Interview with the new General Manager of Rondo Obaly
Allschwil, Switzerland 27.09.2019 - Josef Chalupný has been working in the packaging industry for ten years. Most recently, he was responsible for sales of the Model Group in the Czech Republic. Previously, he was Business Unit Manager Packaging at Alinvest Bridlicna, a major Czech aluminium-based packaging producer. After five months as General Manager of Rondo Obaly, Chalupný, with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration, developed his own view of the company, the market and the future of pharmaceutical packaging. In this interview he answers questions about the future and digitization of packaging, about sustainability issues and about things that are on his private bucket list.
Interview with Josef Chalupný
What appeals to you about your new position as General Manager at Rondo AG in Ejpovice?
For me, first of all it was a new challenge. Of course there was also the interesting point that this is the pharmacy business, because I like to do a job where I can see something behind it – some kind of interesting background - pharmacy has added value for all of us. It was also important that this is part of the Körber Group, because it is a very well-known brand in our business, and last but not least there was the influence of the previous general manager Jörg Oswald; his personality is part of the spirit of the plant here in Ejpovice.
Which experiences in your life will be of benefit to you in your new position?
I am pretty sure that it will be my experience extending over more than 10 years in the packaging sector, in different kinds of packaging business. For example, I was active in aluminum packaging, corrugated packaging, laminated packaging and now in solid board packaging. Also, my particular experience is in sales so I think I am quite a customer- oriented person and I have experience of markets around the world. I have experience of the Russian market, the African market, the European market and the US market. I think this combination will be an advantage.
Who or what aroused your interest in packaging?
Honestly, for me it was a coincidence - I hadn’t planned to get into the packaging business in the past but fortunately my first boss decided to go on to establish a sales department in a company which had been acquired by his friends; he was asked to get involved and I was asked by him to support him with this mission. So this was my first connection with the packaging business.
How do you see the impact of digitalization on packaging?
I think that digitalization is actually all around us. So digitalization is the future and packaging is and will be no exception. We can see this in smart packaging trends which are currently emerging and of course within our company we are trying to keep up with these trends. So we have digital activities within Körber and we have already installed Primefire - a digital printing machine - and I think that this is absolutely the route we have to follow.
What role do you assign to packaging in the economy?
It is a very important role. Packaging is used in almost every segment around us. For sure, it is also important for marketing, because everybody knows that packaging sells the product and I think that with digitalization we are propelling or improving packaging into another dimension. So just in terms of the safety aspect or the informational aspect, we are getting to into greater detail in terms of education, safety and of course information. I think that this is very important.
Are there any undesirable developments in the packaging industry which you would like to change?
I am sure that we have to be faster and more efficient in eliminating plastics. We can see the impact all around us - we can see the plastics in the ocean. I read an article about how plastic has also been found in the Challenger Deep – the deepest part of the Earth’s oceans. So for me this is the key issue.
How are you promoting sustainability?
Sustainability is a very important issue for us. In addition to the standards-based sorting, we have new technologies which focus on reusable water and low chemistry. We have also installed a new printing machine which is CO2 neutral. The CO2 produced by this machine during production has been offset by planting many trees - to eliminate this impact or at least to neutralize it. So I think it is very important. Other aspects include heat recuperation, for example, and in all our new projects sustainability is taken into consideration as part of the decision-making process.
Which line of thought related to packaging should absolutely be pursued?
For me it’s clear and it’s evident from the previous questions: primarily the elimination of plastics and sustainability. The second area, a very important one, is individualization and innovation, hand in hand with digitalization: these factors will determine survival in the market. So these lines of thought are very important.
What calms you the most after a hard day’s work?
Hard training - for example running, mountain biking or boxing. And of course my family. I like meditation. So there are a lot of techniques I use to calm down and relax.
Three things you would like to change if you had the power?
First of all, I would like to establish a culture of trust globally.
I think that trust is very important for all of us and if a link of trust is fostered it brings other associated benefits. The second thing would be to calm down, slow down, look around and be able to think about the impact of our actions on the future. I think that nowadays a lot of people are just living for today and do not think about the future. They do not think about what is happening or about the impact their decisions could have on the future.
And the third thing is related to my second point: To let people see the future. I think if this is possible we could avoid a lot of wrong decisions. We could avoid a lot of problems which result from those bad or wrong decisions.
Three things on your bucket list?
To be a good father - it’s important for me to raise my children well. For sure this is an important mission for me. From my personal viewpoint - to complete a marathon. This is a personal challenge for me.
And from the, let’s say the philosophical point of view, the third thing is this: after twenty or thirty years I want to be able to sit down and review what I have achieved. To be able to review my life. To be able to be proud of my life.