PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, recently announced its fifth annual On the Rise Award winners. Developed by PMMI’s Emerging Leaders Committee, the awards recognize 10 young professionals who have demonstrated leadership potential in packaging and processing. Taz Lombardo, content marketing specialist at Barry-Wehmiller Packaging Systems, is one of the 2022 winners. Lombardo developed the “Packed with Expertise” blog, which elevates the company’s team members’ voices around the world on topics ranging from packaging sustainability to calculating total cost of ownership (TCO). Lombardo also led a project to develop the new BW Packaging Systems website, which helps customers connect with the five divisions faster by allowing them to browse a portfolio of solutions by market, equipment, or packaging type. He recently spoke with OEM magazine about his current role and career objectives.
OEM: Can you provide a brief description of what your company does?
Lombardo: As Barry-Wehmiller's global team of packaging professionals, BW Packaging is best known for its reputation of caring for people and its broad range of high-performance packaging solutions. Comprised of five divisions—Accraply, BW Flexible Systems, BW Integrated Systems, Pneumatic Scale Angelus, and Synerlink—BW Packaging offers comprehensive packaging machinery and solutions, including complete packaging lines, filling and closing, flexible packaging, labeling, end-of-line solutions, and systems integration.
OEM: What is your role and responsibilities at the company?
Lombardo: Today, I am BW Packaging’s content marketing specialist, which means I am responsible for all our content strategy, management, writing, editing, design and distribution. The content I oversee is primarily used for marketing purposes, but I also develop content for internal communications (i.e., educating team members about sustainability, team member and organizational announcements, etc.). There’s a lot of ground to cover with content, so providing clear direction to vendors and coaching our team members on best content practices are also important parts of my role.
OEM: Since joining the company in August of 2020, have you had the opportunity to learn different sides of the business?
Lombardo: Yes. In my role, I work with fellow marketers, executive leaders, engineers, sales executives, and several other team members throughout Barry-Wehmilller, the BW Packaging platform, and its five divisions. I’ve also learned from our customers while developing testimonials and case study content. These relationships have provided context and perspective that is helpful, not only for doing my job, but for appreciating the larger role of our business within the packaging community.
OEM: How do you help the company innovate?
Lombardo: I think of innovation in a couple of ways. The more obvious of the two is that I create content (for tradeshows, PR, etc.) that generates awareness for packaging innovations developed by the BW Packaging platform and its five divisions. The “behind the curtain” way that I help our company innovate is by introducing new tactics and ways of thinking about content to improve our marketing and communication effectiveness.
OEM: What have been some obstacles you have faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
Lombardo: When I first joined BW Packaging in 2020, I was really excited to sink my teeth in. The content marketing specialist position was basically a new role, so I was given a ton of responsible freedom to introduce new content marketing tactics. However, I quickly discovered there would be a steep learning curve. I had no real experience developing packaging-related content. Some of my experience writing about process systems and machine vision systems carried over, but I had a lot to learn about packaging machinery and its place within the larger manufacturing ecosystem. Luckily, BW has a deep bullpen of gracious packaging experts who were willing to answer my many questions. In my first couple of years with BW, I spent a good chunk of time learning from experts in sustainability, pet food packaging, filling and closing solutions, systems integration… you name it. We’re a highly collaborative organization.
OEM: How did you make your way into the packaging industry?
Lombardo: I didn’t go to school thinking I’d work in the packaging industry or even in marketing. I studied photojournalism and my first fulltime job was working as a photo editor for a digital media startup. I quickly learned that the life of a journalist wasn’t the life that I wanted. Luckily, many of experiences and skills were transferable to marketing. My second fulltime job was as a content marketer for EPIC Systems, a St. Louis-based process engineering firm where I learned all about SEO and digital marketing. From there, BW felt my industrial B2B marketing background would make me a good fit for their new role and that’s how I landed where I am today.
OEM: What advice do you have for others who may be interested in starting a career in packaging or some aspect of the manufacturing industry?
Lombardo: Make it a point to connect with and learn from others in the industry, especially if their role is different from yours. Just like the machinery we build, these organizations can be incredibly sophisticated with several moving parts working together towards a shared purpose. The more you understand about the parts around you, the bigger your impact can be. The bigger your impact, the more fulfilled you will feel.
OEM: As a rising star in your organization, what’s next for you?
Lombardo: Exciting things are on the horizon for BW Packaging. As we look to 2023 and beyond, content will play an increasingly important role in achieving our business objectives. This year, I’ll be looking at new ways to optimize and scale our content marketing efforts in alignment with our organizational vision.