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Cultivating the Next Generation of Cintas’ Leadership

Cintas continues to be a distinguished workplace for young professionals in part through its Management Trainee Program

Cultivating the Next Generation of Cintas’ Leadership

Cintas continues to be a distinguished workplace for young professionals in part through its Management Trainee Program

Published 06-05-24

Submitted by Cintas

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Starting a career can be daunting. Embarking on a new path often involves uncertainty about the future, which can make anyone feel uneasy. While young professionals may face unique challenges, organizations can help them overcome these obstacles through resources, training and tools to help put them on a path towards professional and personal success.  

At Cintas, they have been leading the way in addressing these challenges and make it a priority to support young professionals in part through their Management Trainee (MT) Program. 

The program’s purpose is to equip employee-partners with the necessary tools and resources to thrive by providing them with immersive, hands-on training in all aspects of the company's operations, including sales, service, production, operations and administration. Once trainees have completed the 15-month program, they are placed in supervisory and leadership roles to maximize their strengths and potential for career advancement.

“You realize right away when you join Cintas the emphasis and priority that is placed in the MT program,” said Toby Atkinson, Director of DEI & Management Programs and a management trainee graduate. “You meet with executive leaders, you have a cadence for meeting with your mentor. You're really getting to know the business firsthand, and these foundations that you're getting at the start of your career are so you can be the next general manager or vice president at Cintas.”

Meeting with executives and new partners early in one’s career can sound intimidating at first, but Diego Nucete, Senior Vice President of the Northern Territory at Cintas, can still recall the warm smiles that greeted him as he walked through the opening doors at Cintas on his first day as an MT. 

“They were welcoming me home like I had been there forever,” said Nucete. “I still think back to that time because I learned a lot from my first day, how Cintas is really a family. I think back to the training and how it allowed me to make the decisions I do today because I had those hands-on experiences in the business.”

The program also pairs partners with a mentor who has also spent time as a trainee. This way they can help guide them throughout the process and answer any questions they have. 

Jake Resser, who started as a management trainee 20 years ago, is now the Group Vice President of the Northwest Group at Cintas. Resser knows just how important mentors are and how they can help usher you in your career.

“Your mentor is somebody who was in your same shoes, maybe only a few years ago,” said Resser. “They understand the challenges that you might have adapting to the professional work environment and what it takes to get you from college to being productive in your career.”

Another hurdle to starting a career can be not knowing what area you want to focus on. In the MT program, you can rotate and work in different departments and roles. This gives trainees the chance to learn new skills and discover what they are passionate about.

“The program offers endless opportunities, and you can move around into different areas of our business that fit you best,” said Beth Barney, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Cintas and a former management trainee. 

Barney has been with Cintas for 21 years and has held various positions throughout her career. Her experiences in the MT program have contributed to her success and leadership skills. 

“There's a reason they teach you leadership skills early in the process: to get you ready and make you a well-rounded leader,” said Barney. “It helps you be someone who can be depended on, someone who is reliable, someone that our leadership team can trust to take on responsibility and make an impact on the organization.”

These leadership skills are evident throughout the organization. In fact, two of Cintas’ CEOs, including the company’s current CEO and President, Todd Schneider, were management trainees. 

Macarena Cloninger, Senior Vice President of the Southern Territory at Cintas, has been with Cintas for 21 years. As a management trainee graduate herself, she emphasizes the importance of coaching and believes that learning from mistakes is crucial for developing into a leader.

“Leadership is learned through mistakes,” said Cloninger. “Our management trainees are already allowed to work on projects that impact the business and partners, but in a controlled environment where we have many coaching moments for them. It allows them to develop those leadership skills quickly so they can take on bigger responsibilities.”

These methods have been proven to be effective and are part of the reason why Cintas has been distinguished with several awards recognizing it as a great place to work for young professionals and recent graduates. 

This year, Cintas has been named to Forbes' list of Best Employers for New Grads, Newsweek’s America’s Best Workplaces for Job Starters and received the Handshake Early Talent Award. 

Both the Forbes and Newsweek awards are based on insights from employees about their experiences with the company’s corporate culture, working conditions, education and career advancement opportunities, and other criteria. The Handshake Early Talent Award recognizes employers for best-in-class talent engagement and celebrates the top workplaces that attract Generation Z.

“These awards speak to our culture and how we do things the right way and have high standards,” said Barney. “I think people want to be part of that winning team and they see what we're going to pour into them, into their professional and personal development. We're going to give them all the tools and the resources that they need to be successful.”

It's an exciting opportunity to join an organization that prioritizes young professionals and offers a program tailored to support them. With numerous possibilities and paths to explore, it’s important to remember to savor the journey and take each learned experience with you no matter where you go.

“My advice to a management trainee starting out is to take it all in,” said Atkinson. “It's going to fly by, so lean into your mentors and lean into your rotations because this is setting the pace for the next 25 years of your career or more. 

Just know that we picked you because we want you to be our next leader at Cintas.”

Click here to watch a video to learn more about the Management Trainee program.

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Cintas Corporation helps more than one million businesses of all types and sizes get Ready™ to open their doors with confidence every day by providing products and services that help keep their customers’ facilities and employees clean, safe, and looking their best. With offerings including uniforms, mats, mops, restroom supplies, first aid and safety products, safety training, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and alarm service, Cintas helps customers get Ready for the Workday®. The company is also the creator of the Total Clean Program™ — a first-of-its-kind service that includes scheduled delivery of essential cleaning supplies, hygienically clean laundering, and sanitizing and disinfecting products and services. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Cintas is a publicly held Fortune 500 company traded over the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol CTAS and is a component of both the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Nasdaq-100 Index.

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