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BW Packaging’s Michelle Bryson Discusses Sustainability with the Next Generation of Business Professionals

by Taz Lombardo | Apr 12, 2024

Michelle Bryson, BW Packaging’s Global Sustainable Packaging Leader, recently shared her wealth of knowledge and inspired a new generation of thinkers at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis during its International Business Career Conference. Throughout the conference’s sustainability workshops, Bryson emphasized the crucial role that the younger generation plays in shaping a sustainable future through innovation and persistence." Your generation will impact the future through your creative problem-solving,” Bryson told students at the workshop. “You have some ideas that you're kicking around in this room and in your minds… don't be shy about those things. As you journey through your career, probe your employers and follow those threads to see where they go. It could be your idea that makes a difference."

Advice for the Next Generation

Bryson and her fellow workshop speaker Sarah Burnette of Burnette Strategy and Communications captivated students with their advice on building a career in sustainability. The two agreed that true change-makers in sustainability may not always carry the title of 'leader' but are the ones fervently committed to the cause and freely giving of their time. Building upon this, Bryson encouraged students to connect with their company’s sustainability leaders upon entering the workforce and simply ask how they can support the business’s sustainability objectives.  

“Sustainability leaders often work with lean teams if they have a team at all,” Bryson shared. “Under such circumstances, it’s common that any offer of help—no matter how undefined or exploratory—is welcomed with open arms.”

Bryson also urged students to be agile and open to continuous learning, reminding them that the starting point of their careers doesn’t always illuminate a clear path to their desired destination in the beginning.

"As long as you're learning, you are moving in a promising direction," Bryson said.

Michelle’s Spark for a Career in Sustainability

When asked about her own path to becoming the Global Sustainable Packaging Leader at BW Packaging, Michelle recounted a journey fueled by personal conviction and catalyzed by a challenge from her daughters: “you have to do something about this plastic problem, Mom.”

With 30+ years of experience working in packaging development across CPG brands like PepsiCo and Wells Enterprises, Bryson said she had the knowledge and experience to accept her daughters’ challenge, but her position at the time didn’t afford her the leverage she needed to make a significant impact. It was this realization that set her on a quest to find a platform where she could drive meaningful change.

Her determination and passion led her to BW Packaging, where she could harness her expertise and insights to craft a role centered on sustainability. Today, she now leads with the vision to align environmental responsibility with business acumen, making sustainability an integral part of BW Packaging’s ethos and operations.

Connecting Sustainability with Business Objectives

Upon joining, she conducted listening sessions to assess and expand the sustainability mindset across various levels of the company. She explained how her approach was grounded in understanding all team members’ needs and motivations. Bryson advises those starting in sustainability to craft their narrative in a way that resonates personally with their colleagues, including CEOs.

“The goal is not to overwhelm with doomsday scenarios but to connect with individuals on what matters to them in the here and now—whether it’s career aspirations or immediate business challenges,” Bryson said.

She explained that this tailored approach, she believes, not only garners support but also turns passive observers into active participants in the company’s sustainability journey. Her parting message encapsulated the spirit of the event: embrace creative problem-solving and don't hesitate to pursue ideas that could pave the way to a brighter, more sustainable future.

To learn more about Michelle Bryson and her outlook on sustainability, subscribe to the Packed With Expertise Blog today.

Taz Lombardo

Taz Lombardo

As Content Marketing Leader for BW Packaging, Taz is responsible for developing and continuously improving BW Packaging's marketing and communications content. He brings  7 years of experience writing content in the B2B manufacturing space. In this role, Taz helps packaging subject matter experts (SME) share their knowledge on packaging technologies, global trends, and market-specific challenges and solutions. 

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