Claire Schuller is the employee engagement and change manager for film packaging maker Charter Next Generation Inc. in Lexington, Ohio. She is responsible for managing employee engagement initiatives, which include recognition programs, communication platforms, engagement surveys and more.
"I also assist with change management, supporting multiple departments at CNG with planning and communication for their projects and initiatives," she said. "Additionally, I have the honor of co-chairing our employee resource group, UNITED."
Schuller's first step in the plastics industry was with CNG.
"My interest was piqued as a consumer," she said. "Not only did I purchase the products we make packaging for, but working in the restaurant industry, I got to see products we make that the average consumer probably doesn't even know exist."
She was first hired as an administrative assistant in the human resources department, then she assisted with recruiting, "which expanded my knowledge of HR and our business and resulted in a promotion to my current role." Before joining CNG, Schuller worked as a communications coordinator.
"My greatest achievement has been finding my passion and having a career that allows me to make a difference," she said. "I excelled at other careers in the past but wasn't passionate about them. Finding my passion and being able to help the employees that I care so much about is an achievement I am proud of. By supporting our employees, I not only make their lives and careers better but also positively affect our company and our industry."
Schuller said not being able to interact with employees has been a big impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
"When your job is to focus on employee engagement, it is extremely difficult to have to limit your interaction with others," she said. "On the top of this, we were in the midst of harmonizing many programs within our company, launching new initiatives and bringing teams from several locations together — mostly over Zoom. It has made us all much more technically savvy and even more appreciative of face-to-face connection."
Making sure that everyone is engaging and communicating with one another as CNG grows has been a challenge, she said.
"I am so thankful to be part of a company that is thriving and growing," Schuller said. "Keeping up with that growth and making sure that our employees are informed and comfortable with everything that's going on is something we are constantly focused on. The pandemic certainly made that more challenging over the last year."
Q: What's an accomplishment of yours that most people don't know about, either for work or in your personal life?
Schuller: Several years ago I was on a volunteer fire department and was a trained EMT! It is obviously not the career path I pursued, but it was an invaluable experience. If anything, it reaffirmed my love for helping others.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Schuller: My father always told me, "Leave things better than you found them." It might sound simple, but it's much more than just tidying up a mess. Whether it's a company you work for, a person you interact with or even this planet that we live on, we should always work hard to leave that person/place/thing better than we found it.
One of the statements in our cultural playbook here at CNG says that we should "create an experience that others cannot" and I think we do this by leaving things better than we found them. Make a difference. Make a positive impact. Make a lasting impression.
Q: What is your personal "mold" that you are breaking?
Schuller: I am breaking the mindset that life has to unfold in a certain order or that things always have to be done a certain way because "that's how it is." As I grow in my career, and in life, I am learning to let go of the way I think things "should" be and embrace the way they are, including any changes and challenges that come along.
I want to continue to tackle obstacles, to learn and grow personally and professionally and to continue to be a leader in our industry. I am thankful to be surrounded by talented women in my organization who are striving to break the mold for women in plastics and in manufacturing. I'm sure many can relate to having jobs, or even people, in our lives that make us feel like there is a limit to what we can be and do or what our roles should be. It is a great feeling to break out of that mold and have leaders and colleagues who are supporting each other and helping push each other to be great!