Jessica Zayatz graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from York College of Pennsylvania, where she now chairs its industry advisory council for the engineering and computer science departments. "What that does is bring industry professionals to partner with the college, which Graham does through our internship and co-op programs," she said.
Zayatz's own journey in the plastics world started with Graham Packaging Co.'s rotational co-op program, which exposed her to various aspects of the industry.
"My initial rotation took place in our corporate quality organization, where I contributed to specification development and plant audits. From there, I transitioned to product development, working on thrilling projects and assisting with qualifications in both the blown facility and customer-filling facilities. … What truly captivated me and fueled my decision to return to Graham after the co-op experience was the realization that even in high-volume manufacturing, you can create artistic and custom products that grace the shelves of stores," said the vice president of engineering and quality for the Lancaster, Pa.-based blow molder.
On the engineering side, Zayatz handles technical training and development, industrial design, analytical lab work, material testing and process development. She is also responsible for product quality, process control and customer technical service.
Zayatz is the first college graduate in her family, and she was one of only two female engineers in her graduating class.
"Navigating this space and growing professionally required extra effort to assimilate into different environments and collaborate effectively with diverse groups," she said.
One achievement that stands out to her was a neck finish conversion for a large beverage brand, a $15 million endeavor that reduced container weight by 5 grams across the board. In 2022, her team secured 450 million units of new business wins and launched 30 new projects in extrusion blow molding.
"It's easy to assume that everything has already been accomplished in this industry, but the reality is that there is always room for new ideas and advancements. Plastics, like many other fields, constantly presents us with new challenges and opportunities to explore."