Packaging Consultancy Life
It’s time to bring independent packaging professionals together
By Neil Shackleton, founder of Medoola
Packaging consultancy life is tough, especially when you get a quiet period. The joys of using your professional packaging expertise to form your own work independence without the daily grind and commute does make up for it. Sadly, long and unexpected periods of time off won’t pay the bills, and although you try to account for these down days, the moments of worry, pressure and stress can take their toll.
I know, because I’ve been there. My personal low point was the feeling of loneliness. Was I the only packaging specialist out there having a quiet period? Was it an industry wide thing? Was I approaching the wrong people?
It was a period of time that allowed me to reflect, but also delivered an inner fear that I was missing out on something, or that I’d lost my way. Packaging consultancy ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ so to speak.
The UK does have some great associations and trade publications to keep you in the loop of industry news. I’m proudly a Fellow of The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining for packaging and would not change that. However, there is no real online community out there for independent packaging consultants to engage with each other in an open and honest forum. I personally would have benefitted from this when I was having my moments of self-doubt. But then again, I would find it extremely useful on a daily basis.
That’s because we are so used to digital communication now a days. LinkedIn, for instance, is brilliant for virtual networking. I personally enjoy using the social media platform especially when I can delve deep into a packaging related issue. But who else feels like it is one big competition on there? One packaging related post from a potential client brings consultants and suppliers out of the woodwork to peacock away. Quite frankly, that’s not professional, nor does it unite individuals or impress the author of the post. I believe, that as a collective of professionals, we could offer the FMCG and pharmaceutical industries a truly powerful package when engaging on social media platforms.
The Medoola Collective
The first part of my vision for Medoola is to create a global community filled with independent packaging professionals.
It will bring professionals together to discuss issues within the industry, ask questions, offer advice to fellow collective members, and share their industry knowledge. It also allows my team to offer projects to members based on their specific skills and expertise, whether that is packaging design, cost saving or new product development. At the same time members get to keep their independence and work/life freedom as a stand-alone consultant.
According to an article from the Entrepreneur, there are six key reasons for joining a professional community. Jonathan Long, who wrote the article said: “If you aren’t taking advantage of what professional communities have to offer in terms of mentorship, advice, networking and support, then you’re missing out.”
So many resources
One of the reasons is the access to resources. My vision is to partner with an academic association to deliver packaging training. We will be announcing our official partnership shortly, but this will play a big part in our offering to The Medoola Collective.
We will also be offering master classes on digital marketing, social media, accounting, standard practices and other independent consultancy problems that our community face on a day-to-day basis.
Most importantly of all, will be our standardized project documents. To be used when a consultant signs up to fulfill a project through Medoola, the collective will have access to these documents to ensure that everyone is working in a standardized way.
I know I’m not alone in this vision as The Standard For Accredited Packaging Professional Competence report highlighted in 2014.
Another good reason for joining a professional community is the exposure to a new perspective on things. As independents we get stuck into our individual routines, methods of working and ways of conducting business – believe me, I am no different. Yet it is good to be challenged and see a point of view from someone else’s perspective and I look forward to members challenging me on my methods.
Medoola will become the ideal platform for transparency. Openly discussing people’s working methods, attitudes towards the profession and the industry itself will help not only individuals to improve their business, but for the industry to improve on a whole.
For members who are new to consultancy, The Medoola Collective will provide genuine mentoring from others within the group. My vision is to also invite experts to present to the community. As we are all in it for the same reasons, we will be delighted to see others succeed and grow. As we know, there is a massive lack of people joining our profession, but maybe this could be the way to encourage a new generation not to just fall into packaging, but devote their career to it.
Gain extra work
The Medoola Collective is designed to house a collection of independent professionals from across the globe who can fulfill interim projects that come our way. People will be selected due to their ability, not their availability. For example, if one project requires some cost adjusting calculations, but also some trials to test new methods, we will find people within our collective who have expertise in that area. Projects may be shorter, but we believe this will be ideal for those times in between longer-term projects.
Join The Medoola Collective
I don’t ever want independent packaging consultants to feel the sense of loneliness that I did when I was at my lowest point. There are so many of us that can share our experiences and unite to improve our niche way of working within our niche industry.
Medoola is my vision in reality, now let us test it to see how it works.