During the coronavirus pandemic, the Osterman & Co. leadership team determined early on that it wanted to provide the best communication possible.
"We reached out to every person across the organization to touch base frequently. We established a [Microsoft] Teams 'water cooler,' where we posted certain themes so members of our team could share fun stories or photos," said Allison O'Hanlon, vice president of people for the Cheshire, Conn.-based resin distributor.
"I was amazed at how quickly we transitioned to the use of online technology to hold virtual meetings. We held a national sales meeting with over 100 participants over the course of a week using technology," she said. "We kept people engaged with fun games and prizes."
O'Hanlon said that during these virtual activities, she has felt connected to everyone in the company "on a much deeper level and has built even stronger relationships."
O'Hanlon obtained a master's degree in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of New Haven in Connecticut and a bachelor's degree in psychology with a business minor from Transylvania University in Kentucky. She worked in sales for eight years prior to pursuing her MBA.
Her first plastics industry job has been her current role. She joined Osterman in 2018 and "was ready to take on a new challenge." O'Hanlon had been working in the consumer packaged goods industry for several years and found the opportunity to learn a new industry to be "very exciting."
Since joining the company, Osterman has launched many initiatives focused on talent development, learning and development, and building employee engagement.
"We are continuing this focus," she said. "I want to ensure we are always launching the right systems and processes at the right pace."
O'Hanlon said she reminds herself to never be too comfortable or complacent and to always think of the possibilities.
"When things are running smoothly, some may become complacent and lose sight on what skills and capabilities are needed to meet any potential challenges ahead," she said. "I get 'uncomfortable' when I start feeling 'too comfortable.'"
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
O'Hanlon: From a professional standpoint, I take great pride in knowing that I can partner well to drive change initiatives. I believe in the importance of developing people and teams to grow the business. I believe in "business growth through people growth," and I am grateful [to] Osterman for having me be a part of this amazing team. From a personal perspective, I am so proud of my two sons and am amazed by the young men that they are becoming.
Q: What's an accomplishment of yours that most people don't know about, either for work or in your personal life?
O'Hanlon: I decided to set a personal goal for myself to train for a half-marathon. I did not tell anyone that I was training for a specific race. One day when I was training, I felt good and felt the need to just keep running. I surprised myself and ran 17 miles. I just kept going and was lost in the moment. During that time, I trained hard and was reminded of the importance of the balance between pace and persistence.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
O'Hanlon: When first joining Osterman, I was amazed at just how big the plastics industry truly is. I cannot go 10 minutes throughout the day without coming into contact or using something made of polymers. As someone new to the Industry, I did not instinctively understand what a positive and far reach plastics have on our life.
From a people perspective, I have learned that this industry is the biggest smallest industry, as people who are in plastics typically never leave.