Editor’s note: This is an expanded version of an interview that appears in the January/February 2024 issue of FlexPack VOICE®. The printed article can be found online, too, in the digital format of the full magazine.
Each issue, as well as occasionally in a digital exclusive, FlexPack VOICE® hosts a question-and-answer segment that discusses important topics with an industry leader. The digital features often will have a closer look at their career advice.
In this segment, we interview Jonathan C. Quinn, vice president of marketing and sustainability for Accredo Packaging Inc. /API Group Holding Inc. and co-chair of the Flexible Packaging Association’s (FPA’s) Emerging Leadership Council (ELC).
FlexPack VOICE®: What would you tell someone who is thinking about a career in the industry if they were to ask for your advice?
Jonathan C. Quinn: Come grow with us. I have always been passionate about the blend of creativity, science, and the potential for positive change that packaging offers. The flexible packaging industry is diverse and innovative, with opportunities to work in multiple market segments. It’s constantly evolving with new materials, technologies, and processes and offers a strong sense of community through associations, conferences, and events. If you have a passion for creating solutions that benefit businesses and the environment, a career in packaging can be fulfilling. Continuously learn and believe in the positive impact you can make.
FPV: What is your company doing to encourage recruitment and retention?
JCQ: At Accredo Packaging and the API Group, we prioritize our people above all else. Our approach to recruitment and retention is comprehensive, ensuring we attract and retain top talent. We offer training and development programs, tap into emerging talent pools, offer internships and apprenticeships, prioritize diversity and inclusion, and provide competitive benefits packages. We aim to create an environment where our employees can thrive, feel valued, and contribute to our collective success. We want our people to know they are valued, and their voices will be heard.
FPV: Is there a particular experience that stands out in your career?
JCQ: The experience that I have had over the past nearly five years starting and leading the ELC has been by far my greatest experience. Being able to work with such a fantastic group of people who has delivered in more ways than I could have ever dreamt really has been incredible. I have said it before and will say it again here. One day, when I am hopefully old and balder, reflecting on my career in flexible packaging, the ELC will be one of the achievements that I will be most proud of—zero doubt of that. The ELC not only created a bunch of achievements or deliverables, the ELC created relationships that will last a lifetime. The stronger we are together, the stronger our industry will be.
FPV: What advice would you give to a hiring manager?
JCQ: When hiring, managers must identify candidates with the right skills and cultural fit. Beyond qualifications and experience, adaptability, problem-solving, and potential to grow matter most. Soft skills like communication and teamwork can be more valuable than technical knowledge. Ultimately seek passion and grit. Our industry is going to continue to face challenges over the coming years. For us to be able to tackle those challenges, we need passionate, solid people who, if they get knocked down seven times, will get up the eighth.
Before looking externally, assess if internal candidates fit the role. Stay updated on recruitment trends and ensure a two-way conversation during interviews. Finally, provide feedback to all candidates, whether hired or not. Balancing objective assessments with instinct and prioritizing cultural fit alongside skills will lead to successful, long-term hires.
FPV: Who were your mentors?
JCQ: Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors who have significantly influenced my professional journey. My father provided me with fundamental and inspirational mentorship that led me to the flexible packaging industry. But when I was 18, my dad had a stroke and has been disabled ever since. Sadly, we never got the opportunity to work together. He still inspires me. While he was actively involved in the flexible packaging industry, it wasn’t just his professional achievements that inspired me, but the values, work ethic, and approach he brought to his work. Above all, it’s a people-first approach that I live by every day.
Mentors who have been fundamental to my career being where it is today would be Greg Gard, formerly senior vice president of technology at Liquibox and Berry Global. Greg hired me as an intern at Pliant, which also provided me with the opportunity to get the FPA Scholarship and gave me my first exposure to FPA. Greg has been my sounding board and compass since those days as an intern. I cannot thank Greg enough for his mentorship and for never being too busy to pick up the phone. Greg refers to me as his second son, and I don’t think Greg will ever know how much that means to me.
FPV: Anything you would like to add?
JCQ: While I never will get the opportunity to work for my father, I was lucky enough to get to work for my second dad, Greg. I cannot ignore others who have been my mentors and enabled me to get to where I am today. Chris Marposon from Berry Global, Paul Tas from NOVA Chemicals, Inc., Mike Koyich from NOVA Chemicals, Michael Chase from Chase and Associates, Dave Timm formerly from Pregis, Andrew Wheeler from Windmoeller & Hoelscher Corporation (W&H), Tom Wetsch from Pregis, and my two co-pilots in leading the ELC—Kasie Fairbarn from W&H, and Adrianne Tipton from Novolex. Each of these people, in their unique ways, played a pivotal role in shaping my career. Their influence went beyond professional guidance. They provided life lessons I carry today. It is my hope that I get to pay this mentorship forward for the next generation behind me. It is also my hope that, because of the mentors I have had in my life, my children Emerson, 6, Greyson, 4, and Carson, 6 months, are proud of their dad and want to be a part of the flexible packaging industry.