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What Does an Executive Trainee Do?

Tracey Sandilands
Tracey Sandilands

Every company has a need for capable executives, and many large corporations have executive trainee positions that enable candidates for future executive positions to gain working knowledge of the company’s business and the role they aim to fill. An executive trainee usually works in various departments on rotation to enable him or her to gain understanding of a broad range of the company’s operations. The actual tasks the executive trainee performs includes shadowing members of the department’s management team in their daily work, filling junior positions temporarily, and undertaking projects that can help develop the executive skills needed.

A trainee for an executive career usually receives formal training such as classroom instruction in each of the roles to which he or she is exposed. This helps the executive trainee to understand the theoretical requirements of working as an executive, while rotation within the company serves as a practicum. It also enables the trainee to determine the aspects of the work to which he or she is best suited, and this helps with career planning. For example, a trainee who does not enjoy financial executive training or rotation will likely be unsuitable for a career as a finance executive.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Trainee job placement for an executive trainee includes doing the work of both junior and senior members of each department. This makes it possible for the trainee to understand exactly what is involved in the work, the function of the department, and constraints such as supply and demand. For example, an executive trainee in a bank may be required to work as a teller, help clients open new accounts, and assist borrowers with loan applications. A trainee in a manufacturing environment, however, is likely to be exposed to responsibilities such as labor relations, occupational safety and health requirements and cost accounting.

Projects such as productivity or workflow studies are ideal learning opportunities for an executive trainee. These projects not only offer the trainee a chance to practice management skills by overseeing the participants in the team, but also to gain in-depth knowledge of the science behind the business. Similarly, the outsourcing of an essential service is a project that can give the trainee first-hand information about the reasons for the outsourcing and the selected service provider’s commitment. This knowledge may be important for future career advancement, if the trainee ends up in the same department after the training period is over.

A potential future in a marketing environment may require the executive trainee to become involved in sales, public relations and advertising. Such a trainee will be required to understand the company’s sales strategies and to work with the advertising agency as well as production to fulfill them. An ability to read the market and identify potential changes in demand is useful, and can be learned by shadowing management to see how they analyze information.

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