About CSci

  • Andrew Streeter
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Andrew Streeter
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
Works For: 
HNC (?), Diploma IoP
Pet Hates: 
Hate waiting for something
Burning Ambition: 
Write a book
To somehow take packaging waste out of the environment
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I wanted to be a doctor
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
I have an inquisitive nature. It was a combination of this inquisitive nature, plus the packaging industry, plus being multi-disciplined, that made me realise the opportunities
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
There’s always something new every day
What would you change? 
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
I say one of two things. One is “I’m a packing specialist” which gives me the foundation to go forward. Sometimes people think that means pushing tins down a conveyor! Other times, I say I run a packaging consultancy. If I’m talking to a businessman I get into the areas of consultancy that we deal with. If I’m talking to a non-businessperson, then we’d almost certainly get into a discussion of the problems of packaging, green issues, too much packaging everywhere…telling people what I do can open Pandora’s box! People are usually interested because packaging has quite a high profile
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
I believe that we’re unique and we have the intellectual capacity as a group of people to identify a complete piece of packaging innovation (or innovative device to open a package). Sometimes you can see a complete piece of packaging that’s innovative, other times it’s what we’d call “on-pack”, or part of the packaging that’s innovative, like the way you open it. We have the ability to identify packaging innovation for retail on a global scale. We can evaluate the importance of packaging innovation and communicate its function, as well as make all that information available in one place on a website
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
Our work will help to reduce the cost of packaging. It will speed up the process of implementing packaging change as well as encourage brand manufacturers to improve and gain better practice in their different packaging scenarios
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
I quite enjoy talking to people and sharing what packaging can do for them, but not in a sales scenario. I like making people aware of things and exploring how packaging can improve issues they face – finding areas where packaging can intervene and improve what they do. One highlight is we’ve reduced the cost of beer packaging for some well-known brands and improved the brand value for their customers. I also have a specialist knowledge of Japanese packaging and culture. A highlight for me is helping people to see packaging through the eyes of Japanese culture and to adopt a different mindset and approach. This stimulates fascinating debate and helps people make progress and better use of the packaging resources they have
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
At the beginning of my career I joined a research organization called Pira which serves the packaging, paper and print industries. Over 6 years, I was involved in technical work researching the behaviour of packing materials, particularly in board and flexible packaging. I invented a means of improving carton manufacturing machinery, and I did the groundwork research on measuring the cushioning qualities for a wide range of materials. Next I joined Nestle, where I worked for three years as a packaging specialist in their production division looking after the packaging of coffee and other powders and viscous food products covering the widest possible spectrum of packaging formats and filling methods. I was responsible for troubleshooting, cost reduction, establishing a packaging specification system, and new packaging development. I was involved in the invention of the square coffee jar! After Nestle I joined Trebors (wine gums, jelly babies etc) in their marketing department to help them exploit packaging as a marketing device. I did their brand management and introduced new packaging formats across a wide range of brands. I helped with cost production, improved ways of using packaging, and added value to low cost confectionary items through the pack by making it more engaging to the consumer and growing brand loyalty. At some point I became interested in viewing packaging from the management perspective. I went part-time and set up a packaging consultancy called CPS to provide holistic solutions for packaging needs, which went well. I left Trebors and grew this business, which has been the bulk of my career. We’ve supported over 250 brand manufacturers and government agencies, and we deal with consumer goods, over the counter and some prescription medicines. During this time I developed a base in Japan and relationships with many contacts there. We have a small office in Tokyo. I’ve now spent 25-30 years doing research into Japanese packaging and am considered a global specialist. The use of packaging in Japan goes back 300 years starting with the bakery industry. Japan is about adding value to products…but they are equally skilled at removing cost in the same move. They embrace a mixture of design skill and understanding of packaging that’s very different and less restrictive than Western society. We grew the international side of the business and recruited specialists from all over the world. In 1998 we gave the name Pack-Track to the research arm of CPS and over time we started to sell research material on a subscription basis to companies all over the world. As technology improved we switched from Word documents, to CDs, and finally to the internet, which has changed the whole business model. Pack-Track ultimately became a stand-along internet company with quite a momentum, providing a closed website of interactive web pages written by packaging people for packaging people. We provide innovation, and we coined the term Seize+Adapt, which is what it’s all about. People use Pack-Track to renovate their existing packaged brands, develop new products, and shape their strategy. The Japanese service is a standalone service within Pack-Track. We take people, like company directors, on trips to Japan to see their packaging techniques firsthand so that they can take the culture and apply it to their products and strategies.
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
Packaging is multi-disciplined. My job involves technical production, marketing, knowledge of the future, and management skills in terms of profit and loss
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
I think we’ll continue to grow. We see the market as being quite volatile and there is consolidation going on between the big players (i.e. Cadburys being bought by Kraft etc.) But small companies are growing to a medium size, particularly in food. Management culture is much more receptive as to what packaging can do. Brand manufacturers are willing to make packaging changes and they realize that packaging can be exploited as a tool much more than it has been in the past
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
The most unexpected thing is that management has been slow to understand the potential that packaging can bring to a brand. This is finally starting to turn around. In the past, CEOs and marketing directors didn’t know enough about packaging to understand its potential, and that has always surprised me. Products have always been production-driven with a branding canvas, but now that’s changing. This is a necessary change if commerce is to continue because packaging will make the difference, as well as bring other benefits like helping to reduce carbon footprints, making consumption easier etc.
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Developing a knowledge of Japan and its packaging culture. Recognizing and investigating the Japanese packaging culture and interpreting it for a wide audience
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
I work too much and my social life has paid a price. I live business, but I enjoy it
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
They’re excited and interested by what I do. They think I’m lucky
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
My interests are art, World War I, politics, travel, and I’m a member of the Sherlock Homes Society
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
I became a Chartered Scientist because I thought it gave recognition for my efforts to date and I think at my heart I’m a scientist
What is the value of professional bodies? 
I think they’re highly valuable and that will simply grow as time goes on. They provide a foundation for knowledge, which is everything. They help to spark ideas, to bring step change, and to bring together people’s knowledge and experiences
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
I find CPD essential and I like to think it’s a continuous process. I find the searching out of new innovation and knowledge (and interpreting that for the customer base) very rewarding. I’m a happy bedfellow with CPD!
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
To make sure they’re happy to implement change because packaging is all about change, particularly to meet the needs of the new environmental agenda. They also need to be happy to be multi-disciplined. I don’t know anyone who has gone into packaging who has come out of it. It’s seductive as a discipline and you stay there. It’s a career where you can go anywhere – a great door opener – and it has many departments. This is a good time for packaging. There’s change in the air and people are receptive to new agendas and packaging strategies
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
I have been mentored in the past, but not wholly successfully. Mentoring is not something I do very much, but perhaps I will later on
How would you define “professionalism”? 
High ethical standards, responsibility, and non-commercial (i.e. put the cause for packaging above the cause of commerce). Packaging is both a science and an art, but it is there to serve society first and foremost
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
No – I’ve been lucky. I’ve been involved in technical production, marketing, and setting up my own thing…it’s all worked well
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
That making packaging a holistic science in its own right.
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