Tara Kelly, 27
Regional Account Manager, Comar LLC
Tara Kelly first became interested in the plastics industry when she interned at Winchester, Va.-based M&H Plastics and said she "would get excited to see products we manufactured out in the market."
Today, Kelly is a New York City-based regional account manager for injection molder and blow molder Comar LLC. She previously worked in new business development for the company and was promoted within the year.
Her greatest achievement so far has been achieving twice her new business sales target.
A moment of defeat came with a teachable moment when Kelly was at school.
"In college, I offered to create an animation to go with a podcast we were publishing in one of my classes. I got in way over my head and ended up spending the weekend on the phone with tech support and risked missing the project deadline," she said. "I asked one of my friends studying digital arts to help save me from the disaster, but it was a great learning experience. Now I plan way ahead on anything that has a risk factor in it, like my inexperience with a particular software."
To help advance her career, she stays engaged in networking, subscribes to packaging newsletters and attends events for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and Drug, Chemical and Associated Technologies Association. Kelly said one position she would like to have in the future is one with a managerial role.
"Advancements in manufacturing technology around automation" is what Kelly said surprises her about the industry. For those who may be considering joining the industry, Kelly said: "Packaging is a lucrative industry with plenty of growth potential."
Kelly was raised in South Florida, and her parents have their own business. She has a Bachelor of Science in commerce and business administration: marketing. In her spare time, Kelly likes to read a good book and work out.
Mike Ruggieri, CEO of Comar, nominated Kelly for Rising Stars.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Kelly: Automated pill dispensing packaging design concepts that could help prevent drug overdose or drug misuse.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Kelly: Ambiguity with customer demand amid a pandemic and the "fire drills" associated with lack of planning.
Q: What has been the biggest impact/challenge on your career from the coronavirus pandemic?
Kelly: Similar to the above: Customer demand fluctuations with little time to prepare.
Q: What is your philosophy related to plastics and sustainability? What steps have you taken to improve plastics' sustainability, either in work, your community or personal life?
Kelly: Recycling, reusing and repurposing my plastic packaging.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Kelly: Take time to celebrate success and acknowledge employee's hard work.