind the board of directors and about 20 feet from Mrs. Barra. What an incredible experience to see such commitment to the GM organization."

At UNI, Noonan is a member of the Supply Chain Management Association, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, Northern Iowa Student Government, Connecting Alumni to Students (CATS), Student Admissions Ambassadors and the UNIBusiness President's Council. Off campus, this pedal-to-the-medal Panther worked part time as a container management specialist at John Deere in Waterloo and a buyer of indirect materials and services.

"Overall, I believe my UNI education, student leadership roles and work experience with John Deere were the biggest factors in obtaining the GM internship. You would not believe the number of people who are impressed with the experiences I've had while still in school."

Learn more about UNI's management: supply chain and operations major and the GM/Wayne State University Case Competition.