Quad’s Corporate Training Program Reimagines How Trainees Find Their Place
Entering the workforce can be a daunting task. The bright side is that the possibilities of how you start your career are endless, and you can take any number of avenues to success. On the other hand, the possibilities are endless, and even with a college degree, you don’t always know what you want to do.
This is where training programs like the one at Quad — a Sussex, Wisconsin-based marketing solutions company that also converts and prints folding cartons, pressure-sensitive labels, and other packaging and label solutions — can be exceedingly helpful to kickstart your career.
The corporate training program at Quad was started in 1983 by company founder Harry Quadracci, just 12 years after the company itself opened its doors.
“Harry had founded the company with just a few people,” says Bryce Branson, senior talent management consultant at Quad. “They had one press, a stitcher, one piece of finishing equipment, and they went through the growing pains early. Then they kind of finally hit their stride and were hitting their success, and they knew as they were continuing to grow the company, he was going to need people who were going to be future leaders in the organization.”
The program, which is marking its 40th anniversary this November, is a rotational program that encourages newcomers to really dig into what Quad has to offer.
“We are taking individuals, for the most part, through six-month rotations,” says Branson. “They join a team, they're part of that team for the six months. We want them to really integrate in, to be trained, to develop, to figure it out, because any rotation that a trainee goes through, they could theoretically end up there long term.”
Also inherent in the program is the opportunity to learn from the experiences of people across the company through an ongoing speaker series.
“We have speakers from all over the company come in, sometimes we start off working on skills or whatever, but oftentimes internally from different areas of the company,” Branson says. “When we acquired Package InSight, it was April . By June, I had the folks at Package InSight in talking to the trainees because I wanted [the trainees] to understand this is such an important part of what we were going to do as a business and to have that holistic understanding. If you're going to be a future leader here, which I'm hoping that they are, they need to understand Quad — what we do, how we do it, what our value proposition is to the folks that we work with.”
After making it through a rotation with one of the teams, the trainees have the option to stick with that team or move onto the next rotation.
“When someone comes in, I don't know where they're going to end up in the company long term,” Branson says. “I know we're going to find their fit — that's what we're working to do, is find a fit in the organization for that individual. What that fit's going to be, I don't know. And as a product of the program myself, when I came in the door, I didn't know where I was going to be. I had some suspicions and they were wrong; I ended up in a completely different part of the business than I thought I would end up in.”
Typically, trainees go through about two and a half years. Infrequently, trainees might find their match on the first placement, or, like Branson, they may take eight rotations.
Regardless, the program offers early career professionals a glimpse at what they can do with their skills and interests, including working with packaging.
“A lot of the people that graduate into package roles, or go through and experience packaging roles, have no packaging background,” Branson explains. “They're a marketing major, they didn't think about it or say ‘Hey, packaging is the home for me,’ or whatever else. But they come in and we have that speaker series, and we have the folks from Package InSight come in and say, ‘This is the cool stuff we're doing in the packaging space.’ And they go, ‘I want to be a part of that.’”
Looking forward, Branson says, “The future of the program is the future of the company, and the future of the program is us continuing to evolve and change with the business.”
He doesn’t have a crystal ball, he jokes, but he has “the utmost confidence that whatever [the future] is, in whatever direction it is, that we’ll be ready to move in that direction because we’ve got great people.”
“I think what makes the program so successful is the people in it; the trainees are what's important here at the end of the day,” he explains. “It's awesome to watch them work, because as much opportunity as we generate, they generate so much themselves by being in here and being inquisitive and asking the questions and developing their relationships.”