A well-known industry leader, Mark Dingley has made a significant contribution to the packaging industry, both as chairman of the Australian Packaging & Processing Machinery Association and as CEO of intelligent identification specialist Matthews Australasia.

Lindy Hughson asked him to share his career highlights and his views on the shape of things to come.

You chose to join Matthews as a graduate, and you have risen through the ranks to your role as CEO. What is special about the company and what have been career highlights for you?

Matthews is a unique and forward-thinking business. This credit goes to company founder Lester Nichol and his leadership over his entire 40 years at Matthews. His ability to see trends and subsequently plan for a business 10-plus years out, make him truly visionary. I would not be the leader – nor person – I am today, without Lester. I can only be thankful he saw something in me 25 years ago when he hired me as a wide-eyed graduate.

Through this journey and the opportunities given to me, my biggest highlight has been to see the growth of the business as well as the people who now feel as passionate about the business as I do. Now it’s my turn to repay and develop the next generation of industry leaders.

Your leadership of APPMA has spanned eight years to date. In this time, what have been the biggest achievements?

When I first joined the APPMA it was an opportunity to learn about the industry we all work in, to contribute to the association, and subsequently to promote a higher-level of participation and engagement of our association within the wider industry. I was elected to the board in 2002 and held several positions before chairman. Since taking on that role, it has been a real privilege and honour to see the APPMA continue to grow and develop as an association, and similarly for AUSPACK to become a premier tradeshow for our industry.

While AUSPACK continues to be the centrepiece, the association’s engagement and participation within our industry, both domestically and internationally, is far greater than it ever has been previously. This would not have been possible without the volunteer board members and support staff who have served the APPMA over the association’s 35-plus years. The operational team that we have put in place today, and my colleagues on the board, are more committed than ever to ensuring the APPMA’s future success and growth over the next decade and beyond for our current and future members. That is my biggest achievement.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, what were the key challenges and opportunities the packaging and processing industry faced?

The areas of focus for the packaging and processing industry were very much digital transformation. In particular, ‘Industry 4.0’ and ‘connected enterprises’ were the tag lines underpinning the digital evolution. This evolution was – and still very much is – driving many suppliers and manufacturers alike within our industry, as all businesses continue to strive for increased productivity and efficiencies. I believe this is the biggest challenge, and the biggest opportunity, for businesses within our industry to plan for and adapt to.

In your view, what is going to be the single biggest challenge for as we emerge from the coronavirus crisis?

All businesses are impacted at the moment in one shape or form, and the economic climb-out may be from a little deeper than what we have seen previously in past downturns. However, Australians are very resilient, and we adapt quickly. Those who continue to be agile in planning and innovate in times of business challenges, are those who will not only survive but prosper and seek new levels of growth on the upside. This crisis is no different.

As we weather this protracted crisis together, what is your message to the Australian industry?

The current crisis has demonstrated weaknesses in long supply chains and, in some areas such as medical supplies, too great a dependency on overseas supply. The upside does look good, especially as we see the likelihood of a new era of ‘reshoring’ and investment of manufacturing in Australia. Many businesses in our industry will perhaps be a little leaner than before Covid-19. However, they will have a stronger focus on automation, be more targeted and certainly be more digitally connected to customers and suppliers than ever before. This will all result in growth for our industry.

This article is from the May-June print edition of PKN – Packaging News

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