Knowledge Center: Publication
2013 North American Paper & Packaging Survey2/28/2014 Jonathan M. Graham
Talent as a competitive weapon
The industry then and now
Since Heidrick & Struggles first undertook a survey about talent issues within the paper and packaging industry four years ago, a devastating recession has intervened. At the time of the previous survey, economic turmoil was sharply reducing demand for the industry’s products while costs continued to rise, resulting in a hypercompetitive marketplace and an extremely difficult operating environment. Today, with the economy slowly mending and the industry along with it, many companies have re-ordered their priorities and foresee better years coming and opportunities expanding.
Nevertheless, competition today remains intense as ever. And, now it is being played out on an increasingly global stage as consumer packaged goods companies rapidly expand around the world. This has impelled many packaging companies to try to keep pace with those key customers – an effort for which many in the industry were unprepared in 2009. This scramble for greater global presence has also driven increased consolidation in the industry, with M&A activity largely dominated by strategic rather than financial buyers. More sophisticated, targeted marketing has also helped distinguish the winners from the losers in this dynamic market. In this environment of growth opportunities and continuing consolidation, the quality of leadership and talent will remain a critical differentiator between the top packaging companies and those that lag behind – or fall by the wayside.
Do we blame the industry for not being attractive enough to draw in the young and talented people who have many options from which to choose? Do middle managers and executives steer clear of the paper and packaging sector because it is not as appealing as other industries? We do not think this is the case at all and would argue that this is simply an excuse.