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McCormick’s Sustainability Chief Has a Dream for Packaging Circularity

Having blazed a trail filled with packaging innovation, Michael Okoroafor looks back over the factors that have shaped his career so far, weighs in on being a proud black man for Black History Month, and projects what must happen to ensure the sustainable trajectory of packaging.

Joanna Cosgrove

February 9, 2023

28 Min Read
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Michael Okoroafor hails from a small Nigerian farming community that engrained in him two important philosophies for success that he continues to ascribe to: “it takes a village” and “if you want to go far, go together.” To Okoroafor, those concepts of inclusion and collaboration are the backbone of not only what it means to be a compassionate human being, but also the bedrock of how to become successful in business on a global scale, especially as it relates to working together for the common good of innovating for long-term packaging sustainability. Okoroafor directs the sustainability agenda at McCormick & Co. as its Chief Sustainability Officer.

In this podcast, Okoroafor discusses how to create an enduring supply chain, the value in the Power of People, and his thoughts on creating true packaging circularity against the backdrop of a climate in crisis.

 

PACKAGING POSSIBILITIES - Season 3: Episode 1

If you have a topic you’d like to propose for a future PACKAGING POSSIBILITIES episode, please email Lisa Pierce at [email protected].

 

TRANSCRIPT IS AUTO GENERATED

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Hello! This is Lisa Pierce, Executive Editor of Packaging Digest, with another episode of Packaging Possibilities, a podcast that reveals what’s new and what’s next for packaging executives and engineers, designers and developers.

Who better to know what’s new or next than the leaders taking us there? So, throughout 2023, Packaging Digest will be reaching out to the executives to find out what they’re working on these days.

We’re happy to welcome our first leader of the year, Michael Okoroafor, Chief Sustainability Officer, McCormick & Co., [a global leader in flavor]. Mike is a leading sustainability and packaging expert and a research and development executive with more than 20 years of success leading strategic product innovation and sustainability practices for some of the world’s most successful global consumer packaged goods companies. He has more than 40 patents to his name and was inducted into the Packaging and Processing Hall of Fame in 2018.

Mike, welcome. So glad you could join us today.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Thanks a lot, Lisa. It’s always a pleasure to connect with you. And really, I want to commend you for what you’re doing. You’re educating all of us and I’m really delighted to be part of it.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Thank you for that, that’s wonderful. Before we get into the questions that we have, Mike, as briefly as possible, give us a high-level rundown of your career so far, the companies you have worked for and some of the positions.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Absolutely. So, as you know, I’m a polymer chemist by profession. You know, basically a material scientist. And I started my industrial career with Bausch and Lomb in the eyewear division. If you recall Ray Ban? So I was their first manager for their plastics R&D for Ray Ban. And from there I went on to work for PPG and at PPG I spent several years working through the central group, central R&D group, as R&D manager and eventually become became the head of PPG Optical Materials group. Most people don’t realize that what they wear, if it’s plastic, there is a good chance it was a PPG invention. And, of course, I’m wearing one that I helped invent 24 years ago at PPG. It’s called Trivex lens.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

How wonderful.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Yes. And then I went on from there to a Business School to Kellogg executive program that PPG sent me and six months later, Coca-Cola hired me. So that’s how I made my transition from a purely chemical company to a beverage company. And at Coke, obviously, some of the notable things is of course there’s Plant Bottle was started under my leadership at Coke. And I worked with several talented scientists, like at one of them, I have to tell you, is somebody, is also an icon in the industry and we went on to introduce that not just at Coke, but at Heinz, when I moved to Heinz. And I’ll come to that …

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Also, I was responsible for the Freestyle at Coke, that beverage machine that delivered over 125 different flavors of drinks. I was responsible for the packaging and that wasn’t an easy thing to do. The packaging was the killers here and we pulled that one off.

And finally moving on to Heinz, from Coke, as the Vice President for Global Packaging and Breakthrough Innovation at Heinz. Obviously, the biggest thing everybody remembers with me at Heinz is the Dip & Squeeze.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Dip & Squeeze, yes!

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Heinz Dip & Squeeze Ketchup packet

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

And so that was one of the major things that we introduced here. But there’s another thing we did that changed the industry and I want to highlight that because that emphasizes my career that’s been driving sustainability. And that is the Mineral Filled Tray. If you recall, most of the trays for frozen meal was CPET. We eliminated that crysta…

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Yes, crystallized polyethylene terephthalate.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Exactly, crystallized polyethylene terephthalate, that’s what it is. And then we eliminated that at Heinz by introducing mineral filled polypropylene that led to a reduction in 45% of the carbon footprint. And of course, it doesn’t break because as you know, in frozen trays, CPET cracks. This one doesn’t crack.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

It’s crystallized. I mean it’s right there in the name!

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Exactly. Today the industry has adopted that technology we introduced at Heinz, which is mineral filled polypropylene that you see for frozen meals around the globe. So that’s it. And now coming to …

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

And Mike, I’m sorry, the mineralized — is that for a shelf stable, or to improve the shelf life?

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

It’s actually for “oven-able” so that you can put it in the oven. If you look at polypropylene, if you put it in the oven, it’s flexible [and] warps. But if you strengthen it by incorporating some minerals and I’m talking about minerals, I’m talking about calcium carbonate or silica, the kind of things you use to brush your teeth every morning, the abrasive in your toothpaste, it’s one of those. And so that’s what’s incorporated and that gives you the strength so that it is oven-able because everybody was going to oven-able, you know, microwavable things, you know. So nobody was doing traditional oven, but it was microwave. And that’s what we designed it for, for microwave, not for regular ovens. And today that’s what everybody is doing. Everybody doing things in the microwave. We were a little bit ahead of our time.

And then I moved to McCormick, I joined McCormick.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

How long have you been there?

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

I’ve been here eight years and I started as VP for Global Packaging Innovation for McCormick and then of course we started some new projects. I’ll come to that. And then moved on to become the VP for Global Sustainability and Packaging Innovation. That was 15 months into my tenure when I was promoted to that role. And eventually, now, became the Chief Sustainability Officer, which is which was two years ago and I’m proud to say I’m the first Chief Sustainability Officer for McCormick, and that was a new role created two years ago and I was the person to lead that.

Now at McCormick, so many great things have been happening. So, one was the introduction of First Choice in Europe. This is a redesign of our red cap, if you would, that would allow you, one, to get a good sensorial feel and one of them is this idea of having a click. You know, something that clicks when you open it, telling you it’s fresh and when you close it, it clicks again telling you it is … you are sealing in freshness. That was a big have for us. And then we color-coded it so that, you know, for instance, green will be for herbs, black for black pepper, seasonings will be orange, or something. So, this allows for easy navigation in the store and that is some of the things we are doing. We introduced it in Europe; today we are in the … we have introduced it in North America.

And that is some of the things we’re doing.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Yeah, I think there’s three areas in the grocery store that as a consumer, I really appreciate when they do the color coding and or the organization from a shop-ability point of view. The soup aisle, the canned soup aisle, obviously, and they did that organization many, many years ago. But nutritional supplements and then spices, sometimes it’s pretty hard to find what you’re looking for in spices. So, thank you for that help, that color coding help.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Thank you. Absolutely. And it’s even gotten more important when you are shopping digitally. When you go to the, you know, the digital platform, we want to make sure it will be easy for you to navigate it in the digital world because things have changed.

And one of the things we made popular with this, was this design for Zero Moment of Truth. Remember, P&G made popular the design for First Moment of Truth, that’s in the physical world. But before that, think about … the people go to the internet, pull up their iPhone. What do they do? They want to look at those things. And if you make sense, they go to the store. And so we call it Zero Moment of Truth. That’s one of the things we made popular at McCormick. And today I think everybody is running into that.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

OK, and you know what, the COVID pandemic also a lot of people are still shopping online from the grocery stores, not just like ecommerce, but actually still shopping online from the grocery stores too. Nice!

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Absolutely. And we are a leader in that digital shopping moment because of some of the things we’ve done with both packaging and product at McCormick.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

So, you’ve gone over some of your accomplishments, thank you so much for that. Could you tell us a little bit more about the role that you have now at McCormick for Chief Sustainability Officer? How much of that is still involved with packaging?

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

OK, very good question. The Chief Sustainability Officer role at McCormick is all-encompassing. It’s product, packaging, process, but most importantly our sourcing.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

OK, yes.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

OK, so in my role, in my role here at McCormick, I’m responsible for the development and execution of an enhanced sustainability strategy. Working with our commercial communications teams and building on our foundation to ensure that our success in this area continues to be recognized globally. This means our focus not just working through our organization, but through our Purpose-led Performance, we’ve been able to do transformational things.

And when I talk about Purpose-led Performance, that’s our sustainability strategy because we believe that’s where the future is. And what it means is, that strategy is simply defined as delivering top tier financial performance by doing the right thing for our people, our communities, and the planet we share.

And we introduced this strategy almost seven years ago, and we developed it seven years ago, the first one was issued in 2017. And today it’s called ESG [environmental, social, and corporate governance] that people, communities, and planet pillar that we introduce is really the ESG.

But I want to focus something because we source from over 80 different countries around the globe. And as you know, herbs and spices grow in tropical regions. And so, one of the things that we did is we said we’re going to impact communities where we live, communities where we work, but most importantly communities where we source.

“McCormick has been in business for 134 years and the only way to continue for another 134 years is to create an enduring supply chain. And by taking care of those farmers — mom and pop operations, individual smallholder farmers — by taking care of them and helping them live a healthy life, we’re ensuring that our business will go into continuity indefinitely.”

Why is that important? Because McCormick has been in business for 134 years and the only way to continue for another 134 years is to create an enduring supply chain. And by taking care of those farmers — mom and pop operations, individual smallholder farmers — by taking care of them and helping them live a healthy life, we’re ensuring that our business will go into continuity indefinitely. So that’s some of the things we’re doing. My role is to oversee all of that. And packaging also is important in this journey. The way we view packaging, to put it simply, Lisa, it’s a delivery vehicle.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Yes!

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

And making sure that that packaging is sustainable is critical to journey where on and that’s some of the things we’re doing at McCormick.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Thank you for explaining that. And one of the things that I like about that is all those areas do connect and interact. So being able, you know, having somebody oversee all of that, you’re able to really take a higher-level look at the big picture and how each one of those areas can contribute and should contribute. So, thank you for that.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Sure.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Mike, if you wouldn’t mind, February is Black History Month and because this is a podcast and the people listening might not know, you are a black man. Do you mind telling us a little bit of how this has impacted your packaging career and maybe even your life?

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Absolutely. And I will add to that, what you are saying, that I’m a proud black man. That’s definitely true. I mean, so let’s make sure people know that.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Excellent.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

My background is really fundamental in how I’ve seen life. It is also fundamental in how I pursue things. I grew up in a community in the eastern part of Nigeria, a farming community, where it takes a village to raise a child. I am one of those products of “it takes a village,” and so that means taking people along on the journey is critical.

In fact, I want to remind you of the very popular African proverb that everybody knows, and that is: “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.” That mindset was inculcated in me by my own mother — make sure as you go, that you are going with other people. You don’t go alone. You know, sometimes we want to be a cowboy or something like that. That’s not the community I grew up in. Nothing wrong with that, but the community I grew up in is one where everybody has to work together. That is one of the things I bring to my job, this idea of being a coalescent influence in the corporate world.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

I would imagine that same philosophy kind of directs your leadership strategy as well.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Absolutely. And here’s one thing I’ll tell you. Coming to McCormick is like I’m home because there is something McCormick prides itself in: It’s called the power of people. And when I say power of people, it was enshrined by our long-serving CEO, CP McCormick. This power of people I’m telling you is really what I grew up in and it means it’s power of all people. I want people to understand that’s what we are practicing here at McCormick and basically, it’s like I’m home in my village in eastern part of Nigeria.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Very nice! Now does that extend to people outside your company as well, with the partnerships that you have maybe with the packaging suppliers and other people up and down the supply chain?

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Absolutely. Let me start from the ingredients because I know you love our spices.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

I do!

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

We source from, as I said, over 80 different countries and those suppliers are not big corporations like we have in the US. These are individual mom and pop. They are part of our community. They are part of what we’re trying to do. And as I said, if you look at our Purpose-led Performance, which simply means doing well by doing good, we are supporting those communities, like creating opportunities for women empowerment.

For instance, to meet the McCormick Sustainability framework, you as a supplier have to consider three things: community resilience, meaning building real resilience in the communities; two, women empowerment, gender equality; and three, ethical supply chain. That is some of the things we are doing in those communities and today those communities are thriving.

I give you one example because when I say all these things, it looks like he’s esoteric. No, let me distill it to you.

When we started this journey in Madagascar, we had, by the way I grew up on a farm, so men, older men, owned all the farms and most of the workers on the farms are women. So, for me, if you think about it, we’re losing 50% of the global population, which is women, in contributing meaningfully to the society. So, what we set out at McCormick is we’re going to have women on their own farms. When we started it, the biggest challenge was that there was no education, there was no money to do that. So, you know what we did? We worked with IFC, created a Village Savings & Loan, the VSLA, and McCormick, the first one, in Madagascar, paid the interest on the loan so that those women and men, by the way, took the loan, started their farming, and when they sold their crop at a premium (we committed to take it at their premium), they paid back the loan without the interest. Today that community is thriving.

If you look at the message that Samantha Power, the USAID administrator, gave at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, she highlighted one of the examples of one of those farmers in Madagascar. And I tell you, it has become a good thing. USAID noticed and they’re co-funding some of the things we were doing in those communities. That’s just one piece.

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And with our packaging suppliers, we like to collaborate. We just introduced 100% recycled PET packaging for our colorant. We partnered with Berry, I’m glad to say, to do that. So, this idea of going together has become a mindset. We are working on several things you want to do. The Berry one, we’ve already filed a patent and they are part of it. I just want to highlight those. That’s how we do things at McCormick.

We’ve also introduced a new grinder that is, in my opinion, is sustainable because you can separate the grinder head from the bottle and recycle it. That’s part of our First Choice. That’s part of the one we introduced in North America and that is in partnership with both Aptar and Herbert in France. That’s the type of thing we’re doing.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

And that’s the grinder for the pepper, correct?

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

That’s the grinder for the pepper or for the new one that you’re going to see in North America. We’ve launched it in Europe for the last two years. That’s the first place we introduced it, and it’s called First Choice there. And that’s exactly for me, very exciting. It’s changing the market.

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In fact, I do you a favor here. I’ll show you what it looks like. This grinder. See, this is here. This head is removable so you can recycle with plastic or glass. You can recycle it right here. And this is an example of the food color that we introduced. Very visible now, but 100% recycled PET. So that tells you our emphasis on packaging and recyclable packaging or in my opinion, true circular packaging.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Yes, thank you for showing those examples. I’ll make sure to include images of that in the … we do a transcript of the podcasts on the article page and we’ll include those photos so people could scroll down and see those. Packaging Digest did cover the colorant, 100% recycled content, excellent on that…

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

I saw that, yes.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

…especially since that is so necessary to continue to boost the infrastructure for recycling, that pull-through from the brand owners on using the recycled content material.

Mike, so many excellent examples of innovations that you’ve been able to already accomplish in your career. Take a moment here and just tell us what you would still like to accomplish and why.

 

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Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Sure. As the industry continues, you know, when I talk about the industry, I’m talking about the CPG industry, as we continue to push, one of the things that we see us really do is this emphasis of what I call sustainable living. So, we have to really define a path forward that gets to true circularity for packaging, OK? Why is that important? Packaging is a significant component of our net zero journey, of our climate journey. Most people ignore that. But to me, if you don’t solve the packaging, you’re not going to solve the climate thing, whether it is, as you know, where we have an SBTi-validated [Science Based Targets initiative] plan or strategy for our near-term climate target.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

What is that?

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

It is called the … remember the climate journey? The Paris Agreement is called the … near term, which is aligning to 1.5 degrees C of greenhouse gas, you know, by 2030. We’re going to align with that. The SBTi is part of what the UN Global Compact created to drive the SDG, Sustainable Development Goals. SBTI stands for Science-Based Target initiative. Basically, what am I saying? As a scientist, I believe in data.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Yes.

 

“… every company owes it to our global community to align what they’re doing on science-based targets, and that’s what we’ve done with our near term …”

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

And I believe in science, and we know that this climate, if you look at what’s happening in California, even in Dallas where I was this past week, there’s ice everywhere, things you haven’t seen before. Look at what happened in Pakistan. You look at what is happening in some of our farming communities, the climate change is real, the climate crisis. So, every company owes it to our global community to align what they’re doing on science-based targets, and that’s what we’ve done with our near term, validated by SBTI, of aligning with 1.5 degree by 2030 in alignment with the Paris Agreement.

And now we’re in the process of finalizing our Net Zero by 2050 because we also want to get that validated and that’s where we’re heading. And I think for the industry, we need to make sure that we’re driving towards that. And for packaging specifically to do that, there has to be a true circularity.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Yes.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

You know, so for us having a broader consensus on how to drive that faster as part of the sustainable development goal and adopting things faster, will be very important. I know that when we talk about that, people want to focus on the esoteric piece. I don’t. This idea of having a recycling infrastructure in every country is going to be important, starting with us in the United States.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

I would go one further and say in every community.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Absolutely. I agree with you — in every country, in every community, and in every household. I would say that this mindset, you and I talked to a few years ago and I said, I don’t know if you remember I said, Lisa, the era of “make, use, dispose” is over. It is now “make, use, reuse,” I said that to you about 10 years ago. I’m saying it today, that we’ve got to think about true circularity. For example, states have different programs. We need to agree … one thing I believe in, something like EPR, extended producer responsibility.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

OK.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

When you say it, people say you are saying you want the producers to pay so that we can recycle things. Yes! So that we can create a recycling infrastructure; so we can have legislation that is common sense that will encourage us to do it; so we can have an education program. There is a consumer education to recycling rather than the confusion we see. To me, that is very much desired.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

I am so glad you bring that up because it’s such a crucial point in the whole circle of things. Mike, does McCormick have the How2Recycle label on its packages?

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

On some of them, not on all of them. But you have seen what we’re doing, you know, and we are working with How2Recycle right now as I speak, we’re working with them, and we have a collaboration to make sure we get there.

As I speak though, when it comes to our plastics, 84% are recyclable, 84% of the plastic we use at McCormick globally are recyclable. The area where we need to do more is the area of flexible materials and we’re working on that right now and how to collect them, how to make sure that we recycle them. We’re working with suppliers. You talk about collaboration, we’re in the middle of that collaborating for that 16%. I want to make sure that we get it done before 2030.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Okay. When you talk about recycling for flexible packaging, are you exploring chemical recycling as well as mechanical recycling? Are you, are you looking at both streams for that? Both technologies? Multiple technologies?

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

We’re looking at multiple technology but let me simplify it. You know, there is primary recycling, secondary recycling, tertiary recycling. The newest thing is tertiary recycling, which is chemical recycling that you alluded to. And we are even exploring it with some partners. As you know we’re part of a group in Australia, we’re global company so, we can start anywhere and take it to that place where part of a group [called] APCO, Australian Packaging Covenant Organization, and we’re exploring that, a chemical recycling. The reason is, it’s expensive right now.

But for me it is a Holy Grail, being a polymer scientist, of breaking down the difficult-to-recycle plastics. Breaking those down, recombining them into useful plastics. To me, that’s the true circularity.

But in the meantime, there is a transition phase. That transition phase is mechanical recycling. The thing you saw, 100% recycled content, is food grade mechanical, recycled PET to be specific, and that’s what we are driving now. And on the way, I think chemical recycling will play a role. That’s why we need common sense legislation. That’s why we need collaboration amongst companies so that even the chemical companies, when they do this, we can actually validate it for food application.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Well, food products do have that extra needed oomph from packaging for shelf life and that connects very closely with sustainability by minimizing food waste, which is a much bigger problem than packaging waste that’s generated, so … interesting all those angles that you’re trying to solve.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Yep, absolutely.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Okay, I did want to go back just a moment and ask about the goal for net zero and the drive for not just the packaging industry, but the world in general to get to circularity when it comes to sustainability to address the climate issues. And so the question that I have for you is, what is the common measurement there? Is it going to be carbon and how is that all going to connect with packaging?

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Absolutely. It’s going to be carbon footprint. It’s going to be common. Basically, because that’s something you can quantify. And if you want to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions put out there, it’s good to use that as a what I call rudimentary calculation.

So as you look at life cycle assessments, end of life, you want to make sure that you are doing that so that you can compare apples to apples and link it to CO2 or carbon. That’s when we talk about carbon, we’re talking about CO2. So, you’ve got to make sure we link that, otherwise you be comparing apples and oranges.

And it doesn’t matter what sector you are in, agricultural sector, packaging sector, energy sector. You have to make sure that you do that consistently. That’s why I think it's going to be carbon.

I also want to point out something to you, the building where I am here, the corporate headquarters, is on 100% renewable electricity and all our factories and facilities in Maryland, New Jersey, and the one in Dallas are all on renewable electricity because of the partnership. We partner with our local utilities company to really build a solar farm, not carbon credits, build an offsite solar farm to that is powering some of these facilities. We do have on-site solar. And I’d like to share that for your readers, McCormick just open its first net zero plant in construction in Peterborough, UK.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

OK, congratulations. It’s not an easy thing to do!

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Thank you very much, very proud of that. And I say that because that meant the cement that we use was made on site in a sustainable way and we’re proud of that. And that plant will soon be a net zero in operation.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Was that a greenfield operation or did you…

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Absolutely, no, Greenfield operation.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Excellent. So, Mike, we’ve talked a lot of about a lot of different things here. Let me go back to the earlier question though, about what you still want to accomplish in your career.

 

“If there’s anything that will really give me great peace when I say I am done with my career is that we have a truly sustainable world.”

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

If there’s anything that will really give me great peace when I’m when I say I am done with my career is that we have a truly sustainable world, okay? And that goes with our strategy of doing the right thing for our people, communities, and the planet we share. This aspect of the planet we share, taking people along. Going back to my fundamentals, whether it be in our packaging industry or in the farming communities, making sure we enable people to live sustainably because we have one planet. Regardless of where they are located, regardless of your status on the planet. That to me will be … Wow. If I can contribute to that with what McCormick is doing, that would be tremendous satisfaction to me as a professional. But more importantly, as a human being.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

OK, thank you for sharing that, Mike. And just knowing you as I do, if anyone could achieve this, it will be you! So, thank you for that.

Before we end, is there anything else that you wanted to share with us today that I haven’t thought to ask?

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

I think you asked it at the beginning. This is Black History Month. I do want to make sure that the younger generation out there understand the importance of really having, one, a goal of really making an impact. So the way I say it is, the younger generation, Millennials and Gen Zs, give me hope because they understand that when these together, but really making an impact and committing to it regardless of what happens is one message I want to leave.

And as a black person and as a proud black person, it is important that we understand that the ecosystem will be incomplete without people like us, black folks, without women, and other people. So, I say that sincerely because sometimes when you see things happen and when you see people get discouraged, I tell them don’t give up because this is a journey. If it was something we can accomplish overnight, it would be done. But in a journey, you’re bound to bump into things.

“As you think about your career, pick where you think you can make [an] impact. It doesn’t matter what you do, but making an impact that will leave this society or this world a better place is my message to people out there as we celebrate Black History Month. And it is a message to all people.”

So, as you think about your career, pick where you think you can make [an] impact. It doesn’t matter what you do, but making an impact that will leave this society or this world a better place is my message to people out there as we celebrate Black History Month. And it is a message to all people. And that’s where I want to end today.

 

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Thank you very much, Mike. That’s a wonderful place to end. It’s a wonderful place to head and it’s a wonderful place to end. Thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it.

 

Michael Okoroafor (guest)

Thanks, Lisa. Always a pleasure. All the best. Cheers!

About the Author(s)

Joanna Cosgrove

Freelance Writer

Joanna Cosgrove has enjoyed writing about the packaging industry for more than 20 years.

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