Skip to main content
Our People

How Sonoco Develops Employees

« View All Insights

At Sonoco, we believe that people build businesses by doing the right thing. From our beginnings to now, that belief guides us.

Because we believe that our employees are our greatest resource, we invest in employee training and development opportunities to support their success with the following opportunities: 

Speaker at Sonoco University

Sonoco University

We launched Sonoco University in 2020 to invest in employee education, training, learning and development. This program offers online and classroom-based instruction tailored to the skills employees want to learn—a software program, manufacturing practice or anything else. Anyone in any division or functional area can use the University platform to evolve their careers or create future opportunities for themselves.  

Self-Led Learning

We offer self-paced learning tracks through Sonoco University. These readily available, prepackaged courses cover a variety of topics like collaboration, mentorship, stress management and more. They take less than 60 minutes to complete.

Virtual, Instructor-Led Learning

We offer informal, one-hour virtual sessions open to everyone in the organization that cover various topics like “Making the Most of One-on-Ones with Your Manager,” “How to Deliver Effective Feedback” and more. Our Training and Development team virtually leads sessions every third Wednesday of the month.

In-Person Learning

We offer in-person training programs to employees like Foundations of Leadership and Crucial Conversations.

  • Our Foundations of Leadership program is for new and soon-to-be leaders and those with direct reports. Delivered through a blended approach, our instructors lead virtual learning and live, in-person practice sessions over an eight-month period. One program graduate shares: “I’ve learned crucial skills in Foundations of Leadership that I can immediately apply to how I manage my team. My favorite part of the class was connecting with other leaders from across the organization so that we can grow our network and rely on each other well beyond the training.”
  • Our Crucial Conversations program is for leaders at all levels of the organization and all employees who could benefit from this course. In-person and instructor-led, this two-day program teaches nine powerful skills for working through disagreements to achieve better results.

Through a partnership with the University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business, we offer two advanced leadership courses: Develop to Lead and Financial Acumen.

  • Develop to Lead is for individuals who have the ability and demonstrated leadership skills to succeed in senior positions. This three-day immersive training allows participants to collaborate, network, present to key executives and gain insight into professional development areas for future career growth.
  • Financial Acumen is for current or potential plant managers. Our financial leaders developed this curriculum with hands-on exercises to prepare participants for advancing our plants’ financial performance.
Emerging Leaders

Emerging Leaders Program

We began the Emerging Leaders Program more than 40 years ago to identify and train our next generation of business leaders through summer internships and full-time opportunities. 

Emerging Leader Summer Internships  

For approximately 12 weeks (about three months), students gain real-world experience through hands-on projects, providing a meaningful return on investment for Sonoco and the interns who participate.  

“People,” one intern emphasizes, “really are interested in pouring into your career path at Sonoco.” Another intern explains: “I’m able to take the practical experiences I’ve gained here into the last year of my undergraduate education and be able to more easily apply the concepts that I learn in my future career as an engineer.” 

Emerging Leader Full-Time Opportunities 

This program provides associates with more than their first full-time job. They have additional, built-in access to team-building activities with their cohort, dedicated mentorship and ongoing leadership development programming during their first 12-18 months of employment. Integrating into our culture, these associates gain experience across our diverse portfolio of businesses. 


Mentorship Program  

We believe mentorship provides a crucial tool for employee training and development. Mentoring provides a support system as individuals work toward gaining new knowledge, skills and abilities. As one Sonoco manager shares: “Regardless of how much experience you have, there is always an opportunity to improve your soft skills of how to handle conflict and deal with different situations. It is refreshing to obtain a different perspective from somebody who is well-respected in the company and has a certain level of expertise in managing others.”  

While mentoring relationships typically include a more experienced person (a mentor) and a less experienced person (a mentee), we focus on three different types of mentorships:

New Hire Mentorship 

This provides a new hire with guidance as they become familiar with our culture and values and build connections across our businesses. 

Career Development Mentorship 

These mentors serve as a trusted advisor who supports a mentee as they work toward developing new skills, navigate the workplace and build connections for future opportunities.  

“Mentorships are more than just offering career advice. It’s an awesome opportunity to build strong relationships that have an impact on both the mentor and mentee,” explains one mentor. “I have thoroughly enjoyed time with my mentee. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to help him navigate his career and offer some tips based on my career experiences.” 

Peer Mentorship

This supplies a mentee with a source of knowledge and support as they develop specific new skills, look for resources and establish relevant connections.

Our purpose of Better Packaging. Better Life. guides how we care for more than our customers, shareholders and local communities. It demonstrates our commitment to supporting our team members as they forge their career in manufacturing.  

Learn more about our talented team!