Our Commitment

At Pilgrim’s, we are dedicated to offering growth and development opportunities to our team members. We have numerous leadership and training programs in place to further develop incoming and existing leaders. We know that leaders are not born—they’re made—and we pride ourselves on employing and recognizing people who have the potential to be successful leaders.

Our Approach

Our team members have the opportunity to receive leadership training through many programs developed by the Culture and Talent team, which works across Pilgrim’s and our parent company, JBS USA, to maintain a continuous pipeline of talented team members.

Internship Program

The Pilgrim’s Internship Program provides current college students with an opportunity to gain practical industry experience while developing extensive leadership skills. This 10-week summer internship challenges approximately 70 participants each summer through hands-on learning experiences and meaningful projects that improve our business and provide personal education growth and valuable workplace experience. When selecting our interns, we look for college students with strong educational standing, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, exceptional communication skills and the capacity to thrive in high-pressure and fast-paced environments.

Once placed in either a production or corporate business unit role, interns are provided with mentorship from an experienced leader, offering them firsthand industry exposure and the opportunity to network with senior management. Not only are our internships paid positions, the program also allows students to receive class credit and an introduction to a potential future career, all while helping identify future Pilgrim’s leaders.

Management Trainee Program

Recent college graduates looking to pursue their passion for building a leadership career in the animal protein industry can apply to our Management Trainee Program. This 12-month rotational program is designed for those ready to excel in our technical, cultural and leader-based work environments. Customizable rotations allow trainees to use and grow their project management, problem-solving and collaboration skills according to their own interests and career aspirations. In addition, our trainees participate in three to four week-long, formal and informal training sessions that further develop their knowledge and skillsets in the areas of leadership, process management and people management. Each year, we onboard nearly 35 trainees from the U.S. and Mexico. Orientation for this group focuses not only on learning how to be successful, but on contributing to our operations to help make us the best in all that we do.

Supervisor Development Program

Our Supervisor Development Program was created to identify driven hourly production team members who possess leadership abilities and develop those team members into front-line supervisors with potential for continued advancement within the company. The intent of this program is to invest in our driven, passionate and results-oriented team members by giving them the tools they need to accelerate their careers within Pilgrim’s. Totaling more than 45 team members per session, the program includes four months of rotational training in a Pilgrim’s facility, leadership skills training and the opportunity to meet with and learn from other leaders across the company. To deepen our team members’ understanding of how our departments and teams work together to produce high-quality products, we expose them to all parts of a facility during their rotations. At Pilgrim’s, we strive to create a successful company by helping our team members be successful in their own careers.

Leadership Warehouse Program

At Pilgrim’s, our goal is to create a culture that yields sustained excellencea difficult task that requires every one of our team members to commit, by word and deed, to pursuing the Pilgrim’s Values in our personal and professional endeavors. Our Leadership Warehouse works to further equip our team members to do their part in the creation of this culture. This program is not a one-size-fits-all initiative. In fact, it outlines six different leadership development offerings, providing important developmental and educational opportunities to several levels of leadership. Our hope is that our team members find a program to further develop their own leadership abilities, as well as propel Pilgrim’s closer to its vision. Each of our Leadership Warehouse development programs are designed and facilitated internally allowing us to offer culturally relevant and company oriented leadership solutions.

  • Summit
    Summit is built for high-level leaders who do not believe there is ever a peak for learning and growth. This program, open to all JBS USA and Pilgrim’s business units, brings 25 nominated, high-potential leaders together for intensive, year-long leadership education. The Summit experience introduces nominees to in-depth business concepts by partnering with executive sponsors and local business leaders to solve real-world business problems occurring at local facilities. With exposure to JBS operations in the U.S., Australia and Brazil, Summit participants gain business knowledge from every business unit within the company. Ultimately, participants understand that hard work and dedication are crucial components of success and that, with Summit training, they can soar to new heights.
  • Strategic Leadership
    Strategic Leadership is an intensive, week-long leadership development education program designed to guide mid-level managers in three leadership categories: self, others and process. This program builds on the groundwork that mid-management leaders have honed, pushing their knowledge and experience even further. Much of the practical items taught are adapted from the Pilgrim’s culture, but the overall focus of the program is to continue developing competent and inspiring leaders who manage other leaders.
  • Elective Learnings
    One of the things that makes Pilgrim’s a great company to work for is our ability to employ and recognize people who have the potential to be successful leaders. Our Elective Learnings program offers complementary training courses online for any team member interested in improving their skills, including ad hoc trainings on pressing topics within the company, such as “Communication Across Generations,” “Accountability and Ownership” and “Building Engaged Teams.”
  • People First
    When we put our people first at Pilgrim’s, the results are always groundbreaking. The People First Program lays a foundation for our front-line supervisors, mid-managers and corporate managers creating a consistent framework to achieve results through leadership. The program provides specific training to all front-line supervisors in four sessions throughout the year, focusing on hands-on leadership techniques and tools that build, maintain and uplift our teams. Program topics include building trust and respect, the cost of turnover, accountability, delegation and prioritization, communication and information sharing. To empower our team members, we identify and train internal team members to become facilitators of the People First Program.
  • Leadership Fundamentals
    Leadership Fundamentals is our new manager training program designed for recently promoted or recently hired team members from outside the company. This one-day program is offered eight times throughout the year, providing new leaders with exposure to our Values, Vision and Beliefs, while also offering basic leadership skills such as effective team communication, delegation and performance management.
  • Development Workshops
    In 2018, we added a new program to our Leadership Warehouse. The Development Workshop program is designed for salary non-exempt and hourly team members in supporting corporate roles to meet their growing personal and professional needs. This past year, we offered more than 100 hours in development workshop trainings and plan to develop additional content and more training hours in 2019.

Individual Development

Pilgrim’s also offers full tuition sponsorship for a wide array of coursework through JBS USA’s 10 year partnership with Colorado State University. This partnership includes executive MBA, online MBA, graduate certificate, professional certificate and online agribusiness degree completion programs. 

2018 Progress

Key Achievements


hours of training provided through University of Pilgrim’s Mexico


team members trained through our Leadership Warehouse Program


hours of training provided through our Leadership Warehouse Program


frontline supervisors trained through our People First Program


hours of training provided through our People First Program

Our programs create a culture of excellence at Pilgrim’s and result in higher retention of graduates and higher job satisfaction among seasoned team members. In 2018, we experienced success across all leadership and development programs.

Each of our talent initiatives yielded impressive results in 2018:

  • A record $9 million investment in leadership training and development in the U.S.
  • A record 50,000 hours of leadership training and development programming in the U.S.
  • Our talent initiatives are garnering more and more attention worldwide with applicants to our programs exceeding 2,300 in 2018 in the U.S.
  • Our 2018 Internship Program grew to nearly 70 interns, and we tripled the percentage of total interns who were converted into full-time team members as either trainees or direct hires in the U.S. alone
  • Our 2018 Management Trainee Program on-boarded 34 trainees and enjoyed a 88 percent retention rate in the U.S. and Mexico
  • In 2018, we graduated more than 50 percent of our 2017 trainees in the U.S. into management roles at the superintendent level and above
  • Our 2018 Supervisor Development Program had an 88 percent retention rate in the U.S.
  • We provided academic services in the U.S. for:
    • Eight undergraduate degrees in agribusiness
    • Five online MBAs
    • Two executive MBAs
    • 70 credit hours of certificate programming
  • Even more aggressive figures budgeted for in 2019

Looking ahead, we are excited about and committed to supporting the growth of our interns, trainees and team members as they start or continue their careers in the food industry.

In 2018, through our Leadership Warehouse Program in the U.S., we trained more than 2,970 team members, Summit trained 11 high-potential leaders, Strategic Leadership trained 79 mid-level managers, Leadership Fundamentals trained 67 new managers and Elective Learnings trained 12 team members. In 2018, company facilitators trained more than 2,650 front-line supervisors through our People First Program in the U.S., and in the U.S. and Mexico provided more than 19,500 training hours through the People First Program. Through our survey analysis, we have seen improved confidence from our front-line supervisors in their ability to be effective leaders. They also have expressed that they feel more supported as leaders at Pilgrim’s, compared to before program implementation.

We are proud of our results and will continue to look for ways to strengthen all our team member engagement programs and efforts in 2019.