As managers and leaders in the sector we each have a responsibility to make our organisations a better place.  Being at work isn’t just about getting paid, its about being part of a supportive and collaborative community doing great work together. 

Sophie Kirby


My career in print to date – a quick snapshot;

I joined Xerox as a placement student from University, working within the Production Equipment Sales team, and I’ve never left print! Since then, I have worked in so many areas, including managing outsourced print contracts for large investment banks and professional services organisations.  This has given me a great scope of experience, from changing toners and replenishing paper in MFDs on Trading Floors, to installing the first iGen3 in a customer print room, to managing high volume transactional print contracts and providing print management services to a Japanese manufacturer.  More recently, I joined The Printing Charity as Head of Education & Partnerships which has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and network within print, as well as discovering new sectors we support such as Publishing and Journalism.

Why I am passionate about my job;

I am passionate about working for The Printing Charity because we are here to help, whether its via practical and emotional support, celebrating rising stars beginning their careers in the sector, or championing heritage skills such as bookbinding to ensure they’re not lost.

My role allows me to proactively build a network of contacts around the UK and to share the areas in which we can help.  A particular highlight for me is our flagship Print Futures Awards scheme.  The scheme offers young people aged 18-30 who are planning to or have begun their journey in print, paper, packaging or publishing an investment of £1500 in themselves, whether it be through the funding of training or equipment.  Every year we see such a variety of applications and hear both about the challenges and the joys of being a young person starting out.  It gives me a thrill to be able to read their applications, meet them at interview and celebrate with them at the House of Lords, and then to keep in touch with their progress.  It gives me such positivity for the future of our sector.

What are the top 3 things you are proud to have achieved in your career?

1. Leading a team of female employees at the Charity – after leading many teams, I focus on creating a positive environment collectively achieving more than the sum of its parts

2. Breadth of experience – working in a vast number of environments such as hospitals, trading floors, supermarkets and now the Charity, I have learned from so many different people and experiences, all within the print arena

3. Achieved work life balance – since becoming a mum work life balance has become far more important than it once was.  I am proud to have found a role where I am happy and enjoy my work and one which allows me to spend quality time with my family too.  Well-being is important to me and it’s great to have a supportive employer.

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

The breadth and scope of opportunities within the sector is immense.  Sometimes we do have a reputational challenge, but it’s so exciting when I visit an employer with a young and diverse workforce doing interesting things in the marketplace to mark themselves out.  This means that new entrants to the sector can work within small and larger companies, in all disciplines, whether from the creative, customer service or even the numbers in estimating or finance.

The industry can offer you anything you want it to – you just need to work hard and seek out the opportunities.

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

As managers and leaders in the sector we each have a responsibility to make our organisations a better place.  Being at work isn’t just about getting paid, its about being part of a supportive and collaborative community doing great work together.  I feel we can all positively impact our work-space and make it a great place for everyone to work.

I feel young people will be attracted to environments that

  • Appreciate employee engagement and the job satisfaction this can bring
  • Are flexible and collaborative
  • Celebrate hard work and success
  • Are supportive, whether on a day to day basis or in times of crisis
  • Have a focus on well-being
  • Strive for an open and communication led culture
  • Are diverse and inclusive

The Charity is able to offer the industry a helping hand with this, through the provision of our practical and emotional support for those who work in the sector.  We also celebrate rising stars and support their personal development with our Print Futures Awards, helping young talent invest in themselves and make a plan to spend their career within the sector.

If anyone would like to find out more about The Printing Charity and how we help print people, please get in touch sophie@theprintingcharity.org.uk