The importance of career strategy

A career left solely to chance is an unwise gamble. Without the implementation of a clear and workable career strategy, there is a real risk of missing any opportunities that come your way, or even stagnating at a particular point you were hoping to move on from more quickly.

Work hard

During the early years of a career, you quickly climb the ranks by being the sharpest, brightest and most capable team player. You make sure you are the one who answers emails the quickest, the one who always volunteers for overtime and regularly comes up with ideas which far outshine those of your peers. But as your career progresses and the top of your game is in reach, the importance of a defined career strategy remains. Undertaking large projects which deliver time or cost savings – or other financial gain – carry more weight at senior manager or director level.

Plan

With plans come goals, with goals come motivation – and with motivation comes results.

Your career strategy will change and evolve over time, and will need constant review and consideration. In a world where there aren’t enough hours in a day and work is constantly piling up, months roll by unnoticed. But force yourself to regularly set time aside to assess where you are and where you’re going.

Be Specific

Work out specifically what you want to achieve in your career and by what date. Also consider whether there are gaps in your knowledge, in any technical practices or legal requirements for instance. Even as a senior manager or director, some new business concepts or procedures can require the acquisition of new skills and understanding. If so, consider what degrees or accreditations you may need to pursue, and what path you’ll need to take in order to get there. Study can require a large investment of your time and if a Masters or PHD is required for a position you want in three years’ time, you would really need to start applying now.

Get noticed

A recent study has shown that hiring an external candidate into a company means they’re paid 18-20% more than internal workers who are promoted upwards. Although unfair, it does point to the idea that professionals are often taken for granted inside their own companies. Whilst that doesn’t mean you constantly need to move around between organisations, if you do stay at the same company, it’s important to cultivate a strong external reputation. Get networking and get yourself noticed. Not only will you potentially open doors for yourself further down the line, you’ll also reduce the risk of blending into the background. You’ll remind your boss and colleagues that your abilities are appreciated – and sought after.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. Please get in touch if you are contemplating a career move or looking to recruit. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

 

 

Waitrose ditches plastic trays and replaces them with eco-packaging

Tomato vine leaves are being mixed with recycled cardboard to replace plastic food packaging at Waitrose.

The eco-trays will be used instead of black plastic, which is almost impossible to collect and recycle.

The move follows a successful trial at the supermarket using the waste tomato vine leaves last year. Waitrose Duchy cherry tomatoes will be sold in the special tray from mid-June.

Waitrose’s other Duchy tomato lines will be in the new brown packaging from the end of July. Black plastic trays – used for everything from fresh produce to meat and fish – generate millions of tonnes of plastic waste a year.

The organic packaging made from tomato vines will be sold from June onwards in Waitrose stores

 

Such packaging cannot be identified by the lasers used to sift through rubbish on collection centre conveyor belts.

As a result such items end up being diverted to landfill or burned for energy, rather than being recycled. In a similar innovation, pulses are being used in the packaging for Waitrose Red Lentil Pasta and Green Pea Pasta. This reduces the use of virgin tree pulp by 15 per cent and lowers greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent.

Nicola Waller, head of fresh produce at Waitrose, said: ‘We’re serious about looking for alternative packaging materials. This uses materials which would otherwise be wasted, which can only be a good thing. We will ensure all our own-label packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2025.’

In a separate major development, the food service giant Brakes, which sends out tens of millions of meals and other products to hospitals, schools, care homes, cafes and other food businesses is to stop using black plastic trays as part of a wider effort to tackle waste and pollution.

The company said the decision was inspired by the Daily Mail’s ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ campaign and the recent national clean-up effort made by thousands of volunteers under the banner of the ‘Great Plastic Pickup’.

Brakes will be looking into alternative materials for black plastic ready-meal trays and other packaging. It is also considering alternatives to plastic straws and cutlery. 

Environmental campaigners are encouraging people to give up plastic for a day as a protest over unrecyclable rubbish. The group, A Plastic Planet, is calling on families to avoid using items that contain plastic packaging today to coincide with it being World Environment Day.

Waitrose said the decision had been inspired by the Daily Mail’s Turn the Tide on Plastic Campaign

Source

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5805815/Waitrose-ditches-plastic-trays-replaces-eco-packaging-TOMATO-plants.html

The Internet of Things and Smart food packaging

The friendship between the Internet of Things and smart packaging continues to blossom. As technology continues to evolve and automated solutions become ever more ingenious, the Internet of Things is transforming the packaging industry. So much so, the smart packaging sector is expected to be worth £40bn by 2025.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things or IoT refers to everyday objects being connected to and sharing data with the internet through a computerised implant.

What is smart packaging?

Smart packaging is packaging that is augmented through improved functionality and being able to communicate information and content status. The process is a blend of science, technology and specific materials.

Isn’t this type of packaging too expensive?

It used to be. Nowadays it’s believed smart packaging is within reach of most budgets across the packaging industry, no matter how meagre they may be. The IoT aims to slash expense at every stage of the supply chain, as well as offering critical gains for logistical and record management. Experts believe its reducing cost has transitioned it from the preserve of from high-value merchandise to mainstream packaging.

How is it recycled?

The immediate challenge is establishing how to recycle packaging that originates from multiple sources. Experts warn it’s critical that the packaging industry works closely with recycling specialists to ensure products meet recycling standards. Some companies such as Thinfilm have already replaced silicone with an innovative printing process: printing onto strips of recyclable steel the width of a human hair. It is hoped that further technological advancement will result in smart packaging that is able to communicate what materials were used and how the product needs to be recycled.

In addition to impressive innovation, there are also lifesaving and practical potential benefits such as for the pharmaceutical packaging sector. Benefits include packaging offering protection against forgery, temperature tracking as well as general monitoring that includes raising an invoice and triggering replacement supply when the packaging is opened.

The opportunity for the packaging industry to enhance its products, processes and gather invaluable insights into ever-evolving consumer needs is being enthusiastically explored across all sectors.

Speaking of the consumer…

It remains to be seen whether consumers have a genuine desire for this level of technology infiltrating their everyday lives. Experts have discovered there is a disconnection between initial curiosity and actual consideration when the product is introduced.

Near Field Communication (NFC) tags are also expensive. However, this unit price is expected to drop when new production processes are rolled out. There are a few preliminary hurdles to iron out before smart packaging such as NFC is available and affordable across the print industry.

Imagine a bottle of whisky that can tell you if it’s been tampered with or opened. Diageo already has. It has created packaging technology using very thin electronic sensors.

A hotly anticipated development – presently being researched – is spray-on electronics removing the need for chips. And Bluetooth tags that have the capacity to expedite data to compatible smart phones.

The collaboration between the Internet of Things and smart packaging is creating some magnificent packaging solutions. The potential of smart packaging is remarkable.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

GDPR – What Is It And How Will It Affect Your Business?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU regulation that comes into force in May 2018. It’s designed to give EU citizens greater control over how their data is used and foster increased trust in the digital economy.

You might think that since the UK is in the process of leaving the EU this is something you don’t need to worry about. However, GDPR is designed to protect data relating to EU citizens wherever it’s stored and processed, so even businesses outside the EU are going to have to comply with its rules.

GDPR will affect any business, including those in the print and packaging industries that hold personal data relating to individuals. It applies to data controllers (those who decide how and why the data is used) and to data processors (those actually handling the data). A controller, therefore, could be anyone from Facebook to government bodies and charities through to smaller companies. A processor could be an IT services company, or a print supplier using data to create personalised documents or mailing labels.

What will it mean?

Once GDPR is in force, controllers will need to ensure that data processing is transparent, lawful and used for a specific purpose. If, after that purpose is complete, the data is no longer required it must be deleted. Information used to print one-off mailings, for example, will need to be discarded after it’s been used.

The ‘lawful’ aspect of this is important. Processing can be lawful if consent has been given by the subject to their data being used. It can also be useful if it’s to comply with some form of legal obligation or contract, or to protect the subject’s interests. Processing can also be lawful if it’s in the public interest, or in the interest of the controller in the case of an issue such as fraud prevention.

Active consent

Key for businesses is that data controllers must obtain active consent from the subject. Current systems that assume consent but allow for a tick-box opt-out will no longer be acceptable. The data controller needs to keep a record of when and how consent was granted. Subjects must also be able to withdraw their consent whenever they wish, they also have a ‘right to be forgotten’ which means they can demand that their data is deleted if they’ve chosen to withdraw their consent.

The definition of personal data is similar to that under the current UK Data Protection Act, however, under GDPR it’s extended to include other items including online identifiers like IP addresses. It’s possible that anonymised data may be covered too, depending on how easy it is to trace back to the individual. Data must be stored in commonly used formats so that it can be transferred to another organisation if requested.

If you suffer a data breach that risks people’s personal data, under GDPR you must inform your data protection authority (the ICO in the UK) within 72 hours. Companies that are in breach of GDPR regulations can be hit with a fine of €20 million or four percent of their worldwide annual revenue, whichever is greater.

We strongly advise you to seek independent legal advice relating to GDPR.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. We have set up a working group and are  currently  ensuring that we are fully GDPR compliant by 25th May 2018. This involves a full review of our business and how we collect data and how it is managed. We will update our clients and candidates as we move closer to GDPR being implemented.

 

How to improve your work productivity

Productivity is the place where smart planning meets concentrated effort. To some, this place is nirvana: a productivity paradise they have long heard of but do not expect to visit anytime soon. There’s too much to do. To others, productivity is a practical process available to all, provided that you’re prepared to chip in a bit of discipline and effort. We believe in the latter ethos. Productivity is a simple and straightforward process. We just need some coaxing to change our thinking as to how to eke out the best from ourselves at work.

Move!

You almost certainly know that sitting for most of the day damages your health. Research has proved that sitting for 8-10 hours every day without moving around in between causes heart attacks. What does this have to do with productivity we hear you ask? Your energy levels are reduced because you’re not moving around. If your energy levels dip, your concentration levels take a hit. If your concentration is impaired, your decision making isn’t what it could be. Productivity isn’t about how many hours you sit at your desk. Productivity is what you achieve without ruining your health.

Disconnect

In America alone 12.2 billion hours are collectively spent scrolling social media sites. The approximate cost of these diversions in productivity terms is approximately $650 billion per year (that’s about $4,452 per person).

Constantly switching between the task at hand to quickly check your social media feeds impairs your focus levels. While this may not affect you initially, you’ll discover its crippling effects when circumstances demand you focus for an extended period. Monitor your scrolling time. You’ll be happier, have more energy and will notice the world around you again. TV watching is another culprit. As they say, no empire was ever built watching TV. Discipline yourself to one show per evening, and notice how your concentration levels improve.

Think about what you want to achieve and look at how you are realistically going to achieve it. The temptation to escape by watching TV is real, we know, but the advantages and rewards when you resist the urge and get on with going for that swim, walk or catching up with some reading are remarkable.

Plan

Before you leave the office for the day, plan your tasks for tomorrow. Writing a to do list of what you want to get done focuses your mind. When you leave the office you are confident of what needs to be done when you return. Overnight your mind has some time to itself (because you’re not slumped in front of the TV) and, after a while, you’ll start having good ideas. You might find yourself doing some background reading or brainstorming on your commute to work.

You were right all along

Forget multi-tasking. Research has confirmed what our frayed nerves have been trying to tell us: we cannot complete multiple tasks simultaneously. The old rule of “one thing at a time” is back and we’re all more productive because of it.

The key to productivity is working smarter, not harder. You know what you need to do. Far from being a grind, being productive increases positivity, wellbeing and guarantees success. Go for it!

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

 

The latest HR technology trends

HR is an industry which hasn’t exactly kept up with technology trends and this is probably down to the fact that is an industry based on communication and personal relationships. However, we are seeing a lot of interesting new developments in HR and these can be hugely beneficial for businesses for both recruitment and retention. These are some of the top HR tech trends to look out for this year.

Enhanced recruitment process

At the moment, most HR recruitment systems exist for the purpose of tracking candidate applications – however, this is set to change throughout this year. Recruitment systems are set to become a lot slicker, incorporating marketing and brand building, as well as the standard tracking – and this will help improve the overall recruitment and selection process.

Performance management tools 

An effective performance management process is essential for helping to grow talent and improve retention. Up until now, performance management tools have been fairly limited, however, this is starting to change. We will see an influx of cloud based performance management systems, which can help support the process and make performance management a lot more useful.

Digital learning 

In the print and packaging sectors, it is essential for employees to continuously learn and update their skills and with enhancements in digital learning, this is set to become a whole lot easier. Employees will be able to undertake lessons and gain certifications, all through their computers or phones. The on boarding process will even benefit from digital enhancements, and this will improve the entire journey for employees, as well as making manager’s lives a lot easier.

People analytics 

The Print and Packaging sectors are challenging and it can be difficult to retain talented staff, due to the options available for candidates. If you want to know more about what your employees want, people analytics is the way to achieve it. It can all start with simply online surveys, where you can find out more about what your employees want and this can help improve retention levels.

Most businesses could benefit from investing in some of the new HR tech trends, particularly large organisations who want to improve employee relations and retention levels. If your HR systems are stuck in the dark ages, it may be worth looking at alternative options.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. Please get in touch if you are contemplating a career move or looking to recruit. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

 

The key challenges in the print sector

In addressing the challenges and concerns of the UK’s print industry, it’s important to remember over 8,600 companies employ over 122,000 individuals and enjoy a gross annual turnover of £13.5 billion. The UK market is the fifth largest producer of printed materials in the world. It’s a powerful player and it will survive the significant challenges facing the industry at present.

New media

There has been a critical decline in the publishing print division (magazines, books, reference books, catalogues and newspapers) due to the “new media” explosion (social media, eBooks). Road maps have been replaced by sat navs and smartphone apps. Search engines have superseded reference materials and books, marketing budgets are focused on and committed to email advertising and websites.

These digital commodities have replaced printed materials and the publication print sector is set to decline an average of 3.7% over the next five years.

UK economy

In comparison to other developed European countries, the UK economy has been rather stable. So far, an immediate post-Brexit financial fallout has not occurred. It’s expected that any downturn will concentrate on already stressed sectors such as graphics and publication products.

Print media marketing

By 2019 it’s expected that just 5% of marketing budgets will be dedicated to physically printed material, due of course to more profitable marketing opportunities emerging from social media and mobile devices.

Employment downturn

While sector turnover has been comparatively stable, the print industry has shown a downturn in the number of employees and companies. There are two elements driving this decline, one a past influence and one a contemporary factor. The fallout from the 2008 recession such as decreased profit margins meant that not all print industry companies survived. By 2012 this situation had stabilised and print industry incomes began to climb. Secondly, advances in automation and production processes have caused a reduction in the overall numbers of employees.

Fixed capital investment

The development of improved production processes mentioned earlier comprises fixed capital investment. Demand has changed direction, from sheet-fed litho to digital, and this is expected to carry on. As a result, companies are choosing the growing digital print market over high volume long run requisitions. Interestingly, cut sheet continues to dominate twice the current market share of digital print.

The challenge of raw materials

It’s expected that crude oil prices will continue to climb, which means the already higher cost of raw materials such as carbon black (10% increase in 2016), hydrocarbon resins (5%) and mineral oils (20%). Drastic shortages of sulphate-based TiO2 due to the Finland Huntsman fire and China’s new production restrictions will receive full analysis and projections in the coming months. Hanjin Shipping’s bankruptcy has further compounded the pressure, as has the increase in transfer times from China and India, as well as cancellation and reduction of routes. Print industry companies need to consider their supply chain and manage the challenges accordingly.

We’re developing, not dying

The majority of the challenges facing the print industry emanate from the consequences of industry development and evolution. Overall, print companies across the industry are doing the right thing: adapting and developing their products in line with new markets and consumer demand. The future is bright.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

The Key Trends in Brand Protection and Security in the Packaging Market

In the face of increasing losses due to more sophisticated counterfeiting and the theft of goods in transit, the packaging market is seeking to develop higher levels of brand protection and security.

Well-recognised threats to brands and goods, combined with revised regulations regarding the shipment of perishable items such as food and drink, are leading to the emergence of new and exciting packaging innovations designed to protect products from both counterfeiting and theft.

And this is good news for the industry as a whole. A recent report about the market predicts that it will grow at an impressive compound annual growth rate of 5.3% over the next five years, reaching $3.6 billion by the end of the forecast period.

What Is Driving This Growth?

There are several factors driving this predicted growth. New laws to help prevent tampering with goods in transit through compulsory labelling and the use of ever more sophisticated tamper-proof measures are currently being introduced in both the EU and America. These will be applicable for ‘life-critical products’, which include food, drinks, industrial components and pharmaceuticals.

In addition, a number of countries – including India, Brazil, Turkey, China and South Korea – have already introduced measures aimed at increasing security within the transportation of goods used in the pharmaceutical industry.

Track and Trace

And the World Health Organization and Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are leading the way by mandating the use of so-called track and trace technologies. These innovative new developments aim to ensure all manner of goods can be accurately tracked throughout their journey from the producer to the client, ensuring that nothing happens to them along the way.

Track and trace technology, in fact, is expected to see the largest growth in coming years – already it makes up 37% of the market. The technology is so advanced that much of it can even be accessed via smartphones.

Another critical factor driving the growth is the extension of certain trade zones across the globe, which have made it easier for counterfeit products to cross borders.

Where Is the Growth Expected?

Experts say the majority of the growth in the area is likely to occur in management systems, software and equipment, with a small decline predicted in actual physical components.

A greater emphasis is being placed on easy measures such as printable codes, which can be used across the board in a wide range of applications to improve brand protection.

The main users of the technology will be the food and drinks sector, with a market share of 38.8%, followed by the industrial sector and pharmaceuticals industry.

So it seems that brand protection and security will be set to play an ever-increasing part in a range of industries in the coming years.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

Rising Demand in the Global Liquid Packaging and Paperboard Market

The paperboard industry changes as the needs of society change, and it seems that there will be a few changes to the liquid paperboard and packaging industry over the next few years.

A new study has looked at the next five years of LPB, and they believe that the industry will grow significantly. This will be due to an increased demand for cartons for dairy products and dairy alternative products as well as cartons for juice.

An Increase in Demand

This will encourage a steady increase in demand for LPB products. The growth has already started to occur: a recent study that was published in “The Future of LPB to 2022” found that the liquid packaging board passed the 7.7 million ton mark in 2015 alone, showing a huge demand for the products.

The study also found that the demand for LPB products will continue to increase over the next five years at around 4.5% per year, which is a fairly significant increase. This means that the market value of $4.69 billion in 2017 will reach $5.83 billion in 2022, leaping just over a billion in five years.

This is great news for anyone who works in the LPB market, but it is worth noting that production of paperboard materials isn’t too common. LPB is currently only made in ten countries, although the consumption of these products is spread across the majority of global regions.

Some countries consume significantly more LPB than others: three-quarters of all LPB is used in Europe and America, while Asia only accounts for 17% of the market.

What Is LPB Mostly Used For?

Although LPB is very popular across the globe, it is generally only used to make a few specific products such as milk cartons, soy cartons, almond milk cartons and juice cartons. In fact, in 2016 over 70% of the LPB products were used in the dairy industry, while another 20% of the products went on to become juice cartons.

This shows that LPB is universally used for the same things, but recent years have seen a decline in the number of dairy products that are bought. Many people are making an effort to be more environmentally friendly and ethical, and so they are cutting milk out of their diet in favour of plant-based alternatives.

This many seem like bad news, but it isn’t too much of an issue as most dairy alternatives will be packaged using LPB.

The Dairy Industry

It is also worth noting that while Western countries have slowed down their milk consumption, places like Eastern Europe have seen an increased demand for dairy products, so the dairy industry is still booming in certain places.

Either way, the future of the liquid paperboard and packaging market is looking positive, and it is likely that there will be significant growth over the next few years.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1

Customised Packaging Innovation Set to Shake Up Print and Packaging

Just when commentators were ready to write off the Print and Packaging industry, it’s begun to enjoy a marked resurgence, led by brands which want to appear less corporate and to appeal more directly to consumers. The major corporates are leading the way with innovation in personalised Printing and Packaging, and this trend is now growing throughout the industry.

The fact is that personalised Printing and Packaging is now seen as a key way to add value to what are otherwise standard consumer products. A customer will pay far more for a bag of cookies with – say – their own or their partner’s or child’s name on it. So Printing and Packaging are seen as previously under-used ways of harvesting extra value on products. As brands jostle with competing products and generics on the supermarket shelves, personalised products are turning into increased sales at far better mark-ups. The most noticeable manifestation is probably the Coke bottles in your local store now bearing a selection of people’s names. Coke ads feature people holding the personalised bottles.

Digital Cheaper for Shorter Runs

The Financial Times recently reported on this trend and talked with Dion Weisler, who is CEO of HP (previously Hewlett Packard), so a man who knows what he’ talking about when it comes to printing innovation. He sees digital printing as the next big development in the print market. Because digital printing is now as good as analogue in terms of quality, a new market has suddenly opened up. Whereas analogue printing remains cost-effective for large runs of the same label, shorter runs are cheaper with digital.

Growth of 20% Predicted

It’s not just a case of printing popular names on products and then charging more for them. The personalisation can extend to targeting consumers’ gender, ethnicity, language, culture, nationality and other attributes. Although corporates could find themselves embroiled in diversity issues and will have to tread sensitively.

Smithers Pira, a sector consultancy, has forecast growth of 8% in digital commercial printing and 20% for digital printing on packaging, which shows the step change that is under way.

Added Value for Established Brands

The key driver of growth is the phenomenal value that can be added to brands by customising them. The FT quotes the example of a Melbourne department store that last Christmas sold Nutella in customised printed packaging. They sold these at AUD 12.95 each. That’s around £8.00 per jar. And they shifted 400,000.

Not to be left out, Kraft Heinz has been sending out “Get Well Soon” customised cans of tomato soup and charging about six times as much for them as for the standard product. The company would no doubt point out that this is still less than the cost of a decent get-well card, and you can’t eat a card. These examples give a glimpse of the massive potential market that is opening up.

The unlikely corporate love affair with randomisation is also influencing the digital printing and packaging trend. Algorithms are used during the print runs to introduce randomness. Diet Coke recently produced two million individually packaged bottles using this method.

Great Opportunities for Fresh Thinkers in the Industry

Companies are going to need executives who are abreast of these trends and understand the technology but also have a shrewd idea of where the print industry is going. Because of the massive innovation that is taking place, there’s going to be a need for managers who understand change management and can deliver new ways of working with different technologies.

Athena Executive Search specialise in recruiting senior leadership positions in the Print and Packaging sectors across Europe. For access to more articles on industry topics, recruitment and retention strategies, and our upcoming webinar series with industry thought leaders please subscribe here: https://athena50147.activehosted.com/f/1