Print has a reputation of being a male-dominated industry, but take a closer look at Canon’s EMEA production print business and you’ll find a team that includes many talented women, with very different career backgrounds and pathways into print.
I caught up with four of them to ask how they came to work in print, what they love about it, and what they believe can be done to encourage more women into print.
Verena Hahn – European Product Manager for Canon Commercial Print, based in Poing, Germany
Sara Milani – Professional Print Marketing Specialist for Canon Europe Ltd, based in Milan, Italy and Canon Europe, Stockley Park, UK
Andriani Lada – Product Manager in Large Format Printing for Canon Europe Ltd based at Canon Europe, Stockley Park, UK
Claudia van Eyck – International Partner Management for Canon Commercial Print, based in Poing, Germany
None of the four came from printing families and – apart from instilling a universal love of books – none had any exposure to print at school.
So what led you into pursuing a career in the print sector?
VH: My father worked in a financial role for Océ, which was acquired by Canon in 2010. He took me to company open days, which gave me such a positive picture that I applied for an apprenticeship. I later combined on-the-job learning with a degree in International Marketing at the University of Cooperative Education in Ravensburg, Germany. I was then hired as Marketing Communication Manager when I graduated.
SM: I studied Business Administration and have a Masters in Publishing and Communication – so there’s a print connection stemming from my higher education, but ultimately my route into print was through marketing. I started as an Office Product Manager for Canon Italy and after four years became a Product Manager for Professional Print, which in 2018 evolved into an EMEA-wide role.
AL: My first degree was in Business and Finance, followed by an MBA in International Marketing and an MA in Marketing. My early career was in consumer electronics working for large retail chains like the DSGI Group (Dixons and Currys), the Comet Group, Media Markt and Saturn. I acquired a passion for technology, which ultimately led me into the large format printing business in Canon.
CVE: My educational background is completely different – I have a degree as a translator and my specialist subject was in Engineering. My career started at Siemens-Nixdorf, allowing me to apply my linguistic abilities in a technical environment – the combination of my languages and acquired skills in engineering opened doors for me in my career.
What do you love most about your job?
VH: It’s so varied. One minute I’m dealing with a technical brief and the next, I’m working through product pricing, communication plans, logistics and training. I love collaborating with people in different departments and countries. The job keeps you on your toes – you have to be agile to adapt plans and respond to unforeseen circumstances.
SM: I love seeing how our technology enables our customers to do more with print. Digital print technology has come such a long way in such a short space of time and I’m lucky to have been part of that.
AL: I love the pace of change and what it enables us to do. I know what Verena means about being kept on your toes – I thrive on the day-to-day challenge this job brings. I like how we can be innovative in the way we promote the features and benefits of our technology to our target customers.
CVE: Working for an international company gives me exposure to customers and business partners from different cultures and with different ways of communicating and working. This cultural diversity, together with the day-to-day challenges that arise means that this job is the opposite of boring!
What do you feel can be done to encourage young women into the print industry?
VH: The industry needs more strong role models. Women in print need to become more visible, to influence younger women and give them someone to aspire to.
SM: There are so many different career opportunities within print and these need to be highlighted. Print’s role in marketing also needs to be elevated, to combat the misperception that it’s a static medium. We need to be more vocal about how innovative print is.
AL: I think that industry leaders in print could do more to communicate with younger women, to plant the seed of possibility in their minds earlier and do more to showcase the career opportunities.
CVE: Companies can do more to acknowledge the importance of emotional intelligence and soft skills. These qualities are vital for effective relationship building and leadership and are often highly developed in women.
What would you tell a school/college-age girl about career opportunities in print?
VH: I’d relate my own experience and tell them about the diverse roles that exist, from marketing to finance, research & development to HR.
SM: You’re right – there is something for everyone within the print industry, but you have to consciously go looking for it. It’s not a conventional career choice, but it offers so many opportunities.
AL: I would tell them not to be intimidated by the perception of print being a male-dominated world. You can apply your skills in so many areas and will find women within the industry to inspire you and enable you to grow.
CVE: The print industry offers a wealth of opportunity in so many different areas, from technical and communications, to sales and marketing. My biggest piece of advice would be to build on your strengths and allow those in your professional environment to appreciate your skills, personality and readiness to learn.
What excites you about the future of print?
VH: This is the most adaptable and innovative industry and print has proven to be a powerful tool in the communication mix.
SM: I always wonder what’s around the corner for print in terms of automation and creativity and what Print 3.0 or 4.0 will look like.
AL: The sky’s the limit – combine new creative zeal with new prospects and new technology and you have an amazing mix.
CVE: Print never stops evolving. New print technologies and finishing mean we’ll see even more integration with digital. Think about children’s reading books with embedded music or video and software enabling readers to become contributors to a story – the opportunities are endless and I’m excited to be part of it.