Veteran packaging leader Jay Gouliard changed jobs a year ago. Previously vp, global packaging at Unilever, Gouliard joined labeling and packaging materials supplier Avery Dennison as global vp segment innovation. He shares his reasons for the move and advice for keeping fresh and energized in your career.
After such an illustrious career in the CPG world, why did you make the switch to a packaging supplier?
After leading the packaging organizations for Unilever, Coca-Cola and General Mills, I felt it was time to reinvent myself and my career.
I was looking for a challenging opportunity that would bring energy back into my career, where I could expand my experience base to a broader innovation role rather than just a specific packaging role. A role that allowed me to gain experience in segments where I hadn't worked before, and leverage the experiences I've gained over the last 20 years working in the CPG world into the materials and technology world. I'm motivated and energized by learning and teaching, meeting new people and entering new businesses. Avery Dennison provided me with those opportunities and challenges—that's why I decided to make the switch.
A friend of mine, Steve Farber, wrote a book titled "Radical Leap." The theme is, "Do what you love in service of people that love what you do." That philosophy is one that I try to adopt in my own career.
What do you still hope to accomplish in your packaging career?
I'd like to make significant impact on the business at Avery Dennison—leveraging innovation to deliver the top-line growth that the investment community expects from us. It is an exciting and refreshing challenge, but it's also a bit daunting.
I also want to develop the next generation of leaders at Avery Dennison, and to chart the course for their success—ensuring long-term sustainable growth and success for the company.
You've relocated several times, including your last move to The Netherlands. What are the career benefits of global experience and/or being open to relocation?
Both are key. I would not have accomplished what I have had it not been for my willingness to look at opportunities that existed that required me to relocate—and my family's willingness to follow me.
The experience you gain by actually living in another part of the world improves your ability to make decisions, and develop new technologies and products for those people who live in other parts of the world, who don't have the Western European or American culture and lifestyles.
It's important for people to step outside their comfort zone; have the courage to do something different. Initially, the effort that it requires is significant, but personally, it has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. The plusses far outweigh any of the minuses. The experience and knowledge you gain will serve you well in the future as companies and businesses continue to globalize.
Packaging Digest's Industry Insights column, created in affiliation with the World Packaging Organisation, is designed to prompt discussion of packaging's function in today's society and the roles of those who choose to make it their career. Have something to say? Send your ideas for future columns to john[email protected].