“I Would Like to Encourage More Women to Enter the Print Business”

“I Would Like to Encourage More Women to Enter the Print Business”

In an exclusive interview with Print Pack, Sabine Geldermann, the Director of drupa and the Global Head of Print Technologies at Messe Düsseldorf, speaks about her leadership style, the reasons she chose the printing and graphics arts industry as a career opportunity, and more

Tell us about your leadership style and philosophy.
Everyone is only as good as their team. And a great team spirit comes from integrity and team work – in every respect, regardless of gender, nationality or background. Diverse talents add different strengths to each team and make it successful.

In addition, the identification with the project, the passion for winning and the cumulation of all-important core competencies play a decisive role. As in many team sports, milestones, and victories bond together and drive success.

What made you choose the Printing and Graphics Arts Industry as a career opportunity? How has your unique background prepared you for success in the industry?
I started my professional career at leading international trade fair organizers such as Blenheim International and Miller Freeman. At Reed Exhibitions Deutschland GmbH, I most recently headed the Promotional Product Service Institute as Director PSI and was a member of the extended management board. 

Besides, I have been responsible for various international trade fairs during my career, such as IFM, International Franchise Fair, as well as the viscom and pro sign trade fairs. In addition to sales and marketing, I have placed a special focus on the strategic development of the brands and have continuously expanded them at national and international level. 

Before joining Messe Düsseldorf in 2013, I was a member of the divisional management of the largest technical scientific network for engineers, the VDI, Verein Deutscher Ingenieure e.V. My experience in the international trade fair sector, coupled with the technical expertise of the VDI, created the ideal basis for my current area of responsibility, drupa.  

What is your role in your current place of employment?
I am Director of drupa and Global Head of Print Technologies at Messe Düsseldorf. Working in such a fascinating industry is a huge motivating factor for me. I am very proud of having the overall responsibility for drupa and our satellite trade shows in Asia. I am pleased to share this extraordinary and at the same time challenging task as a great personal experience with the industry.

What advice would you give to women looking to break into the field of print and related industry?
My leading position as a female director is certainly an encouragement as well as a very positive signal given the fact that the printing industry is still dominated by men – at least concerning the CEO and management level. It is a given fact that the percentage of women in a technically driven, engineering industry is still low. A positive observation from my side is, however, that our industry is focusing much more intensively than in the past to recruit and involve talented women. 

Universities and associations for example are campaigning for natural science subjects and trying to increase the recruitment of female talents. Besides, in addition to the technical understanding of my area of responsibility, analytical and strategic thinking as well as marketing and sales skills are essential and play a decisive role.

Women are generally very strong with these abilities – looking at many other industry segments on a global level. And these are competencies where new and diverse are especially valuable. I would therefore like to encourage more women to dare entering the print business as well and not let them be put off too quickly by the technical side of the field.

What is the greatest transformation in the industry that you’ve witnessed in your career?
drupa 2021’s slogan is “embrace the future”. Contrary to 2016’s “touch the future” it already shows that during the past years the printing industry has dived much more into future technologies. We are in the middle of a digital transformation that has a huge impact on what drupa is about to show in April 2021. Also, the industry has evolved in new areas of applications such as smart and intelligent packaging production as well as embellishment, industrial and functional as well as textile printing. 

These days, diversification is the key to success in a world where consumers are always connected, easily compare prices and loyalty declines. At drupa 2021 we will look into how other industries cope with global trends and their impact on our industry. Print and packaging will definitely have significant synergy effects, and prosper and grow due to the potential of packaging production. We’ll address competitive thinking and speak about how printing processes will be impacted due to ongoing growth potential in packaging production in all vertical markets such as food, non-food, pharma and cosmetics.

What are your thoughts on the next transformation in the print and graphics industry?
The current trend and focus themes defined for drupa 2021 are of the highest relevance. These are various megatrends that have already influenced and will influence our industry: Industry 4.0, data-driven applications, automation, artificial intelligence, autonomous printing, smart factory, circular economy, sustainability and much more.

We continue to pursue significant issues concerning the ongoing digital transformation, topics related to recycling management and sustainability or new business models in order to inspire and successfully advise companies – and this will be more relevant than ever after the impact of Covid-19. drupa brings the relevant future and trend topics of the industry into focus with top-class conferences: the five drupa hotspots. They will be enriched by renowned speakers who will illuminate development potential and new business models. 

Are you involved in any sort of volunteer work? Can you give us some details?
drupa is involved as a sponsor in various projects: for example, in the cultural sector in cooperation with the Gutenberg Museum or in the promotion of young scientists with the drupa Prize. The drupa Prize is an award for a particularly commendable dissertation from the subject areas being researched at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Düsseldorf. The drupa Prize is awarded annually. The endowment includes the production costs of the prize-winning work and a limited edition.

Besides, since 2005, I am personally a member of the Lions Club Düsseldorf Rheinuferpromenade and engaged in various charity activities as a volunteer. Our activities focus on raising funds and donating those primarily to child aid projects such as hospices for children, the Children’s Eye Cancer Foundation or the Gerald Asamoah Foundation for children with heart disease just to mention a few. Our projects follow the principle mission statement “You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else.” – Melvin Jones – Founder Lions Clubs International.

Chris Fernando

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