From the the so-called "Queen of Trash" to a member of one of Australia's richest families, Thomas Parker takes a look at six women in the packaging industry to celebrate International Women's Day

Women in packaging

It was estimated by market researcher Smithers Pira the packaging industry made close to a trillion dollars last year – but what role do women in this heavily male-dominated business?

According to a 2016 census by the US, women only made up 29% of people working in the manufacturing industry – which includes packaging and the supply chain – and research by charity Education Endowment Foundation showed that women made up on average about 15% of the UK workforce in 2017.

Times though are changing.

In its latest annual report, consumer packaging company Mondi set out an ambition that 33% of all its workforce should be women by 2020, including 25% of its board of directors.

To mark International Women’s Day, we take a look at six high-profile figures working within industry today.

High-flying women in packaging

Debbie Waldron-Hoines

With more than 25 years’ experience in the industry, Debbie Waldron-Hoines is one of the most well-known people working in British packaging.

After graduating with a master’s degree in business administration at Leeds University in 1995, Ms Waldron-Hoines spent six years working as the general manager of pre-print at box-making company DS Smith.

Women in packaging
Debbie Waldron-Hoines has 25 years’ experience in the packaging industry (LinkedIn)

Ms Waldron-Hoines now holds the role as director of three different companies, including at a management consultancy firm Avant-Tout, which she set up in 2001.

She is also a part of the European Flexographic Industry Association, as well as co-founder and one of the directors at Women in Packaging UK (WIP).

Launched in 2014, the WIP is an initiative that aims to connect and support females across the packaging industry, giving women in the business the opportunity for networking and mentorship.

In 2016, Ms Waldron-Hoines became a freeman of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, which is a livery company for vocations such as packaging, publishing and design.

Kate Hulley

For Kate Hulley, the industry is in her family as the daughter of cardboard box-making company Belmont Packaging‘s founder Mike Moloney.

Her first job after completing a degree in business studies at Sheffield Hallam University was with the iconic United Biscuits, which owns brands including McVitie’s and Jacob’s.

In a six-year stint, she took on the role as an operations graduate before becoming a plant line manager.

Women in packaging
Kate Hulley is currently the owner-director of Belmont Packaging (Twitter)

After leaving United Biscuits, Ms Hulley became HR manager at Belmont.

She then founded You-POD, a firm that offered employment and people management support to small businesses.

From this venture, at the age of just 34, she returned to Belmont and became the owner-director of the family business.

The Wigan-based company prides itself on being a female-led firm, which is a heavy investor in environmentally-friendly development technology.

Under Ms Hulley’s leadership, Belmont has worked with the likes of tea company Taylors of Harrogate and the merchandising arm of Terry Pratchett’s book series Discworld.


Kirsten Rausing

Kirsten Rausing owns a third of industry giant Tetra Laval Group, which most notably owns carton developer TetraPak.

The family is one of the richest in Sweden, worth a combined total of $37.6bn (£28.5bn), according to Forbes.

Kirsten Rausing was born in the Swedish city of Lund in 1952 and is the great-granddaughter of TetraPak’s founder Ruben Rausing.

Mr Rausing set up the first specialised packaging factory in Sweden in 1929 alongside Erik Akerlund, forming Akerlund & Rausing, before establishing TetraPak in 1951.

Women in packaging
According to Forbes, Kirsten Rausing is the richest women in packaging (YouTube)

Ms Rausing studied economics at the  Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Stockholm, and has been a part of the company since 1985, first working as an alternative director before becoming a non-executive director in 1991.

She has a keen interest in horse racing and is the honorary president of the European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders Associations in the UK.

Thanks in part to her position at TetraLaval, the 66-year-old is worth $8.2bn (£6.2bn).

Evelyn Cadman

For nearly 20 years, Evelyn Cadman has been one of America’s leading consultants in labelling, helping businesses to comply with the US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In 2001, she set up FDA Compliance Simplified, which works alongside businesses to check which FDA regulations apply to its products and what needs to be done to make sure it does follow the rules set out.

She started her working career as a pharmacologist at Abbott Laboratories, where she stayed for more than 10 years before moving to become a senior research scientist at a subsidiary of Whole Foods Market.

Women in packaging
Since 2001, Evelyn Cadman has been one of the US’ leading FDA consultants (Linkedin)

During her time as a consultant, she has worked alongside health and wellness business The Nature’s Bounty Co and restaurant chain Boston Market Corporation.

Fiona Geminder

Daughter of the late Richard Pratt, Fiona Geminder belongs to one of Australia’s richest families.

She owns a large stake in her family’s $6.7bn (£5.1bn) turnover company Visy, a cardboard box developer and resource recovery business, with current CEO and brother Anthony Pratt, who is worth $7.3bn (£6.2bn).

Women in packaging
Fiona Geminder owns stakes in two of Australia’s biggest packaging companies, Visy and Pact Group (YouTube)

She also owns a 40% stake in plastics packaging firm Pact Group, set up by both Fiona and husband Raphael Geminder in 2002.

The business now operates over 100 factories across 15 countries, developing packaging for the likes of Heinz Tomato Ketchup and beauty product producer TRESemme.

The youngest daughter of Richard Pratt, Mrs Geminder has a net worth of $2.2bn (£1.7bn)

Cheung Yan

As chairwoman of one of Asia’s largest corrugated packaging producers Nine Dragons Paper, Cheung Yan runs the company alongside her husband and CEO Liu Ming Chung.

She assumed her role at the company in 2006 and has more than 32 years’ experience in recovered paper recycling, earning her the nicknames “the Queen of Trash” and “China’s Paper Queen”.

Her first business was US-based paper recycling firm America Chung Nam, which was set up in 1990. It collected waste paper from the US and shipped it to China.

Nine Dragons Paper chairwoman Cheung Yan, women in packaging
Nine Dragons Paper chairwoman Cheung Yan

In 1995, Ms Yan returned home to China to set up Nine Dragons with the help of her husband and her brother, with the company becoming the largest environmentally-friendly recovered paper-based-manufacture in the world with a revenue stream of 67bn Hong Kong dollars (£6.5bn).

Alongside her work at Nine Dragons Paper, Ms Yan is also the vice-president of the China Paper Industry Chamber of Commerce and executive vice-president of the Hong Kong China Chamber of Commerce.

In 2017, she was named Asia’s CEO of the year by pulp and paper industry intelligence company Resource Information Systems Inc, and is worth $1.5bn (£1.1bn).