Pocket Folders Fast, Omaha, Neb.
Years of Experience: 15
How she got her start: Right out of college, I began as an entry-level typesetter at Specialty Finishing – a division of Wright Printing, a large family-owned printing company. Within six months, I had been promoted to graphic artist, and, within a year, I was a prepress lead. After five years, I was promoted to prepress manager and continued to grow and learn about all aspects of the business until—and through—the sale of that company in 2013. In 2014, I left the industry because I needed a change. I became an agency development manager for Colonial Life for about 18 months after being personally affected by voluntary benefits when my daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 at the age of two. I had an amazing opportunity to share her story and help others, but, ultimately, the ink is in my blood, and the lure to return to the industry proved too strong for me to resist.
Her proudest career achievements: At the beginning of 2016, I reconnected with the Wright family, [with] whom I had spent the first 10 years of my career. They invited me to join them in starting new business ventures, including Pocket Folders Fast. It has been a roller coaster ride of achievements and setbacks, successes and challenges. I am so incredibly proud of what we are building together. In the past two years, I have worked harder than I have ever worked before, learned and accomplished more than I thought I was capable of.
On working in a traditionally male-dominated industry: Early in my career, when I was pregnant with my first child, I was told I might be considered for a management position “if” I actually returned from maternity leave. That was the first time I realized the role that my gender played in the way people saw the trajectory of my career. I felt the pressure of female stereotypes. It was an experience that shaped my approach to business, but it also fueled me to work twice as hard, to break down any barrier put in my way and to broaden my expectations of myself. Now, I have three children and strive to promote an environment that encourages a healthy, family balance for the men and women who work for and with me.
Her job advice to women: I would tell other women to go for it. This is an exciting industry with a constant demand for fresh and innovative ideas, and there are great opportunities both in print and promotional products.
Her industry mentors: My mom has always been an inspiration to me personally and professionally. She is a caring and accomplished leader in her company, and is a great sounding board for me when I need it. Mardra Sikora, the CEO of Pocket Folders Fast/Wright Printing has been an inspiration and a mentor to me not only as a professional woman, but also as a leader in the print industry. I am also incredibly fortunate to work with two multi-generational print industry families, and I am surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw from.
Her biggest lesson learned: The most important lesson I’ve learned, and sometimes the hardest to exercise, is to not be afraid to ask for or accept help. And, how incredibly appreciated it is when you give credit where it is due.
How she maintains a work/life balance: I have a great support system in my husband, who has by now accepted that I love my career. I am passionate about my job, my family and living the best life I can, so I try to pack in as much quality family, memory-making time into every day as possible. At the same time, I am proud to be an example of hard work and dedication to my kids.