Michele “Micki” Meggison
Michele “Micki” Meggison’s career has been as unique as how she earned her nickname nearly forty years ago. After all, how many people can boast of devoting a successful, nearly 29-year career in the same field, for the same company, in the same state, at the same mill? And then come full circle to manage the same department you started in?
Not many, we’d bet. But don’t confuse stable with stagnant.
“When I graduated from the University of Maine in 1986,” Micki said, “the number of women earning bachelor’s degrees in Chemical Engineering was beginning to grow.” But few were planning careers in the pulp and paper industry. “Everything about the industry fascinated me, and was the reason I served as a TAPPI student chapter member and officer for four years.”
Following a co-op position at Sappi North America’s Westbrook mill in Maine, Micki started off on her nearly three decade long career in Westbrook’s Technical Service department directly after graduation, working on coating formulations for graphics paper machines. From 1987 to 1999 she worked in the pulp mill, first as a shift supervisor, progressing to process control engineer, and finally to digester operations manager. Over the next three years, she worked in the Engineering Department as an E&I/Process Control engineer, providing maintenance and engineering support and managing capital projects on the Specialties side of the mill.
In 2002, she went back into operations management in the Specialties business, remaining there until 2008 when she transferred to her current position as Director of Technical Service and Process Improvement. “It’s interesting that my career came full circle when I was named Technical Director,” Micki said. “Now I am responsible for process engineering, technical support, quality management, Lean Six Sigma and process improvement, implementation of product development, and training.”
Through the years, her steady resource for news, networking and knowledge has always been her TAPPI membership. In addition to attending numerous webinars and conferences, she relies on TAPPI’s TIPs and STARS for on-the-job tools, and looks to PaperCon for additional input. An active member, she is engaged in supporting Northeast PIMA/TAPPI which was created after combining the Maine and New Hampshire chapters.
“TAPPI is definitely the one resource I count on,” said Micki. As for that nickname? “I was tagged ‘Micki’ by my baseball coach way back in 1975 when I became the first girl to play little League in Gardiner, Maine.”
Q. Why did you decide to join TAPPI?
A. I enjoyed and found great value in my student chapter membership, making many industry contacts that I maintain to this day. My company has sponsored my professional membership since 1990, as well as attendance at several coating and pulping conferences and PaperCon events.
Q. Please describe your involvement with TAPPI over the years.
A.I was recruited to the Executive Committee of the Northeast Division of PIMA in 1999, and have served as an officer since 2000. I was vice chair of the division when we combined with Maine/NH TAPPI to form Northeast PIMA/TAPPI and served two terms as division chair. I was in that role when all of PIMA was absorbed by TAPPI. I have served as the Treasurer for NE PIMA/TAPPI since 2007, and have co-organized our annual scholarship golf tournament for the past three years. I also served for several years on the PIMA Council, the management division of TAPPI.
Q. How has TAPPI helped you in your career pursuits?
A. As a young engineer, TAPPI coating and pulping conferences were extremely helpful in building my technical expertise. In the latter part of my career, PaperCon has provided broad technical and management training. For more than 10 years now, my involvement in our local section has enhanced my leadership and management skills. Throughout my career, networking with other industry professionals has been immensely valuable.
Q. Tell us about some of your interests outside of TAPPI and your professional life.
A. My husband and I share a passion for golf, and travel around the U.S. and overseas to play. I also play competitively in Maine and New England (Micki is pictured at right holding the trophy she won as 1st Flight Runner-Up in the 2014 Maine Women’s Amateur state golf championships). Additionally, I serve on the Board of Trustees for the Cornelia Warren Community Association (CWCA) in Westbrook, ME. CWCA is a trust that funds community-based recreational opportunities with investment in facilities, especially those that provide development opportunities for girls and women. I also serve on the Advisory Board for the Engineering Department at University of Southern Maine.
Q. TAPPI’s 100-year anniversary is in 2015. Would you provide a few thoughts on what you believe have been the most significant contributions/breakthroughs in areas of our industry? Also, what is your favorite paper or packaging product?
A. The paper industry is an excellent - and historical - example of “reduce, reuse, recycle” sustainability. Pulping cycles and papermaking processes have evolved over the lifetime of the industry to highly efficient recovery and reprocessing operations for both materials and energy. The primary raw material, wood from trees, is an infinitely renewable resource when harvested responsibly. Many mills use biomass and hydropower, another renewable resource, for electrical and thermal energy. And paper is the single most recycled post-consumer waste in North America. The huge breakthrough in all of this was finally recognizing that, as an industry, we have a great story to tell and we should be proud of it!
Q. What is your favorite paper or packaging product?
A.My favorite paper products are the release papers we make in the mill where I work. Our products are used as molds for producing artificial leathers and decorative laminates. Our papers provide functionality in our customers’ processes and impart beautiful textures to satisfy the design and aesthetic requirements of the fashion, automotive, and home decorating industries. Release paper is a fascinating global business that has offered me significant technical challenges along with the opportunity to travel around the world in support of widely diverse customers