At BW Packaging, we’re very fortunate to have many dynamic, intelligent women on our team—even for roles in sales, engineering, plant management, and product line leadership where women tend to be less well represented. As we continue working to ensure that BW Packaging is a place where people of all races, genders, and backgrounds can thrive, I wanted to take a few minutes to celebrate several of the women who are playing critical roles in our journey.
I worked with BW Packaging President Carol O’Neill to identify some exceptional women from our team, and I asked them about what it means to them to be a woman in the packaging industry. I also took some time to speak with their leaders about how they use their skills and experience to drive the success of our business, and what it means to their leaders to have them on the team.
Denning Saum – BW Flexible Systems
Denning is the Vice President of Strategic Marketing & Innovations at BW Flexible Systems. Responsible for leading the development and execution of BWFS’s global product and marketing strategy, she and her team of product line leaders and innovation experts put in place both market-driven strategies and new product development efforts to accelerate long-term growth. Denning is an important member of BW Packaging, and one of the first women Carol thought of when we began to develop the concept of this piece.
I asked Denning what it means to her to be a woman in the packaging industry, and she said, “It gives me a great sense of purpose and responsibility to make a profound impact on the lives I touch and on those I lead. My unique talents, views, and leadership style afford me the opportunity to drive important decisions that hopefully create a brighter, more positive future both for our team members and the customers we serve.”
When I asked her what kind of advice she would give to other professional women, she mentioned something that she says to her daughters every day before she drops them off at school: kind heart, listening ears. She said, “It seems like elementary school advice, but it applies throughout all stages of life—especially in a professional setting. Being kind and taking time to listen impacts everything we do and touch in the corporate world.”
For another perspective on Denning’s talent and skillset, I spoke with Doug McGraw, President of BW Flexible Systems. He mentioned that she is a strong leader who sets a high bar for performance and accountability on her team. He said, “Denning is an excellent, collaborative team member, and she brings a well-developed set of strategic thinking skills while maintaining an important balance in her life.”
Marine Jacolin – Synerlink
Marine has been the Legal Manager at Synerlink for nearly a decade. She’s in charge of handling all the legal aspects of Synerlink’s business, including contracts, conformity, corporate topics, claims, insurance, and more. Her ambition and legal acumen are inspiring, and her long-term commitment to Synerlink and BW Packaging make her a model team member and a pleasure to work with.
When I asked her what it means to her to be a woman in the packaging industry, she said, “More and more women are working at Synerlink and at BW Packaging, which confirms the growing interest in the industry and in our company among women. There is still room for greater progress, but BW is undoubtedly the right company for taking on major topics involving people and performance.”
As far as giving advice to other professional women, Marine said, “Use your female qualities as a plus. Use your sense of humor: it’s the best way to connect with people. Act as an individual working in a team composed of people from different cultures and experiences. Work with people from different backgrounds or with other perspectives, because there’s always a lot to learn from others.”
I asked Sébastien Gorjux, Synerlink’s Director of Finance and IT CFO, to speak to Marine’s personal and professional qualities. He said, “Marine’s depth of legal knowledge helps me to save time and feel confident in the decisions I make.” He praised Marine’s work ethic, her sense of humor, and her exceptional listening skills. He said that as a father of three young girls, he often mentions Marine as a great example for his own daughters to follow.
Bethany Rothermel – Pneumatic Scale Angelus
Over Bethany’s twenty-year career at Pneumatic Scale Angelus (PSA), she’s worked as a Design Engineer, a Project Engineer, and Lead Capper Engineer. She currently works as the Engineering Team Leader for New Machine Filler/Capper Equipment. As a woman in a very male-centric field, Bethany’s propensity to stand out and excel has made her a strong leader and an incomparable asset.
When I asked her what it means to her to be a female engineer in the packaging industry, she said, “I’m proud to be a female in the packaging industry. As a female, I feel as though I can bring a unique perspective and skillset to help my team each day. I am thankful to have had my entire engineering career at BW/PSA, where I have always felt valued and treated with respect.”
On the subject of offering career advice to other professional women, Bethany said, “Never back down from a challenge, and learn when given the opportunity. As with any aspect of life, there will be challenges—but be brave, and just keep going!”
As the Business Unit Leader for Filler/Capper Equipment, Cliff Stover knows Bethany well. He’s been at PSA for over twenty-five years, and he stressed to me that, first and foremost, Bethany is a great mechanical engineer. He admires how she offers her twenty years of machine design experience to younger engineers and how she invigorates the team to do their best work.
Cliff also mentioned how Bethany looks at problems as opportunities to coach and provide guidance, noting that she’s an inspiration to those with whom she works. Cliff said, “She knows how to communicate effectively. She can show vulnerability, but she stands up for her beliefs and challenges the status quo. She’s a great team leader, and she emphasizes teamwork and communication as keys to success.”
Kristin Overton – Accraply
Kristin is Accraply’s Regional Sales Director for North America, and she and her team sell pressure-sensitive labeling equipment. In the 18 months she’s been in her role, Kristin has quickly proven herself to be a dedicated leader with a passion both for the packaging industry and for the success of her team.
She’s been in the industry for quite a while, and when I asked her what it means to her to be a woman in packaging, she said, “I’m proud to say I’ve worked in the male-dominated packaging industry for over fifteen years. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are pivotal pieces of any successful organization, and I personally value and champion DEI in all aspects of my life. Women make up half of our population, customer base, and talent pool, and I am honored to represent and provide insight on behalf of this group at BW.”
Regarding career advice for other professional women, Kristin said, “While it’s not always easy, I encourage other professional women to do what they love and embrace what’s hard. It’s valuable for children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and others to see how women contribute to society in a professional capacity. It opens their eyes to embrace DEI and appreciate from a young age that it’s normal to have perspectives from all types of people.”
I had the opportunity to speak with Justin Stovall, Accraply’s Vice President of Sales, about Kristin. He said, “Kristin has a unique set of skills. She’s an intelligent, creative, and empathetic leader, and execution is always at her center.” He also said that Kristin brings an important dimension to the team as a dynamic coach who’s excellent at building and nurturing relationships, both with internal teams and with customers.
Be on the Lookout for More
It should be clear by now that women are a powerful force in all facets of BW Packaging. What became clear to me as I spoke with these women, though, is that their stories shouldn’t be confined to a single day. Yes, International Women’s Day provides an excellent opportunity and moment to highlight how women are making a difference in our business. But what they do goes well beyond March 8th; it’s at the very core of who we are, what we do, and how we do it.
So I’m excited to say that this article is just the first in what will be an entire series that shines a light on the extraordinary work done by women up and down the BW Packaging organization. Be sure to subscribe to the Packed with Expertise blog to see who we cover next.