Editor’s note: This is an expanded version of an interview that appears in the November/December 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 issues with an industry leader. The digital features often will have a closer look at how leaders got into the industry and what advice they would offer about careers.
Dhuanne Dodrill is CEO of PAXXUS, a global, vertically integrated flexible health care packaging manufacturer. Over 30 years, Dodrill has worked in various technical, quality assurance, and management positions. She is the immediate past chairperson of ASTM International’s Committee F02 on Primary Barrier Packaging. She is the chairperson of the Sterilization Packaging Manufacturers Council and serves on the executive board of directors of the Flexible Packaging Association, while being active with IoPP’s Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee.
FlexPack VOICE®: Talk a little bit about what got you into the flexible packaging industry and why you chose it as a career path?
DD: I was fortunate enough to be born into the industry. My father has spent his entire career in packaging and has always shared his excitement over the complexity and technology that goes into the packaging that we see every day. As a result, I was the only child in my kindergarten class that did not associate the word “film” with cameras (this was before the digital age). Instead, I thought of packaging.
I had the opportunity to work at PAXXUS (then Rollprint) during summers while I was in college. In addition to providing a background that made my polymer engineering courses much easier, I also saw that packaging was a rapidly evolving field that could provide fascinating challenges.
When I received my degree in chemical engineering, I began working full time at PAXXUS. My career began in the quality and engineering functions. Gradually I took on more management responsibility. I am extremely fortunate to be doing something that I thoroughly enjoy with a group of terrific people.
FPV: What would you tell someone who is thinking about a career in the industry?
DD: I would share with them how incredibly important the products we manufacture are. Our current crisis truly illustrates this. As we work through this difficult, challenging time, we can be very proud of the critical role that we’re playing in fighting COVID-19. From food supply to life-saving and life-sustaining medical devices, without our materials, there is no product. The work that we’re doing is essential to this battle. We are saving lives and making the world a better, safer place.
FPV: Is there a particular experience that stands out in your career?
DD: One of the highlights of my career was when we unveiled our new name, PAXXUS, at PACK EXPO in 2018. It was the culmination of a great deal of work. We brought three family-owned businesses in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. and merged them into one global company, still owned and run by the three families. Interestingly, the most challenging part was coming up with a name that wasn’t already being used and that we all liked. It has been an incredible partnership and the experience has been so rewarding and fun.
FPV: Who was your mentor and why was she or he important?
DD: My father, Bob Dodrill, has been my mentor throughout my career. As an inductee to the Packaging Hall of Fame, his depth of knowledge is amazing. His willingness and ability to patiently explain the nuances of materials, pricing, and processes was an invaluable part of my education. At the same time, he modeled the behaviors of an ethical, caring leader. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to learn from one of the best.
FPV: What advice would you give to a hiring manager who is seeking people with a technical background about what they should be looking for in a hire?
DD: In addition to demonstrating technical competency in their field, individuals should also have the desire and ability to continue to learn and grow. Effective communication skills, with the ability to take complex topics and make them relatable, are also critical. It is important to remember that high performing teams are almost always made up of different personalities and unique skill sets. All hires should treat others with respect and be passionate about what they do.
FPV: What about someone who is hiring for a sales position?
DD: A salesperson should be a resource and advocate for clients. To be an effective resource, they should have a solid technical background that allows them to address a wide variety of questions, perform troubleshooting during trials and commercialization, and provide product guidance. At PAXXUS, our sales team consists primarily of engineers. The best salespeople are mobilizers with the ability to pull resources together to address client needs. Effective communication, both verbal and written, with good attention to detail are paramount.