Editor’s Note: This is an expanded version of an interview that appears in the March/April 2022 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. In this segment, we interview Russell Grissett, vice president and general manager of Sonoco Flexibles and an executive committee member at large for FPA. FPA has been promoting recruitment and retention, developing the Emerging Leadership Council in 2020, and other initiatives, so we like to ask industry leaders about their career paths while getting some of their career advice.
Sonoco was founded in 1989. Sonoco Flexible Packaging joined the Sonoco family of companies in 1993 as part of the consumer packaging division, Grissett points out. He adds that it is an industry leader in rotogravure and flexographic printing, sophisticated laminates, specialty inks and coatings, converted rollstock, premade pouches and bags, peelable and resealable lidding, and heat and cold seal technologies.
FlexPack VOICE®: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Russell Grissett: I graduated from Auburn University with a degree in industrial engineering. I joined Sonoco immediately after graduation and have been with Sonoco for the last 28 years. I am currently the vice president and general manager of Sonoco Flexibles
FPV: What would you tell someone who is thinking about a career in the industry if they were to ask for your advice?
RG: Packaging is a great industry that will continue to grow. It is critical to find a company that is a good cultural fit for you as an individual. And, once you find that company, be willing to try different roles early in your career.
FPV: Who were your mentors?
RG: I have been very fortunate to have many mentors both within and outside of Sonoco over the years. I believe it is important to have mentors with who you can build a relationship with over many years. Look for people you respect, who think differently than you, and have a different perspective on how to solve problems. Having someone as a sounding board when you are making a tough decision is extremely valuable.
FPV: What advice would you give to a hiring manager who is seeking people to fill various positions?
RG: Always hire for potential and look for ways to bring more diversity into this industry.
FPV: Anything that you would like to say about your family or what you do in your spare time?
RG: I currently live in Charlotte, North Carolina, after moving seven times with Sonoco—Texas, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, New Jersey, and North Carolina. I have been married to Christina for 23 years, and I have three children. When not at work, I enjoy boating on a lake, mountain biking, watching college football, and cooking.