Lessons in leadership, sustainability, resiliency, design, innovation, and the global economic outlook were just some of the critical topics discussed at the Paperboard Packaging Council’s (PPC) recent Fall Meeting & Leadership Conference in Austin, TX, which featured Mike Doss, President and CEO of Graphic Packaging International.
With a record number of conference newcomers and the highest conference attendance in 10 years, folding carton industry executives came together in Austin for three days of insight, networking, and camaraderie. In addition to exciting speakers, the meeting included a celebration of the winners for both the 2022 North American Paperboard Packaging Competition and the 2022 Paperboard Packaging Alliance’s Student Design Challenge.
Keynote speaker Mike Doss discussed the power of fiber-based consumer packaging, GPI’s vision for the future, and the importance of cultivating an engaged and empowered workplace culture. Throughout his presentation, Doss promoted new product innovation saying, “We strongly believe paperboard packaging can win against plastic. The end use consumers are looking for alternatives to plastic where it makes sense. Fiber-based consumer packaging is poised for growth in support of a circular economy.”
Doss expressed a realistic vision for industry growth, saying, “We’re not looking for perfection, we’re looking for progress in sustainability. With so much plastic, and with the power of rigid boxes, there is an opportunity for plastic needs to dissipate. At this point, because of the innovation coming out of our industry, I think it’s fair to say that it’s not hard to see a world without shrink wrap and rings on bottles.” Until then, Doss is dedicated to producing paperboard packaging designs that meet customer needs and can be manufactured commercially, saying, “Being able to execute innovative thoughts and ideas allows us to create the biggest pie possible, so we can work on taking the biggest share of those pies.”
Doss affirmed the value of an engaged and inspired workforce to reach company goals saying, “The days of just 10 people making all the decisions for an organization are gone. Talent is needed throughout an organization’s operations. In this time of reduced workplace retention, it’s imperative to note that your best, most talented people are there by choice.” Doss also focused on the importance of nurturing and growing the next generation of industry executives saying, “I think it is so important to get the word out about how great our industry is and why the next generation should be a part of it.”
Doss was just one industry leader who presented during PPC’s conference. Additionally, Erich Murray, plant manager of TPC Printing & Packaging, and former soldier who served in the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq and later with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Afghanistan and Europe, spoke in detail about the correlation between working in the paperboard packaging industry and the military.
Murray commented on the commonalities between the two vocations saying, “Any day working in our industry can feel like combat. When life or death can be on the line, and the stakes are high, in my experience, our industry can be just as intense.” Murray elaborated on the challenges he’s experienced in both fields saying, “On a weekly basis we’ll run into a big challenge in our plant, and sometimes the solution I hear is, “well, we’ve done all we can do.” It’s important to understand that we must deliver for our customers – we’ve given them our commitment and we cannot fail. Failing is the last resort – and that is an invaluable lesson my time in the military has taught me.”
Additionally, Dr. Ann Bowers-Evangelista presented to PPC women leaders on the importance of resiliency in business and learning to craft your future through collaboration, agility, foresight, and trying; Professor Jeff Rosensweig of Emory University presented a roadmap of the global economic outlook and how to navigate what’s expected to come; and Leo Chan, founder of Abound Innovation, Inc. and former senior innovation lead at Chick-fil-A, presented on the power of innovation, highlighting tangible ways to ask big questions, find new solutions, and promote these practices across organizations.
PPC’s 2023 Spring Outlook & Strategies Conference will take place on April 19-21, 2023, in Nashville, TN.