A company's culture is learned through living

Every so often, Plexus marketing communications manager Mike Wilkening, a long-time professional journalist who joined the company in June, will author a first-person piece on his experience learning the insurance brokerage business. This is the first installment in the series.  Bits and pieces, dribs and drabs, sentence fragments in paragraphs.

Slowly but surely, I am learning more and more about Plexus's lines of business. From risk management to employee benefits to corporate retirement planning and everything in-between, my Plexus colleagues are wonderful about answering questions. And I am not shy about asking.

Some might say you learn by asking questions. That’s part of it, I guess. But I think you learn by immersion. So I’m reading everything I can about the subject, soaking it all in.

Sometimes the lessons stick easily; other times, it takes a little more effort. And then there are more questions. The Plexus Financial Services team, bless them, will probably hide under the desks the next time I come to ask about a regulatory issue that's second nature to them.

So it goes with getting up to speed in a new business. And I think the same can be said about a company’s culture. You can write about it and talk about it, but it has to be lived. And that, of course, comes with time.

Two weeks ago, we held an ice cream social. As we ate, our CEO, Walt Fawcett, recognized a pair of employees for their service. One received an award for five years with the company; another was honored for a decade with Plexus. That in itself was heartwarming, but it was especially illuminating to see Walt talk about each employee’s progression through the company while sharing a few nice anecdotes.

I’ll be with Plexus two months as of Saturday, and I don’t believe I get an award for that, but I have been here long enough to get a sense of what we are about, and to that, I will say this: a company that serves ice cream is a nice one, but a company that remembers is a special one.