January 5, 2022, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

My Packaging Placement Unwrapped

 Isabella Hargreaves reflects on her Researcher Academy placement.

~ Isabella

When I set out on my MSc Marketing course, I wanted to get some real-world marketing experience under my belt. I applied for a postgraduate placement that was vague in description as the product was still unreleased, so I was relatively unsure about what the project would entail. Nevertheless, after being briefed by the company director, it turned out the product was one in which I had no prior experience: carbon footprinting technology! However, I was willing to work hard to gain knowledge, experience, and earn some welcomed capital whilst studying for my master’s degree. After researching the market, I soon learned the potential that the carbon footprinting tool has, and my passion started to blossom.

Benchmark is an SME, operating as a packaging consultancy and technology firm. They offer a suite of online tools to packaging producers, convertors, brands and retailers, that allow them to cost model and carbon footprint their supply chains. Not only has this placement provided me with a great level of knowledge about the packaging industry, but it has also taught me in great detail how the supply chain works, which is useful for any marketer in any industry!

Benchmark’s service offering is unique, but best of all aims to better our environment – a cause which I feel very strongly about. My passion for climate action has continued to grow throughout working with Benchmark as I have had to remain up to date with government legislation, sustainable innovation, and the damaging effects of climate change. Being immersed into this world has opened my eyes up to the need for urgent action from businesses and consumers alike, which has in turn enhanced my passion for Benchmark’s tool.

I have developed detailed knowledge in the impacts of cost and carbon emissions on variables such as material usage, delivery distance, order quantity, machine performance, and ink usage – something that prior to my placement had not even crossed my mind. The world of packaging is often slandered for causing material pollution, however more attention is needed on the carbon emissions released in the packaging process. This has very much been part of my challenge during my time with Benchmark, generating conversation around the topic of carbon emissions in a world that has a stern focus on plastic pollution.

My placement enabled me to develop my confidence and enhance my presentation skills; I have been entrusted with delivering client presentations to some of the largest packaging manufacturers in Europe and largest retailers in the UK. These tasks, at the time, felt somewhat surreal, given my previous lack of experience in delivering presentations in a business setting, let alone to C-suite employees in large corporations. The knowledge I have gained during my time at Benchmark has also benefitted me in my masters studies, even enabling me to write coursework on the company and packaging industry.

My placement has been a success story given that I am now working as Marketing Manager for Benchmark; the placement served as an educational period into the packaging industry and getting to know Benchmark’s service offering, preparing me for my role as the sole Marketing Manager for the company. My confidence in my marketing abilities and communication skills has soared, and my knowledge of business modelling, supply chains, and budgeting has significantly increased. Finally, best of all, studying full time for an MSc whilst working part time as a Marketing Manager has significantly improved my organisation and time management skills, which are invaluable for my professional career.

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