Debbie is the Managing Director of Avant-Tout, she works tirelessly for the flexographic printing community and has been involved in many initiatives to help young people - especially young women coming into our industries.

Debbie Waldron-Hoines

My career in print to date – a snapshot

With a career spanning over 25 years in the print and packaging industry, I have experienced working in senior positions and in different sectors.

My working life started at label producer, Harlands of Hull where my Modern Languages degree proved very useful in dealing with the UK and French clients.  After a period at Gilchrist Brothers in Leeds, working in reprographics and completing an MBA, I then moved to DS Smith and became the General Manager for one of their printing businesses working to supply blue-chip customers across Europe.

In 2001, I established Avant-Tout (Management Services) Ltd, taking advantage of a niche market to provide key skills within the Industry.  This focused on delivering technical capability, account management and project delivery in multi-language environments.  Avant-Tout Ltd. now supports businesses by offering services especially in improving communication and networking channels and organising major events.

I am currently a Consultant CEO of the European Flexographic Industry Association (EFIA) UK Ltd, Board Director of FTA Europe, Vice-Chair of the GPMA (Graphics, Print & Media Alliance) and Co-Founder of Women In Packaging UK.

Why I am passionate about my job

I have taken opportunities to join and contribute to working groups discussing our Industry’s future and the changes needed to continue making it relevant.  I see time and time again, a shared passion that others hold for the work we do and that gives me the energy to make a difference.

In 2014, I co-founded Women in Packaging.  This promotes themes of connection, support, and recognition for female employees across our diverse Industry.  I believe it is important that we develop opportunities for women to showcase their capabilities and achievements. There are stories of real achievement across our Industry and I am excited about the contribution women, especially can make to our future growth.

Why should women at the beginning of their careers consider the print industry?

It is sometimes difficult to determine where you should start your career.  Some people choose a particular role because they have trained for it or have a specialist skill, others fall into it through circumstances that often are outside of their control.  Whichever one applies, the likelihood is that at some point you will be able to make choices about how you develop your career and how you grow your broader network of colleagues and friends.

I have found that the Print Industry offers varied choices in what you do and how you progress.  It continues to innovate and that creates opportunities, whether you deal directly with clients, manage the operations and engineering or provide support for the wider business.  It is an industry that extends beyond these shores and is truly international.

For someone starting out in their career, it allows them to chart a path that can be limitless.  It is defined then by hard work, engagement, and ambition.  It is an industry that reinvents itself and so creates chances to grow personally and professionally.  It also continues to have a relevance to people’s lives through the products they buy or ways they communicate so we need to be mindful of the impact and ensure that continues.  If someone is motivated to help push change and make a difference in their career, then this industry can offer that opportunity.

The one thing I would do to improve gender diversity in our sector is?

I would reinforce the message that women should not be setting limits on ambition.  It is important to create opportunities and support one another in the pursuit of our goals.  If we need to find a role model, mentor or coach to help provide a sense of purpose or define an aim to help move forward then we should tap into that.  There is a growing awareness of the need for diversity across the Industry but we should continue to push the boundaries on our expectations and look to other sector leaders to ensure we are making clear progress.