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Pulp and paper’s future leaders: Meet Devin Kelly

August 9, 2021  By Kristina Urquhart

The future of pulp and paper looks bright.

Armed with a strong work ethic, initiative, curiosity, and a commitment to training and safety, the 2021 winners of our Top 10 Under 40 program are setting the bar for young professionals across the industry in management, operations, maintenance, sales, support and research.

To highlight the achievements of each individual selected for the Top 10 Under 40 list, Pulp & Paper Canada will feature one of 2021’s winners every week for the next 10 weeks. Nominations for the 2022 contest open at the end of the year.


This week, we introduce Devin Kelly, operations specialist – machine room at Mercer Celgar in Castlegar, B.C.

Kelly “has a passion for continuous improvement that is unparalleled, and an ability to systematically problem solve that is beneficial to the success of the area,” says his manager Jeff Dechaine.

Consider this: Kelly, a third-generation pulp and paper worker, professional engineer and Six Sigma Green Belt, has led multiple improvement initiatives in his five years in the machine room, including a profiling steam box design, construction and install for PM1, vacuum optimization and PH control design projects for the pulp machine, and production loss analysis implementation and tracking.

“He has developed disciplined systems that will outlive his tenure and that are valuable tools to ensure the future success of the department,” says Dechaine.

Colleagues and vendors say that what makes Kelly, 37, special are his eagerness to learn, his ability to ask thoughtful questions, and his penchant for rallying the team. One vendor credited Kelly’s synthesis of information, risk mitigation and change process management as the reasons a press efficiency project was able to move forward with upgrades.

In addition to working on his chops in improvement, Kelly is chair of the area Safety Captain Committee and has completed interview and supervisor training.

“The passion, commitment, and energy that he puts into his role here at Mercer has led to significant reliability, production and morale improvements,” says Dechaine. “He is a leader beyond his years, and a shining example of what the next generation of leaders in our industry can be.”

Up next: we highlight the contributions of winner Harpuneet Ghuman.

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