Women in Print: Deborah Corn

As the Intergalactic ambassador to the Printerverse, Deborah Corn has given back to the printing industry on more than one occasion and is one of the few women to take charge of connecting print people on a global scale.

Corn started off her career as a print buyer in advertising agencies, a role she was in for more than 25 years. But after losing a job in 2008, she fell into what she currently does. “I had lost a job as a print buyer in advertising and during that time, LinkedIn had just started opening up groups. So, I created a group after I ran out of people to network with to find work,” Corn said.

“I opened up a LinkedIn group called Print Production Professionals and I invited people I believed I could network with to find work onto the group. When printing customers and printers started joining the group, press manufacturers and equipment manufacturers and suppliers started streaming in.”

As the group grew, Corn realised that she was sitting in the position of being the connection point for them. When that all started, Print Media Centr was born. The Print Production Professionals group was only the starting point for Corn.

She further built an empire of initiatives, such as her printspiration platform, #ProjectPeacock, and partnered with the Printing Industries of America to help catapult a network for women in print, Girls Who Print.

From the many conversations that Corn had in the industry, she said that women in print is a grassroots situation, and that they need an avenue to help them in their careers.

“There is not enough visibility of women that are doing amazing things in the printing industry and that is something that they should take control of,” she said.

“They should be stepping up to volunteer at events and speak at panels that promote and lead thought leadership conversations. “It’s not about getting a seat at a man’s table, it’s about creating our own table.

“We have to be our own power source,” she said. Girls Who Print is a mentorship program that allows women to discuss with other women about things that affect their day-to-day.

“Women don’t fight for what they deserve. They tend to cave early and be ‘grateful’. They need to take more credit and promote themselves more.

“Girls Who Print supports women empowerment. It helps them be the best that they can be, to understand situations, and how to react and navigate these situations.”

Corn mentioned that there is still a power struggle in the printing industry, with not as many women in senior management roles as there should be.

“Cultural obstacles in some companies mean women don’t rise past a certain title. Women should be aware of this and have an exit plan if they can’t get past that level and if they work in such a company.”

Corn provided some tips that women can use in such situations. “Speaking from my own experience, it’s important to know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. Then navigate yourself to where conversations are happening and where you’re an expert in,” she said.

Corn suggested that women step up not only in supportive roles, but also those that show more leadership.

“Have a plan, go in there and keep visible as much as possible,” she added.

Corn looks forward to the newer batch of leaders entering management roles within print and revolutionising the way the traditional industry has been run.

“The newer leaders are more mobile-savvy, open-minded, have new ideas, and are on social media and reading blogs,” she said.

“So these people taking up more senior roles will change things up in what is still a traditional industry.”

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