– Working in the Label Industry –
Young talent experience testimonials Technical background of Label Design and Label Engineering Interviews with Industry Leaders
#LABELicious interviewed Kathy Keiper, Graduate Program Manager Europe/Talent Acquisition at Avery Dennison Label & Graphic Materials.
What is in your view the biggest attraction of working in the label industry for the youngest generation of talents (roughly 18 – 25 year old)?
Kathy Keiper: Every time I get in touch with this generation, I see great engagement: young people are so keen to have an experience, to test their talent and to change something. They really want diverse experiences, and to make an impact.
The challenge for label industry employers is that people are not really aware of labels and what they involve – the fact that this is actually a very diverse and interesting industry, with great opportunities for the young generation to use their talents and ideas. Our whole industry is in the middle of a transformation process. Digitalisation and sustainability are just two of the important developments our industry has to deal with, and we need innovative thinking to drive these trends. Young people have the chance to make a real difference by helping to define new ways of doing things in our industry.
So, the biggest attraction is the impact young people can have?
Kathy: Yes, not only impact they can make on the transformation process now in hand, but also the diversity they can bring to our industry. Information on a label carries everything from brand name and simple consumer information through to high-tech additions. And of course sustainability is a core issue – how can we be more sustainable while also being customer-friendly? This kind of environment is very attractive for a younger generation seeking opportunities to learn and take responsibility.
Which other industries and organization types are comparable to ‘working in the label industry’
Kathy: That’s a tough question. In most cases, consumers do not notice labels or see their real impact. They don’t think about how they’re created, even though they play such an important and high-profile role. We are one of the ‘hidden champion’ industries, manufacturing and delivering products that are largely taken for granted, but which are actually crucial for everyone to have.
Everybody is talking about digital and how the whole industry will turn digital. What do you think?
Kathy: If you think about the opportunities that digitalisation brings, you can see a big potential. Let’s take smart labels as an example. The applications you can create with smart labels are amazing. They can enhance customer experience and engagement by connecting people to a huge range of information. For companies, smart labels can optimise the supply chain. In medicines and foods there are many useful functions available such as temperature-sensitive coatings that protect product safety. Traceability can also be enabled, critical for brand protection and product authentication. Wherever you look, there is so much opportunity created by smart labels, and we can generate huge benefits for all stakeholders. That’s why I expect big growth over the next few years.
Coming back to digital, and focusing on the future work environment, how important is digital for young and future employees?
Kathy: In general, digital solutions mean that people can increasingly connect and work together on topics without being physically present. The possibilities offer great advantages, but they are also challenging companies to open themselves up to change – and to find a good balance between the online and the offline world.
Do you believe, then, that digitalisation is the biggest challenge for businesses who are active in the label industry – the way to create an inspirational, motivational and ‘fitting’ work environment for future talents?
Kathy: I don’t think digitalisation in itself is the biggest challenge we face in ensuring the best possible working environment for future talents. Young people want a job they can identify with, and which allows them to make an impact, not simply a job that pays their bills. That means an employer must give them freedom to contribute, to take responsibility and to bring in their own ideas. Of course this does link back to issues such as digitalisation and sustainability – and these areas offer many opportunities to contribute – but companies also have to meet the broader challenge of keeping people engaged and passionate about their job and company.
What must employers consider in order to attract next-generation talent?
Kathy: Companies need to give young people responsibilities and opportunities to test their talents and gain experiences. Open up your structures, and give employees as many opportunities as possible to contribute new and innovative ideas.
One last question. In one word, how would you describe ‘working in the label industry’ to your 21-year-old self?
Kathy: If I had to choose one word, it would be “diverse”. When I started in this industry, I didn’t know anything about labels. I had never really thought about them, to be honest, and so I was very surprised to see what a label can do and how it is created. There are so many different applications, products and market segments, and so many different types of end customer. Both the products and the label industry itself are so diverse, with an enormous range of ways to have different experiences.
My suggestion to young people is simple. Take a look at the industry, and you might be surprised at what you find. You’ll see how diverse and fascinating this industry is, and you might stick at it – who knows? After ten years in this industry myself, I definitely decided I was here to stay.