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Delkor's Patty Andersen Pioneers Board Leadership as 1st Female Chair

Delkor's VP of Human Resources Patty Andersen poses in front of a Delkor machine

This article was originally published in Enterprise Minnesota.

Decades ago, when Patty Andersen got into the manufacturing industry, becoming a pioneer wasn’t on her radar.

But that’s exactly what happened.

Andersen, Vice President of Human Resources at the St. Paul-based Delkor Systems, recently became board chair for the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (formally [CW1] Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute — PMMI), a trade association representing more than 900 North American manufacturers in the packaging and processing industry.

PMMI was founded in 1933 in Buffalo, N.Y. For the first 89 years of the organization — which serves as an international advocate for the packaging industry — it was helmed by a man. But on Feb. 6, Andersen ended that streak.

“I think they realized it was time to modernize some things,” Andersen says. “And the industry is changing.”

Andersen has been with Delkor since 2005, joining as the company’s Human Resources Director. A few years later, she was promoted to her current VP position. Her involvement with PMMI began in 2010 when she joined its Education and Workforce Development Committee. She took over leadership of that committee in 2015. She served as a member and chair of the Employee Development Committee from 2012-2019, was vice chair and chair of the Strategic Planning Committee from 2020-2023, and was a founding member of the Packaging & Processing Women’s Leadership Network, serving on its executive council since 2016. She’s been a PMMI board member since 2017 and joined the Executive Committee as vice chair in 2020.

“Patty has provided PMMI with valuable guidance as a leader and a board member. We are excited as she takes on a larger role in the strategic direction of PMMI as our first female chair,” Jim Pittas, president and CEO of PMMI, said in a press release. “Her more than 20 years of packaging industry experience coupled with her ability to inspire others to work together and think creatively to solve problems makes her an incredible asset to the association.”

Beyond her work with PMMI, Andersen has kept busy with an array of industry-related endeavors including: serving on the Hennepin Technical College Foundation Board of Directors, and serving on advisory councils for Central Lakes College Robotics/Automated Systems Technology, St. Paul College Electromechanical Systems, and Northwood Technical College Automated Packaging Systems.

Andersen says that, during her time with the Packaging & Processing Women’s Leadership Network, it held an event in Las Vegas that attracted more than 800 women from around the country.

“It was great. Most of them who came, came on their own,” she says.

Andersen says she gave tours of the event to student groups, including groups of female engineering students from California Polytechnic State University. She says it was gratifying to be able to show them how some sectors of manufacturing are becoming increasingly less male dominated.

Dale Andersen, President and CEO of Delkor, says his wife’s accomplishments are creating real change in the industry. Even at Delkor, change is happening. Just a few years ago, there were no women among their engineering ranks. Today, there are four. He attributes that to Patty Andersen’s leadership.

“The packaging and processing industry is like a lot of manufacturing industries. It has been predominantly male,” he says. “We’re seeing an emerging trend which we’d strongly endorse. And, I think what Patty says is true: The time was right for a shift to having women more involved in all of our companies.”

The time was right for a shift to having women more involved in all of our companies.

Andersen says that, when it comes to changing demographics in the workplace, her mind isn’t solely focused on men vs. women. She’d like to make the industry feel welcome and inviting to anyone who doesn’t fit into the leadership stereotype of the older white male.

Addressing those changes, she says, requires a comprehensive shift in how manufacturers think when it comes to hiring, retention, leadership and everything else.

“It’s thinking about the content for meetings, it’s thinking about the activities that you’re offering,” she says. “In the past it would be primarily 18 holes of golf. Well, maybe not so much anymore. Maybe you need to think about that a little bit differently. And you also need to think differently about the spouses. The assumption was made that the spouse was always a female. That’s not true anymore. And so you have to think about that.

“As I told the leadership team at PMMI, it’s not that anything’s broken,” she says. “You’re trying to modernize, and modernization means that you have to think a little bit differently and be more creative about it.”

Read more stories like this one on Enterprise Minnesota's website.

Topics: delkor systems, robotic case packing, Thought Leadership, automation, Associations, delkor news

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