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Tappi Volunteers Create Young Professionals Committee

23 July 2009

Tappi Volunteers Create Young Professionals Committee

TAPPI’s newest committee will be aimed at helping industry students and those beginning their careers by linking industry newcomers with experienced professionals. Called the Young Professionals Committee, the group was formed at the suggestion of University of Washington student Zac Mahlum, who will serve as Committee Chair.
The YP Committee held its inaugural meeting June 1, 2009 at PaperCon ’09 in St. Louis, Missouri. Discussion centered on how TAPPI can help young professionals manage the transition between student life and career success. More than 30 students, new professionals, PIMA Division leaders and TAPPI staff were on hand to launch the group with a brainstorming session that will set the course for the new committee.
Mahlum first suggested forming the Committee at the TAPPI Leadership Council meeting in St. Louis on May 31, 2009; TAPPI members and leaders were so enthusiastic about the idea that they pulled together the first Committee meeting for the very next day. “I’ve been involved with other organizations, such as AIChE, that offered more activities for students – including e-mentoring, special conference tracks, and other ways to provide networking opportunities for students and younger professionals,” says Mahlum. With a network of student chapters already established at “paper schools” throughout North America, Mahlum saw a tremendous opportunity for TAPPI to offer similar programs.
Discussion at the meeting focused on communication issues, including the possibility of a handbook to help educate industry newcomers to the opportunities available through TAPPI involvement. Students also expressed a need for the type of management information and leadership training that isn’t offered through typical technical degree programs.
PIMA Executive Council First Affiliate Vice Chair Peter Gaddie says the timing is perfect, as PIMA (formerly the Paper Industry Management Association) transitions from being a standalone association to becoming TAPPI’s Management Division.
“Professional leadership has always been part of PIMA’s mission, and PIMA ‘legacy’ members are very interested in bringing that to TAPPI,” Gaddie says.
By the end of the first meeting, the YP Committee had identified five areas on which to focus its efforts, and had identified group members to lead each area. Action areas include:
• Establishing a “social media” presence
• Developing a content-rich web page
• Planning next year’s conference track
• Planning a social/networking event for PaperCon 2010
• Beginning work on a handbook for schools

All TAPPI Members beginning their industry careers, as well as all TAPPI Student Chapter members, are encouraged to become a part of the newly-formed committee. As with all TAPPI committees, there is no additional membership fee for more becoming involved. To learn more about being a part of TAPPI’s Young Professionals Committee, contact Eric Fletty at

TAPPI is the leading association for the worldwide pulp, paper, packaging, and converting industries and publisher of Paper360° and TAPPI JOURNAL.