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Higher learning empowers packaging professionals to excel

Higher learning empowers packaging professionals to excel

On Jan. 28, 2014, the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) launched a new advanced-level online course in partnership with management consultancy Fastraqq Corp. (Read the press release at This Packaging360 Leadership program goes way beyond the basics and teaches packaging professionals how to think about packaging as a strategic asset for their company.

Five primary modules cover Mastering Packaging Convergence; Mastering Supply Chains; Mastering Your Customer’s World; Mastering Your Internal Value Chain; and Mastering Sustainability. A sixth bonus module—Transform Your Packaging in 30 Days: A Structured Approach—is available for those who register for the full course.
Fastraqq president Dan Balan developed and owns the content. A global leader in supply chains and breakthrough innovation who has advised leading companies such as PepsiCo, Motorola and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Balan tells Packaging Digest how the course’s many actionable points can help professionals succeed by better aligning their packaging operations with their company’s overall business goals.

Why does this program signal a tectonic shift in packaging education and why is that a good thing?
Balan: Packaging issues have now become business issues. You can no longer be a packaging professional without appreciating the business problems faced by senior management. Consider the challenges faced by companies: short product life cycles, increasing mass customization, decreasing customer loyalty, complex global supply chains and relentless pressure for increasing profit margins.

Add to this the growing chorus for a greener planet and greater environment responsibility. Don't you think packaging is plumb in the middle of these? From material choices to design, from supplier compliance to transportation, the impact of packaging is everywhere. 

The Packaging360 Leadership is the first kind of education for this entire global industry. It squarely addresses these issues, and offers a 30-day transformation framework called the “8 Dimensions of Packaging Excellence.”

This program is a structured six-module program that will take any packaging professional to a top-tier level of excellence. It will help companies dramatically shift their current packaging paradigm in a short time, thus symbolizing a tectonic shift.

I created this program after my extensive consulting practice with global companies, and saw a need for packaging to shift tectonically. This is why the program byline reads “unpack your business first.”

One of the six modules is Mastering Packaging Convergence. What do you mean by Packaging Convergence and why is it important to master it?
Balan: To understand Packaging Convergence, let us look for a historic parallel. What was the computer once, is no longer a computer. What we have now is a “digital platform.” A digital platform is the convergence of the computer, internet, music, phone and the digital world of applications. Any hardware is only a device for converging voice, data, music, internet and digital applications.

It was George Santayana, the Spanish philosopher, who once said, “Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.”

The global packaging industry is going through a digital-world like cataclysm. There are six distinct forces driving this cataclysm.

Packaging Convergence brings together, for the first time in the industry, the convergence of multiple forces that are changing the face of packaging. The box is no longer box. It is a metaphor. It is a platform. The box represents supply chains, branding, information and sustainability.

Until eight years ago, the automobile was 80 percent metal and 20 percent control systems. But, today, the automobile is 80 percent electronics and only 20 percent metal.

Packaging Convergence is a term I created to signify the shift from physical encasement to business enablement. In this Darwinian shift, firms that will not adapt and align will get stuck in a commodity trap. That is why Packaging Convergence is so important.

Firms that did not adapt to the Digital Convergence became irrelevant, disintermediated and ultimately went out of business.

What is the benefit of the Packaging Excellence Hour, an online event available at no extra charge to program participants?
Balan: The Packaging Excellence Hour is offered once a month as a guidance counseling session to implement the Packaging360 leadership principles. I call these principles the “8 Dimensions of Packaging Excellence.” Every month I will guide participants step-by-step as to how to implement a specific dimension. For example, one month could be Supply Chain, another month Sustainability and another would be Improving Customer Value. It is not necessary for participants to have completed the course to attend the Packaging Excellence Hour. These sessions will be recorded and can be listened to later. They can also ask questions live.

Do packaging professionals need a background in business education to understand the lessons?
Balan: It is not necessary for packaging professionals to have a background in business, per se. But what is required is an inquiring mind to learn how packaging truly impacts mainstream business. This program takes a top-down approach. It maps business challenges to packaging specificities. This way packaging professionals can see beyond the technical walls to the business solution. The program takes a structured approach to address issues head-on.

Is Packaging360 Leadership designed for people who are packaging executives already or can professionals who aspire to leadership also benefit?
Balan: The Packaging360 Leadership program is designed for all packaging professionals. Packaging interacts with virtually every business function—and the impact is pervasive

Whether you are a senior executive or a junior-level professional, the cognitive unity of a problem can no longer be fractured. The gaps in understanding a business problem among packaging professionals is what breeds black space and operational opacity. To drive excellence, we must consciously cultivate a Gestalt view of the global business. And that must start at every level—which is a shift from traditional thinking.

The Packaging360 Leadership program offers an analytical canvas that supports excellence in multiple dimensions.

TAGS: Educational
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