Carolyn Vanous

2020 STEP Ahead Emerging Leader

Sourcing Manager

Manufacturing transcends borders and cultures; it’s extremely gratifying to be part of an industry where I can work on complex challenges by collaborating with colleagues and supply partners around the world. I love the dynamism of each day and am proud to support products that positively impact people’s lives.

During her tenure at 3M, Carolyn has led over $14 million in cost reduction initiatives across fifteen global manufacturing plants. She spent two years working in 3M’s Center of Expertise in Singapore, where her responsibilities included managing the raw material procurement for a manufacturing plant located in Thailand. In this role, she initiated and led several multinational projects to qualify new materials which resulted in a 26% manufacturing cost reduction for the site. Carolyn moved back to Minnesota to lead the sourcing team for a 3M acquisition that manufactures fall protection equipment, where she supported the ramp-up production of 45 SKUs spanning four global manufacturing sites. She worked with suppliers to develop capacity models and led dual-sourcing with the plants to meet aggressive timelines. Due to this project, sales increased by over 500 percent compared to the operational plan.

Carolyn is a strong advocate and leader of 3M’s corporate resource groups. As a recent college graduate newly employed at 3M, Carolyn was a founding member of the company’s “New Employee Opportunity Network” (NEON), an organization that helps connect new employees across the company. The personal and professional connections made within NEON are invaluable to new employees in building their network within 3M. Carolyn is also a co-founder of a Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) chapter that serves 3M’s flagship Fall Protection site in Red Wing, Minnesota. This group provides structured trainings on leadership styles and opportunities at 3M, enabling its members to position themselves for success. Additionally, Carolyn spent four years as a United Way team Lead and Committee member, leading and supporting semi-annual volunteer events for colleagues to contribute back to the community.

Remembering her positive cross-cultural experiences at 3M in Singapore, Carolyn joined the Board of Directors of a Minneapolis-based nonprofit called Xperitas. Xperitas partners with local communities around the world to promote cross-cultural understanding amongst high school and college students through authentic immersion programs. As a supporter of environmental initiatives, Carolyn has served as vice president of the Minneapolis chapter of Net Impact, an organization that promotes sustainability within corporations.