Inside EMCO’s Management Development Program With A Recent Grad


Like many new business grads, Rhett Hardowa was looking for management experience.

He was introduced to EMCO’s Management Development Program through a former co-worker, and was looking forward to learning the ins and outs of a large company, and to apply his education in a professional setting.

Soon after, Rhett found himself immersed in the business workings of one of Canada’s largest wholesale distributors for the construction industry. TalentEgg had the chance to chat with Rhett about the hiring process, what he’s learned during his first 8 months on the job, and the advice he has for students and grads.

Finding the right fit: The interview process

Rhett Hardowa
Management Trainee

The first thing that attracted Rhett to EMCO’s Management Development Program was the opportunity to learn their business inside out, and gain a comprehensive understanding of each component that makes it work.

“I was a business owner before, and understanding the different levels of the business was a huge draw for me,” he says.

Rhett attended his first EMCO interview with the Regional Vice-President in Edmonton. This general interview involved going over his application and discussing what he could bring to the table through the Management Development Program.

After the initial interview, Rhett had an interview with a company psychologist, to determine his overall fit within the company.

“It was an assessment, as well as an interview,” recalls Rhett. “There were some aptitude questions, but they were mostly questions about my life and where I’m going in my career.”

Rhett also completed a number of psychology evaluation assessments, which covered everything from his leadership and problem solving skills to aspects of his life and business. Once he completed that stage, he was flown to London to have his final interview, where his psychology tests were reviewed and he was offered the job starting in Red Deer, AB.

When asked how he managed to stand out among all the other candidates, Rhett says that he didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. He chose to simply be himself, and let his natural traits speak for themselves.

“I wasn’t thinking about the skills I needed to display,” he says. “They’re looking to hire the person, not the skills. After all, skills can be taught.”

Getting started in the Management Development Program

Rhett says this program is all about understanding customer experience as well as product knowledge. With each phase of his three and a half year program, he focuses on a different area of the company, and learns every aspect of it – so far, he’s worked in shipping and receiving and inside sales.

“When I’m not working with customers face to face or over the phone, my time is devoted to learning how to become a manager,” says Rhett. “We say it’s like ‘drinking through a fire hose’ – I work to learn everything as quickly as possible without taking any shortcuts in regards to product knowledge.”

This program isn’t just about going through the motions of each job. Rhett says that his program involves regular meetings with the Regional Vice President and the Manager at his location. On top of that, Rhett says he works with a fantastic team.

“They’re amazing mentors, at every level,” he says. “It’s great to have that support system.”

Since Rhett majored in Business Management, he says a lot of his educational experience has helped him succeed in this role. Understanding people and how they work was one of the biggest assets, especially when working with customers or his team members.

“For most people, that’s the biggest challenge,” says Rhett. “There are so many intricacies involved in managing people.”

When tackling new roles, Rhett is extremely grateful for the patience of his co-workers. He fumbled a bit at first when helping customers at the counter, but his determination kept him going strong.

“I’m a curious person,” he says. “So when something new comes to the table, I’m constantly asking questions. I think it’s really exciting to take on a skill you’ve never learned before.”

Advice for aspiring Management Trainees

Rhett still has quite a while before he graduates the Management Development Program. Even though he’s only been with the company for a relatively short time, he has learned quite a lot about himself and what he wants to do in his career.

“I knew nothing about this industry before I came,” he says. “Going through the company and putting together the pieces will give you a real ‘aha!’ moment. It’s really something special.”

Rhett says students should explore this program if they have an entrepreneurial spirit. While he says he’s heard of other similar programs, he says he’s never encountered one that offers as full and in-depth an experience as EMCO’s.

His advice to new Management Trainees? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“There’s a lot of info all at once, and there’s so many people to ask,” says Rhett. “Every one of us has done the exact same thing. If you have the tenacity and drive to learn at least one thing every day, you’ll be in a good place.”

It’s been quite a journey so far, and a lot more lies ahead. Even though Rhett knew almost nothing about the industry before joining the Management Development Program, he feels confident in his future at EMCO.

“I see myself being with EMCO for a long time,” he says. “The opportunity to own your own business is a fantastic opportunity, and we have amazing customers and teammates.”

Want to join the EMCO team? Click here to see their available roles!