Spotlight: Emily Kalshoven

 In Student SpotLight

Emily Kalshoven – WOF Spotlight

  • Did you plan on a career in flexography?
    • My journey into flexography began with a high school fascination for Graphic Communications, leading me to Clemson University for a Master’s in the same field. This path took a detour (I also earned a BA in Biological Sciences with a minor in Education) – But I’d say it was during the Phoenix Challenge Competition that I discovered my passion for flexography. This experience reshaped my career trajectory, drawing me into the intricate and dynamic world of Flexo.
    • While working in the pressroom of the Sonoco Institute, I not only honed my skills in flexography but also met my current employer. This period was crucial, offering hands-on experience and the opportunity to learn from industry experts. My time at the institute was truly transformative, allowing me to blend my initial love for graphics with my newfound enthusiasm for flexography, ultimately guiding me to my current professional role in this vibrant industry.
  • Briefly describe your career path in flexography.
    • At MacDermid Graphics Solutions, my journey through the flexography industry has been marked by diverse and enriching roles. Starting in Applications Development after grad school, I engaged deeply in the innovation and optimization of plate applications, gaining a robust technical understanding of flexography. This foundation was crucial as I transitioned into Technical Marketing, where I merged my technical expertise with market insights to enhance product positioning and meet customer needs.
    • My current role as an Account Manager allows me to leverage my comprehensive experience in direct client interactions, offering tailored solutions and support. This facet of my career is particularly rewarding as it enables me to see the tangible impact of my work on client success. Additionally, my involvement with the Women of Flexo group has been a significant aspect of my personal and professional growth, providing me with invaluable connections and insights within the industry.
  • Who was the most influential mentor in your career path so far?
    • Mentorship has been a crucial part of my career! I’ve been very fortunate to have many mentors, each fitting perfectly into different stages of my professional journey. However, Katie Graham, my mentor from the Women of Flexo’s Professional Mentorship Program, stands out. Her guidance was transformative, generously sharing resources and encouraging me to effect the change I desired in my career.
    • The Women of Flexo (WOF) Mentorship Program itself was an invaluable experience, offering not just personal mentoring but also a wealth of resources and networking opportunities. For those interested in mentorship’s impact, I’ll be sharing more insights at the Women of Flexo Conference in Miami this March 2024, discussing “Rising Together: Building Strong Professionals Through Sponsorship, Mentorship, and Coaching.” Join us to explore the power of mentorship in shaping successful careers.
  • Have you ever experienced obstacles you believe are unique to being a female in this industry?
    • Yes and no. Throughout my career, there have been moments where being a woman seemed to present unique challenges. In certain situations, especially in leadership or high-stakes meetings, the scarcity of female voices can be noticeable, which sometimes leads to feeling like an outsider. This can create an environment where voicing opinions or asserting a presence becomes a challenge.
    • However, it’s also a ‘no’ because not every obstacle I’ve faced can be solely attributed to my gender. Many challenges are universal, irrespective of gender, such as navigating corporate dynamics, adapting to technological changes, or developing professional skills.
    • Overall, the industry is evolving, with increased awareness and efforts towards inclusivity, making the line between gender-specific and general challenges less distinct over time.
  • What do you wish young professionals knew right now?
    • First and foremost, Flexo is an incredible career path to choose. There’s so many different options and career paths to pursue. Since Flexo is an intricate and nuanced ecosystem, I encourage folks new to the industry to jump in with both feet and embrace being a part of your team. Think of your team as a treasure trove of ‘tribal knowledge’ – able to teach you those invaluable nuggets of wisdom that you won’t find in any textbook. By actively engaging with your colleagues, you’ll not only contribute your own spark but also soak up their collective insights, accelerating your journey in this thrilling professional landscape.
    • I’ll also add- There’s absolutely going to be those inevitable hiccups along the way as you’re starting your career– those moments when things just really don’t go as planned. The best thing you can do is stay flexible and curious in every situation! Adaptability is your superpower in this ever-evolving industry. Your fresh ideas and enthusiasm are the secret ingredients to the industry’s future success. So, go ahead – soak in the knowledge, make waves, and enjoy every bit of this amazing journey!
  • What book/podcast are you currently reading/listening to?
    • It’s a re-read for me, but I’m currently wrapped up in a truly captivating read, “Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect” by Matthew D. Lieberman. This book has been a real eye-opener for me over the years, revealing just how deeply our need for social connection is embedded in our brains. Lieberman, with his compelling narrative, makes a strong case that our social interactions are as crucial to us as our basic needs for food and shelter.
    • What I find most intriguing is how Lieberman ties these insights into everyday life, especially in education and the workplace. It’s made me reflect on how a deeper understanding of our social nature could transform the way we learn and work, making our experiences more collaborative and fulfilling. This book isn’t just scientific exploration; it’s a journey into understanding the core of what makes us human. For anyone curious about the science behind our social interactions, I can’t recommend this book enough – it’s a thought-provoking and heartwarming read.
  • What industry groups or associations do you find most helpful and why?
    • For anyone in the Flexography field, the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) is an invaluable resource. Their FIRST Certification program is particularly beneficial for mastering the technical nuances of Flexo, allowing you to deeply understand and confidently engage in the industry.
    • In addition to the FTA, actively seeking and joining other relevant industry groups or committees is key for professional growth and networking. Each group offers unique opportunities to expand your knowledge and connections. *Pro Tip: Before committing to any new group, discuss with your manager to ensure you have the necessary resources and support. This step is crucial for aligning your involvement with your career goals and making the most of your association experiences.
  • Perspective on your transition into the WOF Leadership role, what you’ve gained from it, etc.
  • Being involved with the Women of Flexo Organization (WOF) has been an extraordinary journey for me. From its inception as a budding idea back in 2020 to its flourishing presence today, witnessing the growth and progress of WOF has been incredibly rewarding. The opportunity to be a part of this organization from the ground up has given me a unique perspective on the importance and impact of fostering a supportive community within the flexography industry.
  • As a leader in the Women of Flexo organization, my focus has been on how we can uplift the entire Flexo industry. This includes providing essential resources to those seeking them and creating opportunities for lasting network connections. Leading WOF has not only allowed me to contribute to the industry in a meaningful way but has also been a significant source of personal growth. The experience has enriched my understanding of leadership and the power of community in professional settings.
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