Christian Herrild, 35
Director of Growth Strategies
As director of growth strategies at Baraboo, Wis.-based custom extruder Teel Plastics Inc., Christian Herrild expects a year of "very high growth."
He manages the company's project management system and "growth of this level can put stress on resources because of the number of activities and the tight timelines," he said.
"Trying to keep focus on what is most important and giving resources to the right projects can be challenging. We know we may not be able to hit every milestone on time and on budget, but we need to be sure we are hitting the ones that are most critical to being successful as we grow," Herrild said when asked about his current challenge at work.
Herrild has been in his current role since January 2017, after previous roles as director of sales and marketing from July 2013 to January 2017 and director of business development from May 2011 to July 2013. He was also a chemist at Thermofisher Scientific.
He has bachelor's degrees in chemistry and mathematics from Marquette University, an MBA specializing in entrepreneurial management from the University of Wisconsin—Madison and Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
Plastics News: What was your first plastics job and why were you interested in the industry?
Herrild: My first role in the industry was doing market and technology evaluation for Teel. I was originally attracted to manufacturing in general during my time in the MBA program. I was very interested in the range of products and technologies used, especially at companies that were pushing the boundaries. I was offered the chance to join Teel and was immediately hooked on what they were doing in plastics and the company's push to be involved in products that improved people's lives.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Herrild: The close-knit nature of the industry surprised me. There are a lot of companies in plastics and they are involved in many different processing technologies. Despite that, people tend to come together and share ideas. They know each other on a personal level and there is a degree of mutual respect you don't see in some other industries.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Herrild: I would work to understand the company culture. There are many ways to do this, including talking to people, sending surveys and listening to stories. Each of these tools give you different information about the culture. I think this goes a long way to preparing a company for the future. Culture is having a bigger impact on potential customer and potential employee decisions if they want to work with you. Having the right culture will help win the struggle for talent and attract the kinds of companies you want to do business with.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Herrild: My grandpa always told me, "Get the right tool for the job, because once you have it you'll feel silly for trying to do without." We were fixing a light the first time he said it to me; I have come to realize over the years that advice applies to much, much more than screwdrivers.