May 17, 2023 / John Damm

A Unique Pathway to Thought Leadership in Product Stewardship

I’m new to product stewardship. Before I recently took up my current position as a product sustainability manager at Lexmark International Inc., I held many positions at multiple organizations throughout my career. My titles, roles, and positions included that of scrum master, channel offer manager, e-commerce program manager, sourcing manager, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, general manager, and logistics commodities manager. In addition, I have an undergraduate degree in economics and a Master of Business Administration, and I have proudly served as a U.S. Army officer. Given this varied background, it might seem an odd choice for me to join the Product Stewardship Society’s Thought Leadership Work Group, yet in the workgroup, I’ve encountered a team of individuals who come from a range of exciting backgrounds and bring different perspectives to product stewardship. In my conversations with product stewards, I find that it's not unusual for us to have unique career pathways, such as mine.

My role as a product steward at Lexmark has taught me many things. I work with engineers and scientists who are rock stars. I learn from each engagement with them and document each interaction feverishly. One of the most valuable things that my team does is share sustainability advancements in the Lexmark Corporate Sustainability Report. Reviewing CSR reports provides insight into Lexmark’s sustainability efforts and other initiatives.

Moreover, I’ve quickly learned about the sustainable design of products, and, in fact, it’s difficult to list everything I’ve learned within the constraints of a short blog. From the European Union’s Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) to the REACH regulation, from melamine to tantalum, from the Basel and Stockholm conventions to the U.S. Federal Acquisition Regulation and New York State’s Right to Repair (R2R), the list of legislative changes and ecolabel requirements is immense. Also, I have learned firsthand that product sustainability is constantly evolving. These changes benefit the environment and protect the health and safety of our customers, our suppliers, and the communities where we live and work.

A person’s professional background shapes the type of product steward they are and what they contribute to thought leadership. As product stewardship is a broad discipline, my broad background fits well with my current role. My background has helped me to know which people within my company or which external consultants or agencies I can reach out to on certain topics, which is important as global change happens all around the company’s products. Due also in part to my background, I have also brought a few other valuable skills to my new role and the Thought Leadership Work Group, such as process engineering, change management, and the ability to use data to make decisions about how to apply resources, especially with new regulations or customer requirements.

My first year with the Product Stewardship Society was very helpful. Lexmark fortunately allowed me to attend PSX last year in Louisville, Kentucky, where I had a fantastic experience meeting with the Society’s founding members and learning from professionals who were passionate and proud to share their knowledge, successes, and even failures. Ahead of this year’s PSX, I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Thought Leadership Work Group, along with its leaders, Lesa Rice-Jackson, Ph.D., CPPS, and Adam Seery, CAE, and other talented members. These volunteers are insightful, professional, and willing to help others in the advancement of product stewardship.

John Damm
Product Sustainability Manager at Lexmark International, Inc..

John Damm is a product sustainability manager at Lexmark. During his 16-year career, he has held roles in product delivery, sales enablement, channel, and e-commerce departments. He and his wife, Heechung Ko, live in Versailles, Kentucky, and have three children.


great article

Thanks for sharing your background and perspectives

By John Hott on May 22, 2023 9:59am

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