Paola Iannone, VP of Marketing and Communication at All4Labels, joins Deborah Corn in the HP Indigo booth at Labelexpo Europe to discuss digital print innovation, sustainability, and her perspective on the role and responsibility of women in leadership positions. (Transcript and PDF download below)
Mentioned in This Episode:
Paola Iannone: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paolaiannone/
HP Indigo Digital Presses: https://www.hp.com/us-en/industrial-printers/indigo-digital-presses.html
Labelexpo Europe 2023: https://www.labelexpo-europe.com/
My Life in Full: https://www.amazon.com/My-Life-Full-Family-Future/dp/059319179X
Deborah Corn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborahcorn/
Print Media Centr: https://printmediacentr.com
Project Peacock: https://ProjectPeacock.TV
Girls Who Print: https://girlswhoprint.net
[0:00:05] DC: This is sponsored by HP Indigo. Is your business future ready? With the focus on efficiency, sustainability, and growth, HP Indigo’s portfolio of digital presses, software, services, and partners can get you there. Start your journey towards a better business tomorrow today at hp.com.
It takes the right skills and the right innovation to design and manage meaningful print marketing solutions. Welcome to Podcasts From the Printerverse, where we explore all facets of print and marketing that creates stellar communications and sales opportunities for business success. I’m host, Deborah Corn, the Intergalactic Ambassador to the Printerverse. Thanks for tuning in. Listen long and prosper.
[0:00:53] DC: Hey, everybody. Welcome to Podcasts From the Printerverse. This is Deborah Corn, your Intergalactic Ambassador. Today, we have beamed to Brussels to Labelexpo, and I’m talking to Paola Iannone from All4Labels. Bonjourno. Bonjourno.
[0:01:11] PI: Bonjourno, Deborah. Happy to be here with you today.
[0:01:16] DC: I am so happy to be here with you. A very accomplished girl who prints and I’m really excited to be speaking about that and more with you today. Can you please tell everybody first what you do at All4Labels and a bit more about your history?
[0:01:35] PI: Today, I’m leading the marketing and communication team since three years and a half. I’m leading a passionate team of women looking to build a strong company culture at All4Labels in order to support and promote in our industry, our brand, which is very linked to digital and sustainable packaging solutions.
[0:02:00] DC: Why did you enter the printing industry to begin with?
[0:02:04] PI: Honestly, I did not take this decision because I was born in the label industry.
[0:02:10] DC: Oh, okay.
[0:02:11] PI: The first time I entered and I visited the shop floor, I am maybe five or six years old. I was visiting my father who founded one of the historical entity of All4Labels, [inaudible 0:02:25]. I was fascinated by the noise of the printing machine running, and I think that noise has always been the rhythm of my life. Honestly, I think that was my destiny to, of course, join the label industry. I’m very happy to be here today because Labelexpo has always been an incredible moment to meet everyone and to get inspired about the future opportunities of our industry.
[0:02:55] DC: Yes, I could not agree more. I love that, the rhythm of your life. That was very cool. One of your focuses, and one of the focuses of All4Labels is that, you are focused on creativity, innovation, and sustainability. I would like to understand from you what you mean by that.
[0:03:18] PI: All4Labels is an organization full of talented people who are proceeding themselves like disruptive. We have a strong digital heritage because we were investing in this technology many years ago. Today, we have also sold the visual of my beta test in our site into [inaudible 0:03:39] which is our blue-chip site for digital technology. So we were very forward looking to this kind of technology and we are disruptive people. I think digital technology today is not only the way we are printing, it is the way we are shaping our mindset to further guide our people to look at the things we are doing today in a different way.
[0:04:07] DC: Yes. When you think of digital printing for labels, is it because you want to be able to be more flexible, more customizable? Are the volumes right for you? A lot of times people say it’s the volume that makes the decision for a company.
[0:04:24] PI: I think that we need to make a difference when it comes to explain the values of digital printing, that is not only related to small and medium printing run or to be fast. To be faster to reduce our waste, but it’s also to promote creativity. One of the features we are trying to cascade in our industry, for example, is also the [inaudible 0:04:45]. That is not very common, but this is a value that is linked to our creativity DNA.
[0:04:53] DC: Right, we are in the HP booth. I have been invited to come here with HP and you are very important customer to them. Are they helping you to achieve your creativity, innovation, and sustainability goals? Which we’ll get a little more into sustainability in a minute, but it’s part of your company mission, and you need to deliver to your clients as well.
[0:05:17] PI: With HP, we share a common set of values, such as innovation, such as technology, and of course, sustainability. This is the special link that is helping us to bridge a solid and long-term partnership with them. We are learning mutually from each other, and we are setting the boundaries of a new label industry together.
[0:05:40] DC: Now, sustainability is a tough conversation to have when you’re in a manufacturing industry. How do you have an authentic conversation about sustainability with your customers?
[0:05:52] PI: Sustainability is, of course, a key topic for everyone. Like a mother, of course, I feel also a personal commitment to further help my industry to reduce our impact on the planet. And, of course, to promote also what I call the social responsibility. Not only in our industry but also in the communities where we are living. So I think we need to work in our industry, also together with the university with our partners to make it happen in a very concrete way.
[0:06:28] DC: What are do you feel the trends right now in the label printing?
[0:06:33] PI: Definitely, we need to look at the personalization of packaging. That will play an important role. We need to also design a new consumer journey. Thanks to the possibility to integrate through QR code or through smart labels, the interaction with the young generation. I think this is also something that we are doing at All4Labels, thanks to our dedicated division, the QR marketing one, but also, we have the possibility to promote smart labels.
[0:07:03] DC: Okay, I’m really glad that you brought that up. Does your company do that internally or do you outsource a partner to help you with the interactive connectivity?
[0:07:13] PI: We are fully integrated, and at All4Labels, we also have creative division called All4Graphics.
[0:07:21] DC: Ah, perfect. That worked out.
[0:07:23] PI: We try to anticipate the relationship with our customers, not only when the designer or the artworks has been sent to us, but since the very beginning because this is also impacting the sustainability journey. If we can support our customers by identifying the right raw materials, to understand perfectly their applications, and to integrate some features that are helping the digital journey, this is super effective.
[0:07:52] DC: A company like yours probably has customers coming to you and asking for help. But sometimes, companies like yours also go out in the marketplace and look for companies you think you can help with your solutions. What type of business are you looking to help?
[0:08:12] PI: We are very cross markets at All4Labels, which means that we have some historical presence in some, of course, market like personal care and homecare. But we are trying also to investigate better the key applications that we can offer to some niches. For example, to the wet wipes industry, we can provide some rigid labels that can help the functionality of the application without impacting on the planet. So it is a sustainable rigid label. We are providing solutions for the wine and spirits with integrated features that are helping, for example, the augmented realities functionalities. We are constantly exploring also the opportunities to integrate better our products for a new solution.
[0:09:06] DC: I call it one-stop shopping because you have everything under your roof.
[0:09:11] DC: Calling all fierce, fabulous females, Girls Who Print is waiting for you. Our global mission to help empower and connect the women of print is stronger than ever. Join our 8500 member and growing, women-only LinkedIn group. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Celebrate Girls Who Print Day and find out who wins our annual girly award. Learn about our ongoing initiatives, events, conferences, and our free mentoring program. Visit girlswhoprint.net for information on how to get involved and connect with the women of print. Empower long and prosper.
[0:09:51] DC: Okay. I want to turn now to, you are the vice president of your company. You are a woman, a leader with very strong feelings about women leadership. We had a lovely conversation before we started recording, and you described it as a generous leadership. I’d like you to share what you mean by that with everyone listening.
[0:10:12] PI: Thanks, Deborah, for asking. I think this is also part of the sustainability journey to promote diversity and inclusion, and focusing on what does it mean today for a young woman to start a career part in our industry. Of course, to be generous is something different from be kind. Everyone now is talking about our kindness leadership, which means, of course, to have a sort of attitude, to deal with people, and to have successful relationships in our organization. But for me, what is important is to be generous. That means we need to find the time to help, to listen, to understand issues that may rise in our organization, and to help young people to really succeed with their talent, to find their talent, first of all, which is not something we can take for granted. And of course, to let them succeed with their special talent. Because if they will succeed, our organization will do so.
My daily routine is always starting with half an hour coffee at the coffee machine because everyone is stopping at the coffee machine. Even though I am meeting people that are not part of my team, I always recognize spontaneous time for hearing, also for feeling. This is something that maybe it’s much more common in the attitude and the skills that a woman has. We need to promote this kind of emotional intelligence and emotional agility in our organization as a key driver for a successful team.
[0:11:54] DC: I took notes when we were speaking before, and I wrote down a “circle of knowledge” because that is how you described your passion for mentorship.
[0:12:06] PI: Basically, I read this book, written by Sheryl Sandberg, it’s called Lean In. It’s a very nice book. She was sharing her experience. This is also something we need to encourage even more, even sharing something we have read can be very inspiring for young people. She was starting this circle of knowledge that is mentoring, cross-functional, internal, and external, with the young people in that organization. This is something we did also in Italy. It’s a one year apart where we basically meet with our young people once a month, and we find the time to speak with them, not about our business agenda, but to speak about what we need to grow like a personal human being. We find the time to offer our experience to lead them in a more proper way.
[0:13:01] DC: You had mentioned this before, and I just want to go back to it, that mentorship, making sure that everyone is focused on diversity inclusion as part of sustainability. But it starts with trying to attract people to the printing industry to begin with. What is it like in Italy? I have no idea.
[0:13:20] PI: First of all, I think it’s important to share our successful personal experience, because, of course, I’m leading a marketing and communication team. I’m the ideal spokesperson of my company. But if I’m doing with a passionate way, I can, of course, attract young people to understand what does it mean to work in a printing industry. Of course, to explain the huge value of packaging, which is connecting brands and consumers in every day. I think our responsibility is to, of course, share our experience, talk about our industry, explain the huge attractiveness that we can offer, and try to onboard as much as we can printers in our shop floor, but also the new business leaders.
[0:14:09] DC: Before the podcast, we were also speaking to Martha, and she said something that was really incredible. This is no offense to your company, but she wanted to work for you. She didn’t care where you worked. She wanted to work for you because of pretty much everything you’re saying now. She did not come from the printing industry at all. So everything you’re saying, you live and you prove every day by the fact that people see. Well, I’m going to speak for her. It seems to me that she felt that she had a growth path with you. She could be recognized for her accomplishments.
[0:14:46] PI: Yes. I think, honestly, marketing and communication is not the ideal team you want to work with because it’s not a heard team in an organization. I’m coming from the sales so for example, I used to lead a team in our healthcare division, which of course was much more recognized in the industry, and I had more power, I had more people working with me. But I fell in love with marketing and communication. This is my passion. This is my life. I can really transfer to the ones who are working with me this kind of passion.
When we had the first interviews, we recognized each other. I said to her, if you love what I’m doing, we will do great together. I had a very personal connection. When she told me, “I want to have a child. Is this a problem?” I said to her, “No, because I’m a mother of two. I’ve learned so much from my personal experience to being a mother, that I wish for you the same. I’m sure that we will face this experience because in the end, it’s also a temporary experience. Like a way to get to know better each other and I’m sure you will do great.” I think this is also what how we started our relationship one year ago.
[0:16:02] DC: It’s like the movie Avatar when they say, “I see you.” You saw each other in that interview. It’s very, very lovely. Okay.
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[0:16:47] DC: You’re an executive in the printing industry, you’re obviously an accomplished woman, but I’m sure you attend many meetings where you are the only woman in the room, especially in Europe. Do you feel that that is getting better experience for you? Has it evolved over the years? Do you feel more respected?
[0:17:10] PI: Deborah, I think this is definitely something where we need to play our personal fight. Definitely, I expect from young women to always feel not in the right room. But my perspective has been changed because now, I’m much more confident about myself. So this is what we need to promote. We need of course, to look for more equal opportunities, more equal salary, we need to ask for a child-safe place to work when it comes to being a mother. But what we can do by ourselves is lead by example, and saying that it’s time to speak up.
[0:17:54] DC: I love that answer. That might be the best answer I’ve ever heard to that question. It’s you that has changed. Doesn’t matter about everybody else in the room. If you are strong, you can walk into any room it does not matter who is in there.
[0:18:10] PI: You can do by your personal style. I mean, sometimes also to be strong is not the right way. You can be kind.
[0:18:16] DC: Yes, of course.
[0:18:17] PI: But what is important is that if you are sitting at a table, you can simply ask your questions. How many times there is someone who is asking at a meeting, “What do you think about?” You will never see a woman raising her hands before a man. What I know today is that I can raise the hand and maybe my question is the right one. But I’ve been learning after a path of 20 years. This is something we have to teach to the young woman.
[0:18:49] DC: Yes, you’re right. It’s about fear. It’s about, am I going to be embarrassed?
[0:18:53] PI: It’s about confidence. Is this the right question? Because nobody has taught us that we can have the right question. We are smart enough. We are prepared enough. I can share with you something that I learned from Karen [inaudible 0:19:09], which is the CEO of [0:19:12]. She’s a senior, a woman leading the label industry. During last Labelexpo, she told me something I have never forget. It’s a matter of elbows and study. I think this was a very easy, effective, and simple lesson that I want to share with all the young women coming in the printing industry, the question of elbows and study.
[0:19:37] DC: Okay. What is the first word you’re saying? I don’t understand.
[0:19:40] PI: Elbows.
[0:19:40] DC: Oh, elbows. I thought you said that, elbows and study. Okay. Know how to get into the room with your elbows, and study, and know how to be in the room once you’re in there.
[0:19:51] PI: Yes. Always, of course, bet on know-how. There is no leading position without really investing time to get ready, to be prepared to know more than the others. I mean, the packaging is really changing every year. So we can know about printing technology, but we can know what the consumer behaviors will have from packaging. So this is something we have to constantly feed our competencies. We need also to teach that learning and attitude is essential to lead a global company.
[0:20:27] DC: I love it. So Paola, I only have one more question for you, and that’s because this is the question you ask at every interview. What book are you reading now?
[0:20:37] PI: I’m reading the biography of Indra Nooyi, who is the CEO of Pepsi Cola because I think this is a very great example of women, executive women, leading a global company with a very personal touch. I want to get inspired for personal communication with our new CEO, which by the way is a woman, Paloma Alonso. This is also a great opportunity for All4Labels to be led by a great example of a woman succeeding in our company.
[0:21:05] DC: Thank you so much for your time. I know you’re very busy here. I got a press release. You have some more press conferences to do and interviews. Your company is being celebrated at Labelexpo, so congratulations for that. Everything you need to connect with Paola and All4Labels will be in the show notes of this podcast. [Inaudible 0:21:26]
[0:21:28] PI: [Inaudible 0:21:28], Deborah. I am very happy to have met you and congratulations for what you’re doing.
[0:21:34] DC: Thank you so much. Until next time, everybody. Print long, label long, and prosper.
[0:21:39] PI: Ciao.
[0:21:40] DC: Ciao.
[END OF EPISODE]
[0:21:43] DC: Thanks for listening to Podcasts From the Printerverse. Please subscribe, click some stars, and leave us a review. Connect with us through printmediacentr.com. We’d love to hear your feedback on our shows and topics that are of interest for future broadcasts. Until next time, thanks for joining us. Print long and prosper.