The ISRI Industry Leadership Development Program is designed to provide new-to-the-industry professionals who show great leadership promise with guidance, insight, and skills needed to build an impactful career in the recycling industry. Twenty-four emerging leaders met with 17 experts July 11-12 at ISRI headquarters in Washington, D.C., to learn about their future—and the industry’s.

“The quality of content and how it was presented was off the charts,” notes attendee Hayden Walker, a nonferrous trader at Shoal Creek, Ala.-based Strickland Trading Inc.

Session leaders included ISRI Chair-elect Colin Kelly of Schnitzer Steel Inc. (“Communicating with Influence”), and “Preparing for Tomorrow” co-presenters Robin Wiener, ISRI president, and Vikram Mansharamani, Ph.D., a former Harvard University lecturer; Senate candidate for New Hampshire; ISRI2022 presenter; and author of the books “Think for Yourself: Restoring Common Sense in an Age of Experts” and “Artificial Intelligence and Boombustology: Spotting Financial Bubbles Before They Burst.”

Topics covered in the discussion-rich collaborative environment included:

  • What global developments to watch for in the next five years?
  • Why championing environmental, sustainability, and governance (ESG) matters to you as a leader?
  • How do you communicate with influence?
  • What does it take to create a culture of safety throughout your company?
  • Are there strategies to consider with your inventory?
  • How can you negotiate better?
  • What does it take to be a leader?
  • Why does serving your community matter?

The group also took part in a painting exercise where they painted pictures of recycling themes. Before they traveled to Washington, ISRI mailed to all participants copies of SA Recycling CEO George Adams’ book, “Create the Connection: 25 Surefire Strategies for Success in Leadership and Life.” Adams popped into the training via Zoom to start a discussion about his book.

The small group helped promote bonds between the industry’s next generation of leaders and managers, says Kripke Enterprises’ Marvin Finkelstein, co-chair of ISRI’s Education and Training Committee, who led the “Buying and Selling Recyclable Materials: Understanding Your Inventory” session July 12. “Watching these people making those connections that will benefit their careers and enable the transfer of ideas throughout our industry is such a reward,” he says.

Committee Co-chair Nidhi Turakhia of Allied Alloys says the quality of content and how it was presented will pay off for the industry. “These people are going to take back all of the information they learned, and it will start to be felt in individual companies, but the industry as a whole gets better every time ISRI conducts one of these trainings,” she says.

Nick Bohac, a pick lead with Rochester, Ind.-based Rochester Iron and Metal, says the experience broadened his horizons. “Getting to know people who are from Boston or California or New York, it helps you get to understand a little bit about the world [from] new perspectives.”

Bohac says takeaways from the two-day program include how to ease out of his comfort zone into unfamiliar areas and to be more expressive in positive ways. “My goal is to create the biggest ‘butterfly effect’ of positivity ever,” he says. “It can be the smallest of things because remember, the ocean is made of [an enormous number of] drops of water.”


All photos courtesy of ISRI. Primary photo caption: Cheryl Coleman, ISRI vice president of sustainability, and Ibn Akbar Salaam,  WM’s director of federal legislative affairs, lead the “Championing Environmental, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) as a Leader” session on July 11. Body photo caption: Graduates of the summer 2022 ISRI Industry Leadership Development Program with staff.

Dan Hockensmith

Dan Hockensmith

I'm a native Ohioan who since 2014 has called Maryland home. My background includes print, broadcast, and digital journalism; government contracting; and marketing communications.