Podcast

Blending Business and Technology with Academia with Matt Daum, Michigan State University

In this episode of Beyond the Shelf: The Product & Packaging Podcast, Laura Foti speaks with Matt Daum, Director of the School of Packaging and CANR Assistant Dean of Corporate Relations and Strategy, at Michigan State University. Matt shares his passion for blending academia with business and technology experience for the next generation workforce.

Posted on 
November 17, 2022

Matt Daum has, in many ways, come full circle in his packaging career.

A graduate of the Michigan State University packaging program, Daum embarked on a 25 year career at HP, where he started in packaging but quickly transitioned to other roles. 

Throughout his time, he leveraged his packaging expertise to drive strategic decisions around packaging procurement, supply chain, marketing, and more. 

And now, with his return to MSU – this time as the packaging programs director – he’s leveraging his business acumen to propel the packaging industry forward. 

I sat down with Matt at Pack Expo to talk about the intersection between business and packaging and his vision for the program. We were also excited to announce an exciting partnership between MSU and Specright, which can learn more about here

Below are some highlights from our conversation – you can listen to the full audio on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Soundcloud. And be sure to subscribe to our channel to get the latest episodes as soon as they drop. 

On the growth of the packaging industry and the shortage of talent

“Packaging as an industry is one of the largest in the world, it's a trillion dollar industry and I think for a long time it's just been under-indexed in terms of the number of people going into it. I think there's 3%, 4% CAGR each year in the packaging industry. So it's growing, but you don't have the same growth at the packaging programs to keep up with that growth for the industry….Plus you have lots of companies now realizing the value of packaging and so you have those combined factors and you've got this mismatch in supply and demand.”

On innovations at HP that drove cost savings AND sustainability 

“One was, this is probably in the early days when sustainability and rightsizing your packaging was a lot of the discussion in the industry. And it wasn't just myself, there were some other key players within HP, but we had this idea that if you could look at your printer product and identify the weakest spots, and instead of just adding more packaging, which then made your box bigger, which then increased your logistics costs, which then decreased your margin, what if we worked with the product design teams to add value to the product, make a stronger piece of sheet metal or protect a certain plastic part that maybe is prone to damage? And in that way, cut down on the size of the package, which then had this ripple effect through the supply chain and actually added margin to the bottom line.”

On the role of packaging to boost consumer confidence in product authenticity 

“And I know that, not just HP, but I think other companies have at times realized that if a customer is used to seeing a certain type of package on the shelf and that doesn't show up to their front door, it immediately raises questions, is it authentic? Sometimes there's not very much transparency in your supply chain, so how do you track and give confidence to your customers?”

On his decision to leave industry and return to MSU to lead the packaging program

“I just felt like the MSU program in particular really prepared me well to think across different functions. And that served me well at HP and I saw how it has served a lot of other friends in the industry as well and felt like I wanted to come back and help, let's say, reestablish the school and provide whatever I could to give back to the school that gave so much to me.”

Listen to the whole episode here – and be sure to stay tuned through the end for one of my favorite “Keep, Kill, Change” segments, where we make Matt decide between cufflinks, bumper stickers,  and coffee cup sleeves.

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