Spotlight: Katie Graham
Did you plan on a career in flexography?
Like many of my fellow flexographers, I had never heard of flexography when I graduated high school and college. I had just gotten my degree and was struggling to find a full-time job during the 2008 recession. Fortunately, public relations and marketing are very versatile and I was able to land an interview with an anilox roll manufacturer in February of that year. Following my first interview with Pamarco, I was offered a job as a marketing assistant and started two weeks later.
It has been an interesting ride working in what has historically been a “old school” industry and pulling it toward modernism. With the rise of social media and digital marketing, there was and continues to be a need for marketing experts within the flexographic community. There are so many non-traditional paths into flexography, I am grateful I took one!
Briefly describe your career path in flexography.
I started at Pamarco as a marketing assistant for its US Flexo team, where I was tasked with administrative work for the marketing team. Eventually, I worked my way up to global marketing and communications manager, and I was responsible for the global marketing team. After 11 years at Pamarco, I transitioned to a new position with a similar title at FTA in 2019. Then in 2021, I stepped out and began working with BOBST North America. While all of these companies are within the flexographic industry, each has its own unique challenges. It has been interesting to develop a marketing strategy for an association that serves many companies instead of a product- and service-focused plan.
Who was the most influential mentor in your career path so far?
Can I talk about three? 😊 John Rastetter, VP of sales and marketing at Pamarco and John Bingham, president of Bingham Flexo Services. John R., my direct report during much of my time at Pamarco, encouraged me to think outside of the box and was always supportive of my ideas. Having a boss that would give me space to learn and try new things and also have fun with was a game changer. John B. challenged me not to accept the status quo and to treat others with dignity. In a world of men, having some of the best ones on your team is a big deal.
I would be remiss to not mention one of the kindest and most positive women I know, Berry Global’s VP of creative services Jennye Scott. She is a true champion for women and for the flexographic industry, and I am so pleased to call her my friend and mentor. Her support has been crucial and I am looking forward to continuing our work together with the Women of Flexo.
Have you ever experienced obstacles you believe are unique to being a female in this industry?
Absolutely. There is a general “men first” mentality within most companies in the flexographic industry. There are individuals working to overcome this faulty mentality, but it must be dealt with in a top-down way in order for change to take place. I think our industry has made and will continue to make great progress, but it’s important we address and not ignore the many issues women are facing as they enter the world of flexography. I think it’s important that we as women ask ourselves: “What can I do to help other women succeed in this industry?”
What do you wish young professionals knew right now?
Your title doesn’t matter. Do something you love, find a cause you believe in and work for that. Develop your own ideas of what success looks like and set goals to achieve that. Set aside the status quo.
What book/podcast are you currently reading/listening to?
I am currently reading a book called Mama Bear Apologetics. Being a mom is hard work! This book has a lot of good advice about raising kids in such a divisive world.
What has been your proudest moment in your career so far?
I guess that depends on how you measure success. I enjoyed obtaining my MBA and receiving FTA’s President’s Award, but seeing Women of Flexo thriving is by far my proudest achievement. If we can blaze a trail for the next generation of women coming into flexography, we will start to see the change I mentioned before. Being on the mentorship team’s happy hour and watching all of these women connect and discuss issues they’re facing was probably the happiest I’ve been at work ever. There are so many women joining our industry and we have a chance to keep them here by providing a support system and networking. Imagine attending a future FORUM and INFOFLEX and seeing as many women as men—That would be a proud moment for all of the Women of Flexo.