Ron Thomas

Ron Thomas is CEO of Great Place to Work-GCC countries, based in Dubai. He formerly was Chief HR Officer of the RGTS Group in Saudi Arabia. Ron is also a senior faculty member of the Human Capital Institute. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as a Master Human Capital Strategist (MHCS) and Strategic Workforce Planner (SWP). Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living. Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia. Contact him at ronaldtthomas@gmail.com or on Twitter.

Articles by Ron Thomas

Culture, Leadership

Leaders Get More Out of People When They Don’t Wear the Crown

Photo by istockphoto.com

“She said to me… you might be president of PepsiCo, you might be on the Board of Directors, but when you enter this house you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother… so leave that damn crown in the garage.’

You have to admire the older generation. They will always speak their mind. When I read this, I thought of my parents and how their plain-spoken ability to cut through all the BS and hit the bullseye with their message.

The above statement was from Indra Nooyi’s mother in reaction to her daughter’s election to the Pepsi Board of Directors. The 58-year old Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo and mother of two daughters delivered some surprisingly frank and candid insights on work-life balance in an interview with David Bradley, owner of the Atlantic Media Company, at the Aspen Ideas Festival this week. Read more…

HR Insights

Workplace Communications: Yes, Sometimes We Still Need to Talk

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I’ve been picking up the phone and calling my most important clients,” he said. “You can’t stop because there’s no email.

This was a quote based on the outage of MS Outlook this past week. The Washington Post headline blared MS Outlook outage brings offices back to the 1980’s.

For the people who were working in corporate, this was an era when there was no email to speak of, and for that matter, no computers. I had an office on Sixth Avenue in New York at that time and all I had was a phone on my desk. That was it. Read more…

HR Insights, HR Management

Getting Beyond the Echo Chamber: Selling the Value of HR Outside of HR

123RF Stock Photo

“I’m fine, thanks. I’m enjoying in my major. Actually, I love HR. Thanks for your attention. If I need help, I will let you know.”

This note from a student at one of the universities here in the Middle East, someone who is majoring in HR. He reached out to me over LinkedIn, and in my response, I told him if he needs me in any way he should feel free to reach out.

As I was responding to that note, I smiling thought of my upcoming lecture at the University of the Emirates in Dubai where I will be a guest lecturer to the class of students that are working towards their Bachelor of Science in HR. I was invited by the dean, Dr. Singh, who I met on a panel she chaired at a recent conference in Dubai. Read more…

HR Insights, Leadership

Leading Change: If It Doesn’t Bring Value, We Shouldn’t be Doing It

123RF Stock Photo

“We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

That quote is from Albert Einstein. That is such a poignant quote when we think of change, new solutions, and how we approach problems.

I figured out a long time ago that it takes the same amount of energy to be negative as to be positive. But, I have also noticed a pattern that when some new idea or new approach comes out, people come out of the woodwork with skepticism. Read more…

HR Insights, Leadership

“Always Be Closing” and You’ll Find It’s Really “Always Be Helping”

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Too many people looking for jobs save their elevator speeches for job fairs and interviews. Remember the first rule of sales: ABC (Always Be Closing). Give your elevator speech to everyone — at family gatherings, in the waiting room of the dentist, at coffee hour at your church or temple. You never know where the next job is coming from.”

That  was from a classic Harvard Business Review article.

This past week I attended Talent in Emerging & Growth Markets conference being held in Istanbul, Turkey. I was honored to serve as the co-conference chair as well as one of the Day 2 keynote speakers. Read more…

HR Management, Talent Management

Manager’s Mantra: Walk the Talk, Give Credit, Admit When You Don’t Know

From istockphoto.com

No one thought it was a great idea, especially my boss. They finally gave in because I pushed so hard. Well you know what? It was the best and most popular part of the show. Everyone raved about it, however, I am sitting here incredulous because on the call my boss took credit for it all. I can’t.

That statement came from a Millennial I know who is beyond disgusted with her job. She loves the company but the manager wants all the credit.

I have always said that you learn more from bad managers that you do from the good ones. My response to this woman was to schedule an offline meeting, and the major point of discussion should be work-projects and ownership. At least you are drawing a line in the sand, but do not get your hopes up. Read more…

HR Insights, HR Management

There’s No Place in Your Workplace For Bullying Behavior

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I heard on the news that a new anti-bullying law had been put in place in a local community. There were the usual skeptics as to how effective it was going to be.

However, I did some digging and found out that 49 states in the U.S. have passed school anti-bullying legislation, the first being Georgia in 1999. I, for one, am all for this message in corralling these so-called bullies. I have always said (somewhat jokingly) that they have not bullied the right person yet. When they do, the line will be drawn. Read more…

HR Management, Talent Management

A Management Essential: Helping Your People to Do It on Their Own

Illustration by istockphoto.com

He gives me the assignment and then proceeds to tell me step-by-step how to do it.” In my previous role before coming here, I managed successfully much larger projects than this. Just let me run with it and stay out of the way.”

That comment was from a budding marketing whiz who I have mentored over the years. Her frustration was with her manager who wooed and hired her from one of the big advertising firms.

The problem with this scenario is that he micro-manages her every move. He gives her an assignment and then essentially says, “here is the way I want you to do it.” Read more…

HR Insights

Are You Ready For the Constant Change in Today’s Working World?

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Like a lot of you, I constantly get emails from search professionals asking for help in locating talent. I always help because you just never know.

This week I got a note about a Vice President for Learning & Development role that was located in the New York City metro area. I immediately thought of two professionals I have known for years. One of them has been with his company for over 10 years. The other was just starting her assignment as VP as I was leaving New York to come to Saudi Arabia over a year ago.

I contacted them both in the hope that they knew of someone in their circles who could help. I assumed that they were gainfully employed but may know of someone in their network.

Their notes back to me came like a slow drip. Read more…

Talent Management

Customers Are Key, But Employees Are the Most Important Value Proposition

123RF Stock Photo

Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customers. I think you build one with your employees first.”

That statement was from Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberrys and now headed to Apple as new retail and online leader. She joins them this week.

Employees First, Customers Second was the title of a book a few years back by CEO Vineet Nayar of HCL Technologies. He wrote that by putting employees first and his customers second, he was able to build the world’s largest IT Firm.

I have always marveled at how leadership within a company always extols the value of building the customer value proposition. They eat, breath, and sleep it. Everyone on the team is striving to make it happen every day. Read more…