Get to know Vanessa

It’s early in the morning and Vanessa is working from her home office, a short distance from our Fordham packaging site, but travels regularly around the UK. She’s looking forward to the year ahead after a restful holiday filled with family, friends and food.

Vanessa Wu-Barker
our Operations Director at DS Smith Packaging

Tell us about your role and responsibilities

As the UK Operations Director, I lead a team that develops and delivers processes to support the UK Packaging business. These keep our employees safe, meet our customers’ expectations for both service and quality, manage capital investments to meet our growth and sustainability targets and drive continuous improvement.

Does sustainability play a part of your role?

Yes! Our Now and Next Sustainability Strategy is a key part of the operations strategy in the UK. As a business as well as supporting our customers with their sustainable packaging needs, we need to find solutions to make our manufacturing footprint more sustainable. Two key focus areas for the UK Operations teams are fibre reduction and reducing carbon emissions at our sites.

What excites you about your job?

It is great to be part of the UK Management Team, a new diverse team with a balance of those with extensive industry experience and those, like me, from other industries. It’s an exciting time to join as we review the Corporate Plan and look forward to creating the UK strategy.

I love the fact that our product is something tangible, you see it and experience it personally. As a chemical engineer, I enjoy how technical it is to make cardboard boxes. I couldn’t have imagined how much went into making a cardboard box before I arrived at DS Smith!

What stands out for you about working for DS Smith?

I feel like I’m part of an organisation where people are passionate, have a deep-seated pride in the work they do and the industry they belong to.

We’re very good at rapidly responding to change, whether that is evolving customer and market needs, challenging supply chains or offering innovative solutions. I believe one of the reasons for this is that our senior leaders never lose touch with our day-to-day operations. On my regular site visits I’m able to pick-up really useful information and I’m seeing first-hand how easy it is for knowledge and ideas to flow seamlessly through our business.