Rhauan Young, 32, became interested in the industry after seeing opportunities to learn, grow and "work on sustainability from the inside to be part of the solution." Her first role was marketing and sales representative for Corden Manufacturing Ltd. in the U.K.
"I was responsible for specifying and selling a sustainable urban drainage solution utilizing a plastic paver," said Young, now product sales director for wipes for Berry Global Group Inc.
Career highlights for Young include "successfully identifying inflationary impacts of 2023 and rolling out price increases and cost out projects across all segments in [Health, Hygiene and Specialties] to cover these, in line with target of $35 million"; being named a Rising Star sales representative by Berry in 2018; and overachieving her annual operating plan by 25 percent her first year as sales manager leading a team in 2019.
She previously worked as a commercial sales leader for Terram and Tubex, part of Berry. She launched a new recycled paver into the market to support sustainable urban drainage systems for Geos and Forestry in 2022 and launched the first recycling scheme for tree protection tubes and the first biodegradable product in the market in 2021.
Young studied marking and sports science at the University of Derby. She is involved with Confor, an organization that supports sustainable forestry, and a local community climate action group in Derby, U.K.
"It's a great industry to have an impact in and make a difference," she said. "Don't be worried to challenge the status quo. Do your own research to clarify your own opinions, and get stuck in as much as possible."
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Young: AI (artificial intelligence) most interests me due to vast impact it could have on our day-to-day lives, especially in areas such as health, education and the environment. One example which is fascinating is around energy management. AI tools reducing CO2 emissions and energy costs with no negative impact on performance.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Young: The vast amount of growth and opportunity there still is to improve. Over the last five to 10 years, it's great to see the steps the industry are taking around areas such as waste management and goals to net zero. However, we are still very much in the infancy of this and could learn more from each other.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Young: Sit down with the board and my direct reports to understand what they thought was going well and where they saw room for improvement. This would help me to understand who my supporters are and who I can lean on where needed. Using their feedback, I would create a 90-day plan to highlight the priorities and focus on the quick wins. This would then allow me to look at the longer-term strategy for the business and make any changes needed.