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International Women’s Day 2024 – Inspiring change


International Women’s Day on 8th March is an opportunity to stop and reflect on the evolving role of women in the pharmaceutical packaging industry. Like many other industries, the pharma packaging sector sees disproportionately low numbers of female leaders in leadership roles. However, studies repeatedly show that a diverse workforce brings enormous business advantages, and companies that embrace diversity in the boardroom often perform better in sales and growth.

It’s clear that there is still further to go in creating a more inclusive pharma packaging industry, but clear progress is being made. At MM Packaging, we are proud to amplify the voices of our talented female staff members who contribute immensely to both the business, and the pharmaceutical packaging industry.

Their diverse perspectives and remarkable achievements inspire us all, and today we delve into a Q&A session with some of our exceptional women, shedding light on their experiences, insights, and aspirations in the field. Plus, we also get their thoughts on where the pharma packaging sector can push harder for gender diversity.

Why did you choose to work in the pharma packaging sector?

Almudena Pastor, Marketing Support Administrator: I found myself in the pharmaceutical packaging sector unexpectedly. I studied communication and advertising. I joined the MM Packaging team in 2023, and the sector's potential in terms of communication intrigued me. Naturally, I wanted to delve deeper into the services and processes of the company to better understand its global operations, and ultimately have found it incredibly fulfilling from a professional standpoint.

Caroline Seguin, Product Safety Manager: I began my career journey in the print sector as an ink technologist, but my career path eventually led me to the pharmaceutical packaging industry. Here, I've been able to leverage my skills and expertise acquired over the years to contribute to MM Packaging. This includes skills in technical support and regulatory compliance for cartons, labels, leaflets and foil.

Isidora Radujkovic, Marketing Analyst: I chose to work in the pharmaceutical packaging industry because I'm fascinated by its intersection of creativity, functionality, and environmental responsibility. My journey began as a student, assisting the market intelligence team, and eventually led me to my current role within the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector with MM Packaging.

Making up less than a third of industry boardrooms, why do you believe women are not well represented in the pharmaceutical packaging market?

Linda Holmberg, MK & Communication Coordinator: Representation is extremely important. Particularly when we look at senior role hiring decisions, which may be based on a candidate holding the same or similar role previously, creating a form of unconscious bias. The central challenge is that women are indeed present in the pharma packaging workforce, but their representation often tends to be skewed more towards more administrative roles.

A.P.: Despite progress, there is still a gender gap in the STEM sector, particularly in science careers that are more focused on technology and engineering. Although our representation is increasing, this isn’t consistent in the boardroom. In my opinion, one of the main barriers is the poor work-life balance that still exists throughout the packaging industry. This can often pressure women to reduce their career progression or even drop out, which is why we often find fewer women in upper management positions.

Lorna Cowan, Managing Director: While women are indeed present, their representation tends to be skewed towards lower paid manual roles and general administrative positions, while senior roles remain predominantly male-dominated. Additionally, women often grapple with ‘Imposter Syndrome’, which can impede their pursuit of high-level positions and meaningful career progression.

What makes you proud to be a woman working in the pharmaceutical packaging market?

Justyna Jarosinska, Quality Systems Lead: It’s important to prove that women can work in any roles they choose, and it’s a question of passion, skills and potential. For me, it’s crucial that we can see women in the packaging industry that inspire us and others, to achieve more than we thought possible.

I.R.: As a woman working in the pharmaceutical packaging market, I am proud to play a vital role in ensuring the quality, safety, and accessibility of medications for individuals around the globe. Being part of this industry allows me to contribute to advancements in healthcare while breaking barriers and paving the way for greater gender diversity and inclusion. Also, knowing that my work directly impacts the well-being of patients fills me with a sense of purpose and accomplishment. I am proud to be a part of a field that values innovation, collaboration, and the potential of every individual, regardless of gender.

Heike Kahlert, HR Manager: Simply everything! It´s a great market with a knowledgeable community and lots of potential for sustainable growth, innovation and patient security, which will help to achieve our corporate purposes and goals. Women in pharmaceutical packaging have a bright future ahead and can play a key role in the further development of our business.

What advice would you give to young women thinking of a career in the packaging industry?

A.P: Approach it with a passion to learn and immerse yourself in this dynamic sector. Collaborate with those willing to share their expertise and experiences.

L.H.: "Dare to dare."

C.S: Never give up. Listen well and learn everything you can. Collaborate with people who want to share their knowledge, do not be afraid to get noticed. If you find someone that inspires you, ask about mentoring you as it will be very rewarding.

L.C.: The industry has a lot of diverse and dynamic opportunities for those that explore it. Approach the industry with an open mind, be adaptable, and have a willingness to learn.

I.R: Embrace curiosity, adaptability and a passion for innovation. This field is dynamic and constantly evolving, presenting exciting opportunities for those who are eager to learn, hone their skills and grow.

How can more women be attracted and, most importantly, retained in the pharma packaging industry?

J.J.: I think jobs within pharmaceutical packaging should be better advertised and promoted at the stage when young women choose their career paths. It would also be great to encourage women to take part in the development training and programs to enhance their skills, as well as gaining new ones, to motivate them to stay within the industry.

H.K.: To gain attention and introduce more women into our industry, we must showcase what they can expect and demonstrate the development possibilities that businesses like MM provide. There are powerful women in our global organization, and this is a fantastic showcase. Women feel inspired by female success stories.

C.S.: We need to show that working in packaging can be a rewarding career, and that it makes a difference. Hearing from other successful women in the industry would help them realise that it is possible. Engaging with universities and academic institutions is a good opportunity to show what we can do and would give them women considering the industry a new perspective, as well as finding the right path to achieve it.

A.P.: This could be achieved in two distinct but connected ways. For me, it’s about having highly visible references. Seeing and knowing successful women in the industry and showing what is possible with a packaging career path. Then, it must be backed up with a positive work-life culture, and meaningful opportunities for growth, to retain that talent.

With regards to gender diversity, what is MM Packaging doing successfully?

A.P.: MM Packaging offers equal opportunities, and shows that diversity and inclusion, are possible in the pharmaceutical packaging sector. With such a strong global reach, we work with people from all different backgrounds and perspectives, to discover new knowledge and skills.

L.H.: For me, it’s how the business embraces the power of diversity. MM Packaging welcomes the fact that we’re all unique.

C.S.: The focus on collaboration and cross-functional teamwork. This gives the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds, discover different functions and learn new skills. There is a very clear path for personal development.

H.K.: I appreciate the freedom to operate in my function. This is a great benefit when it comes to constant personal development and learning without functional barriers. I’m also grateful to work within an international team that appreciates sharing and caring to achieve best possible results.

J.J: MM Packaging is a business that promotes inclusion, and it’s thinking about the future of its people and the environment. I like how MM Packaging, as a business, recognises quality and hard work from individuals, and celebrates that.

I.R.: Its dedication to innovation and collaboration cultivates a dynamic setting where employees are empowered to think innovatively and cooperate to push boundaries. Complemented by MM Packaging's emphasis on diversity, this creates an inclusive environment where every perspective holds value. Moreover, MM provides an extensive network and nurturing work culture, equipping employees with the support and resources essential for success.

Finally, if you could meet any inspirational women from history, who would they be?

C.S.: Cleopatra, Marie Curie and Rosa Parks.

I.R.: Marie Curie.

A.P.: Clara Campoamor, Virginia Woolf and Malala Yousafzai. Three passionate women who fought against the inequality they faced.

L.H.: Tina Turner, Ing-Marie Wieselgren and Oprah Winfrey.

L.C.: Margaret Thatcher, Rosa Parks, and Margaret Hamilton, the Computer Scientist that developed the guidance navigation system for the first lunar landing.

J.J.: Marie Curie, an inspiring Polish woman who followed her dreams despite the challenges she encountered on the way.

H.K.: Coco Chanel, Marie Curie and Clara Zetkin.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and its theme of #InspireInclusion, let's continue championing diversity, empowering women, and fostering inclusivity in every aspect of our lives, and in the pharmaceutical packaging sector. Together, we can create a world where every voice is heard, every perspective is valued, and every woman can thrive. Happy International Women's Day from MM Packaging!