HERO PACKAGING

Is Packaging Consulting Right for You?

Insights into what Keeps Packaging Consultants Happy with Their Career Choice

Often in the media, independent consulting and full-time employment are compared on a technical basis, outlining risks and benefits of each job type, but it is never considered what it is about independent consulting at an intrinsic level that moves people towards it.  

What is it about consulting that allows consultants to satisfy their needs and motivates them?  We have found that independent consultants almost unanimously value flexibility above all other factors when considering a position. They have a strong preference toward control over their own schedules, working only on projects they are passionate about and prefer to be in roles where they are hands-on, leveraging their expertise.

Where traditional full-time roles don’t generally meet those criteria, there is a third option. Becoming a subcontractor allows for a merging of both the security and benefits of a full time, permanent position, with the flexibility and control of an independent consultant position.

Subcontracting as a packaging consultant allows experts to become a permanent part of a team; gaining the training, collaboration and steady project pipeline a regular employee would enjoy, yet still giving them the freedom to work on the projects they’re passionate about, explore diverse challenges in different industries, maintain their desired work-life balance and leverage the same flexibility independent consultants value so tremendously.

In order to determine if consulting and subcontracting satiates the values of packaging engineers, Adept Packaging has interviewed our extensive network of packaging consultants and subcontractors, many of whom have transitioned from being full-time employees at corporations to consultancy, to see what motivates and satisfies them.

These results can be leveraged to:

  • Determine whether being a packaging consultant is a good fit for your personality and preferences
  • Help drive the best service from a consultant if you use them in your packaging department
  • Decide whether you are better suited to joining a larger consultancy company as a subcontractor or staying independent

The data contained in this report identifies what motivates a packaging consultant, keeps them satisfied in their position, and what they look for in business relationships and client engagements. If you’re interested in joining a packaging consultancy, compare how you’d respond to the upcoming questions to see if this is a good opportunity for you.

How do you describe your working style?

Packaging consultants are predominately doers. Doers execute. They are detail oriented and are focused on tackling issues and executing projects. This can be exactly the quality that a client is looking for when hiring a consultant. They want someone to come in and focus on driving project results. Sometimes though, doers have to remember to look up once in a while to communicate with their team and stakeholders.

Packaging consultants are also leaders. They are able to create a vision and inspire others. This is a critical quality for packaging consultants that are helping leading teams to accomplish the tremendous initiatives driving packaging today; such as sustainability, eCommerce and connected packaging strategies. These strategies require forward, innovative thinkers that are able to showcase the importance and relevance of these topics to their team members for buy-in.

What amount of experience do consultants generally have?

Consultancy in the packaging industry is often seen as a role for experts towards the end of their career. Our survey shows that is not always the case. The largest represented age group is 35 to 44-year-olds. These are people that have gained valuable experience in a specific subject matter over 12 years of their career and have made the move to consultancy. The more experienced age bracket is well represented in our survey, and a significantly younger age bracket is also well represented. This 21 – 34-year-old age group has recognized the benefits of consultancy earlier in their career, normally through an agency rather than as an independent consultant.

How much can a packaging consultant earn?

As we will see in our survey, monetary compensation is not the biggest driver for a packaging consultant. That is not to say that compensation isn’t an important factor.  25% of our respondents reported earning over $150,000 in a year which is a little higher than the average compensation for a Principal Packaging Engineer. A large percentage of respondents were on the lower end of the pay spectrum which is reflective of the high number of consultants that are still in the earlier stages of their career.

What inspires consultants to continually drive for success?

Being a consultant allows for freedom and flexibility that can’t often be obtained when working for an organization such as a supplier or a brand owner where typical business times are important drivers for daily activities. In contrast, consultants are assigned objectives and have expectations for deliverables. How those objectives and deliverables are achieved is up to the consultant. Therefore, within obvious limitations, work hours and engagements can be whenever is convenient. Eliminating a daily drive to an office is also a huge bonus for those looking to maximize their productivity and efficiency. 

Learning is also a huge driver for consultants. Unsurprisingly, packaging consultants are a curious bunch. Continuous learning is equally important to them as flexibility.  In contrast to independent consultants, who need to find their own avenues to continued learning, consultants are provided numerous knowledge-building opportunities through project variety, training, and knowledge sharing with a team of experts, as well as exposure to a diversity of materials, processes, components, procedures, and industries.

What Makes a Consultant Happy?

Similar to the previous question, consultants also derive satisfaction from the same elements that drive them toward success. The flexibility of work allows for a good work/life balance and continual learning is stimulating and allows for continued growth.

In addition to those two factors, it is important for a consultant to have a steady pipeline of projects. For independent consultants, engagements and opportunities are limited, so being able to develop a pipeline of business brings a high level of comfort. When acting as a consultant, our recruiting team does a lot of the relationship building and opportunity identifying that would generally fall on an independent consultant, to ensure for a steady workflow of projects.

What aspects of work assignments are most important to you?

Consultants are, by definition, experienced, knowledgeable and analytical people who are called upon to leverage their expertise to solve problems others cannot, which makes it no surprise that this aspect of a job assignment has proven to be the most important, overall.

Another factor when viewing a work assignment that rates high in importance is available learning opportunities. Though this area isn’t something independent contractors are guaranteed, it shows to be very important when considering, work assignments, drive for success, as well as happiness. As a consultant, continual learning is integral with the position, and opportunities for training and exposure to an experienced team and diversity of expertise allow subcontractors to draw from their surroundings for continual growth, both in depth and breadth of expertise.  

What is the Most Important Outcome of a Business Relationship?

There are three things a consultant is looking for when cultivating their business relationships. They are looking to ensure the engagements are interesting and satisfying, that it provides the flexibility they need, and, of course, that it brings the expected level of compensation.  

What Are You Looking for in Your Next Career?

Like many people, consultants want to continually improve and evolve.  Many consultants haven’t quite found the right flexibility to satisfy their need for a healthy home and work-life balance, and are striving to find that in their next engagement.  Others are looking to use their wealth of experience and knowledge to improve other lives. A consultant has the opportunity to do this by sharing knowledge and helping packaging departments meet goals and objectives.

Is Consulting Right for You?

As we recap the elements that packaging consultants find important and compare them to other aspects such as their working style, we start to see some conflicts arise.  For example, packaging consultants are doers; they like to get work done, but at the same time they have a need to develop relationships with their clients to ensure additional work is continually generated. They also have a need for continual learning to make them happy, but the learning experience doesn’t always necessarily come from the work engagement. 

The overriding elements for a packaging consultant are flexibility and freedom to give them a good balance between their working life and their home life.  At the same time, they want to be seen to be making a difference to the organizations they are engaged with, and they want to continually improve their compensation.  Making a difference and improving pay takes hard work that certainly impacts the ability to maintain the work and home life balance.

So, how does a packaging consultant obtain all these things that they are striving for when there are contradictions and obstacles to their goals?  One approach is to team with an organization such as Adept Packaging. Adept is a team of packaging engineers working together to make an impact on our clients and in society. Many of our associates are former independent consultants who have come to recognize the benefits offered to a consultant by a well-established agency. Those benefits include,

  • We are able to ensure the flexibility and freedom that consultants require. 
  • We provide continual learning through our training programs and a diverse mix of project types.
  • The ability to let a doer maintain focus on the project work while Adept management takes care of the leadership requirements and client relationship management.

Only 10% of the Adept workforce is office based. The remainder of our full time and subcontracted workforce is based at their home office. That freedom allows our associates to be more productive and gives them more time to spend on things that are important to them. Though we have a largely virtual workforce, we have a management structure and work teams that ensure associates have a sense of belonging and can rely on their colleagues for expert advice when needed.

The Adept team also has well-developed marketing and sales teams, and a sophisticated account management program. We can take care of the business development activities so consultants can do what they do best; executing projects and solving problems. Compensation is always recognized as important, so Adept also has a program for rewarding associates that are helping business growth by bringing clients and opportunity. 

Adept Packaging has a proven record of partnering with independent packaging consultants and transitioning them to subcontracting to provide them the advantages and benefits that make them satisfied and successful. This relationship allows both our subcontractors and our clients are to benefit.  We work with the best, attracting talented experts that are motivated to deliver at exceedingly high levels on client engagements.

If these results are similar to what you’re looking for, a career in consulting is right for you.

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