2020 Women in Print and Promo: Deborah Buck, GO2 Partners
Global Quality Manager, New Product Development
GO2 Partners, Des Plaines, Ill.
Print has been a part of Deborah Buck’s life for 40-plus years, so it is fair to say she knows the craft. But Buck is a perpetual student with bold ambitions and the confidence that she will fulfill them. As the global quality manager, new product development for GO2 Partners, she regularly unlocks opportunities to build relationships with customers. “Her background, [along with her] equipment and product knowledge are incredible, matched only by her desire to help her clients,” according to her nominator.
Buck cut her teeth on the floor of her family’s print shop, Graphic Forms Services Inc., starting out as a janitor at 10 years old. She was promoted to bindery at the age of 12 and eventually graduated to running presses during her high school years. Buck felt the industry wasn’t fulfilling her professional needs, so after completing her studies, she worked in banking for the next four years. She found value in learning about finances, though try as she might, Buck couldn’t ignore this nagging voice in her head. It turns out, what she valued she already had in print.
Buck returned to help her father run the family business for a few months before he unexpectedly fell ill. She took over, leveraging her newfound financial and sales skills.
“I had found my passion and was highly motivated to be successful while knowing I was responsible for a team and their families, some of whom knew me as that little girl sweeping up around the plant years ago,” she said. “I believe someone above was looking out for my family and myself. I was home again and enjoying it more than ever.”
After selling the company, Buck joined the Ward/Kraft team, opening the first commercial print division. She later assumed the general manager role for the supplier’s short-run and digital operation, which included the plastic card division. From there, she accepted a vice president position at Flesh Co, and managed its digital and flexo printing facilities before moving on to GO2 Partners.
Buck credits her diverse background for sparking her creative energy. “I still have ink in my blood and love working with our internal teams and customers on new projects while resolving any issues they have,” she said.
What Brings Her Joy Professionally and Personally
I enjoy finding the gems in the rough. The most gratifying experience for me is finding what already exists but is not being used to the full potential. That could be a person, equipment or process. New product development is rewarding and allows you ownership to assure, from start to finish, you are providing a solution to the customer for improved efficiencies or developing something that currently does not exist. I love gaining knowledge in areas that I don’t know well … yet.
My family is my pride and joy. I have a wonderful husband who has supported me in all my endeavors, loves life and is my best friend. He is my partner in crime when it comes to spoiling our 10 grandchildren, and he is a terrific father. We are lucky to have three beautiful daughters of whom we take great pride in the women they have become.
Her Proudest Career Achievement
This may not sound like a milestone for others, but for me it was clear and defining. I had recently gone back in the family print business and ended up taking over and running the business very quickly due to a family illness. I had a team who was depending on me for their livelihood. I had not really traveled much or given presentations to more than four to five people. One of our largest customers of which was growing rapidly with us, asked me to travel to one of their locations to give a presentation to approximately 25 people. I felt a huge pressure that I had to do well, as a lot was riding on this business and the potential sales growth. The time came and as nervous as I was when starting the presentation, I realized it wasn’t about a scripted presentation, but engaging the group and hitting the points most important to them by asking questions and providing solutions. It turned out really well as the outsourcing manager asked everyone in the group to leave their sample packets and had me repeat the presentation I had just given to yet another group. Long story short, it paid off very well. I was flying high and realized that yes, I can do this!
On Working in a Traditionally Male-Dominated Industry
At one point in my career, I worked for a company where there were no women in the top-level manager positions. I moved up through the ranks, including general manager and then the vice president position at another company. Persistence does pay off. Eventually, I began seeing more of my female colleagues move up in the ranks as well. At the same time, I can attribute the support of several male colleagues who wanted to see women who had the ability break through to elevated roles.
Her Job Advice to Women
Go for it. It is not the same as it was 20 years ago and can be a very exciting and gratifying career. Put yourself out there, and show your worth. Trust that is earned is huge in building self-confidence and success. Attend any networking events for the industry and a women’s leadership conference. When I was young in my career, one of the most inspirational events was a women’s conference of top women leaders in various industries.
Her Favorite Leader
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. She is such an advocate for women in the business world. I bought three extra copies of her book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” and gave them to my daughters.
Her Upcoming Goals
I am looking forward to growing more professionally in the technology sector with our customers. On a personal level, [I would like to] spend more time with our family. Some of our grandchildren are in college or will be entering college this coming fall, and we are still very close.
How She Maintains a Work/Life Balance
I’ve been extremely blessed at GO2 Partners and [I am] at a point where if you work hard, you can play hard. With the current state of COVID-19, I’m not traveling. I normally have a very busy travel schedule, but that time has been devoted to helping our customers, addressing their urgent needs and new product development. Once the travel restrictions are lifted, I will be out testing and auditing some very exciting new projects.
Never turn down an opportunity for growth. I thank my lucky stars that in good and even challenging times, I have had a heck of ride and education.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.