HERStory | Tricia Girardin
Meet Tricia - Vice President and General Manager, Graphic Packaging International
As the Vice President and General Manager for the Canadian Division of Graphic Packaging, Tricia oversees 5 manufacturing facilities with over 500 employees. She started her career in manufacturing right after graduating from the University of Manitoba’s Asper’s School of Business. After 25 years and 9 different positions at Graphic Packaging, she still enjoys the fast-paced manufacturing environment and is excited for the future growth in paperboard packaging.
Q: How does your company support diversity and inclusion?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is an important strategy for Graphic Packaging (GPI). In our ever-changing world, recognizing and celebrating diversity is more important than ever. I am an active member and participant in the employee-led business resource group, Women@GPI. The group is dedicated to creating a space where female associates and allies provide support and advice, while working together to continue the advancement of women within and outside the company.
Our primary focus has been to: 1) attract more women into the exciting world of manufacturing, 2) improve engagement by creating an environment where women have a strong sense of belonging and are included and valued, 3) foster a culture in which women having meaningful opportunities to grow, develop, and advance to reach career goals, and 4) support by providing a network of women leaders to help with the challenges women face in the workplace and mentors to help retain high-quality talent.
Q: What gains have you seen over your career in terms of women working in the manufacturing industry? What’s changed?
I have seen an increase in women working in the manufacturing industry, especially in leadership roles throughout the past 10 years. However, we still need companies to be more progressive on recruiting and retention. Some companies are starting to recognize the importance of having a more diverse workplace and are providing solutions and flexibility to support women that work shiftwork and travel. It’s still not enough. Over the years, I have seen far too many women turn down opportunities and leave the industry because of lack of child support and flexibility. The demographics are constantly changing and the companies that are going to be successful are those that are proactive in recognizing the changes and adapting to these shifts.
Q: What advice would you have for your younger self?
I have twin 16-year-old daughters so I “live” this question every day. There are so many lessons I have learned along the way and wonder if my life would be as fulfilling if I took a different route. Like so many other women, I never planned a career in manufacturing but fell in love with “operations” during some university courses. I have been blessed with finding a career I am passionate about and hope that other young ladies consider manufacturing as an exciting career choice. Here’s some advice I’ve shared with my daughters and wish I would have known earlier on:
- Take as many STEM (sciences, technology, engineering, and math) related courses as possible. The opportunities in the future are endless, especially for females.
- It’s okay to be competitive, as life is a competition. Just be humble, kind and professional along the way.
- Be your strongest advocate, because there’s no one else in the world that will represent your needs better than you will.
- It’s okay to fail – everyone does at some point, but the key is how you bounce back from failure and move forward.
- Be patient and hard work will pay off after time.
- Never turn down an opportunity to learn. Your brain is your best asset.
- As women, we tend to doubt ourselves and are scared to take risks. Put yourselves out there, what’s the worst thing that will happen?
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Never settle.
- Find a career that you are passionate about – retirement is a long way away!
ABOUT GRAPHIC PACKAGING
Graphic Packaging is one of the largest manufacturers of paperboard and paper-based packaging for some for the world’s most recognized brands of food, beverage, foodservice, household, personal care, and pet care products.
Graphic Packaging has over 130 facilities worldwide that provide innovative packaging solutions to help their customers stand out and achieve brand loyalty in a competitive and dynamic marketplace. With a product portfolio that emphasizes renewable, recycled, and recyclable materials, Graphic Packaging is committed to their customers and 24,000 employees as they are protecting the environment and giving back to the communities in which they live and work.