Technical Services Supervisor,
Cascades Containerboard Packaging - Niagara Falls and Greenpac
A Cascader for a little over four years now, Michelle Hamm is Technical Services Supervisor for the Cascades Containerboard Packaging – Niagara Falls plant and the Greenpac plant. “My focus is the operation and optimization of Cascades’ on-site effluent treatment plant, which treats approximately two million gallons of water per day from a combination of both facilities’ wastewater. My other responsibilities include maintaining compliance with all regulatory requirements set out in our combined air permit, water withdrawal permit and groundwater management permit, and overseeing the management of our waste streams.”
In her blood
Coming from a long line of papermakers, Michelle has worked in the industry for most of her adult life. “I have always been very familiar with Cascades’ reputation as a naturally respectful and socially responsible corporation. When I found myself facing the opportunity of interviewing with the facility, I knew I had to take a chance,” she told us.
August 2016, she learned that one of Cascades’ objectives was to reduce its facilities’ environmental footprint and remain in compliance with regulatory requirements. “I knew this would be the perfect fit for me. It was an opportunity for me to challenge myself to help this campus to become more environmentally sustainable, while also bringing in fresh ideas and perspectives from my over 25 years of experience,” she recalled. Michelle moved from New Hampshire to New York State to join the Cascades family, which, as she put it so well, has allowed her “to spread my wings and grow.”
Confidence: an invaluable asset
As a woman in a maledominated environment, she believes that self-confidence is essential. “Women need to identify their unique talents, understand what they bring to their work environment to best enable success, and then make sure that their voice is heard. Speak up, speak truthfully, be confident and show others that you are able to contribute,” she advised.
Michelle knows what she is worth and makes no secret of it. “Fierce determination has led me to where I am today and drives me to never give up when faced with a challenge,” she confided. She tackles the obstacles that stand in her way calmly and rationally. She also considers teamwork to be a success factor that should not be overlooked: “Trust in other people’s ideas and knowledge, because we may be smart as individuals, but we can be so much smarter as a group.”
Throughout her career, Michelle has received a number of awards for her outstanding work in preserving natural resources in her community: undeniable proof that she is also a respectful person by nature.
Above and Beyond Award
In 2003, and again in 2008, she was appointed by her state governor to join a legislative committee to study groundwater withdrawal issues with business leaders, citizens, legislators and regulators. Her work on this committee earned her the Above and Beyond Award.
New Hampshire 40 Under Forty Awards
In 2005, she was recognized as one of 40 Under Forty who excel in their field and who are endeavouring to make New Hampshire a great place to live and work. This honour earned her a personal note from the Governor of New Hampshire, as well as a letter from the House of Representatives in Washington.
United States Presidential Volunteer Services Awards
In 2008, her work within the legislative committee on groundwater, her participation as chair of the advisory committee on local rivers, as well as her collaboration on the WasteCap Resource Conservation Network Committee, earned her the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
Attitude for success
Michelle’s career opportunities have led her to make some difficult choices. “My entire family still lives in New Hampshire, so I don’t get to see them as often as I like. Leaving them behind was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make when choosing to move to Niagara Falls,” says the mother of a young woman, Ashley, and the grandmother of a little girl, five-year-old Rosalee.
Despite everything, she has kept her head high and her mind open in order to meet these new challenges brilliantly. “As a professional woman I believe it is important to never give up, to believe in yourself and others around you, and to always keep a positive attitude. Positivity breeds positivity,” she says. As for staying in touch with her loved ones, she welcomes the power of the Internet, which allows her to play Candyland online with Rosalee.
I met Michelle a few years ago and immediately saw that she was very dedicated to her work. Being responsible for a plant’s environmental impact is a very important role in my view, and people don’t always grasp how complex it is. You have to be very familiar with the laws to ensure that the plant complies with all current environmental standards, and Michelle does this by working with all the departments and guiding them in order to minimize any environmental impacts resulting from procedural.
As a woman in a production management role, she used her skills and professionalism to carve out her place in order to be listened to. She is a multi-talented individual, from mechanical work to drafting government reports. I am very happy to have Michelle as a colleague and friend, she’s a great asset to our Niagara Falls plant.
Lydia Vaugeois, Senior Strategic Buyer, Cascades
I have had the opportunity to work with Michelle on multiple occasions. She is very knowledgeable on everything pertaining to water treatment and has been very patient in helping me understand the processes. What I really appreciate is the fact that she readily calls on others for their expertise and really works well in a team. I can say that everything Michelle does, she does with passion and intensity.
Mario Laviolette, Senior Applications Chemist, Cascades
Michelle is a responsible person who’s a strong believer in teamwork. She’s generous with her time and always makes herself available to help her colleagues. She volunteered to lead the plant’s health and safety committee. She also provides continuous training on chemical management for all employees, including new hires. She’s positive and she shows respect for the people around her and for Cascades’ values. We’re lucky to have her on the team.
Normand Laporte, Plant Manager, Cascades Containerboard Packaging – Niagara Falls