Emerging Leader Spotlight: Richelle Thomas

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her to share how she achieved her current position, what obstacles she encountered on her climb, as well as tips for how to be a rising woman of influence. This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Richelle Thomas, PhD who is an Advanced Engineer R&D at Owens Corning Science & Technology. Richelle is a supportive leader and has been described by others as a leader “who resonates with each individual and expects only the best out of her team.” 

Richelle Thomas picFavorite leadership quote: You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.  –Elizabeth Gilbert

What is your leadership style?
My leadership style is a collaborative one where I try to lead from within. I most enjoy working in teams where there is a natural synergy and everyone feels heard and is given equal opportunity to contribute. I attempt to invest in the members of my team so they can continue to develop skills that are necessary to enhance their level of engagement. Others have described me as a person who resonates with each individual and expects only the best out of her team.

What steps are you currently taking to improve yourself, professionally?
I am a research engineer/scientist so I have made it my goal to become a scientist who is aware of the business environment and policy climate surrounding the science. It has become clear to me that science alone is not sufficient to create lasting change. To have a systemic influence, the business and policy of the technology must also be aligned.

With this in mind, I have started taking business classes both locally and online to gain a better understanding of how business works. In my opinion, a scientist that can understand business is a scientist that can properly direct efforts in any setting – be that public service, the private sector or academia. In today’s global economy, gone are the days of working in a vacuum solely for the pursuit of knowledge. We need each other and technology must effectively interface with both the public and private sector to have the most long lasting impact, both in one’s particular industry and the larger society.

My ultimate goal is to work at the intersection of science, policy and business. This has been an interest of mine for quite some time, and now I am able to dedicate the time to become more actively engaged. I am working to expose myself to public-private partnerships in order to how to effectively leverage each side for the maximum benefit of all parties.

What are some top tips you can recommend to other women who want to be recognized as a high potential emerging leader?
Use your woman’s intuition! I am only starting my career, but I honestly believe that when someone is operating within their passion and following their best path, then only great things can happen. Becoming an emerging leader is not about conforming to what you may think others want in a leader. Holding out a fictitious definition of an ideal woman leader will lead to confusion and stress. A true leader authentically and organically creates a loyal following. It is important for the persons on the team know the leader has their best interest in mind.

I recommend each person reading this, take the time to reflect and define what activities resonate. Think about activities you naturally enjoy and gravitate towards. Next, think about ways to effectively incorporate these activities into your daily work.

For example, you may be an accountant with a passion for mentoring others. You could start an outreach event where you and your colleagues host students considering completing a Masters of Accountancy program. Alternatively, you could offer pro bono accounting for small businesses who participate in low income entrepreneurship programs. Understandably, you have to work within the reasonable confines of the job you are asked to do but the options are there.

Leaders make a habit of identifying and pursing opportunity when others do not. When someone leverages their current role to personally develop skills and experiences while simultaneously increasing the exposure of their employer, they exude high potential as an emerging leader.


Richelle, your future is so bright; and by reading this article I can tell you take the lead with poise and grace. Thank you for sharing your story; all the best in the future!

Here is Richelle’s LinkedIn profile, to connect with her directly.

 

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Ann Roushar

Ann joined Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. as Operations Manager in 2011. Her background is in events and program management, however, with the launch of Be Leaderly, Ann has discovered a new passion for the communications side of the business, including blogging, social media and graphic design. Ann’s vision for this blog is to make it a “must have” resource for women in business, a virtual space where women can feel comfortable about sharing their career wins, woes or worries. Follow @ann_roushar on Twitter.

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