Crain’s 20 in their 20s: Iraq War veteran Daniela Tomatti rises quickly at multibillion-dollar company

Daniela Tomatti served in @USArmy, speaks three languages and built a division of Plastipak, a $2.3 billion company. #cdb20s

For a person who likes to travel, Daniela Tomatti is in the right job. Her position at Plastipak Holdings Inc. keeps her in the air, flying around the globe from Brazil to Italy.

She’d been at the company for a year, having moved to Michigan from Florida, when the Plymouth-based packaging maker dispatched her to Brazil to analyze the operations of the company’s three manufacturing centers. Her Portuguese- and Spanish-language skills made her a natural fit for the project, which involved studying complex Brazilian tax regulations, revamping processes and identifying risk exposure.

She was so successful that CFO Michael Plotzke asked her to create and direct an entirely new department for the $2.3 billion a year company: internal audit and compliance. 

“What impressed me most was her drive, her independence,” Plotzke said. “I was struck by her poise and maturity at such a young age. I always tell her, ‘You are going to sit in this chair some day.’ ”

Before the corporate life, Tomatti served in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Iraq as part of the second wave of troops entering the country. She made the rank of sergeant and managed supply chains and logistics. That experience made her attractive to Plastipak. 

“She doesn’t get rattled,” Plotzke said. 

“As stressed as I may get at times in the corporate world, I just think back to bombs landing in Iraq, and that puts things in perspective,” Tomatti said.

When she’s not traveling for work, she’s traveling for fun — visiting countries such as South Africa, India and Thailand — or volunteering with Vista Maria, a nonprofit that helps girls with troubled pasts.


What do you love about living in metro Detroit?

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed most about moving to the metro Detroit area is the diversity of activities that one can enjoy throughout the various seasons. One of my favorite times of year is fall. I really enjoy the autumn colors, drinking apple cider and eating fresh doughnuts.

What advice do you have for newcomers?

The best advice that I can offer a newcomer is to keep an open mind and venture off the beaten path. Detroit is full of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. In fact, in the midst of the city, I recently discovered the sport of feather bowling, which I find to be very enjoyable.

What is the best piece of advice — business or personal — you have received?

“Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today.” I apply this quote to both my professional and personal life. Being a go-getter will always set you apart from your peers in the business world. Additionally, living in the moment and enjoying life to the fullest will ultimately make you a joyful person, with a positive outlook toward life.

What is your favorite local place to visit for creative inspiration?

My favorite place to visit for creative inspiration is my desk. Although I thoroughly enjoy collaborating and brainstorming in meetings with other colleagues, I believe my best problem-solving ideas come to me when I’m able to sit in silence and think through a situation.

Tell us one thing people would be surprised to know about you.

I was once a very shy girl. My mother still enjoys telling stories about how I used to run to her crying if anyone even looked at me. Luckily, I have since overcome this problem and am a fairly outgoing individual.

May 2, 2014 | Crain’s Detroit Business

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