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Packaging leadership with Sevinç Yener, Mondi Corrugated’s ‘people-first’ CEO

Sevinç spoke to Tim Hartnell on the Venari Podcast

‘I always encourage diversity of people and diverse thoughts within the organisation,’ says Mondi Corrugated CEO, Sevinç Yener, ‘because I know that diversity brings a very creative working environment.’ With over 25 years’ experience working in executive management for the likes of Delphi Automotive and Greif prior to her current role, Sevinç certainly knows what is needed for success in business. She spoke to our Senior Sustainable Packaging Consultant, Tim Hartnell, on the Venari Podcast, where they discussed effective leadership, challenges in the packaging space, and the key to success as a CEO.

 


 

Effective leadership in challenging times

Mondi is a global leader in the packaging and paper industry, employing almost 22,000 people across 100 production sites in almost 30 countries. Sevinç has been leading them since 2018, and these five years have not been without their challenges. Integrating various teams across a sustained period of growth for Mondi – and doing so amid the difficult economic climate in Türkiye, with a large number of domestic competitors – have certainly kept Sevinç occupied over the past year. She doesn’t envision these scenarios changing any time soon.


Still, challenging times underline the importance of strong leadership, which Sevinç has had plenty of time to reflect on over the course of her career. She defines herself as a ‘servant leader’: someone who is passionate about her own responsibilities, and who works hard to establish a culture of trust. ‘I know that trust ensures speed in everything we do,’ she explains. ‘Empowerment is a very critical success factor [...] and in order to empower people, of course you need to trust them.’ Flexibility is also important to Sevinç; she frequently deploys what she calls a ‘situational leadership style’ focusing on resilience and adaptability. Whereas executives of the past might have been expected to have all the answers, for Sevinç, having the courage to admit when you don’t know something – and then working on a solution collectively – is healthier and more effective. As she puts it herself: ‘Thinking together, while using your heart and mind’.


Individual and collective successes

Sevinç is the first female CEO in the paper industry in Türkiye. She prides herself on bringing a human touch to her work, ‘meaning more transparent communication, more consensus building,’ and greater emphasis on involving and engaging her colleagues in what she calls a ‘people-first philosophy’. It makes sense, therefore, that Sevinç is a certified business coach and mentor, which she brings to her management style. Her door is always open to colleagues, and she makes a point of listening to and engaging with employees in Mondi’s plants. The strategy seems to be paying off: ‘in my first years in Mondi, we achieved the highest employee engagement score increase in our business segment. And in the same year there was a customer satisfaction survey – again, in our business segment – and we got the highest customer scores.’ Furthermore, it’s brought individual recognition for Sevinç, who’s been selected as one of Türkiye's leading 50 women CEOs – in addition to inclusion in the overall list of 50 top business leaders in the country last year. Long may it continue!


Building for the future

Mondi’s growth in Türkiye reflects the brand’s success in the country. The trust that the organisation has placed in the Turkish branch is motivational for Sevinç, who Is similarly energised by the opportunity to develop future leaders of industry in her homeland. Succession planning for the organisation is certainly a point of interest – as are developing the company’s innovation and design capabilities, ‘because this is what customers are asking [for] from us.’ Sustainability is an increasingly important topic in the business landscape, and Mondi are keen to focus on this both in Türkiye and further afield. It may be challenging, but, as Sevinç is quick to note, ‘we will enjoy the journey, and at the same time we will create good business results together with our engaged team.’


Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance with talent solutions for your sustainable packaging business – we’d love to help.



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