David LuttenbergerAlthough responses to my first two ChiefPackgingOfficer.com blogs have earned no small amount of positive feedback (for which I am extremely grateful), somehow I feel like I’m part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

Let me explain.

The idea of creating a chief packaging officer title isn’t new. It’s been talked about for a decade or more. The argument always goes back to the creation of the chief information officer, which according to the now defunct MISmagazine, dates to the late 1980s. At that time, the burgeoning business value of information technologies was rapidly transitioning from tactical to strategic. The premise was that any function with strategic implications should have a direct reporting line to the CEO. Sound familiar?

The rub was that “IT guys” were (and largely still are) thought of as technologists, rather that strategists. Once again, sound familiar? Even today, 30 years past, fewer than one in five CIOs have a seat at the board room table and only 43 percent are involved in executive decision-making, according to a study by CIO.com. At the risk of being redundant, once again, does this sound familiar?

The bottom line is this: a chief packaging officer must be skilled and experienced in myriad disciplines if he or she expects to not only be elevated to the position of CPO, but also have the ear and the trust of the CEO and be called upon in the boardroom to make the tough strategic decisions.

So what exactly is the role of the CPO? The following descriptions and responsibilities were taken, with permission, directly from actual job descriptions from nearly a dozen top packaging industry professionals from around the world. While this is by no means an exhaustive list of skills and experiences a CPO might need, it is, at the very least, a step toward the solution – that of actually creating the position of CPO.

Your input on what’s missing is welcomed and encouraged.

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Executive Search Profile
Title: Chief Packaging Officer
Region: Global
Reports To: Chief Executive Officer

Primary Responsibilities

  • The CPO is responsible for the strategic development, implementation, communication and maintenance of a global packaging program, to include primary, secondary, distribution and point of purchase packaging. A global sustainability program for all facets of packaging is also the responsibility of the CPO.
  • The CPO will ensure that strategic business objectives are established and attained and that strategic value is created that drives top line growth and bottom line expansion for the company globally.
  • The CPO is responsible for the strategic global development of all packaging innovation and technology including delivering innovative technical packaging excellence in the areas of materials, structures and processes, to include supply chain optimization and manufacturing/logistic support and cost savings.
  • The CPO is accountable for the procurement and quality of $2 billion of packaging materials annually.
  • The CPO is responsible for identifying transformational packaging development opportunities and emerging technology breakthroughs that could impact the company strategic direction.
  • The CPO will plan, recruit, train, and direct a world-class managerial and technical packaging organization as well as continually improve and develop talent/competencies across the global packaging organization.
  • The CPO will cultivate internal and external subject matter experts and resources to fuel research and development projects in the appropriate fields of packaging design, technology, regulations, sustainability, and total quality.
  • The CPO will be considered a member of the company’s executive team, and will actively participate in all executive meetings and strategic decision-making processes impacting the current operations and future direction of the company.

Analytical Skills

  • The CPO must have strong business and risk assessment skills.
  • The CPO must have the proven ability to define/identify current and future challenges to the business, collect data, analyse and interpret issues, recommend and implement changes and/or improvements, and report quantifiable results.
  • The CPO will use all resources available within the company to anticipate and proactively address packaging needs in context with consumer and technology trends in a way that adds value to the company’s brands.

Leadership

  • The CPO will typically operate under ambiguous conditions with no direction, while providing thought- and technical leadership that results in the company attaining strategic goals and that fosters the development and achievement of group and individual goals.
  • The CPO will encourage practical risk taking and will himself/herself be action-oriented.
  • The CPO will develop and maintain partner relationships with procurement, design, marketing, production, QA, and patent and legal teams. The CPO will develop and improve relationships with 3rd party suppliers, to include contract manufacturers.

Qualifications

  • MS (Engineering, Packaging, or allied scientific discipline)
  • MBA
  • Minimum 20 years’ experience with at least 10 years’ experience in management and five years senior-level management experience (Director, VP, equivalent)
  • Technical knowledge of packaging materials and related processes (production, converting, printing, etc.)
  • Proven/quantitative record of ideation, development and cost-conscious operations in packaging innovation, R&D, or technology at a major global consumer products, pharmaceutical or retail company is required.

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David Luttenberger is the Global Packaging Director at Mintel. He has 24 years’ packaging experience. He can be reached at dluttenberger@mintel.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @packaginggeek.

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