Not everyone is lucky enough to find a job that perfectly matches their disposition, but Katie Prezzi did— at the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), where her title is, Member Relations Associate. “My positive, social nature and Type A ways combined for a great match to the position,” Katie said.

Katie first learned about PLASTICS while working in convention and meeting planning, which involved her with plans for PLASTICS’ NPE2018 and NPE2021 trade shows. Upon the retirement of Jill Brandts, a much-respected veteran of PLASTICS’ Membership Department, Katie found herself with a chance to join the association staff, with the added benefit of Brandts helping her transition to the job.

“The time I spent with Jill Brandts was invaluable,” Katie recalled. “She was able to provide me a solid footing of roots, and now each conversation I have with people in the industry adds to that.”

Katie’s love of conversation has given her what she sees as an entire industry of potential mentors. “This past year, getting to meet the members and understand what they do, and how it impacts the larger picture, has been monumental,” she said. “The industry has been very welcoming and has been more than helpful, filling my curious mind with facts and knowledge every day.” 

Katie’s job at PLASTICS is to make sure member companies and their representatives feel at home. She explained, “I work with individuals at companies to ensure they are engaged in the conversations and committees that match their interests, and that they can access the full member benefits of the association.”

Ambassador for her generation

Her way with people and desire to be of help to others recently won Katie a new role as staff liaison for PLASTICS’ FLiP Engagement Task Group, an initiative of the association’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Committee, which provides personal and professional development opportunities for professionals under the age of 40. The Engagement Task Group focuses on networking and social events for FLiP members.

“I’ve participated in FLiP for just under a year,” Katie said. “It has been beneficial in providing me a base of friendly faces to connect with at events or meetings that may be otherwise intimidating.” When asked which FLiP opportunity has meant most to her personally, Katie said, “The FLiP Book Club has encouraged me to spend time on personal professional development that otherwise can get easily lost in the shuffle of busy schedules and work travel.”

Katie is quick to recommend her newfound, fast-paced profession to other young people in search of careers. “This industry has incredible mobility and growth potential,” she said. “Plastics are used in such a variety of applications and the industry continues to innovate quickly, there is always an opportunity to challenge yourself and/or have an impact on something that affects just about everyone.” 

The power of knowledge

While new to the industry, Katie has soaked up a lot of knowledge quickly. “Every aspect of what I am learning has opened my eyes,” she said. “The biggest change is consciously recognizing just how many applications plastics are found in. I pay attention to the way a car is produced, the shape of a food package, what kind of plastic cups a facility hands out—things that used to be in the background of my life are now in the forefront.”

And of course, given Katie’s self-described “social nature and Type A ways,” she went on to share, “It is now not uncommon for me to speak to someone about recycling or provide a ‘fun plastic fact’ at a brunch!”

Katie loves sharing those fun facts because she believes in spreading the truth about plastics. “The major challenge I see for the industry is misinformation,” she said. “The general public is quick to side with a publicized negative view, without recognizing the daily positive impacts plastics have on them personally. Regular, informed, nonconfrontational education, as a united industry, is how I believe this can be overcome.”

By the way, speaking of fun facts—while Katie is new to the industry, the industry isn’t exactly entirely new to her. There’s a PLASTICS member company in her family tree—Dukane, a leading provider of plastic welding equipment. “My grandfather worked at Dukane for his entire adult career,” Katie said. “So, I am enjoying understanding what he did—albeit, while playing a bit of catch-up!”

PLASTICS and the Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Committee are devoted to supporting and encouraging the next generation of plastics leaders who will play a crucial role in the innovation, technology and future of the plastics industry. FLiP’s mission is to provide young professionals under the age of 40 the exposure, education and resources they need to build lifelong careers in plastics. Want to join? Want to get your employees involved?  Email: flip@plasticsindustry.org

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