The Benefits of Being a Mentor: Part One

March 18, 2024

A conversation with Kristin Kelley of Amcor Rigid Packaging

Tania Ferlin (Husky Technologies) and Kristin Kelley (Amcor Rigid Packaging)

Kristin Kelley, Vice President of Corporate Communications & External Affairs for Amcor Rigid Packaging, spoke with the PLASTICS Blog about her experience mentoring Tania Ferlin, Global Manager of Communications and ESG for Husky Technologies.

What is your overall perspective on mentorship? 

When you’re asked to mentor somebody, it almost feels like an arranged marriage. And I’m not one to sign up for the unknown. I like to work out an arrangement that works for that unique situation, taking it one session at a time. I think a lot of people don’t want to become formal mentors because it feels like such a commitment. And what if they don’t like the person? What if they don’t have chemistry with the person? So when I’m asked to do it, I’ll often say to the mentee, “Let’s just figure out what works best for us and then take it as it goes.”  

What form did your mentor/mentee relationship with Tania Ferlin take? 

Tania and I didn’t arrange anything overly complex or overly formal, which I think fit our personalities really well. Interestingly, our paths just started naturally crossing. Husky joined NAPCOR (National Association for PET Container Resources) where I’m on the board. Tania and I worked together on INC (Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee) issues with regard to the UN plastics treaty, as well as on some social influencer campaigns. So not only did we start this formal mentorship through PLASTICS, we started working up and down the value chain together, which has been the most amazing part of it all. 

So your “arranged marriage” worked out? 

A wonderful friendship came out of our mentorship. Tania is just highly likable. She’s intelligent, eager, ambitious, a learner, and a listener. She also asks great questions. Tania is highly regarded inside her company, so I was bringing this sort of seasoned experience in communications to the table while learning generational differences in communications from her. I’ve also learned more about the industry from our supplier’s POV (Amcor is a Husky customer), as Tania is also very knowledgeable about sustainability. Plus, anytime I need to better understand Canadian politics, she’s a wealth of information. 

Was the framework of the FLiP Mentorship Program helpful? 

Absolutely. There were some guidelines that were given to us, but it was up to us to make it what we wanted it to be. And I think that is really the beauty of this particular part of FLiP. 

What might your elevator pitch be to a seasoned professional who’s considering a commitment to mentorship? 

It’s a really manageable opportunity to get involved and give back in our industry which, frankly, has become increasingly challenging to get younger professionals into. I think it’s our obligation and our responsibility to make sure we’re pulling people in and pulling people up, making sure that we have a wonderful and strong base of budding leaders. And I haven’t found it at all burdensome in terms of time. In fact, Tania and I first said we would meet quarterly, for an hour. I mean, come on. Four hours a year spent investing and giving back to the future leaders of our industry is nothing. Sure, Tania and I have had the opportunity to do much more, but that came about very naturally. 

What other perspective would you like to offer? 

It would be great for senior leaders to be more aware of the FLiP Mentorship Program. Had I not been approached by two CEOs acting on their own initiative, Tania and I may never have had any of the opportunities I’ve mentioned. I don’t think they were thinking of FLiP when they spoke to me; they just recognized what they saw as a beneficial pairing of people. But the fact is, everyone from the CEO on down can and should be a FLiP mentor.