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PaperCon 2019 focuses on innovation

May 7, 2019  By Kristina Urquhart

Amy Blankson

May 6, 2019 – PaperCon, the annual conference and trade show hosted by the Technical Association of the Pulp & Paper Industry (TAPPI), kicked off today in Indianapolis, Indiana.

PaperCon runs May 5-8, 2019 and features over 150 exhibitors and ten presentation tracks covering everything from papermaking additives to process control.

Amy Blankson, co-founder of Good Think Inc., delivered the opening keynote on how our new digital toolkit is changing how humans innovate. “We’re moving out of the age of information into the age of imagination,” she said, noting that mindfulness and collaboration are what lead to successful innovation.


She recommended four strategies to “consciously innovate,” which can lead to more happiness: 1) optimize your mindset; 2) practice intention; 3) rethink stress; and 4) up-source your knowledge.

Blankson noted that those leaders who developed more positive thinking had 37 per cent higher chance of success, 31 per cent more productive, three times more creative, and 40 per cent more likely to receive a promotion than their counterparts.

Following Blankson’s address, several industry leaders gathered for the PIMA Executive Panel, including Kathy Buckman Gibson, owner and director of Buckman, Markku Hämäläinen, CEO of Kotkamills Oy, Andreas Tuerk, president of paper and water for Eurasia at Solenis, and John Williams, president and CEO of Domtar (who also won the PIMA Executive of the Year award for 2019).

The panellists discussed everything from sustainability to marketing to Brexit’s potential impact on the pulp and paper business. They also took a cue from Blankson’s earlier speech on innovation.

Tuerk pointed out that the shifting consumer attitudes toward plastic are changing the game. “There’s growing pressure,” he said. “The consumption of plastic will go down. It’s up to us as an industry to come up with viable alternatives to plastics – but it requires innovation.”

The panellists all agreed that how the industry approaches these environmental challenges is integral to attracting the future workforce.

“You have to have a real sustainability message embedded in your operation to appeal to young workers today,” said Buckman Gibson. She said that giving back to communities also appeals to young workers.

Hämäläinen said that committing to and using one or more social media networks has led his company to find young skilled workers.

Williams acknowledged that the industry still has a ways to go when it comes to gender and cultural diversity, noting that Domtar’s workforce is only 22 per cent. He said that one of the barriers has been that pulp and paper mills have long been places of “command culture,” which is not necessarily accommodating to women or people of colour – and that needs to change.

“You only can look at innovation if you look at aspiration,” he said.

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