Sayreville, N.J.-based Sabert Corp.'s senior vice president of sales and marketing, Kathleen Deignan, guides strategic direction for the food packaging thermoformer's sales channels, marketing, new product development, sustainability and pricing teams.
While the food packaging industry has stabilized since the pandemic, challenges remain.
"Costs are fluctuating, operators are contending with labor rates and availability, customer demand is normalizing, and the legislative food packaging landscape continues to reinforce the importance of sustainability. To say it's complicated is an understatement," she said. "My approach is to support and empower my team and ensure we focus on delivering our customers' innovative and sustainable products and solutions."
When Deignan was in high school, she received a college scholarship from Sweetheart Cup Co. She knew many friends and family members who worked there, and fast forward 15 years later, Deignan joined the maker of paper and plastic cups, which was acquired by the Solo Cup Co. in 2004. She was the national account sales and marketing vice president at Sweetheart Cup for 14 years, then she transitioned to the vice president of national accounts sales at Sabert in 2004.
"I've been working since I was 14 and bought my first house at age 26. Becoming financially independent at such a young age taught me that while hard work is important, I must also love what I do. My first job was as a waitress, where I developed my passion for foodservice, which has been central to my career," said Deignan, who received her bachelor's degree in business and psychology from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and MBA from the University of Connecticut.
When Deignan joined Sabert 18 years ago, the company was smaller than it is today; it's now a billion-dollar company with 3,000-plus employees worldwide. Deignan said one of her proudest achievements is "building a world-class sales organization" with a sales team with "one of the strongest retention rates in the industry."
"Bold moves pay off," she said. "I've learned that when you are surrounded by a culture that empowers its people to think differently, you are creating an environment where taking calculated risks is encouraged. Not every move will result in success, but if you don't make any moves, you'll never open your mind to new ways of thinking or working. And it is important to take risks and learn from failures. If we are not failing, we are not taking enough risks."