At this year’s ASA Women in Industry Conference in Austin, Texas, we had the pleasure of hosting nine members of the Society of Women in Industrial Distribution (SWID) from Texas A&M’s School of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution.

Founded in 1956 within the College of Engineering, Texas A&M’s highly recognized industrial distribution program is the oldest and largest in the United States with 1,000 students currently enrolled — 22% are women. It is estimated there are more than 6,000 graduates in the workforce with ID degrees. Texas A&M also offers a master’s degree in industrial distribution which is a 21-month web-based program focused on industrial applications

So what differentiates this industrial distribution degree from other supply-chain management degrees? Texas A&M’s ID students study engineering, business, technology, distribution management and leadership. They also participate in on-campus, private-corporation and international internships that provide a broad base of real-world problem-solving experience.

As Natalie Farr, president of Texas A&M’s Professional Association of Industrial Distribution (P.A.I.D.), pointed out, “These graduates understand the ‘non-pretty’ industrial side of our business.” These experiences combined with the leadership-based technical and business curriculum make ID graduates uniquely prepared to tackle our industry’s complex challenges.

Farr, Caleigh Geiser, Zan Hanks, Rachel Tankersly, Angela Sauer, Victoria Gomez, Amber Vrabel and Alexis Thomas shared personal insights into their rigorous and rewarding program.

Texas A&M ID graduates boast a 99.9% post-graduation job placement overall and 100% for women (Someone over the years chose to travel Europe rather than get a job!). ID graduates seek careers in which they can keep learning and have a meaningful role in solving real problems.

We learned roughly 60% of ID graduates move into technical sales positions and 40% choose an operations-based career. The SWID group agreed it would gravitate toward a company whose media profile and recruiting materials showed pictures of women working in positions to which they aspired vs. featuring all men, and also would select a company for its reputation, culture and then salary in that order.

Eager to attract these and future ID students to join us, Women in Industry members educated them about our PHCP and industrial PVF industry, the many rewarding career opportunities available and provided concrete examples of the personal successes across disciplines and at all levels.

SWID Advisor Mark Johnson (aka ‘’Colonel”), a retired Army colonel, graduate of Texas A&M and current professor there, facilitated both informal discussions and panel discussions promoting the women in his group and the need for continued mentoring and partnerships. He made us wish we had such a gifted mentor when we were undergrads.

Upon completion of the conference, Thomas, next year’s SWID vice president, commented that she appreciated the opportunity to see so many powerful women in one place. Adding that she can sometimes be the only woman in an ID class, she noted it was reassuring to know that success for women in the industrial workplace is possible. We agree.

If you are interested in talking with Texas A&M ID students about internships or full-time employment, please contact Johnson at You may also visit

For a complete list of industrial distribution universities throughout the country, visit

View Supply House Times Chief Editor Mike Miazga’s video interview with Texas A&M’s Farr.



This article was originally titled “Next gen leaders” in the June 2017 print edition of Supply House Times.