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Diversity and Collaboration Build Value for Paper Industry

The products the paper and wood products industry manufactures are used in households across the United States every day. And this is a responsibility the industry takes very seriously.

“Consumers expect the right quality, at the right value, with the right care for the environment. Every day. Being able to work in an industry that does that is exciting, challenging, and inspirational,” said Rafael Garcia, Vice President – Environmental Stewardship Strategy, Consumer Products Group at Georgia-Pacific.

Garcia said his job relies on collaboration.

“I am trying to bring in the right knowledge and points of view in the Environmental Stewardship space that our business needs to accelerate innovation efforts to differentiate our existing products and deliver new solutions to meet customer and consumer needs,” Garcia said. “An important part of this is to create more value while using fewer resources.”

Garcia has had multiple roles in the industry throughout his career, from business development and supply chain to brand leadership and consumer knowledge. Each of these roles helped him develop as a leader.

Garcia also draws on his Hispanic heritage in his work.

“Bringing my unique experience and individual point of view helps me in my job. Being Hispanic is one of the things that shapes my overall thinking and approach,” said Garcia. “Encouraging and leveraging diversity of thought and backgrounds is something that can create value for organizations.”

Hispanic Heritage Month is a reminder of the value of diversity, Garcia said.

“Each one of us is an important part of our family, our community and our workplace. We make those things richer by bringing our distinctive perspectives and backgrounds to each engagement,” he said.

Garcia’s advice is to be willing to learn.

“Learning never stops … so be flexible and willing to take some risks. Employees who are contribution-motivated, seek growth and challenge, and find meaning in work that utilizes their abilities will create more value for society, and have more fulfilling careers,” he said.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recyclable resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative —Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 5% of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures about $350 billion in products annually and employs about 925,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of about $65 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 43 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper