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Thought Leader Interview with Ross Van Burkleo

Tuesday, September 26, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Allison Hudson
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NPTA performs quarterly interviews with thought leaders; articles such as the one below are included in Paper Merchant Insider, NPTA's members-only newsletter designed to keep members connected with industry events, each other and all things NPTA. Learn more about NPTA member benefits and join our community today.

"Neenah Paper's Van Burkleo Steps Up to the Emerging Leaders Network"

By Teddy Durgin

The National Paper Trade Association (NPTA) has established the Emerging Leaders Network. Consisting of 12 to 15 members, its goals are many and include providing up-and-coming leaders from within member companies a forum to network, creating a working group for actionable NPTA initiatives, and fostering a pool of candidates for future NPTA Board of Director positions. 

One such Emerging Leader is Ross Van Burkleo, who is currently the Neenah Paper Sales Director for the  East. During a recent interview, he expressed enthusiasm for NPTA taking the initiative in forming such a panel. "As NPTA's member-companies grow and diversify," he stated, "it's important that the people who reflect the association innovate. As emerging leaders, we are going through the same transformational changes that the paper industry is going through. It's important that, as customers are diversifying and changing, a new breed of thinkers can step up who will challenge the norm while also furthering the NPTA and the initiatives it is putting in place." 

To be considered for participation, candidates must be employees of NPTA-member companies, commit to the Network for two years, and be able to take part in key meeting dates and sessions. There is no age requirement.

Van Burkleo added, "A good candidate is someone who is willing to invest time and effort into coming up with new ideas. It's someone who has experience in the paper industry and understands the challenges, not only in terms of market dynamics but also the challenges of recruiting new people. New people, Millennials, the next generation of college students, they will be the lifeblood of the industry. Young people are looking for an exciting, connective and communications-driven industry, and that is what we are."

Van Burkleo has been with Neenah Paper for nearly 20 years. In his current position, he is responsible for developing and implementing the company's strategies in the Eastern part of the United States ("Anything from the Mississippi River to the right!") He commented, "My focus is developing opportunities with our merchants, end users, and designers to help them with their paper and substrate needs. I enjoy engaging with people who believe that image and performance matter in our industry."

He has also served as an instructor at the NPTA's Paper School. The half-day program teaches a wide range of important topics in paper, featuring a half-dozen classroom sections all taught by industry experts. "I have enjoyed sharing knowledge with new and energetic people, who want to know the industry," Van Burkleo said. "We're looking to expand, to find a broader audience. We hope to bring in end users, communications specialists, marketing people and more."

And while he has been in the industry since the 1990s, he intends to combine his experience with a good dose of youthful energy and enthusiasm to serve the Emerging Leaders Network. "The [Network] is bringing in a multitude of people, far reaching from all over the country," he concluded. "It's good to have new and emerging ideas and challenging thoughts. All of us love this industry, but we always want to make sure that we are looking forward, growing and expanding our reach, and finding more and more opportunities."

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