Cultivating the Product Stewards of Tomorrow
Compared to industrial hygiene, environmental health and safety, and sustainability, product stewardship is a relatively young discipline. This can make it hard to find new product stewards. Luckily, Nicole Scatena, Global Product Stewardship Manager for Johnson & Johnson, shared her creative strategies for attracting new talent to the field at Product Stewardship 2018. A 12 year veteran of the field, Scatena developed a love for the profession through entry-level work—a love she now cultivates in future stewards.
“Attracting, developing, and retaining talent are contingent on each other,” according to Scatena. While many of the strategies she shared apply to most professions, Scatena highlighted how to address specific challenges of recruiting new product stewards. One of the most important things people can do is to remember that they are always ambassadors for product stewardship. If they make the field look fun and interesting in their day-to-day work, other people will be attracted to it.
Many strategies Scatena shared were practical and only needed a small investment to implement. For example, human resources staff often don’t fully understand the role of product stewards. As the link between the organization and job seekers, educating HR resources pays great dividends in helping them identify candidates that could be good product stewards. Given the multidisciplinary relationships required in product stewardship, giving new stewards broad exposure to products and people as part of their first few months on the job pays dividends later down the road in building relationships within the organization.
One way of retaining product stewards is to give them the opportunity to pursue passion projects when that work doesn’t conflict with their job expectations. This allows staff to be more engaged in their work and invested in the success of the organization. “Simple things go a long way,” Scatena observed.
Though it might sound counterintuitive, Scatena encouraged product stewards to support staff in transitioning to other departments at their organization. While on paper the product stewardship team loses a staff member, the values of product stewardship are actually disseminating throughout the workforce and becoming better integrated throughout the company.