When I went to my first label industry event for Labelexpo Europe 2019, I was only 21 years old. I was about to graduate from university and attending this event was a sneak peek into my future career. Those of you who have been to a Labelexpo event understand how amazing and almost overwhelming it is for your first time. I was blown away by the unique booth designs, large machines, and lively crowds. But as I looked around the show floor, one thing stood out: the large majority of exhibitors and attendees were men. As I looked around more and began to seek them out, I did begin to see women, but they were a significant minority, as were young people, regardless of gender.
If the labels and packaging industry is going to continue to thrive, it needs to be reinvigorated with a new generation of workers. Employee attrition is one of the greatest concerns the industry is facing, which is now compounded by growing labor shortages. It is imperative that new, younger workers are able to have a long, successful career within print. For that to happen, the industry needs to make some changes to be more welcoming to younger workers, especially women. That is why the Labelexpo team have created a conference session all about retaining young talent for Label Congress this fall. We have crafted a panel of young women who can share valuable insights into their experiences in the label industry, and what changes can be made to recruit and retain young talent. This discussion will cover key knowledge and skill requirements for the label industry, what aspects of company culture attract youth-oriented talent, as well as highlighting the industry leaders of tomorrow.
If the labels and packaging industry is going to continue to thrive, it needs to be reinvigorated with a new generation of workers.
The first panelist is Elizabeth Yerecic, key account manager at Yerecic Label. She has been part of the industry since she joined the family company in 2017 after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a dual degree in Business & Spanish. She is a committee member with the Tag & Label Manufacturers Institute and also represents Yerecic Label at sustainable organizations, including the Association of Plastic Recyclers and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. She is passionate about sustainability, generational workforce challenges and lean manufacturing. Elizabeth also was the winner of the Rising Star Award in 2020 at the Label Industry Global Awards.
Elizabeth said, ‘I’m honored to participate on this panel and speak about the importance of opening our arms as an industry to be more inclusive for future generations. After just coming off of maternity leave, I feel like there couldn’t be a better time to connect with other women about the opportunities the industry presents as a career path.’
Joining Elizabeth is Katelyn Bohr, the director of marketing at Colordyne Technologies. Katelyn joined Colordyne in 2016 and has a bachelor of arts in journalism, advertising, and media studies with a minor in French and a digital arts and culture certificate from UW-Milwaukee, where she graduated cum laude. She also recently earned a Master of Business Administration from UW-Milwaukee’s Lubar School of Business. At Colordyne, she plays a vital role in establishing the company's marketing plan as well as participating in the development and execution of the company's growth strategies. With her passion for women in leadership, Katelyn is an active member in Tempo Milwaukee’s Emerging Women Leaders group.
‘I am excited to be joining this all-women panel to talk about attracting and retaining young talent in our industry. Company culture and great leaders have played key roles in my career and personal growth. I hope to share how these have impacted my journey and discuss what’s important for developing tomorrow’s leaders,’ Kaitlyn commented.
The next panelist is Nicole Rivera, director of administration and marketing at K Laser Cold Foil Business Unit. She has a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing from Penn State University and an MBA in global supply chain management from Florida Institute of Technology. Nicole joined K Laser in 2017 and specializes in operations, business processes, communication and supply chain logistics. She has played a key role in K Laser’s internal culture shift, updating and implementing all standard operating procedures and streamlining production. She strives to create an inclusive, fun and productive culture at the K Laser CFBU. Additionally, she is a member of the FTA Women in Flexo group and has a passion for mentoring young professionals in the flexographic printing industry. She is also involved in several industry associations including the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) and the Foil & Specialty Effects Association (FSEA).
Nicole commented, ‘I think the industry is on the verge of running in a new, exciting direction with more female leadership and influences. Considering much of this industry is female-driven (because we like fun, shiny and eco-friendly things), it’s imperative to keep them at the forefront of the conversation, including the conversation about bringing younger generations into the print workforce.’
And when it comes to recruiting young people, who better to talk to than a young person about to embark on their career path? That is why the final panelist is Amy Chott, a student in her senior year at the Graphic Arts & Technology department at Harper College. She is also part of the school’s Graphic Arts and Design Club, which works with real clients (profit and non-profit businesses, groups, and individuals) to gain experience before going into the field. While Amy got her start studying fashion, she ultimately found her best fit in the graphics and print industry.
Amy is delighted to be a part of this powerhouse panel and contribute a student’s perspective on the print industry. ‘There are abundant opportunities available for students coming into the workforce, making it an exciting time to start and grow with the industry to bring it into its next phase,’ said Amy.
Join us on September 30, 2021 at 1:15 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL on day two of Label Congress to see this discussion live.
For full details, visit www.labelexpo.com/congress/conference-program.