Spotlight: Kim Madigan

 In Student SpotLight

Kim Madigan is the Director of Corporate Color Management at Smyth Companies. She is responsible for the prepress groups and color control processes across the organization. Kim has more than 30 years of experience in the flexographic printing industry and is currently a member of the FTA Board of Directors and FFTA Board of Trustees. Everyone who meets Kim is instantly impressed by her quiet competence. She has been a pioneer in implementing print standards and procedures, using practical methods and awareness of and sensitivity to the people she works with.

The Women of Flexo Leadership Development Committee recently asked Kim about her career path and some of the challenges that she faced.

WoF: Did you plan on a career in flexography? Briefly describe your career path in flexography.

Kim: I did not plan on a career in the flexo industry. I have a Fine Art BS degree and started my first career as an art therapist. While going through the master’s application process for this first career, I thought, wait do I want to do this for the rest of my life? So, I investigated ways to use my creativity and illustrative skills in another industry. I then went back to school for additional design and computer skills. I had no idea that this industry existed. I happened to landed my first job at a flexographic and sheetfed offset packaging printer. I learned so much about these print technologies in my first years in the packaging industry. I knew packaging was the perfect industry for me. I could think creatively about ways to meet a customer’s design goals while still meeting the technical needs of the plant, and I found this very challenging.

WoF: Who was the most influential mentor in your career path so far?

Kim: There were/are two very supportive individuals that mentored, challenged and gave me direction throughout my career.

The first person was Bill Weernink, the production supervisor at the first printing company I talked about. He has since moved on to more strategic leadership roles and we have worked together on and off for over 30 years. He did understand that I loved to be challenged and would give me the power to make decisions, and he knew I would reach out when I needed a sounding board. He allowed me to grow and evolve in the roles I have had over the years.

The second person was Joe Tuccitto, and we met through my friendship with his wife. He just happened to work in the flexo industry, and we were drawn to each other, always talking about flexo print issues and discussing great ideas to make things better. We have known each other for over 25 years. He helped me develop the roots of our color control process at Smyth. He is always a call away when I run into conflicting info/ideas in the industry or just need another perspective on our color control evolution.

WoF: Have you ever experienced obstacles you believe are unique to being a female in this industry?

Kim: The biggest obstacle I faced through the years was “salary”. I was always ready to prove my worth, willing to work long hours, and figured the deal each of us works out at the time of employment or over a career is just your deal. As I took on more and more responsibility, I quickly learned that my pay was at least 50% less than the man in the role before me. For example, I managed the graphics dept, and I was responsible for color in one plant. The platemaking department was added to my prepress department, and the man that had managed the one dept had been paid double my salary.

When dealing with the pay disparity, I approached this issue by going out and getting offers and talking to people that approached me with new opportunities. Getting this outside perspective showed me where my value should be. I was often not even interested in moving on but having that offer helped with negotiations internally.

WoF: What do you wish young professionals knew right now?

Kim: Keep pushing to learn more about this industry. The more well balanced your knowledge and experience, the more you bring to the table. Sometimes leadership tends to keep us directed to one technology or topic but the real value is in being able to provide well-rounded input on projects.

WoF: What book/podcast are you currently reading/listening to?

Kim: I am a big Tony Robbins fan. When I was young and traveling, I would work his leadership programs in my hotel rooms. I am currently reading his “Life Force” book. We need to continue push ourselves to be better, healthier and happier!

WoF: What industry groups or associations do you find most helpful and why?

Kim: I am sure most of you know I am a BIG, BIG fan of the FTA! I believe in offering new perspectives, hearing from all of the players and learning new things. This organization is the best in delivering educational opportunities to its members through a wide variety of media.

Thanks to Kim for the contributions that she has made to the industry throughout her career and with the FTA! She is truly a great role model for women in and entering the Flexographic industry.

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