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How We Put Fresh Talent To Work For Our Customers

Posted - October 14, 2016

How We Put Fresh Talent To Work For Our Customers

By: Mark McEntire, Sr. Vice President of Operations, Transplace

As Transplace Operations Sr. Vice President, part of my responsibilities include working with our Professional Development Program (PDP) group, which I whole-heartedly believe is a differentiator for our company.

The PDP is a 2-3 year rotational program that allows participants to take on various transportation and operational roles. My goal is to help new hires fresh out of school grow into leadership roles at Transplace. They achieve this through active participation in cross-functional special projects, by working with different groups within the company and through the development of direct relationships with members of the executive team.

People are what make or break customer relationships, and through this program, we are able to help prepare our new employees for delivering the service our customers rely on so they can rest easy while we go to work for them.

Why does this matter? Because not only do we benefit from investing in our own talent to shore up their experience and knowledge base, but our customers also benefit by gaining fresh perspectives on their business.

How the PDP Program Works

  • First, we narrow down a list of 10-20 candidates to 4-6 PDP participants, who typically come aboard during the summer to begin a 6-month rotation in either a tactical or analytical role. This could be anything from working with our operations teams to culling through customer data looking for opportunities to drive value.
  • After the first 6 months is up, every PDP participant gets switched to a new role for another 6 month rotation. So, if someone started in a tactical role, such as resolving carrier invoice discrepancies or track and tracing of load status, he/she would then switch to a more analytical position like reviewing an entire data set to gain experience in reviewing information to uncover value for customers.
  • Participants will also rotate through our brokerage and international groups, as well as spend time learning about the RFP and sales cycle process. This helps them gain as much knowledge as they can about the different roles available to them across the company, which ultimately helps them figure out what direction they want to pursue for their career over the long run.

A PDP Legacy

What’s great about this program is that I get to directly mentor at least one participant, as well as coach many others. We have a few examples of a PDP participant being placed on-site at one of our customer’s locations, and these accounts have really seen tremendous value having a PDP participant around as a new, fresh mind on the team. Having someone the customer’s employees feel comfortable going to makes a difference in their overall experience, and with their Transplace relationship.

In fact, one customer enjoys participating in the program so much that – by their request – almost every single PDP participant that has ever gone through the program has been a part of that team.

As a mentor, I’m checking in with my PDP mentee every few months to answer thoughtful questions and offer support and guidance however needed. At some point, either in the hiring process or early on in the first rotation, almost everyone in the program asks: What does it take to be successful in this role? And while I don’t think there’s a secret sauce for success, I do believe it takes 3 very important characteristics:

  • Intellectual curiosity. Asking why things are the way they are will get you far and keep your mind constantly questioning and working to understand things better.
  • Being a gym rat, which is just my way of saying you need to have great, unequalled work ethic. You cannot achieve tremendous success without putting in the time and work.
  • A sense of humility. Without it, I think it’s very hard to navigate any company environment.

I very much enjoy working with the PDP participants and sharing secrets of success with our young leaders of tomorrow. The PDP is so valuable because it encourages participants to learn a ton in a relatively short amount of time, but these rich experiences will be the ones remembered 30 years from now. In thinking about my career and who I’m influencing along the way, I want to be sure I leave behind a long list of people that I helped.

How do you pass on your insight to young talent within your company?