Menomonee Falls-based Actuant Corp. has recently implemented a management development program for its new employees.
The company’s management training rotations are aimed at recent college graduates, so they can gain practical experience in business and prepare for future leadership roles. The training is divided into five disciplines, each of which has its own roles and requirements, said Margaret Reddick, global talent leader.
First introduced was the financial management development program, a five-year rotation that focuses on building business and finance skills. The first class of the financial program will graduate this year, Reddick said.
A sales management development program and engineering management development program were introduced three years ago, and then a marketing management development program and a human resources management development program were implemented last year.
“Each one is a bit different in its structure, so the types of experiences they get in the rotations are pretty specific to the function,” Reddick said.
The sales and engineering programs take three years to complete, while the marketing and HR programs range from two to three years.
Participants rotate to different Actuant business sectors around the world, usually one each year until the program is completed. Each rotation must bring the participant to a different part of the business—a corporate office, manufacturing facility or business unit.
“That really helps build the corporate knowledge of our business as well as their functional technical skills,” Reddick said.
Since Actuant has a global presence, management development program trainees are able to gain a wide range of experiences within their functions, said Karen Bauer, communications and investor relations leader at Actuant.
“We can provide opportunities (that are) very diverse, from very high level corporate, to plant, to business unit,” Bauer said.
For example, Bauer and Actuant’s chief financial officer will be taking the graduating finance management development program class of five to New York City to attend the Wells Fargo Industrial & Construction Conference and visit the New York Stock Exchange in May.
Recruitment into the development programs depends on forecasted management needs, Reddick said. So far, most class sizes are between four and six employees.
Once employees graduate from the management development programs they are placed in a permanent job based on opportunities within the business, their rotation experiences and successes and their career preference input.
Though the first class is just graduating, the management development program has been popular enough that Reddick has received requests for training in additional disciplines, like supply chain, environmental health and safety, and general operations.
When Actuant was formed in August 2000 as part of a spin-off, the company was in a highly leveraged position, Bauer said.
“The first couple of years were spent paying down debt,” she said. “After we got ourselves out of that situation and got the balance sheet in shape, our focus was on growing.”
Initially, that growth was operations and acquisitions focused, but Actuant now has focused its attention on organic, internal growth for its 6,200 global employees, Bauer said. The management development program is one function of that internal growth plan.
There’s also another program for training high level leadership within the company, Reddick said.
“We’re kind of building the foundation so once they graduate from the management development program curriculum, they would easily go into that senior development traini