The FLiP Files: Kate Hand

The FLiP Files is a blog series spotlighting young professionals who are active in PLASTICS' Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP), a group for plastics professionals under the age of 40.  For this FLiP File, we spoke to Kate Hand, director of editorial operations at Gardner Business MediaGardner is PLASTICS’ official media partner for the NPE show products, like the Show Daily, and produces industry publications like Plastics TechnologyAdditive Manufacturing MediaMoldMaking Technology and CompositesWorld. Its flagship magazine, Modern Machine Shop, celebrates 90 years in 2018

-How did you find yourself working in the plastics industry?

A circuitous route! I have a masters in magazine publishing from Northwestern University and after graduation I worked in Chicago a bit before moving back to my hometown of Cincinnati, OH where I was hired at Gardner. Interestingly, though, I’ve been exposed to the plastics industry for many years – my father just retired from a career in the plastics industry as a chemical engineer specializing in polymers.

-Has anyone in the industry mentored you?

My best mentors have been here at Gardner—Melissa Kline Skavlem has been an amazing mentor, teaching me about how media can really serve an industry, not just cover it.

-Describe in one sentence what you do on an average day.

On any given day, I work with many of our 40-some editors on best practices in process and content creation—most days lately, I’m coordinating efforts across all of our brands for the NPE2018 Show Daily.

-What do you like most about working in the plastics industry?

The people we work with in the plastics industry are so intelligent and driven and care about what they do. The focus on sustainability and eco-consciousness is beyond admirable.

What’s one thing about your personal life that you feel has been changed by having a career in plastics?

I’m SO much more aware of the plastics I use in everyday life … and their recyclability!

-What are the major challenges you think are facing the plastics industry today? How do you think the industry can overcome them?

I think the plastics industry is doing an amazing job of facing its recycling challenges head-on. The next step, which many are already taking, is working with local municipalities to make it more convenient to recycle and to educate consumers about the surprisingly wide variety of items that can be recycled.

-Why do you think someone from your generation should consider a career in plastics?

It’s an interesting field with stability and tons of growth potential. I see fantastic jobs in manufacturing, and plastics specifically; and those jobs are growing in leaps and bounds. My younger sister is a manufacturing engineer and loves her job, and I’m convinced that (maybe unlike my own chosen career of journalism) there will never be a shortage of positions for those willing to keep learning.

-What’s one plastic product you couldn’t live without?

Well—quite literally the PEEK graft in my lower back. Last year, I had spinal fusion surgery, and rather than put me through a second surgery to graft my own bone, they put in a plastic cage that my vertebrae fused around. That’s nothing short of amazing.