• Fireside chat: Insights and Inspiration - Freya Marsden in conversation with Lindy Hughson
    Fireside chat: Insights and Inspiration - Freya Marsden in conversation with Lindy Hughson

The inaugural Women in Packaging Awards event, which took place last Friday, 21 June, at The Gallery — Beta in Sydney, was a triumphant occasion for sharing ideas, networking with industry changemakers, and honouring outstanding leadership and contributions to the Australian packaging industry.

(Scroll through our picture gallery to get a sense of the joy and vibrancy of the day). 

Hosted by Lindy Hughson, managing editor and publisher at PKN Packaging News, the event featured a keynote address by Danielle Colley, writer and integrative coach, and a fireside chat with Freya Marsden, chair of the Victorian Government Sustainability Fund, Chair of the Victorian Container Deposit Scheme; APCO Board member and chair of Risk & Audit committee.

Lindy Hughson: PKN aims to shine a spotlight on talented women.
Lindy Hughson: PKN aims to shine a spotlight on talented women.

In her welcome address, Hughson spoke to the reasons behind the establishment of the awards programme, noting that in her 30-year career as a packaging journalist she has seen a marked increase in the number of women changemakers in the packaging industry, but that many of these women are not always recognised for their contribution to business success.

"There are so many remarkable, hard-working, under-celebrated women in our industry: enterprising entrepreneurs and ingenious innovators, designers with bold vision and manufacturing leaders on the pulse of sustainable production, technologists making a material difference, and clever, creative communicators who are vocalising the change as it happens.

"In devising the awards, the PKN team believed that if we can shine a spotlight on the achievements of the talented women in our industry, it could make a difference in their careers; and if in this process we can elevate the packaging industry as a sound and supportive environment for women to work in, influencing aspirant young women as they make career choices, then we will certainly have made a difference to this industry."

Engaging keynote presenter Danielle Colley: Building resilience is key to an empowered life.
Engaging keynote presenter Danielle Colley: Building resilience is key to an empowered life.

Keynote speaker Danielle Colley spoke on themes of resilience, self-love, and self-compassion as keys to achieving empowered living. She emphasised four main points for fast-tracking empowerment: questioning negative thoughts, recognising that no effort is wasted, understanding that necessary resources are already available, and the importance of balance in life.

“Do I have evidence that I'm never going to be as good? Do I have evidence to the contrary? I do. I thought of the times where I've had these attributes and used them to get what I wanted," Colley said, discussing the importance of challenging negative self-beliefs.

On the topic of career growth, Colley highlighted the value of diverse experiences as you build your career: “No effort is ever wasted. At the time, I could not see the picture but here I am in this career now. All those pieces have come together.”

Freya Marsden’s fireside chat with Hughson covered career milestones, industry challenges, and the importance of credibility and mentorship in the packaging sector. Marsden shared insights on the need for passion and purpose in one’s work, recounting her own journey from director of policy at the Business Council of Australia to her current roles.

Freya Marsden:
Freya Marsden: "Think like a leader"

Marsden touched upon the challenges faced by women in the industry, particularly around credibility: “For me, there was a recurring challenge of being the youngest director and the only female director on the board. Building up credibility was vital. Taking on roles such as Chair of Risk and Audit and Finance both played to strengths and helped to gain that credibility.”

The discussion also delved into the priorities of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the Victorian Government’s efforts towards a circular economy. Marsden highlighted APCO’s focus on the National Packaging Targets, the development of sustainability guidelines, and collaboration with the federal government on national packaging standards.

"APCO is focusing strongly on the National Packaging Targets. We're finalising our strategy for 2030, which is a significant piece of work and potentially a game-changer for the entire system. We are working hard towards our four key priorities of our current strategy from packaging that is designed for reduction, reuse, and recovery, through to ensuring local and global demand for Australian recycled materials meets supply” Marsden explained.

Freya Marsden: Innovation is key to all the work on driving circularity.
Freya Marsden: Innovation is key to all the work on driving circularity.

Regarding the Victorian Government’s initiatives, Marsden outlined strategies to promote a circular economy for packaging, including significant investment in recycling and innovation. “The government announced its key recycling package of nearly $340 million, including work on the difficult to recycle packaging areas, including single-use plastics. Innovation is absolutely key to packaging solutions” she stated.

Marsden also shared the success of Victoria’s container deposit scheme, which has collected over 550 million containers in just six months, significantly benefiting charities and individuals. “We've just hit a container milestone. That's 55 million back to charities and into individuals' pockets,” she noted.

The chat wrapped up with Marsden offering four key pieces of advice to young women building their careers: “Engage in continuous learning, think like a leader, invest time in networking including across silos, and think strategically about how you can create impact in your role.”

After the seminar sessions were over, and lunch had been served, the winners were announced to hearty applause.

The feedback on the event has been overwhelmingly positive, with comments about the genuinely happy atmosphere and the opportunity to break bread with like minded professionals. The Women in Packaging Awards event not only celebrated the achievements of women in the industry but also provided a platform for sharing valuable insights on leadership, sustainability, and the future of packaging in Australia.

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