Page 10: Principal shares her experience shadowing a Georgia CEO
Principal shares her experience shadowing a Georgia CEO
On Oct. 7, more than 100 business and civic leaders spent a day in APS schools shadowing principals. For the first time, CEOs returned the favor by inviting APS principals to spend a day at local companies. Karen Riggins-Taylor (top right), principal of Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy shares her experience.
By Karen Riggins-Taylor / Principal
My “Executive for a Day” experience with David Scheible, president (top left) and CEO of Graphic Packaging International, Inc., started with a tour of the Marietta office, where I met several members of Scheible’s team.
He served as my personal tour guide, while affording me the opportunity to witness firsthand the work that goes into making paper. Although the concept seems simple, the actual process is an art form that requires a lot of skill and good leadership.
We discussed the process and procedures from its infancy stages to the finished product. Scheible expressed the importance of maintaining the buyer’s vision and ensuring that the final product is useful and beneficial to the consumer. I was utterly amazed to learn that Graphic Packaging is the company responsible for the “fridge pack.” There was much emphasis on convenience and ease for the consumer. Many tests and surveys are conducted to ensure that this focus is never lost. Stress tests are conducted to determine product durability and ensure ease of transporting a product from store shelves to the car. I also was honored to be one of the first to view a machine being designed to create a new product. I wish I could share more; however, I was sworn to secrecy.
We then toured the Stone Mountain plant, where I had the opportunity to meet the people who make all these products possible. It was enriching to see the input and output. About 280 employees are responsible for designing and cutting templates, maintaining and rebuilding machines, and meeting output goals. Many brand-name companies depend on the SVP team to create paper for their respective products. Gain, Tide, McDonald’s, Burger King, Little Debbie, Coca- Cola, Taco Bell are just a few companies that utilize the services of Graphic Packaging.
We also spoke at length about the role of good leadership, sustainability and, more importantly, culture. Scheible measures the culture of the business by conducting ongoing culture surveys and charting data on what is called a Circumplex Wheel. I was able to reflect upon the data-collection methods that I use at my school as a result of our conversation.
Scheible also explained initially it was not easy to internalize the data. It was evident there was a lot of work to be done. To achieve sustainability, meet the demands of buyers, deliver good products and meet performance goals, all employees must know the vision. They also must be able to adapt, show consistency, and be involved. Scheible calls this change “Culture into Execution.” If change is to occur, he firmly believes everyone in the organization must be a part of that change. He also advised me to tap into the talents of my team members.
When I asked how schools could better prepare students for careers in the graphic design industry, his answer was simple.
“Students must be able to read,” Scheible said.
Of his roughly 12,000 employees, only 2,000 have a post-secondary education. Most have only a high school diploma. All employees must score proficiently on a mandatory aptitude test before even being considered for a job. Many can’t pass the test because they cannot read for understanding. What’s most frightening is that most applicants are recent high school graduates. As a result, I decided that we must diligently provide enriching experiences for the diverse group of students we serve. We must increase the rigor and make learning relevant. We must introduce students to diverse career possibilities and allow them to experience “shadow days.”
My experience was enriching and exciting. Later that evening, I stopped at a local grocery, touring the aisles for items on my shopping list. I smiled as I placed Coca-Cola fridge packs and Little Debbie Snacks in my cart.
As I made it to my car, I reflected on my experience. How many people can say, “I know how this is made!”
— Watch Principal Riggins-Taylor’s visit to Graphic Packing International. Visit www.atlanta.k12.ga.us and click on “Media Gallery.” For more about school partnerships, email Mariama Tyler at email@example.com.