Michael Thomas, the COO of LEAP Managed IT, went from working at a Fortune 200 company to innovating an 85-year-old organization.
Known by his clients as the ‘behind-the-scenes’ genius, he is always up to solving challenges and seeing opportunities.
The best way to get to know Michael Thomas is through his career achievements and business vision.
So here’s a short yet comprehensive interview that will help you find out more about one of the professionals at the helm of LEAP Managed IT.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your professional journey from Business Manager to National Team Leader at Colgate-Palmolive
A: I was very fortunate to work a decade and a half at Colgate. I had exposure to almost every key function of the organization: finance, technology, research, marketing, sales, and manufacturing. I worked with some of the brightest minds and soaked up as much from the experience that I could.
Half of my time [at Colgate] was in the business development arm of the company. You are given an area of responsibility and tasked with one main directive: you are to run it like it is your own business.
Just like it was your own company you have a P&L you have to manage, you are given investment funds, you have a team of people that you must lead, and you are expected to use business insights to influence decision makers internally at Colgate and externally at the client.
I was tasked with managing several business units during my time at Colgate and learned something new at every stage.
The pinnacle was when they asked us to move to Bentonville, Arkansas to head a critical business unit dedicated to the largest company in the world, Walmart.
The business unit I led was responsible for $300 million in sales and tasked with nearly spending $50 million in investment funding. Understandably there was a lot of focus and pressure from the senior leadership team to deliver results.
There was no flying under the radar. It forced good communication and teamwork habits.
The biggest lessons I learned were around leadership from our senior executive, Stephen Maher. He wanted us to think differently and not just do things because that’s the way they have always been done. He did the things that great leaders must do. He is currently the CEO of Carlsberg Breweries China.
The second part of my career at Colgate was in the technology and insights group. I’m a numbers person and love technology. This was a perfect fit for me. The term “Big Data” is one of the new buzz words that everyone throws around these days.
Big Data has actually been around for over 20 years with a start in the retailing and consumer product world.
I was fortunate to lead a nationwide team dedicated to showing retailers how to utilize data and technology to grow their business.
Whether it was attracting new customers, improving efficiencies, or improving their guest experience. It’s similar to what I bring to my current clients: identify the business issue and utilize insights and technology to solve the problem.
Q: What are the main lessons about organization change that you’ve learned from working at a Fortune 200 company?
A: Change is harder the larger the company. It’s kind of like steering a cruise ship down a canal versus a speed boat.
Here are the main lessons I learned:
- Communicate: Get feedback from all your stakeholders – Clients and people in your organization above and below. You just might learn something.
- Maximize your current resources: Option 1-9 should always be about better utilization of your existing resources. You must scrutinize your existing resources and find the best way to deploy them to achieve your goals.
- Plan for the good and the bad: Things rarely go according to plan. If the change is on a large scale, it might get tougher before it gets better. This risk should be in the plan ahead of time and what actions you would need to take as a leader should be outlined.
Q: What made you leave a multinational brand to start working at LEAP Managed IT?
A: The opportunity was too special to pass up. A chance to work daily with my brother/business partner along with helping guide an 80-year-old organization through one of its biggest evolutions is hard to match.
It is honestly more fun than I could have imagined.
We have one of the most talented teams I have ever worked with and clients are choosing to invest with us. We have seen our organization double over the past four years which is not an easy task when you’ve been in business for over eight decades.
I look forward to coming to work and love the unique challenges we face every day. Since we are a mid-sized organization, we can implement innovations very quickly and see tangible results almost immediately. It is very rewarding.
In a large organization, it might take a year to go through the approval process, acquire resources, train, and test. By this time, the opportunity has changed.
Q: What determined you to open a business that developed ‘smart’ therapies for the treatment of severe bone disorders?
A: I started a drug development company focused on smart therapies with three business partners in 2009.
We found that the current therapies for individuals with bone disorders such as osteoporosis needed better options for their care. We developed a compound that was smarter. It targets more precisely where the medicine needs to be delivered.
This is at the forefront of the next wave of medications and you will continue to hear about smarter therapies in other categories as well.
The support we have received from the Department of Defense and authorization of patents in the U.S. and Japan make us optimistic that we will be able to improve the lives of thousands if not millions of people across the world. It’s exciting to imagine the impact this innovation would have so many people.
You Can Meet Michael Thomas at PIVOT 2016
Michael Thomas will be one of the key speakers at the Indiana-based conference for entrepreneurs, business professionals, and community leaders.
If you want to meet him and other seasoned professionals, you can get early-bird tickets to PIVOT 2016 today.