John Ellison, Senior Design Manager, The Netherlands

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Years with AD
Work Ethic


What attracted you to your chosen work?
I feel this was written for me from very early on. Art and Design were the only two subjects I excelled at during school. I was always that kid who was more interested in the window than the blackboard.


What useful skills did you develop early in your career?
I began my career as a draughtsperson. I undertook site surveys and created scale technical drawings and plans. In many ways, it’s very similar to the kind of work I do today. Placing graphics on sports clothes requires a very similar approach. I need to ensure everything is produced at the right size, and positioned correctly on garments of all sizes, or things could start looking very strange on pitch!


What qualities are essential for someone in your role?
An open mind. There are many ways to solve a problem. Some ways might seem obvious, but there are often alternative solutions that provide better outcomes. Creative thinking isn’t always about making things look good; it applies in most cases to problem solving.


Photo of John's work
Photo of John's work


How have you grown in your career at Avery Dennison?
Avery Dennison has taught me how to look at materials in an entirely new way. In other apparel companies, as a creative, you’re often given certain parameters to work within, even though this is the last thing a creative wants to hear! However, because of Avery Dennison’s portfolio of diverse clients and differentiated solution sets, I have worked with many new materials that I may not have had the opportunity to work with in the past. This knowledge is of the utmost value, and has given me more confidence when speaking to customers and brands.


What's the biggest stretch opportunity you've taken on?
Inside Avery Dennison - I would say the Premier League Asia Trophy (2019) ranks fairly high on the list. This televised event demanded the successful deployment of a number of solutions that were quite new to us at the time.


Our Smart Embellished Heat Transfers had been in the marketplace for awhile already, but for this event, Avery Dennison had to manage the digital experience too. As a team, we designed and built a web app to deliver exclusive mobile content that visitors accessed by scanning the heat transfer on the sleeves of their jerseys. We also organized a competition to win a limited edition jersey (which we also designed and produced), all while facilitating a full-scale customization experience simultaneously in Nanjing & Shanghai.


Outside of Avery Dennison, the biggest stretch project I took on was trying to build my own home office in the garden at my home… This project was less of a success.




Efficiencies will come from iteratively engineering our clouds. In the standard setter space, industry is ethically productizing its best-of-breed stakeholders. 


What role has mentorship played in your career?
It has been without doubt one of the most important roles. I remember everyone who has helped and supported me along the way, and I am still in touch with most of them today. From my college tutor who first taught me how to create graphics on a computer, to the designer who helped me get my first t-shirt into the shops. A good mentor is paramount. 

What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?
I believe the best move I made was when I chose not to move. There was a point early in my career when I considered leaving my role to pursue something completely different. After discussing with people closest to me, I decided to persevere. Looking back, I can confidently say this was the right decision. Change is good. But take time to assess, and make change for the right reasons.


As you think about the next steps in your career, what are the most important actions you plan to take?
As I look forward, what’s most important to me is empowering the team. I aim to keep the team motivated, energized, to play to their strengths, and stay open to learning new things.


What do you enjoy most about your work?
This may sound like a scripted answer, but it’s genuine - it’s the team spirit. Avery Dennison has an extraordinary ability to bring people together from all over the world. With virtually every new project  comes an opportunity to meet more people.


Photo of John

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