Young Professionals Network

If you are a young professional below the age of 40, active in the label industry and you would like to take the opportunity to exchange experiences, initiate common projects, participate on exchange programmes focused on topics like succession, leadership, intercultural management, lean management, innovation etc., do not hesitate to join the new platform created for the next generation of label industry leaders, the Young Professionals Network!

Read the Q&A with some of our young professionals at Labelexpo Europe


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Each year, the YPN organizes various events especially for young professionals (younger than 40) in the label industry. A highlight is their yearly global congress with a programme including a company visit, interactive presentations, and workshops. See reports on previous events in the right menu. For upcoming events, view the event calendar on this website.

Key learnings from the 2018 YMC Global Congress in Bucharest

1. Go for the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)

Our first speaker, Diana Voicu, specialist trainer, human resources consultant, and Senior Learning Architect for MMM Consulting, has worked with a broad base of leading brands across the different specialties. Her primary topic was the subject of personal engagement with a company’s broad employee team. She delved in depth into the ways this can be achieved to the benefit in the business context of a manager’s relationship with the team. ‘What could be missing for ME to get more engagement?’. The answer would be to focus on team building through setting up informal meetings and creating opportunities to have fun with the team – and, of course, it’s important to praise them – even for small achievements. There are three easy steps for a young manager to take, Voicu summarised: share your vision (while painting the bigger picture); give your people the right role in the team; and discuss their continuing engagement. Then, she adjured the FINAT young managers to go for the BHAG – the Big Hairy Audacious Goal!

2. 'People leave managers, not companies' and other strategic recruitment tactics

Colleagues EPSN Chief Growth Officer Jeroen Tijink and Gabriela Marin, International Recruitment Business Partner, explored the physical recruitment process. ‘Recruitment,’ said Tijink, ‘needs to be part of strategic human resources planning’. As a company looking to recruit talent, it is most important to present your enterprise, and its core values, as clearly as possible; to use marketing as a first step – and today there are plenty of opportunities to do so, on- and offline; and to prepare a job interview agenda properly and carefully. He went on to ask: ‘How do you know that the right people will apply for the job?’, explaining that the answer is to make the application process as simple as possible because ‘as an employer, you never get a second chance to make a first impression’.

As Gabriela Marin then underlined, empathising with the current, existing team members to motivate and retain them is, as indicated before, an equally important task for a manager as recruiting new members. While both monetary and non-monetary incentives and learning, and development opportunities, are key features in this central programme, managers also need to support their team ‘in terms of seeing their world, appreciating them as human beings, understanding their feelings, and communicating your understanding’ because, Marin said, ‘people leave MANAGERS, not COMPANIES’. In other words, she added: ‘Better retention involves communication, engagement, recognition, respect, and growth.’

3. The Why, the How, and the What

Interim marketing professional with a strong commercial focus Theo Toering explored the world of consumer products that he knows so well and supports as a ‘brand surgeon’. As a marketer with strong commercial sense, he has in-depth experience of the complex pathway that involves successfully establishing, defining, or repositioning, a brand, in terms of ‘why, how, and what’. He emphasised that the ‘why’ question is the most important, and answering it will point the way to further action. The latest marketing promotional challenge is to attract the younger generation, so a ‘multilayer’ strategy blending online social media advertising and mainstream TV is a viable solution.

4. 'The business enterprise has two - and only two - basic functions: marketing and innovation'

Johannes Höfler took the stage as the acclaimed inventor, among other things, of the Heliovis solar concentrator and the Vocier Zero Crease™ suitcase. He explored ways of innovating in the self-adhesive label industry. Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, as renowned management thinker and writer Peter Drucker wrote, ‘the business enterprise has two -- and only two -- basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.’ Höfler defined innovation as ‘the necessary adaptation of organisations to societal and technical change’, and drilled down into a typical major business innovation process. It would, he said, formally involve research, development, and commercialisation. All these key steps would be fed, at the interface between understanding the problem and developing modules for solutions, by a formal ‘idea tank’ established for systematic idea development using, for example, powerful, advanced problem-solving tools like TRIZ by an interdisciplinary team of experts.

5. You never know where the opportunities lie

The last workshop was on storytelling, presented by Antonia Silvaggi of MeltingPro. Her workshop focussed on developing participants’ self-awareness and their leadership skills, in both a personal and business context. ‘Stories’, said Silvaggi, ‘are about information’, and they need to feature, as well as strong characters, an interesting beginning, to attract the audience; images – not just facts and figures; good vocabulary; memories; music; emotions; and, of course, an end. Workshop participants, viewing their personalities in the context of this complicated agenda, and bearing in mind that, as Silvaggi said, ‘we are all social creatures’, were then challenged to write their own stories, with a ‘focus on why you do what you do in your professional life…’ Her tips for success here were to tell the story from a personal point of view; ask a dramatic question; focus on a specific moment; deliver emotional content -- authenticity; and honesty. Silvaggi concluded ‘Everyone can and should develop leadership skills… You never know where the opportunities lie!’

Read the full report from the menu on the right.

Insights from YMC members

View the recent blog by Mikaela Harding on the next generation here.

One of our Board members wrote an interesting article on the industry's challenge of attracting a new generation into printing (under downloads in right side menu) or watch the video below to get a better idea of the YMC events and projects.