Can IoPP strengthen its chapters? (sidebar)

Member certification: Strengthening and promoting

Carole Schiller, awards, events and certification manager
Carole Schiller, awards, events and certification manager

What should be one of the most visible accomplishments in a packaging person’s career—attaining Certified Packaging Professional standing from the Institute of Packaging Professionals—may finally be on the verge of gaining new importance. That’s the belief of the new administration at IoPP, Edwin Landon, executive director, and his partner Patrick Farrey, general manager. “The members who are involved in this, especially those that earn the CPP designation, believe it’s a terrific program,” says Landon. “But it hasn’t been promoted in the past. So, yes, the program needs some polishing.” When asked if IoPP would begin to promote the value of certification to the management of members’ companies, Landon quickly responded, “Absolutely! That’s part of our whole marketing approach. If we don’t convince management that it’s in their best interests to make sure their people are certified, we fail. Certification is probably the single most important service we offer individual members.” CPPs interviewed for this article were nearly unanimous in complaining that certification wasn’t highly regarded in their companies. “Many of us pursue it for our own personal reasons, since our companies haven’t been persuaded to care about it,” one Northeastern member noted. However, Landon says that the only complaint about certification he’s heard is from one packaging school graduate who thought the test was too easy. That observation has led to a discussion with the IoPP executive committee. “We need to revisit how the testing is done, the criteria, and also whether we should create a new, higher level of achievement,” Landon says, indicating the potential for a “masters level” of certification. “We’re discussing what we should do to make it better. Is it broken? No. Does it need some enhancement? Yes.”

Web site work One of the primary communications vehicles—long pushed by many members—will be the new IoPP Web site, www.iopp.net. Farrey is the management person most responsible for the site, which is still under development while it’s up and running. The organization owns the www.pkgmatters.com and www.iopp.org sites that have been used in the past, Farrey says. But because those sites had to cover as many as five different organizations, they “lost some of the brand identity of IoPP,” and many members felt they didn’t do a very good job for them, he says. Plus, they are cumbersome and slow. “Our goal is to build the Web site to reflect the services that IoPP provides. A new and expanded jobs section is being developed to respond to that need. We plan new discussion areas, online community functionality to allow members to communicate with one another and with the entire packaging community,” Farrey enthuses. More than one packaging consultant has expressed frustration with how the consultants’ section of the Web site has been managed and presented. “Several of us have talked about whether we should continue to be part of the IoPP Web site,” one consultants’ council member told Packaging World. “In the last year or so, few of us have received any referrals.” Landon and Farrey acknowledge that operation of the consultants’ section of the Web site has not been effective in the past. While they believe that’s partly caused by the structure of the old Web site, they also say the consultants’ council itself needs to be more active. Still, as the new management creates the new site, “ the packaging consultants’ component is being rebuilt to make it more accessible,” Farrey explains. Both Farrey and Landon said that member registration has become part of the new site. “Our members need to have services they can access that nonmembers are barred from. After all, IoPP is designed to give our members a competitive edge in the marketplace,” Farrey points out.

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