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ICPF Successes Throughout the Years, Plus Some Parting Words

By AICC Staff

September 13, 2022

I always have believed that all should be committed to leaving what they find in their professional and personal lives in a better condition than it was when they found it. As announced earlier this year, in October I will be leaving the International Corrugated Packaging Foundation for another opportunity. I am excited about this new challenge, and the foundation’s partners can be proud of the growth and impact of our initiatives during the 16 years I worked with them, serving at the helm.

Some highlights of our accomplishments during this past decade and a half include the following:

  • Provided millions of dollars in funding assistance, corrugated packaging equipment, and software at colleges and universities across the United States to educate students in the concepts and skills needed for a corrugated packaging career.
  • Directly enabled the annual hiring of 100–150 college graduates for entry-level openings and students for internships through ICPF’s annual student and university programs and online resources.
  • Jump-started, created, or expanded 19 corrugated packaging programs at U.S. colleges and universities.
  • Established and maintained partnerships with 26 colleges and universities, annually providing industry speakers, mentors, plant tours, and other specialized assistance.
  • Expanded annual participation in ICPF’s annual Teleconferences on the Business of Corrugated Packaging and Its Careers, from 75 students who participated from four to six campuses to over 500 students from 18–20 campuses who now participate each year.
  • Created the Careers in Corrugated Packaging & Displays Social Network that annually has 700–1,100 students and upcoming graduates who have joined to specifically pursue student internships and careers in the corrugated packaging and displays industry.
  • Expanded outreach beyond packaging design and packaging students to include business, sales, graphic design, supply chain management, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, industrial design, mechanical engineering, tech, and related studies. These students regularly join ICPF’s career network as well as post their resumés on ICPF’s Career Portal.
  • Developed the regular use of ICPF’s corrugated packaging curricula at colleges and universities around the country to support real-world corrugated packaging instruction. ICPF’s corrugated curricula are accessible from ICPF’s website.
  • Created annual Student/Executive Dialogue Dinners where scores of students have been directly recruited by executives for internships and entry-level openings.
  • Developed the ICPF Career Portal and Resumé Bank into a respected resource for firms to post entry-level positions for new graduates and student internships. The portal also allows potential student interns and upcoming graduates to post resumés. On average, seven qualified upcoming or new grads apply to each opening posted on the portal. An annual average of 100–150 new graduates and student interns have been recruited into the industry during the past eight years through the portal and other ICPF university programs.
  • Developed ICPF’s website into a powerful online recruiting tool that explains the corrugated packaging industry and its careers to students. Students and faculty can view testimonial videos, view past teleconferences on the industry, post resumés and apply to openings, access corrugated packaging curricula, and more.
  • Launched ICPF’s first initiative to assist in the recruitment of vocational and tech college graduates for the plant floor. An ICPF pilot with companies and local colleges is currently being conducted this fall in Atlanta.
  • Through fundraising, focusing on maximizing fund and operation management, and the recruiting of an annual $700,000 to $1 million in new partnership pledges over a period of 10 years, raised ICPF’s endowment from $5 million to a high of over $18 million.
  • Introduced and developed ICPF’s Holiday Weekend in New York. ICPF’s unique annual fundraising event brings together manufacturers and suppliers in a social setting. The past 13 weekend events have raised a net return of over $1.6 million to support ICPF in working with universities and students. (Even with the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last two events alone raised an audited net revenue of $367,762.)
  • Throughout the years of the pandemic, ICPF has continued to leverage outreach, education, and the recruiting of students and new graduates into the industry through unique partnerships. One of the most significant partnerships has been with students and new hires in the industry who previously attended ICPF events and used ICPF resources to acquire internships and full-time positions.

For example, a student advisory board was assembled, and the students have provided valued input on the establishment of ICPF’s “virtual” student dialogue dinners. The student board also assisted with plans and implementation in converting ICPF’s annual teleconferences to a virtual format.

During the pandemic, ICPF additionally expanded its recruitment of designated ICPF student representatives on 18 campuses who promote corrugated packaging careers and the use of ICPF’s Career Portal to post resumés and apply to industry openings. A key element to this expanded initiative is ICPF’s hiring of exceptional student interns during the pandemic to provide assistance in managing ICPF’s student outreach.

ICPF’s mentoring program that matches ICPF selected students and industry new hires with students who are seeking internships or considering full-time industry positions has proved to be extremely successful during the pandemic, as well.

It has been very fulfilling to serve as a leader and president of ICPF, and I will miss regularly seeing many industry friends, including former students who discovered the potential of the corrugated packaging industry through ICPF. The foundation has been well positioned for continued success in the future. I wish all of you health and happiness.

width=67Richard Flaherty is president of the International Corrugated Packaging Foundation.