In this column Digital Printer learns more about the men and women working behind the scenes to make digital print great. We find out about them, their careers and get their thoughts on the industry. This week it’s the turn of Sainsbury’s group print management controller, Kelly O’Sullivan.

Ms O’Sullivan has over 20 years of experience in the print industry and is the founder of the Victoria Print Group, an online community which promotes awareness of successful women working within the print industry. She is also one of the judges for the 2020 Print, Design and Marketing Awards.

Name: Kelly O’SullivanPeople in Print: Kelly O’Sullivan
Job title: Print management controller
Company: Sainsbury’s Argos group
Location: Milton Keynes

How did you end up working in the print industry?
Like most people I have met in the print industry, I fell into print by accident. When I graduated from Leicester University, my now husband got a training contract as an accountant in Bicester. I moved there with him and saw an advert in a local newspaper for a graduate trainee for a print management company. I worked at WebMart for 2 years in sales, production and procurement, and fell in love with the industry! 

What are your goals for the future, both personal and professional?
To enjoy life! Spending time with my family is important to me. From a work perspective, I want to stay in the print industry as I love the people, the technical side of it and the satisfaction of creating something that you can touch and feel.

What is the biggest issue/challenge facing the industry?
Attracting and retaining young talent. Print related careers are just not on people’s radar. Print is something that is all around us, but not really noticed as a job. There is also this worrying saying that ‘print is dead’. It’s absolutely not – it’s just evolving as the world changes, but still very relevant.

What advice would you give to someone just entering the industry?
I’d say ‘Welcome – good choice!’  I’d recommend getting yourself a mentor and don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is so much to learn everyday, but I find the people in our industry are so welcoming and willing to support.’

What one thing should the industry do to ensure its continued success?
As I mentioned before, attracting and retaining new talent is key to ensuring our industry continues to succeed. I also believe in working towards gender balance within our industry. There are many reports out there that show that gender balance is beneficial to a business’s bottom line, but I also feel it’s the right thing to do. Hence why I founded the Victoria Print Network in March 2019 to support women in our industry by sharing success stories aimed at inspiring women and connecting them to build their networks.

What do you enjoy most about working print?
Having done a mechanical engineering degree, I love the technical side of print – understanding how presses work and what they are capable of.  This combined with creating a physical piece that I can share with my colleagues/customers to touch and feel and be proud of, means that I love what I do. There is something to learn every day, so it’s never boring.


In the coming weeks we will be talking to more prominent figures in digital print. Don’t miss:

Geoff Stone, sales director, Hardings 
Alison Freer, head of creative and print services, Loughborough University
Simon Cooper, managing director, Solopress

We’re always on the look out for interesting people to feature in People in Print. If you want to put yourself forward, please contact Charlie Kortens at charlie.k@whitmar.co.uk