Tim Graham went to Clarkson University where he studied mechanical and electrical engineering and graduated in 2014. After school, he started working at a manufacturing company doing small scale automation. Graham didn’t have much experience, but he used the job to gain knowledge in machine design. Two years later, he found his way to Schneider Packaging Equipment where he is now a controls engineer working as the project lead on million dollar projects.
What about the packaging industry intrigues you?
What really draws me in is the variety of opportunities we have to streamline tasks in this industry. There’s a lot of uncharted territory. I walk into a lot of plants, especially now, and I see how much companies don’t automate. They’re investing millions of dollars on upstream equipment to produce a product, but at the end of the line, there is still somebody hand packing or palletizing, manually picking up, and putting down. It’s a mindless task that is easily automated. There’s so much potential out there still to implement great solutions.
How does Schneider support your growth as a young leader and in return, how do you help them grow?
Our management team here lets us run with our ideas, and they rarely ever tell us we can’t pursue a solution we bring to them—even if it’s outside of the box. That’s what makes it fun to come to work every day and what makes me want to stay and put in the extra hours. I will be here sometimes double what I need to be, because I am just trying to prove that I can make this work. I’ve really gotten to run with my ideas, and it’s allowed me to grow quickly.
As a new member of PMMI’s Emerging Leaders Network, what does it mean to you to have the opportunity to connect with a group of similar leaders?
I’m a highly competitive person, so I like seeing other people who are on the same playing field because it pushes me to improve what I am doing. On top of that, I like to nerd out a little bit, especially in a technical world, so to be in a room with a bunch of people who have similar interests, it sparks so much creativity and I will learn so much. At Schneider, we’re always improving and building great machines, but we don’t want to get stuck in our ways and rest on our laurels. It will be good to bring back some outside perspective and see how other companies are approaching the same problems.
What advice do you have for younger generations coming into the packaging industry?
Like all automation, packaging can seem monotonous, in the end it’s not the most attractive thing to pick up boxes and put them on a pallet or loading stuff into boxes, but at the same time, with the machines around it, there’s so much creativity, so much room to mix it up and try new technologies. So for people coming into packaging, I’d say there are always new challenges, and you should put yourself out there and ask to be included on projects you find interesting. If you’re waiting for somebody to hand you this amazing project as a brand new employee, you’re never going to get that opportunity. Come into a company with your own ideas.
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.