New Year, Exciting New Programs
by Susan Avery, CAE

he year 2020 has been one of the most disruptive years of our lives. So much of our usual way of doing business had to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic — from “road warrior” salespeople being grounded, to getting up to speed on video conferencing, to the rise of new marketing opportunities via branded virtual backgrounds and facemasks.

Like most IAPD members, IAPD did not have a typical year, either. When lockdowns first started in March, IAPD had a full event calendar planned and was looking forward to numerous golf tournaments, regional Women in Plastics Events, the Leadership Development Conference and, of course, the Annual Convention. Staff was able to convert the Women in Plastics events to monthly virtual events, which have featured insightful speakers and enabled many more IAPD members to participate, as there was no need to travel to these events. In lieu of the opening session at the convention, IAPD presented a lively Membership Celebration video, in which we celebrated this year’s award winners, thanked our outgoing board members, welcomed our new board members and had some fun seeing so many members’ faces. If you haven’t seen the video — or you just want to see it again — visit IAPD’s YouTube channel.

Time for innovation

Even though nothing has gone as planned since March, IAPD staff has used this year to innovate. I am pleased to announce two new programs, which you will hear more about in the new year: GenerationNext, to provide education and networking to employees at IAPD member companies who are under the age of 30, as well as the Sustainability Champions, to provide education and tools to IAPD members about the sustainability of performance plastics. Let’s take a closer look at each program.


Most IAPD events cater toward senior level management within our member companies — those who have permission to travel. A growing number of young professionals at these companies have never heard of IAPD. By creating a space for them to connect and grow in the industry, we will be able to serve this community.

GenerationNext will serve as a resource hub, offering educational events, training, networking opportunities and camaraderie for young professionals under the age of 30 in the performance plastics industry. It’s a way to introduce your next generation workforce to their peers in the industry, giving them the all-important sense of connection that will help them find their footing in what, hopefully, will be a long and successful career with your company and the performance plastics industry.

I’d like you to think back to when you were starting your first job. You might have felt that you were in over your head and didn’t know where to turn when you had questions. The GenerationNext program is designed to be the safe space to ask those questions. For example, perhaps you’ve hired a talented engineering major right out of college, but they are suddenly in a role that requires basic business knowledge. Their peers in the GenerationNext program can be a resource for that new hire.

The GenerationNext community will present six virtual events in 2021, running every other month, starting in January. In the alternating months, there will be other touchpoints, such as a virtual happy hour, a book club, round table discussions, an “ask the expert” event and a plastics industry professional panel. Look for updates in future issues of this magazine and on the IAPD website.

Sustainability Champions

With the changes in presidential administrations, it will be more important than ever for the performance plastics industry to be able to promote the sustainability of performance plastics in a consistent manner, with relevant facts and data points. The goal of the Sustainability Champions initiative is to put these resources in your hands.

The IAPD Environmental Committee will spend the next few years developing educational materials showing the sustainability benefits of performance plastics:

  • Virtual events/webinars based on the Top 26 markets. The focus of these presentations will be the sustainability benefits of performance plastics as compared to other materials.
  • Environmental Corner articles based on the webinars.
  • Infographics, information sheets and/or one-page handouts for sales staff.
  • Interesting facts about performance plastics related to the market for “Did You Know?” social media posts.

The goal will be to provide the data points necessary for IAPD members to use when talking about the benefits of performance plastics to customers, to the next generation workforce, to Members of Congress and to the public at large. We need to change minds about plastics, and the educational resources created through the Sustainability Champions initiative will be instrumental in helping all IAPD members better tell the sustainability value proposition of our materials.

Connect your company with a great cause

Our plan for these two new programs is to have them be self-funded. Similar to the Women in Plastics initiative, IAPD will sell sponsorships at various levels (and with various benefits) to support these programs. Many IAPD members have proudly sponsored Women in Plastics, and have benefitted by being associated with the important work of this group. Sponsoring GenerationNext and the Sustainability Champions will show that your company is deeply committed to these important initiatives, and will be a way to differentiate your company to customers, potential new hires and to your partners. Contact IAPD sales staff for additional information and all the details.