How to Start Leading from the Front

with HR Business Partner, Craig Thomas

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Our guest today is Craig Thomas! Craig grew up in Jamaica and is now an HR Specialist in Nova Scotia, Canada. An amazing connector of people with a very diverse educational background and professional career, Craig’s true industry expertise lies in change management, Training and Development, DEI, and employee retention strategies. Prior to working in HR, Craig spent 19 years in the Banking and Finance industry specializing in risk management, Credit adjudication, and Banking Operations. He is also a certified trainer and educator, teaching at the University level for over 15 years. And to round out his impressive and one-of-a-kind experience, Craig served a program manager for a key International Donor Agency, USAID, where he provided guidance to regional, national, and community-based organizations in Jamaica and the Bahamas on matters related to Grant Funding policy, operations, and capacity building initiatives.

  • How Craig found many role models growing up in Jamaica
  • Craig's history from finance to HR
  • What does it feel like to be in-between leadership and employees?
  • Overcoming stigmas of a finance background working in HR
  • Tips to lead from the front
  • What is the role of culture in HR?
  • Company values versus individual values
  • Equality vs. Equity
  • Craig's work in the education sphere
  • The importance of financial literacy for HR and employees
  • What disciplines should all HR practitioners be well-versed in?
  • Craig's experience with LeggUP
  • How to be strategic with networking
  • Be alive while living! 

[Tom Finn]   00:00:02    Hello, and welcome to the Talent Empowerment podcast, where we lift up people leaders so they can lift up their organizations. I'm your host, Tom Finn, co-founder and CEO of LeggUP. Together, we'll learn how to drive people innovation, how to transform HR into people ops, and how to secure buy-in to disrupt the status quo. And as I like to say, it's finally time to stop smoking on airplanes and update your people strategy. Let's transform your organization and move from a culture of talent management to talent empowerment. This week's episode of the talent empowerment podcast is brought to you by LeggUP’s Talent Insurance, an inclusive people development platform designed to help HR leaders empower their people through one-on-one professional coaching with results like a 66% improvement in avoiding burnout, a 54% jump in leadership skills and a 73% increase in job satisfaction, LeggUP guarantees, improved employee wellbeing, productivity, and retention. In fact, they ensure it, your people stay or they pay! Visit LeggUP that's L E G G to learn more. And without further ado, this is talent empowerment.

Welcome to the Talent Empowerment podcast, ladies and gentlemen, where we lift up people leaders. So you can lift up your organizations. I am your host, Tom Finn. And today we have someone who I know to be a fabulous connector of people, which is how he landed in HR. His name is Craig Thomas. Craig,  welcome to the show. 

[Craig Thomas]    00:01:38    Hi Tom. Thank you very much for having me, and, um, I'm super delighted today to be a part of your podcast. I'm looking forward to sharing my story and hopefully, we can learn from each other. So thank you. 

[Tom Finn]   00:01:51    Well, I am very excited to chat with you today. For those of you that haven't had a chance to meet Craig yet, let me give you a little bit of background on him. Craig grew up in Jamaica and is now an HR specialist in Nova Scotia, Canada. So from Jamaica to Canada, and he's an amazing connector of people with a very diverse educational background and professional career, which we're gonna get right into. His true industry expertise lies in change management, training and development, DEI, and employee retention strategies. And prior to working in HR, Craig spent 19 years in banking and finance specializing in risk management, credit, adjudication, and operations. He's a certified trainer and educator teaching at the university level for 15 years. And to round out his impressive one-of-a-kind experience, he also served as a program manager for a key international donor agency, US aid, where he provided guidance to the regional national and community-based organizations in Jamaica and the Bahamas on matters related to grant funding, policy operations, and capacity building initiatives. Craig, I don't even know where to start with all of this deep, rich background. How about let's just start with Jamaica. What was it like growing up in Jamaica? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:03:11    Well, um, so where do I start? The beauty of my upbringing, my journey, started is that we had the opportunity to aspire to greatness. We have a rich culture of achievement. We have international reggae ambassadors. We have, um, track athletes that are on top of their game and in the academic sphere as well. We always have role models who we look forward to or look to look to, to, um, develop our own potential and, and, um, achieve greatness. So, um, my journey started with a goal, an ideal ambition, who do I want to become? Who do I want to self-actualize? And we have always been looking to the star and personally, um, I have now never, um, deviated somewhat, or however, there have been some potholes along the way, but fortunately, I'm still here. I'm still trying to achieve, so that is my journey. 

[Tom Finn]   00:04:12    Oh, that's, that's wonderful. I fun fact about Jamaica for those that don't know, uh, Jamaica, if I get, if I'm getting this right, is the only country without red, white, or blue in their flag. Um, and if you don't know, the flag contains black, yellow, and green. Now a little bit of research would tell you that the black stands for the difficulties faced by the nation. The yellow is for the wealth and beauty, uh, of Jamaica's sunlight and the inner sunlight in the people. And then the green represents the beautiful agriculture of the island. Um, and Jamaica is an island country, right? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:04:51    Sounds about right. That definitely it, and, um, and there's so much more, but, um, we are not talking about, um, Jamaica today. We're HR. So personally for me, it was fun and it was adventurous growing up on the island of Jamaica. 

[Tom Finn]   00:05:07    Well, you're gonna take all of those lessons and skills, um, that you developed in, in your early career and early childhood into the way that you manage and into the way that you approach different situations. So tell me about how this all got started for you. You were in banking and, and then you moved into HR. So from a career perspective, where, where did this all start in banking? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:05:28    Well, um, my original goal was to be a doctor, believe it or not, but along the way, I found that doing courses in HR and psychology really appealed to me. And my plan at the end of my, my degree, my university-level education was to go into training and development in the HR sphere. So once I got the opportunity to work at RBC, uh, many years ago, that was the plan. Now we didn't have mentors per se, who would've, um, guided us or put a framework as to how do you move from a to B? But we, I did it with faith. I hoped that my talents would allow me to transcend in the organization and in the back of my head, that's where I thought it had been going. 

[Tom Finn]   00:06:21    Yeah. Wonderful. So as you, you start this financial journey and you're, and you're working for a wonderful organization. Was there a moment in time that you thought, okay, I, I want to climb the HR ladder or I want to do things differently in HR. When did that come to you? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:06:39    All right. So I got distracted. Um, we had a wonderful management training program at RBC and the goal or the, the plan, the framework was to develop the competencies within, within me, um, go through a series of training and development initiatives, working various, um, sectors, whether it be risk management, operations, and the goal was to become a branch manager. That was like the ultimate. Uh, so I, you know, engaged in academic studies in my MBA in finance, because really, and truly if you're in banking, you should have some knowledge of, um, accounting or some financial jargon in the back of my head. However, I still wanted to train. I still wanted to develop people. Um, I had opportunities as a supervisor where I coached and mentored, and in the, the other realm of my life, I did the, the finance degree just to, you know, successfully achieve the, the goal set out for me in the management training program. Um, my plan was if I can train and develop as a leader, then whether I'm in training in the organization or I'm a manager in the organization, it's still the same thing. So that was my goal. 

[Tom Finn]   00:07:54    Well, and you sit in a really interesting seat, uh, as a, as an HR specialist, right? You're, you're sort of that liaison, if you will, between the employee voice and the leadership voice of the organization, what, what does that feel like? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:08:10    Um, I find it's a privilege. It's an opportunity to, uh, um, provide that voice or provide that ear to, to understand what my, my team is saying and what are the expectations of management and trying to be that middle individual to, to ensure that the, the wheels get moving. So I am like the, the catalyst that inspires and motivates or, um, delivers the message so that we can achieve that one goal for the organization. 

[Tom Finn]   00:08:44    I like that the catalyst that inspires and delivers the message very, very well said. Um, are there particular times in your career that you feel like, um, Y you faced some challenges along the way, or was this always just a beautiful golden road paved for Craig in, in HR? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:09:03    Well, that is it. So, um, with the stigma of having a financial background, there is, um, a little, um, the challenge in accepting, are you HR, or are you, um, finance? Who are you, and what's your identity? So there are different, um, efforts that I, I would have to use to convince individuals that, um, it's not about the role. It's not about the AC accreditation that you have, it's really about your ability to lead and to implement and to mentor and to guide and to mold the individuals or the employees that is to achieve the objective. So it wasn't really, it shouldn't be about me convincing you, who I am is given me the opportunity to grow. So yes, there were challenges, um, but I've been successful thus far to, you know, overcome them as best as possible. 

[Tom Finn]   00:09:59    And, and as you've been teaching people along the way, you've been mentoring them and sort of grooming people and working with employees, is there, is there one piece of advice, uh, you would, you would give to folks out there that are thinking, gosh, how do I, how do I get into this type of role, or how do I lead from the front? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:10:19    Well, well, that's it. So I do have a few, um, tips that I've used personally to, to kind of meet myself, um, stay the course per se, because the role of an HR, um, expert or a specialist, it has changed over the years. Um, HR was not looked as, as, um, someone who you could trust someone who you could rely on for information. It, it evolved to be the person who gives bad news, you know, send, sends you home or gives you that, that P slip to now being that, that guide, that coach, that mentor. So my tip for any young professional, who is looking to get into HR is to recognize that you have multiple skill sets that you can leverage to achieve the same objective. Uh, you must stay, you must enjoy the journey, um, stay in the moment because this opportunity comes just once you don't have a right to be an HR person, but it's a privilege that you must, um, engage each other. You must engage your employees. Um, every skill and experience that you've earned along the journey is valuable. So you should never discount it. But most importantly, for me find the time to reevaluate, um, even when living in the moment, sometimes we have to go sideways to achieve that goal. So never be daunted, just keep going. Um, you will get there. 

[Tom Finn]   00:11:46    Yeah, I love the way you said that HR is not a right. It's a privilege and the HR role has shifted for years. It was compliance-based legal, uh, learning management systems, uh, setting up training, um, again, probably under that umbrella of compliance. And today you are a mover of mines, uh, in HR and a supporter of empowerment, uh, of a workforce. And that has tremendous depth and responsibility, uh, in the role today. And I would, I would argue that those that are still looking at this role, like we were in the 1990s, um, are, are, are probably looking at it the wrong way. Um, because as you said, this is now about mentoring, supporting leaders in the company, supporting divisional leaders, supporting CEOs, um, and, and making sure that culturally the organization is on track. Um, where, where do you stand on, on culture being, uh, you know, important and valuable in the role of HR? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:12:50    Well, it's, it's almost, um, inevitably that in every aspect of your life or your activities as an HR leader, that you should seek to, to really get to know each person, each individual, now the company has values, but the individual themselves also comes with, with it, their own values, their own uniqueness. And so, um, a great element in every toolkit of every leader is that we should have the ability to, to, to incorporate every perspective, um, of, of our employees that we work with because every, every perspective should be accounted for. So culture does have a role. Um, it's not instilling my values on you, but try to incorporate the two, if there are similarities and we work with them, but understanding that there is the uniqueness that we should incorporate in everything that we do. 

[Tom Finn]   00:13:44    Yeah. And that's part of creating an inclusive culture is looking at all of the different variabilities that people bring to the table and understanding how to incorporate all of those things into an organizational, uh, culture initiative that really drives, uh, inclusivity, which, you know, without pounding the table here is, uh, is, is paramount for a company's success in a modern workforce. Do you, do you feel like inclusivity has been, uh, a topic that you've been, um, focused on the last few years? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:14:19    Well, um, what we've seen with, with the onset of the movement that we had over the last year, year and a half, we've seen a more, um, strategic emphasis on not just being, um, having equality, but trying to ensure that there is equity in, in all that we do, because there are significant differences between equality and equity. And so the diversity and equity and inclusion conversation have increased. Uh, we have seen a shift or an emergence of, uh, of evaluation of our, um, job descriptions or company policies, trying to ensure that we, we don't just tick the box, but we are incorporating the views of all and adjusting our policies and our perspective as the times have changed. So yes, there has been a shift. There has been more focus because, um, as I said, we, we all do come from a diverse, melting part of individuals, and there are the different, unique perspectives that we need to, I shouldn't say, just tick the box because it's, it's fashionable, but we need to do it because it's not just the right thing to do. It's a great thing to do to incorporate everyone's ideas as much as we can. 

[Tom Finn]   00:15:41    That's right. And it, it's also, if you want another argument to pile on here, it's also good for business, uh, you know, revenues, uh, go up, uh, top line and bottom line, um, are improved. When you have an inclusive culture, you also improve the tenure of your employees. Um, so there's lots of good business reasons if, uh, you need that on top of the fact that it's just quite frankly, the right thing to do and, uh, the right human behavior to, uh, to incorporate into an organization. So you were, so you're in Jamaica, um, you're working hard and all of a sudden, you're, you're in Canada. How many, tell me how you, you go from this wonderful island country to, which is warm, uh, and tropical to Nova Scotia, which, uh, I think most of us would think, uh, you correct me if I'm wrong a, a 

[Craig Thomas]    00:16:32    Little bit colder. Yes. Um, but my perspective is, as, as I've always been to try to achieve greatness and to try to contribute in whichever culture that I'm a part of now, Jamaica is as diverse as can be, um, or motto out of many, one people. And in my journey or my decision to come to Canada, my plan was to find the opportunities that exist to allow me to develop and to grow as an individual. And ultimately, that's why I came mind you, the weather was a factor that was a little daunting, nonetheless. Um, I have, you know, focus focused on just achieving the objective and, and not, and being tunnel vision in, in trying to achieve greatness for myself, my family, and the people back home to, you know, keep them motivated. 

[Tom Finn]   00:17:26    Yeah. That's great. And do you, do you enjoy living in Canada now? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:17:29    Yes, definitely. As a matter of fact, fact, I wanted to, um, add something to, to this. I, I am totally remote in terms of my work, um, role. Uh, I've been fortunate that my, my employer, um, allows, or, uh, I shouldn't say allow, but they, they emphasize the flexibility in, in, in, in the work from home relationships. So we do my it's 19 hours drive from my home to Halifax, but there are opportunities where we commute not commute, but we take the plane to visit the offices, um, have team building activities, or we have an office in Quebec city. So whenever there is an opportunity to meet the group, it is, um, taken on.  

[Tom Finn]   00:18:11    Yeah, well, whenever, uh, we have a chance to meet face to face. It's always nice to do that. Right. Uh, video serves as a, uh, a wonderful intermediary that we've all gotten used to in the last couple of years, but I think there's still something about, uh, meeting a person face to face and, and, uh, being in the same room in the same space, uh, with that other leader, uh, or employee as well. So, so I wanna switch gears a little bit and, and talk, um, about your leadership in education and in your introduction, we talked a little bit about how you've been teaching at the university level for over 15 years. Tell me a little bit about some of the work that you've done, uh, as a, as a teacher or professor. 

[Craig Thomas]    00:18:54    Okay. So, um, I've always had this philosophy. That's what was instilled in me by my mom, um, servant leadership, or trying to give back as much as possible. And when I evaluated my journey, um, I've incorporated sufficient information in my brain to, to want to guide, uh, continue to guide and continue to train and develop and mentor. So teaching for me was an extension of that role. Um, I found I had a knack for, um, analyzing numbers, looking at gaps, um, speaking about management practices. And, and then there was a unique opportunity for me to, um, interact and interface with, with students and how I was able to, to do well was translate what is in the text to real life scenarios and incorporate the views off my, my, my classmates as well to kind of get them engaged, to keep them empowered and, um, strive for greatness just as oh, I am doing so myself. 

[Tom Finn]   00:19:59    And was there a particular topic, uh, that you have taught that, that really grabbed you and, and, uh, sort of climbs to the top of the list of things that you've done in teaching? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:20:12    Well, yes, financial literacy generally is not necessarily something that persons want to embrace thinking that it's only those people, those persons who, who are good at math, but how I found it, um, is that math or finance is something that is in our life daily life, whether you want to believe it or not. And so teaching management accounting specifically was that unique, um, topic, or course that I found had a little balance of theory with practicality, how to balance your budget, how to take care of your families, how to plan for the future pension fund management. Every different aspect of the course itself was incorporated into real-life scenarios. And so I found that was part of my lived experience. I had to budget, I had to plan, I had to be aware of the international bench, um, best practices in terms of how companies run, how we train people, and how we develop talent. These are all aspects of the curriculum itself. That was just part of my lived experience. What I did at work was what I thought. So there were synergies, 

[Tom Finn]   00:21:25    Craig, I gotta tell you, I went to grad school at USC, uh, Marshall school of business. And I could have used you sitting next to me in management accounting, uh, because that was probably my, my toughest course. I mean, you know, accounting and numbers, it's not for everybody. Um, it's, it's a tough subject to get your head around. And sometimes, uh, certainly in gap accounting, uh, you don't, you don't always, uh, see the numbers for what they are. There, there are different ways to view numbers, even within the profile of gap accounting. And so, uh, kudos to you for, uh, you know, being up there and, and teaching all of us, uh, folks that are not finance people, how to, how to get it done. 

[Craig Thomas]    00:22:09    Yeah. And what I also found as an HR practitioner, working in payroll, there are similarities in the concept. So you, you don't have to have a, payroll certification or, or a finance certification to be able to do payroll itself or be an HR practitioner. But what you must do is incorporate the different nuances of the, curriculum to, to allow you to, in, to get into the roles in HR, per se. 

[Tom Finn]   00:22:39    Yeah. Agreed. You've gotta be, uh, a little bit of a generalist in HR, in every discipline, not just the HR disciplines, right. And payroll is the lifeblood of an organization. If you can't pay your people, you're not gonna have people very, very long. You're definitely gonna struggle with, uh, with retention. So I think, uh, payroll's important to think about, and it's just important. I love, I love your message here. It's just important to really, really be well versed in lots of different topics. And you don't have to be an expert in finance is what you're saying. Right. But you, but you do need to understand the core principles of finance or accounting so that you can do your job more effectively. 

[Craig Thomas]    00:23:20    Exactly. 

[Tom Finn]   00:23:21    So as you, as you think about, um, that role and you think about HR, what, what is the one or two, um, subjects that, that really stand out to you that you, you think people in this role really need to have a grasp on finance? Maybe one of them. 

[Craig Thomas]    00:23:36    Yeah. Finance is one and as an HR leader, uh, our people leader, I think, uh, we must have that ability to, to listen and not necessarily be the resource for instruction. We, we, we should, um, try to learn what is happening in the industry. Don't be in a box, um, be well read or widely read, I should say, not just in one particular resource. Um, I have been fortunate to have been a part of various I S implementations. So being aware of the products and services that will allow you to do your job more effectively and efficiently, um, has helped me as well. Um, looking at various platforms and because I am very big on people looking at talent development initiatives, um, what can empower or what platform itself can help us to empower our or employees to be better or greater at what they do. 

[Craig Thomas]    00:24:32    Um, one of the programs than I, and I like your hat. One of the programs that I found very useful was the LeggUP program where it provided that unique personal professional coach, um, for our individuals or leaders or teams and where we had, it was a good toolkit for us, where we had our employees being competent in their own abilities, that personalized coaching, um, platform allow us to sharpen those, those skills and keep them engaged. So, um, those are the skill that I believe we should incorporate in everything. We do, HR, not just limiting ourselves to, uh, payroll benefits, um, training and development recruiting, but broaden the horizon as best as possible. 

[Tom Finn]   00:25:19    Yeah. I, I couldn't agree more and, and that company is called LeggUP, uh, that, uh, you're referring to. And I am, for those of you listening, uh, I am wearing a hat with the logo, uh, on, uh, on top today. So that's what Craig was referring to as well. Um, well, I, I couldn't have said it better, better myself. I think HR roles, people leader roles, which is the way I love to say it, um, are really about people. And you know, what we say around here is we've gotta get back to people and culture together because that really matters. And, you know, at the end of the day, when we are, uh, the sun setting our careers, um, you don't really remember how much money you made or, uh, you know, that one project, um, you remember the people you remember the experiences that you had with other humans. 

[Tom Finn]   00:26:08    And, and I think that's just so critically important. And, uh, that's why we developed the LeggUP platform was to support people and, uh, you know, that's what we're doing for, uh, you know, for, for hundreds of customers, uh, around the world. Um, so thank you for mentioning it. Um, Craig, now, as you, as you think about your, your own career, you've done some things really well. Um, one of the things that we sort of touched on, uh, at the beginning of this was your ability to connect with people. So talk to me about your strategic AP approach to networking and where that came from and how you do it. Well. 

[Craig Thomas]    00:26:47    Okay, well, um, I believe my abilities to, to connect it came from the, the interest in people in, in, in getting to know the story. Um, so in the, with the onset of, um, the pandemic, we had no choice, but to go on social media, whether it be LinkedIn, Instagram, as best as possible TikTok, I'm not very big on, but what, what my strategy had been over the years prior to the pandemic was just speaking with staff, speaking with the, um, the employees that I've interacted with. And through that connection, uh, I learn about who they are, who their families are, uh, where their journey is. I maintain that connection. There is never ever a, a breakup per se. There is always that ability to check in, to find out, Hey, how are you doing? How is your children? How is your family? Is your mom okay. 

[Craig Thomas]    00:27:47    Um, and what I found, maybe it was an innate ability. What I found is that individuals appreciated that personal touch. That even if I'm no longer with the company, Craig still checks up on me. He still finds an opportunity to check up. And when there is any opportunity to celebrate the individuals who have met along the way I do so. And so I read a lot. I, um, with podcasts, I listen. And sometimes when I find an interest in, um, topic or interest in presenter, I connect and in, in this environment that we are in, a lot of persons are open to connecting. And so one hand washes the other in terms of you meet people, they share their stories, they introduce you to people and it is like a domino effect. So you never discount a relationship that you've built from the ground. You constantly try to be there, be present for everyone. No, you can't have a mass of friends, but you can have quality friendships that will, will live with you for the rest of your life. And my, um, upbringing has been where that's, how I was taught. Be kind, be fair, and the rest will speak for itself. 

[Tom Finn]   00:29:03    Yeah. Beautifully said, be kind, be fair and the rest will speak for itself. And I love the way you talk about maintaining those relationships. When you have left a company perhaps, or you're on a different journey, than another group of employees, but you maintain those relationships and you come back to them. The reality is, um, once you build those relationships and you have those friendships, they can last decades. And, uh, and it's wonderful to have, uh, folks that are in your corner and rooting for you. Maybe even if it's silently, uh, you don't have to talk all the time, right? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:29:38    Exactly. Your work speaks for yourself or who you are as an individual. It can't be this guy's once you're authentic as to who you are, people will see you for who you are. 

[Tom Finn]   00:29:51    And, and that's the way we all want to be in the world, right? Ultimately we all want to live as our authentic selves and be, um, seen for who we are and, and be valued, uh, for who we are as well, which is what, uh, makes this business in HR and people ops and, um, making sure that organizations have the right culture so interesting because we all want to be seen and valued. There is no difference, uh, between any of us when we start to think about it in terms of how we view our own humanity. And I think that's fabulous. So Craig, you have, uh, spent a lot of time on LinkedIn. You've spent a lot of time building relationships, um, with people, any other pro tips for, uh, building relationships virtually?  

[Craig Thomas]    00:30:41    Uh, yes, definitely the opportunity to, to meet individuals, um, may not be fully there, no face to face, but what I've also leveraged is if there is something that I need to know, and there's a talent leader or an expert in an HR discipline that may be more competent in sharing their knowledge, set up a, a coffee, a LinkedIn, um, meetup. I mean, I found a lot of persons who operate on the LinkedIn platform to be very open to having, um, coffee sessions or one-minute virtual session, not one minute, but five-minute conversation, be it through teams or through the LinkedIn, um, platform, or even just being a part of the seminars that you are on the virtual seminars type, your, um, your LinkedIn profile in the, in the, the chat room. You'll be surprised how many persons would want to connect. Just kind of share their knowledge as well as learn from you. 

[Craig Thomas]    00:31:40    I, I believe we are all connected. We are all in this together is a slogan that we've used all, all the last two years, but it is true. We do have a lot of similarities as much as we are uniquely different. We do have a lot of similarities and we, we want the same thing. We want to do better as an individual. We want to do better as an HR practitioner for our companies, for employees and for ourselves as well. So, uh, never discount the, the, the, the, um, the importance of being a part of associations, be it, uh, rotary, be it HR, um, S RM, uh, in, in Canada here, I'm, I'm up, um, training to become a, a certified C R H a, which is the certified human resource practitioner. So be a part of the different, um, association that you can and, and, you know, talk, people communicate, respond to messages. Um, don't just sit in isolation because there is an endless opportunity in the world for you if you only reach out. 

[Tom Finn]   00:32:41    Yeah. Beau beautifully said. Uh, so to recap that, uh, take your time, uh, when you're in webinars and put your LinkedIn profile into the chat and, uh, say, Hey, I'd love to connect with you all. Here's my LinkedIn profile. That's an easy way to, uh, to make new connections in the space, um, reach out to people on LinkedIn that, that you admire and respect, and don't be afraid to do that. I think we're all in this space of I'm willing to help, right. And we're willing to help others and be others focused. Um, and, and that's a beautiful way to, to grow your career and, and meet leaders, um, that you wouldn't meet, you know, in a, in geography, so to speak. And, uh, I think then just doing it with grace and being open to responsiveness and, and trying to, to be active is really the third message there. Um, once you open the door, don't just let it sit. You've, you've gotta actually engage and have a relationship-building conversation, um, with someone. So those are, those are great tips. Uh, Craig, and I gotta ask this one, if somebody wants to find you on LinkedIn, I think this is the next question, right? Where, where would people find you? Is it LinkedIn? Is it another platform? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:33:55    Well, I'm predominantly on LinkedIn Craig, the, um, Thomas and, um, there, I comment on various matters, including, um, the future of work, um, anything related to D E and I, and also just giving a positive motivational message to individuals who like me, who sometimes need a little lift because we are all in this together, as I said before, but we can share new information that we become aware of. And there is an audience there so never underestimate the power of, uh, LinkedIn itself, um, because there is an opportunity, let, let us be kind, be fair, let us, um, use our skillsets wherever we ever obtain them as, as practitioners to, to do the best job and, and leave our purpose right now. 

[Tom Finn]   00:34:42    Yeah. I love the way you said that we're all in this together. Uh, and from, uh, a man who started in Jamaica, moved to Canada, has been in finance, has been in, uh, HR roles and then, uh, certainly serves as a university professor. Um, it has been absolutely my pleasure to spend some time with you today, Craig, and, uh, really have enjoyed it and I'm sure everybody else will as well. Uh, any other final thoughts that you wanna leave? Our HR and people development folks with? 

[Craig Thomas]    00:35:12    Well, I do have a, a personal mantra that I've now, um, been using for some time, but we should try to, uh, be alive while living, um, go out and explore, try to interact with someone today, get to know who you work with, try to incorporate all the learnings or the new knowledge that you've had to in influence and impact and, and, and share and develop someone. It's so rewarding for me personally to get a message to say, Hey, sir, um, 10 years ago, I was a part of your class. And I was so scared of the whole knowledge of, um, international banking. And you helped me to, to get there, uh, five years ago, I was a part of your organization where you were just a little, um, HR rep and you, you weren't there, but I'm so inspired by your group that, um, you've, you've, you've encouraged me to live my true potential. So the thing is you never know who you are influencing, but just keep doing what you are doing. Don't hide your, your, your, your sunshine, just keep shining, keep growing.

[Tom Finn]   00:36:21    Yeah, be alive while you're living. Exactly. And don't hide your sunshine. Uh, what a beautiful way to wrap this up. Craig, thank you so much for being on the show. Um, thank you for all you do, uh, for others, as well. 

[Craig Thomas]    00:36:34    Thank you and happy listening. Take care. 

[Tom Finn]   00:36:37    Well, thank you for joining the talent empowerment podcast. I hope this conversation have, has list lifted you up so you can lift up your teams and organizations. Let's get back to people and culture together. We'll see you on the next episode. Thanks, everybody. 

I hope you enjoyed this episode of talent empowerment for more information on our show and today's guests head to the show notes or visit talent, And as always, don't forget to subscribe wherever you're listening. So you never miss an opportunity to empower yourself and your people. And if you enjoyed today's episode, please leave us a five-star review. It really helps the show grow and a final thank you to our sponsor LeggUP and their people development program, talent insurance, to learn more about how they guarantee retention employee wellbeing and employee performance through one-on-one professional coaching, visit

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