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Future Trailblazers will be key to driving the packaging sector forward

As the hard work that goes into keeping the packaging sector relevant, successful, and winning continues, the Future Trailblazer initiative can be a guiding light during a period of enormous change.
Whether already solving some of the big challenges or making quiet revolutions happen in the step changes needed to move the industry forward, the Future Trailblazer initiative is on the hunt for employees who may be quietly playing their part while also starting to show their potential to shine.

Packaging as a sector is already at the centre of developments that drive growth across the manufacturing and logistics industries. The industry is a thriving hotbed of innovation, from more sustainable materials to ground-breaking new products and technologies. And by shouting out about the achievements of those who are trailblazing growth, it's possible to secure a promising future for packaging.
The packaging sector is bursting with talent and fresh ideas. For anyone who has previously attended Packaging Innovations & Empack, the UK's annual event driving innovation across the industry, this is clear. Every year, delegates can see major names in the industry showcase the latest exciting developments driving packaging forward.
But more important than this is to recognise the trailblazing work being done by the up-and-comers in packaging who will be instrumental to securing the industry's future.
The kind of conviction needed to blaze a trail is rare. It's a title that's earned. But for Jude Allan, Interim MD OPRL & Chair of The IOM3 Packaging Group, who started as a packaging technologist at Mars before spending almost 20 years at jonesknowlesrtichie, it would be fair to say she meets both criteria. Having already left one path for others, with jonesknowlesrtichie having grown from a London-based packaging design agency to a global design business, Allan is now attempting to leave several more through the Future Trailblazer initiative.
"I wanted to do something that was about the people working in the industry and recognising some of the brilliant things that people are doing in areas of the business that don't necessarily get seen or shouted about," she said. "I think packaging is a brilliant place to work. It's a brilliant industry to work in. But I'm also very aware that most people I talked to had no idea that packaging was a career possibility. They just hadn't thought about it. They fall into it and love it, but nobody leaves. It's like Hotel California.
"It's a brilliant career path. But to try and do all of the things that we need to do - there are so many challenges around ensuring that packaging is doing its job as sustainably as possible - we need people new to the industry. Also, how do we attract people if they don't know the variety of roles on offer? So, what I wanted to do was to celebrate some of the people who are in the industry and making a difference and use that to showcase possible careers. One of the things that we wanted to look at was people who are starting to make a difference. They're not necessarily in a position of power to make huge changes, but they're really making a difference in the team they're working in. They're starting to show real future trailblazing potential.
"The initiative is designed to help lift them up and create a role model idea. You need to know what those career options are, and this felt like a good way to do that."
Packaging as a sector is already at the centre of developments that drive growth across the manufacturing and logistics industries. The industry is a thriving hotbed of innovation, from more sustainable materials to ground-breaking new products and technologies. And by shouting out about the achievements of those young people who are trailblazing growth, Allan insists we can secure a promising future for packaging.
As packaging companies cast a wider net in the next decade, Allan suggests that turning this around will rely on packaging businesses to collaborate and demonstrate just how exciting and rewarding a career in this industry can be. People need to see packaging as a career that values and appreciates them, and where they can make dynamic contributions that actively make a difference.
"We recognise that quite a lot of people come into packaging at different points," she continued. "Some people come off the back of a great education, and they'll find themselves working in packaging as they graduate, and that's brilliant. There's really good potential for Future Trailblazers in that cohort. But some people have come into packaging at different points in their careers and working lives. You might have people who've come out of the military or come off a career break and find themselves in packaging, but they find themselves in a role that's integral to how the industry works. We're talking about finding the roles that are quite often gateways into the wider industry.
"The mobility of roles within packaging is really important. It has a lot of flow and flex to it, but that's a good thing to educate people about a packaging career. People can then see where it takes them rather than thinking that they have to go into a role, and that's them until they change industry or retire."
People took note when a trio of Future Trailblazers were celebrated at the record-breaking Packaging Innovations & Empack in February this year. The inaugural award winners were joined on the Circular Economy Stage on the final day of the UK's flagship packaging exhibition by Dani Novick and Ian Roe, Directors at Mercury Search and Selection, and Allan.
Lucy Boston, Head of Marketing & Communication at Carlton Packaging, Chris Yapp, Director at TRI-LOCKER, and Abigail Sawyer-Parker, Packaging Technologist at ProAmpac, were each considered enthusiastic champions for packaging and walked away with a coveted award, having driven innovation from a consumer perspective in their respective roles.
"It's one of those things you just have to do," she continued. "Our thought process is about celebrating achievements and giving people an opportunity and a reason to. I think it's a brilliant sector, and I believe packaging is an often-vilified thing, but we need to get better at talking about it more positively. It's seemingly simple yet surprisingly complex, so it's a technically challenging role. It's interesting. It's all about consumer behaviour. There are so many things wrapped up in packaging, and I think it's a really interesting area to get involved with.
"The three inaugural winners all had different approaches to the same thing. They each took on a bigger challenge that needed a simple solution for people to use. They were each able to speak about the complexities and what they did in their role in trying to get there. We had one who came very much from an entrepreneurial background, another one from marketing and understanding the consumer, and then the final one was about the science and a technical solution to a problem. That breadth is brilliant, and there's so much to showcase. A real passion underpinned all of their efforts."
Whether already solving some of the big challenges or making quiet revolutions happen in the step changes needed to move the industry forward, the Future Trailblazer showcase is looking for team members who may be quietly playing their part while also starting to show their potential to shine.
The true yardstick for any new award or initiative generally comes five or ten years down the line as you chart the course of those passing through, and who knows what the 2024 alumni will go on to achieve in their respective futures in packaging.
"That's the vision for the awards," Allan surmised. "It's a great way to recognise people and to shine a light on them. There is no downside to it. It's such a positive thing.
"I know amongst the group that I've come up through the ranks with, you can see where some of those brilliant individuals came from. But we didn't have this sort of thing. This has the potential to bring that group together, and I think the strength of that for the industry will be powerful."
Future Trailblazers considers the biggest contributions to change in the industry and individuals' potential. With judges assessing across five categories – Design for the future, Production delivery, Sustainable thinking, Delivery management, and Making it happen – there are plenty of opportunities for success to be recognised.
www.packaginginnovations.com

 

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