Russ, Packaging Engineering Manager

What is your position here at Ghirardelli and what do you do?

I work in the Packaging Department and ultimately what my team and I do is design and create packaging that will protect our chocolate from the moment it comes off the production lines, until the moment our customers enjoy our product. Reading that I probably sound more like a chocolate bodyguard than an engineer so I'll explain further! Whether I'm working on a brand new project or finding ways to improve an existing package, my goal is to design the most efficient, structurally sound and attractive package I can make. When deciding what materials to use, I need to make sure they are able to maintain the freshness of our product, can run effectively on our production lines and will provide the premium look our customers expect from our brand. It can be a challenge to make sure all of that comes together, but that's what makes it so much fun.

How has Ghirardelli helped you in your career development?

Ghirardelli has helped my development the most by giving me the opportunities to evolve and grow that I didn't get at other companies. At Ghirardelli, I'm able to work and interact with everyone from people right out of college all the way up to our CEO. This exposure to all levels of experience within the company has put me in the role of student, teacher, novice, subject matter expert, team member and leader. Wearing these different hats has allowed me to grow by challenging me to push myself in areas where I am less skilled and it has let me impart knowledge in areas where I excel. I've been fortunate to be promoted several times since joining the company and believe that it is due to my overall development as a professional.

If you could switch your job with anyone else within Ghirardelli whose job would you want?

I'd like to switch jobs with our Director of Procurement. The main reason for that is, I buy things almost everyday so I feel like I am well qualified, perhaps even over qualified, for this role. No, I'm joking, but in all honesty I think I'd enjoy this job because it requires attention to detail which as an Engineer is part of my DNA and I think it's really interesting how you can influence the company from behind the scenes. It seems like it would be fun and interesting working with our existing vendors and identifying new vendors to source new ingredients and materials.

What advice do you have for a prospective candidate considering Ghirardelli?

I would advise any prospective candidate that if you come to Ghirardelli with a positive attitude and a willingness to work in a team dynamic you can go a long way. Although we all do work by ourselves and need to be self-motivated, almost every project we work on is done in a team environment. A willingness to positively interact within the cross functional team is a must and will lead to both personal and team success.

What drew you to Ghirardelli originally and what has changed since?

What originally drew me to Ghirardelli was the proud history of the company and the fact that it was small enough for me to come in and feel like I was able to make a difference. I was really attracted to the fact that there was this great company with a great brand name but that is was still small enough that everyone knew everybody else's name. As the company has grown, it's harder for me to know everyone's name, however, it is still small enough that I feel like I can make a difference. I'm reminded of that every time I go to the store and see just how many products are out there that I've worked on. That is still a really rewarding feeling.

What is your proudest moment at Ghirardelli?

I think my proudest moment at the company was when we developed and successfully delivered our first half pallet display program to one of our major customers. Half pallet displays are one of, if not the most, challenging design projects we work on. In this instance, it was a late request from the customers to timing was extremely tight, but we were able to roll up our sleeves and design, develop and test a great looking display in time. Seeing my work on this project in stores for the first time was definitely a stand out experience during my time here at Ghirardelli.