– Working in the Label Industry –
Young talent experience testimonials Technical background of Label Design and Label Engineering Interviews with Industry Leaders
#LABELicious – Interview with Albert Paniello, HP Indigo & Pagewide Web Presses Category Director
“Let’s talk about digital”
Why is the printing industry one of the most exciting industries for young professionals? Albert Paniello, HP Indigo & Pagewide Web Presses Category Director, explains his view on the future workforce development and about the transformation of the (digital) printing industry and the resulting opportunities for young people.
What is in your view is the biggest attraction of working in the label industry for the youngest generation of talents (roughly 18 – 25 year old)?
Albert Paniello: Digitalisation. The ability to transform an industry that until now has been perceived as static, as not connected to digital. The option of digital in the printing of labels is opening up a great range of possibilities. Now the label industry is dynamic, connected to new marketing campaigns or to innovative business models. The biggest attraction for young people is the opportunity to really change something because the market is in transformation.
Does it matter which background a young professional comes from?
Albert: No, it doesn’t really matter because in the end what the internet has been doing in the last twenty years is to create a melting pot of professionals’ backgrounds into something new. The world is reinventing itself in every generation. The young generation is going to be digital natives by definition because everything they are doing is digital. In their lives they have embedded the digital concept. When this generation get into a job related to labels and packaging they will realise the potential of what digital print can do – for their customers and for themselves, of course, too.
Is there an industry and organization type you would you compare ‘working in the label industry’? Is it maybe comparable to the automotive industry?
Albert: That’s not an easy question. I think every industry is changing. In the end many industries that are used to delivering goods are transforming themselves into an industry which delivers service. Everything is connected to a service. Let’s take a look at the automotive industry: To own cars was great back in the seventies or maybe in the eighties. Today the young generation does not seem to be attracted by ownership of cars anymore. New business models are being developed. Print, or to be more precise, printing of labels shouldn’t be different.
What does that mean for the label industry?
Albert: When I look at the label I see a very critical, vague call of communication and promotion for the users. For digital natives it had become very intuitive that in a label the online world is merging with the physical world. This opens up their mind for a vast possibility of creativity and imagination. If you have just a little bit of this creative and innovative spirit you will be able to maximise business return from this technology.
What does ‘digital’ mean for the future work environment? What’s the most relevant part if talking about digitalisation?
Albert: You know, the digital native generation looks at the content of what they are acquiring as an opportunity to open their mind in order to connect with people, to promotion, campaigns etc through the goods they are acquiring.
Digitalisation not only enables marketing, it also optimises operation. For sure, the shift of digital has a strong value for a brand manager, but it can also enable a new world of anti-counterfeiting, for authenticity of the product that you purchase, for inventory control, for track and trace in a massive global distribution and so on!
To summarize it: first, digital maximizes the exposure of the brand, second to increase the sales of brands and printing companies and third, to optimise their operation. These are the three main vectors of digitisation for companies.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge for businesses, active in the label industry, to create the most inspirational, motivational and ‘fitting’ work environment for future talents?
Albert: Perception. It’s perception, perception and perception! At the end of the day the real question is how we change the perception that print is old and boring – I don’t know why this perception even exists in the market! I have been in the printing market now for more than 25 years, and I only see change. And every time it is more interesting and more dynamic, more agile than before. New business models have come, from static high-volume printing to an immense amount of creativity. Print is very active in their conversion to digital. We need to convey this message for example in graphic and business schools, so that we attract new and young professionals into this industry.
Can you give us an example of what HP doing to attract the next generation?
Albert: Sure! For me it is about the creation of new business opportunities, about using their own imagination to create new values for companies. We are hiring each year a young generation of employees. We have also collaborations with business schools and graphic arts schools. For example, in our Graphics Experience Center in Barcelona young professionals coming from this industry or from business schools and graphic schools putting in to practice their skills in order to generate new value for the company and the industry. When I see all these young people so engaged, there is a lot of future in print, but as an industry we have to change the perception of the youngsters, that print is not an old technology, that is the contrary of boring. That’s a big challenge! We are doing our best, but it needs the effort of the whole industry.
What exactly does that mean for employer and employee?
Albert: It is first about having the own young employees to keep them excited about the business opportunity. Secondly, it is about keeping the customers excited by e.g. visiting our Customer Experience Center or to create new values for their products. Finally, my third point is about cooperation. We are collaborating with brands, agencies and designers; best examples here are the Digital Design Days in Geneva in February 2019 and the Dscoop events every year. We want to make sure that brand owners and decision makers do understand the possibility of digital.
What do you think about the #LABELicious competition?
Albert: For professional exposure, FINAT and LabelExpo – and in this regard the #LABELicious competition – are great exposure platforms that young professionals will leverage a lot as launching platform in their careers. What we need to change is the “old” perception of the printing industry, and #LABELicious is one way of doing so.
What is this in your opinion? That digital opens up all possibilities you want?
Albert: Exactly! It opens a new range of opportunities to create new values. For the brands, the industry in general, for the whole value chain. Everybody will benefit of digital and digitisation!
Last question: if you have one word, how would you describe ‘working in the label industry’ to your 21 year old self in one single word?
Albert: Transformation. If I were 21 year old now starting in my career, I would think about the biggest industry we have in the world. Print is one of the biggest industries worldwide in total gross value. And imagine that the origins of print technology are going back to the 16th century. When I look at the changes towards the 21th century I see a big change to happen in the industry. The online and the physical world are merging, especially through digitalisation. This industry is transforming itself. I wish I were younger because big things are expecting us!