Apprentice from Renmark, SA wins mentorship prize

Kelsey Wade, a third-year prepress apprentice at Print DNA in Renmark, South Australia, has won the inaugural ProPrint Emerging 50 12-month Mentorship Prize in partnership with The Real Media Collective.

Kelsey was able to accept her award virtually last night at the physical and hybrid event that was held at Sydney’s Shangri-la Hotel to honour the 2020 Power 50 and Emerging 50 nominees.

Kelsey was among 32 applicants for the mentorship, which will include regular catch-ups with The Real Media Collective CEO Kellie Northwood, the 2020 ProPrint Power 50 winner, and opportunities over the coming year to learn about broader parts of the print sector.

The idea for the mentorship prize is to help the rising stars of the printing industry learn more about the bigger picture so they can see where they fit into it all. It is designed to encourage these people to stay in print as the sector charts its course through future decades.

There was tight competition for the prize but Kelsey’s application was judged the winner by a panel of seven industry judges who carefully read through each application.

To enter each nominee was invited to submit an application which required them to answer three questions regarding the key issues currently facing the printing industry, what they believe makes a good leader and what makes them most excited about the industry.

They were also asked to supply a written reference from a supervisor or colleague to vouch for their eligibility for the Emerging 50 list.

In the end Kelsey was determined the winner with her thorough application and insightful answers about the industry and leadership proving popular with all the judges.

In her application Kelsey highlighted the printing industry’s need to adapt to the changing global market so it can rise to the challenge of the digital world as the biggest issue facing the sector. She sees the answer being around innovation through product personalisation and also the increased use of specialty finishing with metallics, foils and other tactile effects.

Environmental sustainability is also a key concern and Kelsey believes that finding cost-effective ways to make print more sustainable is the only way forward.

In terms of leadership, Kelsey sees a good leader is not characterised by authority but more by having the ability to demonstrate guidance, resourcefulness and understanding to form positive relationships in an inclusive solution-driven workplace.

It is clear from her application that print is a key passion for Kelsey.

She notes that it all starts with the initial discussion with the customer about which leads to designing concepts and then producing and finishing the final product.

“The whole process is a fine craft that takes a lot of personal expression and skill to produce something that businesses can use, and people can engage with,” Kelsey wrote.

“There is a great satisfaction in working with clients on what my employer often phrases as “a journey” to achieving a unique, practical and valuable product.”

Northwood is a 20-year industry veteran and knows a thing or two about print.

Anyone who has concerns about who will be keeping the Australian printing industry moving forward in the next generation need look no further than the diverse and inspiring group of 2020 ProPrint Emerging 50 nominees.


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