Recruiting the Next Generation of Product Stewards
Product stewards come from varied backgrounds. So how do companies effectively recruit and retain talent in the field? 3M has a robust program designed to cultivate product stewards and make sure they have the necessary skills to be successful in their careers.
Abbey Dahlgren, advanced regulatory affairs analyst at 3M, shared her story with Stewardship 2016 attendees. After graduating with a chemistry degree, Dahlgren worked as a product stewardship contractor with 3M and was eventually hired full-time. She currently works in the abrasives division.
The development philosophy at 3M is that employees are responsible for their careers, said Dahlgren. But there are multiple ways to advance your knowledge and skills.
The majority of professional development comes from learning on-the-job while partnering and working with colleagues. At 3M, this is realized in opportunities to join projects with international teams, volunteering to lead a project or shadowing coworkers – sales people on the product lines you work with, for instance.
There are opportunities for self-study through e-learning, as well as attending industry conferences.
The Global Product Stewardship Forum
At 3M, Tech Forums are an internal program meant to bring employees with mutual interests together to discuss important issues and learn from one another. There are currently 41 self-assembled ‘grass-roots’ chapters, including nanotechnology, global product stewardship and so on. The Global Product Stewardship forum has a mission to create EHS&R leadership through training, development and networking, Dahlgren said. The forum meets monthly onsite and online.
The Tech Forum also has 12 leadership committees that are centralized around one large event per year, which provides employees with the opportunity to interact with non-EHS employees and leadership.
Another outlet to groom potential products stewards is the company’s New Technical Employee Orientation (NTEO). Dahlgren attended the NTEO and noticed they didn’t talk about EHS. She joined the committee and added EHS to the NTEO agenda, so now new employees are exposed to the group early on.