2010 should be a year of change, with opportunities in packaging

January 29, 2014

3 Min Read
2010 should be a year of change, with opportunities in packaging



The good news for packaging engineers is that most have become accustomed to a constantly changing work environment in an uncertain economy. Industries hard hit in 2009, such as automotive and consumer products, already have reduced their packaging departments to nominal levels. The people remaining on the job are absolutely essential to business continuity and should expect business to start looking up soon.

This is vastly different from the situation at large pharmaceutical companies now facing integration of combined organizations as a result of the industry’s consolidation last year. Wall Street is demanding lower operating costs, so packaging engineers at these companies should anticipate big changes. Most staffing decisions are made at a very high level. But be prepared and don’t panic. The good news is that your skill sets are very transferable to biotechnology and medical devices, which remain among the few high-growth industries today. Companies in these sectors have been hiring aggressively from within the pharmaceutical packaging pool. However, making this transition can require a lot of work and determination to perform in this fast-paced and innovative culture.

With most packaging engineers already supporting heavy workloads, look to your managers for flexibility. Managers should focus on their staff’s productivity rather than their hours at the office, allowing them flexibility to work from home or to leave early if they get their work done. Today’s young engineers are leading the work culture change toward one tailored for a packaging department of GenXers.

Fortunately, things may ease up in the second half of the year because new permanent positions are being advertised, and companies are expanding budgets for contract positions. With additional people, work and life should eventually fall back into balance. So, 2010 will be a building year for most in packaging. Focus on creating value through packaging development and on enjoying your time away from work.

Profiles in packaging

Kumar Nanavati is a name engineers should have on their contact lists. Always willing to offer a helping hand, his professional success and leadership style make him a model for aspiring packaging professionals.

Name: Kumar Nanavati

Current position: Worldwide director of package technology at Bristol Myers Squibb Co.

Past experience: Pfizer, Wyeth, Novartis and Revlon

Education: Master’s of Science in industrial engineering from Rutgers. Attributes success to “Building long-term relationships with folks at all levels of an organization, not just above. It’s those relationships that enable me to build and lead high-performing departments and deliver exceptional results for my company.”

Keeps me motivated: “Enjoys interacting with people and considers them second family. Levels are on paper; I’m excited about each person’s work and also about them as people. Enjoys developing people and seeing them grow and enjoys working on innovative projects. After 30-plus years, I now have an instinct for innovative packaging technologies, materials and components.”

Career advice: Develop a broad base of experience in materials, technologies, management and leadership. Try to become a subject-matter expert in one or more packaging areas. Be the best you can at your job, and be consistent in the value you deliver.

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