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  • 05 Jan 2022

Young Managers - Charlotte and Arnie Ellison

Siblings Arnie and Charlotte Ellison, business development director and commercial director at UK-based converter OPM Group

Siblings Charlotte and Arnie Ellison, commercial director and business development director at OPM Group respectively, discuss their journeys in the label industry. 

Arnie: I joined after Charlotte about nine years ago. It started as a summer job; I was a temp to earn some extra pocket money. I did jobs like sweeping the car park, filing, and answering the phones. I was 18 or 19 years old and really enjoyed being around the team and getting involved in the business day to day. I took business studies at school, so I was interested in that anyway. About a year in we had a conversation, a bit in jest with the family, and I mentioned wanting to do some sales with the business. My first experience with that was at a trade show in London, and I really enjoyed it. I fell into sales that way and then progressed from there.

Charlotte: My story is quite similar. I also started with the business in a temporary role in our finishing department. I was then given the opportunity to really get involved in the business and see where that might take me. That was achieved through external study and joining each of the departments in the business until I landed in our customer facing team. I joined in 2010 and about five or six years ago I took on managing our customer facing team, which includes the customer service, studio, and estimating teams. I had an excellent experience and opportunity to gain that knowledge and have fun along the way.

Arnie: It is such an amazing industry and there are a lot of good people in it as well. We have been fortunate to meet a lot of good people early on in our careers. Charlotte and I went to a Finat Young Professionals Network (YPN) meeting (then called the Young Managers Club) seven or eight years ago. OPM is a member of Finat and we got involved with the Young Managers Club for the networking. We wanted to meet people and broaden our network and learn new ways of working. We wanted a whole industry picture, and we’ve met a lot of good people and made a lot of friends in the industry. It is really interesting to see how different cultures and different countries operate. Just in the UK, it is different to how the US would work or the rest of Europe.

Charlotte: It is a really excellent support and knowledge sharing network. We have met a lot of good people we have been able to share experiences and ideas with. Our most recent involvement has been on the board of the YPN. We are trying to help take the YPN forward and attract new young talent. For our industry, attracting young talent, harnessing new skills and working towards Industry 4.0 and greater sustainability is extremely important. Packaging and labels are sitting at the forefront of those changes and it’s going to be key to get people onboard who want to continue to make a difference.

Arnie: The sustainability aspect is crucial. For me, working day to day with clients and brands, it’s a major focus right now. With every single client the first question is ‘is it recyclable? Is it sustainable? What are the green credentials?’ It is such a massive part of what we are doing right now and I can only see it getting more prevalent in the industry. It is really exciting because there are some really interesting products out there and some fantastic projects that are kicking off and a lot of it stems from sustainability and having the next generation working on those things is pretty cool.

“We work with brands who are really passionate, and we share that passion with them”

We are looking to educate our customers as much as we can about sustainability. It is really easy to greenwash, and there is a lot of that out there. If that is done too much, it leads to a lot of waste. If the materials aren’t right for the products inside them, then that is more detrimental to the environment than it is having plastic packaging which is unrecyclable.

We are focusing on bringing new talent in and really understanding that the younger generation are the ones who are going to make a difference. It is difficult to get the younger generation into this industry, it just is, but we need to get across the message that sustainability will go one way. We need to be a part of effecting that change with new ideas and enthusiasm.

Charlotte: We want to be sustainable for the future, not just environmentally, but also in our workforce. One of the reasons I love my job is because we have such a wonderful workforce, and every day is different. It is wonderful to work with different brands, clients, and wish lists. Realizing somebody’s idea into real life is quite exciting and seeing products out there that might have come from us in Leeds is pretty cool. I’m biased, but we have an excellent workforce and there are opportunities for all of us to grow. Every day is a school day, as they say, and it always keeps it interesting.

Arnie: I agree with Charlotte. My favorite part of my job is getting satisfaction from the customer. There is nothing better than doing a project with a customer and at the end of it they are really happy with it. We work with brands who are really passionate, and we share that passion with them. If you can help someone bring their dream to realization and see it in a shop, that’s fantastic.

 

Jordan Hart - online editor

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Jordan joins the editorial team with international journalism experience and a degree in communication.

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