Interview with Frances Reyes, 2017 NJPEC Scholarship Winner & 2018 Rutgers Graduate
By Christin Cupo, NJPEC Secretary
Frances has recently started a role with Johnson & Johnson as a Package Development Engineer, after almost 3 years at Coty. She has also had internships at Battalure Beauty & Fresh during her time at Rutgers.
Christin Cupo (CC) : Hi Frances, it’s great to speak to you and I see by your internship and work experience we have some mutual contacts, as is always the case in this industry! I appreciate your time answering a few questions for an upcoming social media post for NJPEC. Let’s start with how you first heard of NJPEC and the scholarship opportunity?
Frances Reyes (FR) : I heard about NJPEC through the Rutgers Package Engineering Department, and the Program Coordinator, Magy Gergus. At Rutgers we had a network of Packaging students, and a list of available scholarships was compiled and shared with the group. I applied in 2017, and was awarded the scholarship at a lovely dinner in West Orange.
CC: Were you always interested in the Beauty/CPG sector in terms of Packaging?
FR: I knew I wanted to be a part of the Beauty industry from a young age. I was always watching YouTube videos of make-up artists, and knew there had to be so much more going on behind the scenes in creating a package. For example, there is so much detail and points to consider in development of a foundation, and I wanted to build products from scratch.
CC: Can you tell me a bit about your internship experiences?
FR: My internship at Battalure (Princeton) was a lot more hands on than I expected. I was involved in meetings with Marketing and Design and I realized there is a balance between the initial vision and the industrial production of a design. There are compromises and different routes to achieve a final product in which all departments are happy.
CC: What courses at Rutgers were your favorite, and best prepared you for your current role?
FR: The CAD and Solidworks classes were my first introduction to design and 3D modeling. I enjoyed these very much as they inspired me, as well as gave me a behind the scenes look at what goes into the development of a product. I enjoyed it so much that I took a Masters Level secondary course of CAD to further my education in this area.
CC: We are in the thick of the pandemic now, what are your feelings throughout all this? How have you pushed though and how has you and your company reacted to the effects of COVID?
FR: Well, it has been tough starting a new job remotely! I haven’t even been on site at J&J in Skillman yet, everything has been sent to my home, and meetings are online. I am looking forward to meeting everyone in person at some point in the future. I will say at Coty, we adapted really quickly, since the NJ & NY teams were already accustomed to video conferencing between offices so we were technically working remotely with each other. Coty pivoted the Maryland facility to manufacturing hand sanitizer for front line workers, which was really great.
CC: What do you think will be the most important aspect of packaging to consider as we start coming out of COVID? Will trends be affected by COVID?
FR: Environmentally friendly packaging is a trend that will not be going away, but it will be a balance between sustainability and single use safety. Consumers and retailers are very conscious of safety and hygiene with samples. We must take this into consideration moving forward.
CC: Do you have any advice to students currently studying Package Engineering?
FR: Be open and flexible to any and all opportunities that are offered. Ask lots of questions, and challenge yourself.