YPN Spotlight: Chris Connelly

Learn about Chris Connelly’s impact on the future of Material Handling through YPN.

Chris Connelly’s journey with MHI’s Young Professionals Network (YPN), began in 2022 when O’Neal, Inc. became a member of MHI. Motivated by a colleague’s endorsement of YPN’s benefits, Chris embraced the opportunity to participate, recognizing its potential to foster professional growth and cultivate valuable connections within the field. 

As an integral part of the O’Neal, Inc. team, Chris understands the far-reaching impact of the material handling sector on society. He finds the rapid pace of technological advancements fascinating, acknowledging YPN and MHI’s role in keeping him abreast of the latest trends and innovations. With resources like the 2024 MHI Annual Industry Report, educational webinars, and YPN, there are many resources available to make an impact. 

YPN, under the guidance of an advisory board and committees, serves to engage and develop young professionals in the material handling industry. The network offers a range of initiatives to its members, including webinars, coffee chats, book clubs, in-person events, YPN Awards, and the Emerging Leaders Conference. 

YPN Spotlight Q&A

Chris Connelly, the Business Development Manager at O’Neal, Inc. 

How long have you been a part of YPN? 

I joined the YPN community in 2022 when my company, O’Neal, Inc., became a formal member of MHI. 

What motivated you to get involved in YPN? 

An industry colleague introduced me to MHI after finding the group so rewarding. I became and remain active in the community in order to continue my growth as a professional, connect with and learn from others, and to provide mentorship to younger members of the industry.  

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in getting involved in YPN? 

My recommendation to those interested in joining YPN would be to get involved as soon as possible and, most importantly, be an active participant. The relationships, friendships, and networking opportunities YPN has afforded me have been an immense value to me as a professional.  

What is special about the material handling industry that gets you excited about your future career?  

Spanning projects across the food and beverage/CPG industry, the pharmaceutical industry, to the industrial manufacturing industry – material handling professionals have an impact that is far reaching and truly affects people’s day-to-day lives. I find it exciting to witness the rapid technological advancements within our industry and I enjoy having a behind-the-scenes perspective that allows me to drive value for my clients considering automation. 

Which topics – pertaining to our industry – are you especially passionate about and do you think we will all need to focus on in the future? 

I believe Automation, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence implementations are the future. Through MHI and YPN, I stay current with the latest industry trends, advances in technology, and new methodologies that are critical to me remaining at the forefront. Keeping up allows me to continue being a value add to my clients across various market sectors. I feel I bring immense value to my clients because I am aware of the newest tools and technologies available to improve their business operations.     

What challenges has YPN faced? How could YPN improve your experience in the future? 

YPN has the challenge of fostering a connection between busy young professionals across the globe. By creating programs like the Monthly Coffee Chats, the Executive Presence Webinars, and the newly established YPN book club, networking with industry colleagues feels more natural and isn’t stuffy or forced. 

What professional or community accomplishments would you like to highlight?   

Since graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University, I’ve had the pleasure of serving clients across various industries as both an automation consultant as well as a design and construction partner. I love knowing I’ve had a positive impact on my clients’ operations as well on the lives of the everyday consumer. 

I am proud to be part of the MHI community and have thoroughly enjoyed the relationships I’ve gained through the YPN group. 

If Chris’s story has sparked your interest in joining YPN  or exploring its offerings further, don’t hesitate to reach out to Mary Alyson Ammons. Start your journey towards professional growth and networking today.