November 16, 2022
THE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY in Wisconsin continues to be a vital part of the business community as both large and small manufacturers invest in facility expansions and equipment modernization to improve production. New innovative technology has allowed for expansion in manufacturing segments that are core to Wisconsin’s economy such as paper, metal fabrication, and dairy industries. Technology has also impacted the type of employees these companies are looking for, emphasizing passionate individuals looking to develop their skills and become the leaders of tomorrow. Rapid technological advancements and shifts in hiring needs of companies have made the manufacturing industry more intriguing and rewarding for employees than ever before.
WHAT DOES LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT LOOK LIKE IN MANUFACTURING?
Careers in manufacturing do not necessarily follow a traditional career ladder where every promotion moves the employee “up” another rung. With today’s dynamic, global environment and ever-changing workplace, career development can also entail employees taking on broader roles, lateral moves, and specific developmental experiences. When employees are given opportunities to expand their responsibilities gradually the transition to the next role is smoother. Lateral moves can be helpful to career development because they broaden the scope of knowledge an employee has of the business processes important to operations. This increased knowledge and perspective leads to better decision-making capability. Making good decisions helps grow credibility and helps leaders gain recognition for their leadership skills. It is also important that managers work with employees to expand the scope of their work as they prepare for their next role. Understanding how departments can work together creates opportunities for collaboration and teamwork and makes the employee more versatile and potentially able to take on a variety of new roles, rather than channeling them into one specific career path.
Having a conversation with your manager or supervisor about your strengths, areas for development and how you can grow your career can be very beneficial. The simplest but sometimes most challenging communication skill is being able to ask for what you want in your career. For example, if you want to review your role and shift the focus of your position, ask to set up a meeting. A meeting will give your manager an opportunity to provide feedback that you can use to set new goals for advancing your career
Goal setting is important for you to do with your team members at work. Meeting with your team and having clearly outlined goals for a given period creates a path to success, with backup plans in case things do not go as initially planned. Such as, production speed goals, waste reduction, or higher production quality. Regardless of what it is specifically – when you come in for a shift, you can know what you are trying to improve and steadily work towards that goal.
Effective communication is another key way to make sure you stay on track. This can be as simple as asking questions when you are unsure. When coming into a job, you are not expected to understand everything, which is part of why you are on a team. Asking questions when you have them can help the team and projects stay on track.
HOW TO GET STARTED IN MANUFACTURING?
When thinking about how to enter the manufacturing industry, there are multiple avenues you can take depending on the type of position being sought. Manufacturing offers positions in production, maintenance, engineering, IT, marketing, sales, accounting, human resources, logistics, quality, continuous improvement, and safety to name a few.
One beneficial way to start a career is in an entry-level position at a manufacturing production facility. This is one of the better ways to get immediate hands-on experience, developing an understanding of the business from the ground up. Another way to enter the industry is by specializing in a certain trade and gaining skills or certifications in that work area.
New workers come into manufacturing from a variety of educational backgrounds from high school to technical training or a traditional 4-year degree. All these paths are vital as they will allow workers to continue to get on-the-job training by helping and working alongside more experienced colleagues. For example, a welder could gain valuable experience in a manufacturing plant and work with team members who may be more advanced in the trade to develop additional skills while in the job.
When working as a general laborer, an employee can take an interest in a specific aspect of production and obtain valuable skills for further career advancement. Maybe it is an interest in quality assurance, as someone who works with the team to check for quality consistency throughout the production process. Finding your niche in manufacturing can help guide your career decisions. Gaining more experience and knowledge can help you find an area or department where you can specialize your skills and expand into a future role. In any role in manufacturing, attention to detail and problem-solving are interpersonal skills that are highly transferable to other industries or future manufacturing positions.
Technical colleges are another way you can gain skills that would benefit a career in manufacturing. Programs at these schools are typically 1-2 years long and can be highly specific or a more general view of a subject. An Industrial Maintenance Certificate from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College can be earned in less than 12 months. In that program courses are designed to provide an understanding of the fundamentals of PLC’s, motors and drives, hydraulics, and mechanics. Having gained this knowledge can open many doors for your career. Companies also appreciate having a team with a diverse knowledge base because then they can develop the most innovative products and solutions. There are also plenty of apprenticeship programs that combine on the-job training and formal instruction.
All manufacturing companies hire engineers, who need formal training at the college level. There are also universities with special programs for engineers and chemists that are manufacturing specific. However, having a foundation built by working in manufacturing previously can help you during your college career and build connections between your studies and your future employment.
WHY GREEN BAY PACKAGING?
Green Bay Packaging (GBP) prides itself on being an equal opportunity employer with strong core values and company culture. As a result, safety is a top focus in all areas of manufacturing across our 37 locations. Safety in the workplace includes not only physical safety but also creating a healthy work/life balance that benefits an employee’s mental health.
Another core value, sustainability, is engrained in every aspect of the business. This is demonstrated by our first in the world Net Zero Water validation from UL and our Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Chain-of-Custody and Certified Sourcing certifications. GBP has a legacy of consistently finding innovative solutions to sustainability issues in our production processes.
GBP’s total quality management program is a planned, company-wide process that is integrated into all business goals. Quality is important in the products we produce, the spaces our employees work in, and the non-tangible services our employees provide. Customer service quality is important because we care about our customers and strive to create a positive working relationship.
Every summer Green Bay Packaging hires people for “summer help” positions that aim to fill in for full-time employees who are using their vacation time. This role is the best way to get hands-on experience without committing to a full-time role. Throughout the summer, you learn the ins and outs of the machines and the operational processes behind the products we create. You work with other full-time employees and get to learn from their experiences, and better understand why they choose to work for GBP.
Another way to test the waters at Green Bay Packaging is to get involved in an internship. Internships are valuable to both the employer and the employee. The employer is brought innovative ideas and unique skills from a new employee, and an employee is given real, hands-on experience in the manufacturing industry.
Young professionals can also join our Young Professionals Network, opening doors and building connections across our decentralized organization. While networking with peers, employees may uncover opportunities within the organization that they may not have known before.
Interested in learning more about a career at Green Bay Packaging? Visit our website at gbp.com/careers to learn more about current opportunities.
Established in 1933, Green Bay Packaging Inc. is a family-owned, vertically integrated manufacturing company consisting of corrugated container plants, a folding carton facility, recycled and virgin linerboard mills, pressure-sensitive label roll stock plants, specialty converting operations, timberlands, and a sawmill facility. Headquartered in Green Bay, Wis., Green Bay Packaging is dedicated to the innovative development of its products and forestry resources, focusing on safety, sustainability, quality, and continuous improvement throughout all 37 facilities in 16 states