New Idealliance Board Members Steer Young Professionals Group
“Shaping the future of the industry” is the goal of the Idealliance Young Professionals Group, and Michael Grady, global commercial integration manager at sgsco in Louisville, Ky., and Marissa Pinkowski, account representative at commercial printing firm EDWARDS in Des Moines, Iowa, are doing their part to make sure that happens.
In March, Grady, 35, and Pinkowski, 30, joined the Idealliance board of directors as ex-officio representatives of its Young Professionals Group. Formed last year — and made up of Idealliance members and students ages 35 and under — the group’s purpose is to foster the next generation of industry workers and leaders by delivering relevant educational content, mentorship, and collaboration to nurture personal and professional growth.
As a global commercial integration manager at sgsco, a global package production and marketing services provider, Grady focuses on building integrated marketing and branding solutions for global CPG, retail, life science and printer clients. As an account representative at EDWARDS, Pinkowski focuses on finding solutions for her customers to help enhance their message to go beyond print and mail.
In the following Q&A with Printing Impressions, both Grady and Pinkowski discuss what attracted them to the printing industry and why the Idealliance Young Professionals Group is important.
Printing Impressions: What attracted you to the printing industry?
Michael Grady: Music is actually the reason I started my journey into visual communication. I was working as a financial analyst, and along with several of my friends, became alarmed at the pace at which schools were cutting funds for musical education. We co-founded BeInstrumental.org to ensure this type of education could be a reality for young artists who would otherwise have limited or no exposure to the arts. The launch of this non-profit helped me realize that in addition to giving back to those in need, I really enjoyed visual communication. I had so much fun developing branding, graphics for brochures, flyers, websites and social media for our cause.
The experience influenced my decision to go back to school and get a second undergraduate degree in Graphic Communications from Illinois State University. After starting the program, I knew I had made the right decision to change industries when I ran a flexo press for the first time for a class project. I got to see the design come to life in print!
Marissa Pinkowski: I graduated from college in apparel merchandising, but retail just wasn’t for me. My father worked at EDWARDS so he brought me on board six years ago as a customer service representative and I grew from there. It was a very different transition from the apparel side of things, but from a creative aspect, I enjoy finding solutions for clients. I have been involved with a lot of interesting projects with almost everyone — I got to do lots of interesting things and every project was a little bit different, which I liked and appreciated.
Printing Impressions: What do you enjoy about working in the printing industry?
Grady: Sgsco works with a wide range of brands to create packaging that inspires consumers to buy. It's been fascinating to work with team members with such diverse skills sets to implement solutions that help bring the brands to life through visual communication. Marketing, project managers, designers, packaging engineers, regulatory, production artists, print quality managers and more all working together towards a common goal.
Pinkowski: I enjoy the many opportunities to use my creative side by finding different channels to get my client's messages out. Plus, with a slight change of paper and/or ink your piece can look completely different. There are endless possibilities in this industry!
Printing Impressions: Why is it important to have a group like this for young professionals?
Grady: It helps to empower young professionals, provide them with opportunities to learn, find direction, and gain confidence so that they can make a difference for themselves, their company and the industry.
Pinkowski: I think it's really important for our next generation to understand that the graphics industry is more than just print on paper or putting a box together. There are areas the industry touches and making young professionals aware helps them determine what path they want to take. The group also is a place for young professionals to consult with others on various challenges and opportunities they are facing.
Printing Impressions: As a new group, what are you doing to generate interest in printing and in attracting new members?
Grady: We are focusing on understanding the needs of our Young Professionals Group members and gearing our messages around education and mentorship — we’re looking for the touch points on how we can drive those. We also want to meet with people in-person, drive conversation, and learn more about the challenges and opportunities that exist in the marketplace. By listening, we'll be able to continue to build a really strong platform that meets the needs of all of our members. In September, we have another great opportunity to continue the conversation and meet with many young professionals at Graph Expo in Chicago.
Pinkowski: Encouraging involvement is important to keep young professionals in the industry. The team is working to bring educational content, networking opportunities and to become a resource for students and young professionals. It can be a challenging industry to wrap your arms around so we want to be a group that can help make their experience easier. We will also be working with higher education institutes to connect with students and help prepare them for their career.
I believe in the importance of recruiting and retaining young professionals as our industry continues to change. Having representatives of the Young Professionals Group on the Idealliance board of directors will bring a fresh perspective on the millennial workforce that has been transitioning into prominent roles within our industry.
Some of the educational tools and events that Idealliance offers for young professionals include: webinars, conferences, meetings and a three-year Idealliance NexGenLeaders Program.