• BW Packaging

ShePacks: Inspiring Women of Packaging; Daniela Israel and the Value of Diversity of Thought

by Sarah Higgins | Feb 20, 2024

Many women continue to be key players in packaging, yet they are often underrepresented due to the gender gap the industry faces. According to Packaging World, women make up about half of workers (47%) in all industries, but only about 35% in packaging and processing. Increased diversity and inclusion in the workplace can drive innovation, new ways of thinking and help people develop empathy for each other. Closing the gender gap is an important step in the process to increase workplace diversity, and women in the industry today need to be recognized for their valuable work and success despite these challenges.

Last March, BW Packaging celebrated International Women’s Day by recognizing four women on our team and their industry success in a blog post. There are dozens more inspirational women in BW Packaging and the packaging industry, and we want to celebrate these women beyond Women’s History Month. This means we are revitalizing our effort to highlight women in packaging, starting with an on-going series of in-depth profiles.

In our first profile of the series, we focus on Daniela Israel, Vice President of Market Strategy for BW Integrated Systems. We will take a closer look into Daniela’s inspiring story as a leader in the packaging industry.

Growing Up and Building Her Career

Daniela Israel was born in Chile while it was under a military dictatorship. She said that for the first eight years of her life, the dictatorship restricted everything, including international trade and creating a curfew. These early experiences in Chile impacted her values and guided her to her career today.

“That experience really led me to appreciate freedom, both personal and economic,” said Daniela. “I felt like the best way I could make a difference in the world was through the creation of business. That is why market strategy and new product development attracted me so much and I decided to make a career out of it.”

Growing up Daniela said she didn’t have a big family, but she grew up closely with cousins and the Jewish community. She said it was rare to be Latin American and Jewish, so the Jewish community there felt like a family to her.

Daniela lived in Chile with her two parents, and she said their love continues to inspire her. They just celebrated 42 years of marriage and they raised Daniela’s 19-year-old nephew, which she said taught her how to love a child.

When she was 25 years old, she decided to move to the U.S. and soon after moving, she pursued an MBA in Texas. She said moving to the U.S. was the best decision she made for herself because the mix of cultures led her to truly appreciate diversity.

Today, Daniela is a single mother of three young children, 11-year-old son Julian, 11-year-old daughter Dalia and 9-year-old daughter Ilana. She said that being a single mother pushes her to grow in her career and be a role model for her kids.

Her career journey spans diverse positions and industries, which lends her a unique perspective as a professional. Before packaging, she worked in operations, product development, and marketing and strategy. Throughout her career, Daniela said she learned a lot from her teams, leading to many career accomplishments she is proud of.

One career accomplishment that stands out to her was a successful product development project for a tool from her previous company. The new tool gained attention from a major big box home-improvement retailer who saw so much potential in the product that they dedicated extra shelving space in their store to prominently highlight it. This led to millions of dollars in unexpected revenue and increased visibility for the product and company.

“It was a great example of really listening to the customer,” Daniela said. “I'm really proud of it because we were not intending that additional space in-store to happen through this tool."

To increase opportunities for women to make career accomplishments like Daniela has, she said leaders must value diversity of thought in the workplace.

The Value of Diversity of Thought in the Workplace

Company leaders often set the tone and expectations for inclusivity in the work environment, which has an impact on historically marginalized team members, including women. When asked how the industry can improve to be more inclusive for women, Daniela stressed the importance of hiring leaders who are good listeners and who value diversity of thinking.

“One great value we have as women is we think differently,” Daniela said. “As a leader, if you’re not willing to listen, you’re not going to be able to pivot and adjust to achieve success.”

Diversity of thought in the workplace not only creates a more equitable culture, but it also drives innovation. She said one example is a current project she is working on to create engineering innovation teams: teams of engineers with different experience and backgrounds. The project aims to spark new ideas on improving customer expectations.

“If you have a group of engineers with the same experience, background, and mindset, how are you going to differentiate yourself?” said Daniela. “Diversity is needed at every level and every time you want to stand out.”

In addition to driving innovation, embracing diversity of thought helps to foster professional growth. For all industry workers, Daniela said her greatest pieces of advice are to get out of your comfort zone, listen to varying opinions, and inspire your team to do the same.

“When you’re too comfortable, it’s just not the way you’re going to grow as a professional,” said Daniela. “You need to keep challenging yourself and your team to think differently.”

There is more work to be done to increase diversity of thought in the workplace and women continue to face challenges in male-dominated industries like packaging. For Daniela, one next step to increase diversity of thought in the workplace is to pave the way for the next generation of women professionals.

Building a Better Future For Her Daughters and Working Women

To open the path for the next generation of women professionals, it’s important to acknowledge the challenges they face in male-dominated industries. One challenge Daniela faced earlier in her career was feeling pressured to stay at work longer and sacrifice important moments in her personal life, like missing her children’s recitals.

“I felt like I couldn't say no, but that was self-imposed,” Daniela said. “It's almost like a cultural expectation of women, that we need to over prove that we can do it."

Daniela said she hopes women in the industry will continue to challenge gender stereotypes by driving results while embracing who they are as people, for example putting pictures of their kids on their desk.

“This is the legacy I want to leave for the next generation of women in packaging,” Daniela said. “I want them to be proud.”

She also said she wants to leave a similar legacy for her daughters, by showing them how to be successful as a woman professional: through confidence and resilience. Daniela said confidence and resilience were two of the main factors that led to her career success.

Gaining confidence was not easy and it took her a while to achieve, but she said having supportive people in her life and building her educational foundation helped her overtime. When it comes to staying resilient, she said her biggest motivation is providing for her three children.

Daniela said she wants to continue sharing her knowledge, and empowering other women to be confident and stay resilient. She recalled a time when working with her summer intern Claire, showed her how much she enjoys mentoring others.

“Building her confidence and really showing her, she is super smart, and she can achieve more. That is by far the favorite part of my job,” Daniela said. “If I need to sleep one less hour to help somebody, I'd love to do that as long as it's been well received.”

Her advice to women packaging leaders is to invest time in developing other smart women to help build their confidence and increase diversity of thinking in the industry. For women thinking about a career in packaging, Daniela said to connect with women in the industry and be open to continually learning from others. 

Her Care for Her BW Packaging Team

Daniela said she’s excited to continue working with her team at BW Packaging and accomplishing future successes together.

“This opportunity at BW has really been amazing and I feel very blessed to be a part of this journey,” said Daniela. “Not everyone gets this opportunity.”

She also said the BW philosophy of measuring success by the way you touch the lives of people inspires her to be a better leader.

“The livelihood of the people in our division really depends on the decisions that we're making, and I don't take that responsibility for granted,” Daniela said. “That connection really came from Bob and his philosophy."

When thinking of her future at BW Packaging, Daniela said she is committed to caring for the wellbeing of her team members, prioritizing her customers’ needs, and encouraging confidence in aspiring women professionals and other women in packaging.

Are you a woman in the packaging industry looking for additional resources? Check out the PMMI Packaging and Processing Women’s Leadership Network on LinkedIn for online and in person events, knowledge-sharing, and networking. 

Sarah Higgins

Sarah Higgins

Sarah has more than 2 years of experience in storytelling through journalistic writing, social media content creation, video editing, videography, and photography. As a Content Marketing Specialist for BW Packaging, she helps packaging subject matter experts (SME) share their knowledge on packaging technologies, global trends, and market-specific challenges and solutions.

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