The plastics industry, and manufacturing in general, has been dealing with labor shortages and a skills gap. But the director of continuous improvement and training for film packaging firm Charter Next Generation in Lexington, Ohio, is working to change that.
Robin Hamill developed the training program for Next Generation Films Inc., which merged with Charter NEX Films Inc. in 2019, from the ground up and implemented the Learning Management System, which continues to evolve and improve since the companies merged. She is responsible for CNG University's training program and continuous improvement program.
Hamill worked with a local university to develop a plastics certification program for its existing workforce and for potential future employees.
"The program gives existing employees an opportunity to get additional training and participate in labs to get a deeper understanding of what we do," she said. "For future employees, the certification was designed to introduce undergrads to plastics so they could see the opportunities this industry has to offer in terms of a career path."
Hamill also revamped the company's packaging process for finished products.
"Not only has this focus enhanced our customers' experience, but it also supports CNG's sustainability efforts. We were able to reduce excess materials and waste used in the packaging of our products," she said.
She was recently the project manager for CNG's product life cycle management system, "which has streamlined, improved and reduced variance in our item development process."
Hamill has a bachelor's degree in accounting from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio. She joined the plastics industry as a senior financial analyst for Next Generation Films.
"When Next Generation Films and Charter NEX merged, we had this amazing opportunity to pull best practices from not one but two great companies," she said. "Reviewing those processes, deciding which to move forward with and working towards alignment at plants across the country is exciting but also challenging at times. We don't want to do change to our people but with them."
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
Hamill: Finishing my degree. I chose to join the military in high school. While my peers were heading to college, I was heading to boot camp. Between that, training and a deployment, I didn't have the normal college experience. I finished my degree at night while working full time and attending drill on weekends with a new baby in the house. At times, I didn't know if I could keep going. But my degree was important to me and with the support of my husband — and lots of coffee — I achieved this goal.
Q: What was the most unexpected thing you learned from the pandemic?
Hamill: I learned to slow down, and it was amazing. While there were — and still are — many challenges related to this pandemic, there was also something beautiful about weekends without events or gatherings, finding creative ways to keep kids entertained at home, and subjecting my family to my cooking since our life was slower and I had time.
Q: What is your personal "mold" that you are breaking?
Hamill: Ridding myself of guilt. Some of us can't prepare ourselves for the guilt that comes with having children. If we work, there's guilt about not being around enough. If we stay home, there's guilt about not working. I have a fairly demanding job that I'm extremely passionate about, and there are times when I feel incredibly guilty — that I'm not home more, that my husband has to hold it down for us, that I will miss something important, and the list goes on.
I've worked hard over the last few years to understand that we really can do it all if it's the path we choose. I'm close to my kids; we spend good, quality time together; and I work hard. It's important to me to teach my children that we put 110 percent into everything we do.