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OSI’s Rotational Management Trainees Are Next Generation of Industry Leaders

February 11, 2021

The Rotational Management Training (RMT) Program is a key talent pipeline for OSI. It’s how we prepare the next generation of future leaders within the company and the wider industry.

The recent college graduates who are selected to participate in the RMT Program gain real-world experience and learn more about career paths in food processing and manufacturing. They’re given broad exposure to various parts of the business through a combination of rotational assignments and formal training. RMTs rotate between OSI’s Global Corporate Headquarters and manufacturing locations across the United States. They learn about plant operations, quality assurance, supply chain, research and development, business development and sustainability.

Here, three trainees who just completed the intensive 18-month program share what their experience was like and the new opportunities it has created for them.

Meet the trainees:

Eric Small: Studied Management/Operations Management and International Business at Indiana University. Class of 2019.

Karina Cazares: Studied Microbiology at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Class of 2019.

Michael Meade: Studied Entrepreneurship and Operations/Supply Management at University of Dayton. Class of 2019.

How did you feel after being selected to be a Rotational Management Trainee?

Eric: I was very excited because I knew this would be a great jumping-off point for my career. I was definitely a bit nervous because I knew that the program would bring me out of my comfort zone by putting me in departments that I had no previous experience with.

Karina: I was happy that I was able to find a job that would give me a well-rounded experience of the industry I was eager to join. I knew I wanted to go into R&D but I am very glad I was able to get an in-depth understanding of the business.

Michael: I was excited for the opportunity and proud of myself because I knew that my work as an intern was valued by the company and that they believed in me to be successful at the company.

What were your first impressions as you began the program?

Eric: I felt overwhelmed for the first few weeks as OSI does a great job of giving RMTs meaningful projects right off the bat. After I got over the initial jitters, I was excited to see what new responsibilities/projects I would be given.

Karina: I was a bit nervous knowing how involved senior leadership was but I am glad they were present. It showed that they truly cared about the work we were doing.

Michael: Within a week of beginning the program, I was in our plants and gaining hands-on experience. It assured me that the program was going to provide endless learning opportunities.

What was a typical day like?

Eric: This definitely varied by rotation, but every day was different. I was coming into work expecting to face new challenges and coming away with new learnings every single day.

Karina: In Quality Assurance and Supply Chain my days were fairly straightforward and planned out. I had my to-do lists and checked off my responsibilities as I went along. In R&D, my days varied a lot depending on changing priorities. Sometimes I would be focused on data entry, some days on making samples to send to customers, and some days were spent at the plant assisting in trials and collecting data.

Michael: One of the things that I enjoyed about the RMT program is that no two days really look the same. Every day, new challenges are encountered and it allows for new learning opportunities. It allowed me to gain a better understanding of how each department operates.

Which parts of the business did you rotate through, and what was a key learning?

Eric: Supply Chain, Operations and Quality Assurance. I learned relationships with suppliers are extremely important. They will work with you to get the product you need if you cultivate that relationship. We need to be just as demanding – while being reasonable – of our suppliers as our customers are with us.

Karina: Quality Assurance, Research & Development and Supply Chain. I learned a lot about data collection and making sense of it all. This included pointing out errors in the recording system and trying to create a more concise manner of operation.

Michael: Operations, Supply Chain and Quality Assurance. I learned that the experience you gain within the plants is invaluable and will help you throughout the rest of your career.

What was one of your proudest moments? Eric: Taking the lead on supplier reviews and bringing in new suppliers to find savings for the business. Karina: I helped implement a new environmental monitoring system across five of OSI’s North America facilities. This was a big accomplishment as I was a liaison between two of the Chicago facilities and would help troubleshoot any problems they were experiencing.

Michael: Right when I began the rotation, the entire global supply chain was disrupted by the coronavirus. I quickly had to learn how to become a problem solver to ensure our supply chain continued to run smoothly. In my Quality rotation, I was given the opportunity to work directly with the VP on a data project and provide my input and recommendations.

How did the program change your perspective?

Eric: The biggest takeaway for me is understanding how all of these critical departments feed into one another. The program has given me a holistic overview of the business, which will be invaluable through my career at OSI as well as any other company I choose to work for in the future.

Karina: I learned that in order to be successful in this area of business, you really need to be a team player. This business requires teamwork within departments as well as cross-functionally. For example, you need Supply Chain to have all the ingredients, you need Operations to successfully make the product, you need QA to ensure a quality product is being produced, you need R&D to make sure the best product for the best value is being produced, and you need Regulatory to make sure the product is safe to consume and meets all standards. And there are still so many other key departments that make OSI the successful business it is.

Michael: I learned that it’s important to understand how the business works as a whole. By being exposed to the different parts of the business in the RMT program, you begin to understand how the departments are interconnected and work together. This allows you to take different perspectives on issues and make better decisions.

What are your plans going forward and how will your RMT experience be useful?

Eric: I recently accepted an Industrial Engineering role at our Chicago-Ashland facility, which will be a great experience for career development. My experiences as an RMT have been critical to success in this role so far. Having in-depth knowledge of how the company operates allowed me to hit the ground running. Additionally, the relationships that an RMT cultivates through their time in the program are invaluable. I know the work I’ve done with high-level OSI employees has furthered my career more than any other entry-level position would have.

Karina: I am working as a Food Scientist with the R&D team and I love it. My RMT experience prepared me for the long days that I will inevitably encounter both at the R&D center as well as at the plants. It also allowed me to learn how to prioritize tasks and adjust when priorities change. I have learned how to be flexible with my thoughts as well as with my time. Some days I’m needed at 5 a.m. and other days I can work from home. As an RMT, there were days I would work second or third shift. Flexibility and communication were essential during that time.

Michael: I hope to transfer the skills I have learned into a role at one of our plants. I want to gain more experience in our facilities, and build on the Operations knowledge I gained as an RMT.

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