Packaging World's Women in Packaging July supplement features an exclusive interview with prominent CEO Nancy Morrison of Morrison Container Handling Solutions who transitioned from a distinguished career at Ford Motor Company to lead Morrison Container Handling Solutions. Reflecting on her experiences as a woman in a male-dominated industry, she asserts, "The challenges I’ve faced have often been a benefit in disguise...you can make what you have to say count."
What is your name and position?
Nancy Wilson, CEO, Morrison Container Handling Solutions
Tell us about your background and how you got into the packaging industry.
After spending 25 years in sales and marketing at Ford Motor Company, my husband convinced me to join the family business, Morrison Container Handling Solutions. Shortly after joining, I took on the role of CEO. At the time of my arrival, Morrison was celebrating 40 years in business, and we believed that my experience from Ford would be valuable as the company transitioned into the next generation. Afterall, for 10 years I had spent my vacation time from Ford in our booth at PACK EXPO!
What are some of the challenges that you have faced as a woman in a male-dominated industry?
I take the approach that the challenges I’ve faced have often been a benefit in disguise. There will be times you are the only woman in the room, but the benefit to that challenge is you will stand out and you can use that to your advantage. You’re more likely to be remembered, so you can make what you have to say count. The challenge is you still may not be heard, but if you continue to stand strong and repeat yourself, you’ll eventually be recognized and remembered. Everyone brings unique qualities, the secret is finding out what yours are and staying true to them.
What do you think are some of the key factors that have contributed to your success in the industry?
I’ve leaned into the advantages most women naturally have – empathy and nurturing. I also believe being customer focused is the best thing one can do in order to become successful in any environment. If you know and understand your customers, you are a valuable asset to any team. Pair that with learning the technical side of the business, and you can really excel.
What can the industry do better to support women and increase the number of women in leadership positions?
Things have already come such a long way, so we need to keep up the good momentum. I see more women then ever before in the industry. Leadership needs to support them through mentorship and education so they are ready to take on leadership positions. Executives with the opportunity to promote should make sure they are looking unbiased at the leadership team and make sure people who can bring different experiences to the table are present. Tables of all men or all women are not good. We need diversity of thought from varying perspectives driving strategies to continue to grow and be successful.
What advice would you give to young women who are considering a career in packaging?
Packaging is a dynamicand growing industry that has an incredible amount of job security because everything we buy comes in some sort of packaging. We work in nearly every industry, which means you’re less susceptible to cyclical changes. Automation is only going to continue to become more important, so there will be so much room to innovate. Plus, we create some really cool things that have never existed before. It’s fun! If you want to be in a place where you are engaged to keep trying new things and grow, this is the place to be.