The future of the label industry is in good hands. That was how one delegate summed up the first ever Global YMC Congress organised by FINAT’s Young Managers Club (YMC).
Mike Fairley of Tarsus Group went on to say that the opportunities for the next generation of industry leaders to meet, network and discuss the industry’s challenges and opportunities will undoubtedly provide long-term benefit. The two-day congress, held in Berlin in close collaboration with TLMI (US), LMAI (India) and the hosting country’s national association VskE (Germany), covered a range of topics under the umbrella of ‘Young Managers, let's challenge the future’. It offered the young blood of the industry international networking opportunities and the ability to share experiences and obtain knowledge from industry experts all over the world.
It also covered a broad variety of topics from ‘Next Generation or New Generation?’, ‘Developing an Environmental Management Policy That Makes Economic and Business Sense’ and ‘Decision Making’.
Next generation thinking
The 'Next Generation or New Generation?’ presentation by Renate Kenter, strategy consultant, facilitator, and teacher with De Ruijter Strategy (NL) said ‘being stuck in today’s thinking can be expensive’. She described how sailing towards a desired goal, your chosen destination, involves a combination of looking back (using the experience and knowledge of the older generation) and looking forward. Beforehand, you must define what your core business is, and why you are successful in it. “If you cannot do that, you cannot look at the future,” she stated.
A workshop followed which saw delegates consider key uncertainties and their future vision which included globalisation, possible international alliances and partnerships; cost pressures, and the need to find cost-saving solutions and new technologies, developing faster than they are being adopted.
The importance of an environmentally conscious approach was outlined by label industry guru Mike Fairley, Director of Strategic Development, Labels & Packaging Group, Tarsus Exhibitions & Publishing. He set out in detail the options for creating and maintaining an environmental management policy appropriate for the packaging and labelling industry that also makes economic and business sense. It must also, crucially, partner the policies and published environmental aspirations of the major brand owners, 70-80% of whom rate environmental concerns ‘highly’.
An eye-opening interactive session, ‘Managing people -- leadership and decision making’, was led by Prof Dr Isabell Welpe, chair of strategy and organisation at the Technical University of München (DE). She explained how some wrong decisions are unavoidable, but others are definitely avoidable, and urged participants – as leaders in their organisations -- to fine-tune their decision-making processes to identify and eliminate any team bias, and to steer clear of any form of ‘group think’. Strategic leadership in a company is critical for its success, and is centred on matching company resources to market opportunities. "Leadership is influence," Dr Welpe underlined. "If you lead, others follow.”
There were also presentations on Strategic Planning, India: Opportunities and Challenges, Burnout: How to Recognize, Prevent and Deal With It and Collaboration.
Be flexible to change
Francesc Egea, of IPE Innovaciones Para Etiquetajes, Spain and chairman of YMC summed up the clear messages of the event succinctly when he said: “There is a lot of change around our industry today – changing technology, changing end user markets, new economies, and changing customer needs. We have to be flexible, and adapt our companies accordingly.”
But what did the delegates think? “The content was fantastic, focusing on key skills and unique ideas on how to drive our businesses forward,” commented Matthew Burton, AB Graphic International. “This made it relevant to all attendees, whether they are suppliers, converters, or press people, by focusing on developing skill sets rather than new technologies or innovations within the industry.”
Aside from the opportunity for networking Brian Hurst of Yerecic Label was impressed by the relevance of the business sessions that provided ‘take-homes’ for all and Alex Elezaj from Whitlam Label Company stated "the discussions surrounding global business issues with such a fine group of individuals were really beneficial."
“Not only were the challenges of upcoming markets discussed, but techniques of how to solve them; and opportunities were highlighted,” commented Pawandeep Sahni, Weldon Celloplast. While Radovan Kilarsky of Purgina said: “The topics of the presentations were accurate, very interesting, and motivating. I believe the next YMC Global Congress will be as successful as this and I cannot wait to take part!”
Evolving to meet changing markets
The Young Managers Club was created by FINAT - the European association for the self-adhesive label industry - for industry managers under-40. Initially it was focused on succession planning within the many industry SMEs. It has since evolved to encompass meetings and topical workshops.
Mr Egea explained: "With the YMC we are recognizing how important it is for young managers to understand the global influences on the industry and how they can align their business to these changing requirements. Essential to this is being able to connect with their peers in the labeling industry from around the world. There are so many interesting young global citizens and professionals out there and collectively we are highly educated, ambitious and excited about the future.”
“The next generation sure looks bright with this calibre of leaders,“ concluded congress attendee Tania Mathias of Fantastick Label Co. And Jürgen Scheiblehner of Delfort Group said: “It is very important to develop the young generation within FINAT to secure a successful future for the association – and the industry.”