This week on the Bright Ideas series presented by Acuity Brands®, Catherine is joined by Madeline Paschal, the Human Resources Lead for the company’s Leadership Program, and Lana Arpin, a recent graduate of the program.
WHAT IS THE MISSION OF ACUITY’S LEADERSHIP PROGRAM?
The Acuity Brands Leadership Program is a two-year-long rotational program for entry-level students who have recently graduated. The program allows them to dive into several areas at Acuity and gain experience to determine the departments they particularly enjoy and could see themselves fitting in for the long-term. They are also able to grow their professional experience, learn new skills, and network throughout the company.
In addition to the values and culture that Acuity Brands already offers, the leadership program is what caught Lana’s eye when she was graduating with a public relations major. She knew that she wanted to explore marketing opportunities, and she felt that the program would set her up for success by providing learning experiences across the marketing department.
For students interested in fields outside of marketing, there are also eight other paths – including human resources, IT, supply chain, and various engineering functions.
THE PROGRAM’S IMPACT ON THE ACUITY BRANDS TEAM
As Lana discovered, another major benefit to the program is its networking opportunities. She was moving to a new city where she didn’t have many friends or connections, and the program provided a new network of over 50 other individuals in a similar life-stage: transferring from the college world to the corporate world.
These young adults formed a support system for one another, sharing like experiences and also enjoying social gatherings and happy hours together. And oftentimes, they go on to work together in the company for years.
Many graduates from the Leadership Program have gone on to become managers, directors, and even reach vice presidential levels within the company. Many of them also become mentors of current program attendees, so they can share their success stories and experiences with newcomers in the organization.
One of today’s Acuity Brands Director of Sales actually started his career in the leadership program around two decades ago. He was exposed to the company’s tech support teams, distributor sales and marketing departments, and even their former fluorescent team. And his story is just one of several.
THE PROGRAM’S IMPACT ON YOUNG TALENT
For Lana, some of the highlights of the rotations in the program have been the regular exposure to new departments and teams every six months. The changes allowed her to meet new people and network with different groups. She has also received more overall exposure and unique opportunities that aren’t normally garnered from an entry-level position. For example, she got the chance to attend the company’s largest sales conferences– and even shake hands with the Acuity Brands CEO.
In the end, the leadership program is one of the central reasons why Lana feels particularly set up for success in her current or future career roles. The regular, six-month cycle of joining a new team has prepared her for any time she may change positions in the future; and she has learned new skillsets that she will take with her wherever she proceeds. The program has developed her into a completely different employee, and now she feels ready for anything.
For any company in the industry looking to recruit young talent, the key is to start pursuing them early. Many of them are trying to line up their future jobs six or even nine months before graduating, so it’s best to form a notable presence on campuses before that time. Many schools nowadays also utilize a platform called Handshake, which allows employers to post one job opportunity to many different schools to gain more diverse talent in their pipeline.
To learn more about the Acuity Brands leadership program, visit careers.acuitybrands.com. Next week, tune in to hear from Electri International about an updated economic outlook for electrical distributors and contractors.
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