Jackie Irvine studied English Literature at the University of Toronto while working as a freelance copywriter for the duration of her undergraduate career. Even as a student, Jackie managed to develop a diverse portfolio, writing about everything from fitness to film to biodiversity. In the latter half of her studies, Plexpack Corp., recruited her as a freelancer in its marketing department, and she eventually began consulting upon Plexpack’s digital program. Upon graduating, Jackie has since continued her upward momentum in the packaging industry and is currently Plexpack’s marketing manager.
Did you always know you wanted to go into packaging?
I never had an interest in the packaging industry until I had the opportunity to work as a freelancer. The challenge of marketing intricate machinery to discerning clientele really engaged me. I also came to the company before they had begun their sales and marketing automation projects. After getting to know the inner workings of the company, I was able to put together a plan with our COO for a Plexpack-optimized CRM and sales process. This resulted in me initiating a sales process that included an inside sales position. I also ended up teaching myself code and Salesforce programming so that I could personally oversee the build-out of process automation and API integrations. This helped unite the company and make us more customer-centric; it was a rewarding project.
As part of the incoming generation, what is your observation of other millennials in the industry?
Millennial is a label used to refer to generational demographic comprised of a broad spectrum of people with varying interests and skillsets. What we need to focus on is helping employers capitalize on their employees’ strengths instead of stereotyping them. I take issue with C-Level executives pigeonholing their employees. I think anyone who manages a “millennial” ought to focus less on the literature of how to deal with us, and instead focus on the individuals they are hiring. I’ve seen a lot of literature out on LinkedIn and Business Insider, about this generation, but the thing is; it’s a little odd to discuss in blanket terms people who are almost 15 years apart in age. I don’t quite understand how articles of this nature would be in any way helpful to anyone, ever.
What are some packaging trends you have been eyeing ?
As a progressive company on the leading edge of the packaging industry, Plexpack develops machinery that is applicable to a diverse range of industries. We also select and research solutions wherein we integrate our machinery with other technology to precisely accommodate niche industries, such as the cannabis industry. Recently, this has brought to fruition our VacPack VP2400, which can be easily customized for the cannabis industry. It was featured in our booth recently, at PACK EXPO. We cater to other niche industries with scalability in mind. A lot of small and medium sized enterprises are scaling up production, and they can’t justify or afford buying a highly automated machine; so, I think making automation more accessible is becoming more of a priority to us at Plexpack. In the packaging industry, I am also seeing a high degree of growth in the use of ERP and CRM. During Salesforce’s conference that I went to in May, I observed that they are really investing in their understanding of the manufacturing and the OEM sector. They are striving to optimize sales and internal manufacturing processes by researching ERP solutions that integrate with their sales software. Alongside the manufacturing industry, packaging companies will begin to see more product offerings in the software sector that unite entire companies from purchasing to production to marketing. It’s fascinating, and I think it will affect hardware just as much as it’s already affecting software.
What advice do you have for others looking to break into this industry or the younger generation just entering the industry?
There are a lot of resources that one can leverage through PMMI. It’s a very competitive job market right now, so I would recommend educating oneself on digital and data; whether you are in engineering or in marketing, knowing how a CRM is working, or how CAD is beginning to integrate with SAP, will make you more competitive as a job candidate. Bringing unique skills to the table and being knowledgeable on industry and tech trends can give you a major advantage while trying to break into the industry.
As a way to recognize young talent making their mark on the packaging and processing industries, PMMI set out to find 10 rising stars. OEM Magazine spoke with each On the Rise Award winner to find out where they think the industry is heading, how they have overcome obstacles in their careers and how the industry can better accommodate incoming generations to bridge the skills gap. Learn more about PMMI’s On the Rise Awards, and see the other winners.