These days, people don’t want to stop learning once they finish college. In fact, a Gallup report shows that millennials view jobs mainly as educational opportunities. The results also found that millennials rank the opportunity to learn and grow in a job above all other considerations, and, on top of that, 69% of non-millennials say it is important to them.
That’s great news for employers like McMaster-Carr. The e-commerce company has built a culture of development and career paths designed for growth and longevity. “People energized by learning feel at home here. We have a time-tested approach for developing leaders that’s about learning, career growth and making a real impact,” says Heather Rossi, Director of Recruiting at McMaster-Carr.
McMaster-Carr thinks about career development like a liberal arts education. They value capability over skill and develop leaders through well-rounded experiences. Cross-functional promotions are intentional and span areas like product development, user experience, marketing, customer solutions, and operations, making learning continuous. The result is a versatile management team that can apply sound reasoning and strategy to any business challenge.
Here, three McMaster-Carr employees share why they joined the company—and how they developed skills for long-term success.
Leveraging a Generalist Path to Make an Impact
When Daimon Hardy wanted to transition out of the education industry, he searched for a role where he could continue influencing change. “As a teacher, I made an impact for individuals,” he says. “But I wanted to make a larger-scale impact. I believed a career in business would challenge me, but I needed to learn how to be a successful manager.”
McMaster-Carr’s recruiting philosophy resonated with Hardy. “Capabilities like critical thinking and a growth mindset are keys to success. The rest can be learned through training and experience,” he says. “This is rare in the business world and creates a unique opportunity for people making a career change.”
Within five years at the company, Hardy has grown into a senior manager role and has the story of a true generalist. He’s contributed to areas like marketing, customer solutions, and learning and development. He is building a toolkit for leading successful operations and fostering the growth of others.
Most importantly, Hardy is getting to make an impact—which was his goal from the start. When the company created teams to tackle key racial equity topics, he had an opportunity to put his preparation to the test and influence his workplace in deeply meaningful ways. “I think that McMaster does a great job of listening to what people want out of their career and balancing that with business needs,” he says.
Pursuing a New Passion for Data Science
After a few years of i-banking and working with startups in China, Minnie Cui wanted to move back to the United States. Her goal: “to get hands-on operations experience,” she says. “And pursue more education at some point.”
McMaster-Carr’s commitment to continuous learning isn’t just about learning at work. When Cui heard about McMaster-Carr’s cross-functional management path and 100% paid tuition program that includes enrichment courses, MBAs, and more, she jumped at the opportunity to join the company. Cui was also excited about McMaster’s approach to mentorship, which includes coaching from a senior leader in an intimate peer cohort experience.
Now more than six years into her tenure, she has contributed impactful work in three unique business areas. And with McMaster-Carr’s support, she received a data science certificate from Harvard University. Her current role as a senior manager in customer analytics has been her favorite so far and offers the opportunity to apply what she learned in school.
Cui is just getting started; she’s happily learning and growing at McMaster-Carr. “McMaster-Carr values development of employees to ensure that people are knowledgeable about different parts of the business so they can make decisions from a broader perspective,” she says. “This was the best way for me to advance my own skills holistically and pursue a career path that suits my interests.”
Recruiting Future Leaders
After graduating college with a finance degree, Heather Rossi got a job as an investment banker—but after working at a few big-name firms, she realized that the industry (and its punishing hours) wasn’t for her. She was more interested in corporate development and internal consulting-type roles.
“I wanted to innovate and see my ideas through to implementation,” she says. “In investment banking, we would come up with ideas, but once a merger was done, I was on to the next project. I wanted to see my ideas in action.” Sixteen years later, Heather can see the legacy she has created in McMaster’s sales, distribution, and finance operations.
Rossi had experience managing in almost every business area before landing her current role in HR. “Each area is different, but the concepts and values are ubiquitous,” she says. “Intentional, cross-functional promotions rely on fundamental skills like critical thinking. These experiences build on one another to develop versatile, capable leaders that can tackle any challenge. For someone like me who likes change, that’s fun.”
Rossi is now leading the charge to bring in top talent. Her team seeks out bright, talented people who are ready for a career change or to accelerate their path in management and technology.
Like Rossi, Hardy, and Cui, all management hires at McMaster experience the liberal arts education equivalent of career development. As Rossi says, “They learn to manage a successful business and build a rich career through diverse and impactful opportunities, training, and mentorship.”