Matt Hayes - Mayr-Melnhof Packaging
The carton sector is part of a thriving packaging industry that is diverse and offers real opportunities to apply your skills and personality to the right role. From designers, to production staff, management, sales and brand development – there’s a range of careers in the carton industry to suit a variety of interests and skills.
Also, you don’t have to go to university to build a successful career in the carton industry. In our latest BPIF Cartonville Stars series, we talk to Matt Hayes from Mayr-Melnhof Packaging, one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of folding cartons about how training on the job and a willingness to learn can be a winning combination in climbing the career ladder.
Having secured a place on a machine operator apprenticeship at the company’s Deeside plant, Matt’s career has gone from strength to strength. He even completed his apprenticeship early, and the layout and presentation for his theoretical work is now used as the model for the company’s UK apprenticeships.
What first attracted you to the packaging industry?
“I studied IT, media and photography and was planning to go to university, but I had a change of heart as my brother had just finished his degree and was struggling to get a job. I decided I didn’t want to spend three years at university and be in the same position. A job where I could progress and work my way up seemed ideal for me.”
Since joining the company what has your career path been like so far?
“My Dad works at Mayr-Melnhof so I already had direct links but I started at the company by being employed through a job agency. When the opportunity came up for a permanent job as Cutting and Creasing Assistant I grasped the opportunity and then secured an apprenticeship. I also moved to a role heading up the pre-make ready (tooling preparation). My aim was to bring in better controls to ensure consistent quality in the tooling department. Progressing is my number one aim, so I have strived to improve working practices to enable the company to become more efficient.”
You have also stepped up take on additional responsibilities when needed. What does that involve?
“Someone in the scheduling team was absent so I was appointed to help out. During my time in that role I focused on improving workflow. When I returned to my other position I used that knowledge to continue to maximise process efficiencies with schedulers. I also stepped in when the Cutting and Creasing Manager was on holiday, which gave me greater managerial experience. Working in different departments within the company has been a really beneficial experience and the skills I learned have been easily transferable from one aspect of the business to another.”
What’s the best thing about your job?
“I enjoy all the challenges my job offers and love my work. Day-to-day my job changes and I don’t know what circumstances I’m walking into in the morning. I could be faced with any situation – such as machinery shutdowns or staff absence. It is a constant battle to make sure production is maintained but at the same time it is very enjoyable.”
What kind of projects do you get to work on?
“We are trying to enhance the training procedure for the company and I am regularly involved in meetings to help make improvements. Another project I’m currently assisting on involves having a meeting once a week with colleagues from the engineering department to talk about output and to analyse how we can reduce downtime and machine stoppages. I’m also member of the information and communications forum and part of the team organising large charity events.”
You have been recognised by the management team as one of its brightest stars of the future. So what is next?
“The next stage would be the cutting and creasing manager job. In the future I would like to push to be operations director. I think my experience from working on the machine allows me to see the manufacturing side of the business, which I can apply to managerial positions. I have also been asked to be involved in current and future training strategies and modules.”
Who is your star in the packaging industry?
“The person that I admire is Steve McGuinness – my Operations Director. He has inspired and encouraged while continuing to mentor and guide me in a positive direction. Steve has worked through a similar scenario to myself by starting as an apprentice before moving through the ranks to become operations director. His work ethic and attitude are something I attempt to replicate in a hope to recreate his success in the industry. Steve’s professionalism is outstanding and I aspire to follow in his footsteps towards the top of the industry ladder.”
What would be your advice to young people thinking of choosing a career in the carton industry?
“Personally I don’t regret giving university a miss and I feel I would not have progressed into this position so quickly if I had gone down the university route. Drive, commitment and ambition are the qualities you need. I would really recommend this career path – you don’t know where it will take you.”