Nina Nguyen, CEO and Founder of Pakko

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Nina Nguyen, CEO and Founder of Pakko

Every aspect of Pakko is imbued with Nina Nguyen’s boundless passion. The CEO and founder of the Australian custom packaging manufacturer lights up when she talks about cartons, her team and their shared vision for the future.

This unbridled passion is something you cannot teach in school. It is something that is imprinted in Nguyen’s DNA.

“My management experience is shaped by my life path,” she says CEO Magazine.

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Born in Malaysia, Nguyen and her family fled Vietnam in the 1980s. After several years in a refugee camp, the family was granted refugee status in Australia and eventually settled in Western Sydney.

“My family faced numerous challenges when we arrived. Amid language barriers and cultural changes, we relied on the support of the community and charities who reached out to help us by providing us with the essentials of clothing, shelter and food,” she recalls.

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My management experience is shaped by my life path.

“Through these personal experiences, I learned to persevere and make the most of every opportunity that came my way.”

Nguyen’s entrepreneurial spirit flourished from an early age when she started businesses in various categories from beauty to fashion and body art. But the seed for Pakko was planted after Nguyen and her family moved to regional Queensland in 2008 so her parents could pursue their farming aspirations.

Identifying a need

Nguyen noticed a huge gap in the Australian market for custom, short-run packaging that was high quality and eco-friendly.

“My parents struggled to find packaging for their products that had the basic qualities of moisture resistance and could handle different weather conditions. I wanted to help my parents, so I looked into the possibilities of importing packaging from abroad,” says Nguyen, who received the 2021 PIDA Young Packaging Specialist Award.

She soon turned to producing the packaging locally after encountering too much red tape internationally.

“It was an opportunity that presented itself. I realized there had to be a manufacturer that could deliver cartons on time with no minimum order quantities, high quality and made here in Australia,” she says.

With the financial support of his parents, in 2017 Nguyen gave life to Pakko, a cardboard manufacturing business with no minimum orders and lead times of 10 to 12 working days.

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From the outset, my mission was to create a blueprint for a manufacturing renaissance in Australia.

“Pakko was intended in my heart to be a venture that would solve the challenges of carton packaging for local manufacturers and all businesses in Australia. From the very beginning, my mission was to create a blueprint for a manufacturing renaissance in Australia,” she says.

Fast forward to 2023 and Pakko is about to revolutionize the packaging industry. While the business has garnered countless accolades, it is the ethos, culture and hardworking team that excite Nguyen about the company’s future.

Celebrating differences

That’s what Nguyen looks for when it comes to hiring talent. It doesn’t matter to her if the prospective employee checked off the boxes on a checklist.

“I am most proud of the family we created at Pakko. Everyone on our team comes from different backgrounds and life experiences, and not all of us have traditional training or industry experience,” she explains. “What sets us apart is our shared passion for driving change and our unwavering determination. We believe our hearts and minds are stronger than what industry experience alone can give us.”

Nguyen is committed to nurturing and developing a diverse team from all walks of life while encouraging them to challenge the status quo.

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I am proud to have a culturally diverse team that can provide different perspectives and innovative solutions.

“As one of the few women in a male-dominated manufacturing industry, I’m proud to have a culturally diverse team that can provide different perspectives and innovative solutions,” she says.

“I actively encourage our team to come up with new ideas, challenge the status quo and share their unique perspectives. We foster a culture of diversity, celebrating our differences and embracing the wealth of opinions each person has to offer.”

More than a box

Another worthy achievement is how Pakko stands out in the market thanks to its cutting-edge innovations.

“Pakko recognizes the importance of the unboxing experience and offers an online tool, the interactive design platform, that allows businesses to customize their packaging and design a unique box with their logos, color and images,” she says.

“Seeing the packaging in 3D visualization before production allows the business to understand what the final product will look like.”

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Making sustainability a strategic priority is critical.

“We understand that the way the package is presented when it arrives can convey the brand message and express feelings of gratitude, adding to the overall customer experience,” she says.

As Nguyen looks ahead to the next five years, she has outlined three key areas of growth: innovation, sustainability and process optimization.

“By constantly seeking new ideas and involving employees in these areas, the company can drive growth, adapt to changing market needs and differentiate itself from competitors,” she says. “Given the global focus on sustainability and the growing demand for environmentally responsible practices, making sustainability a strategic priority is critical.”

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