David W. Thomas
VP, Worldwide Facilities, Texas Instruments
MY GREATEST STRENGTH
My greatest strength is my ability to build and lead organizations to achieve higher levels of performance through shared vision, trust, and collaboration. In 2001, I was responsible for consolidating several information technology (IT) teams into a single organization supporting all Texas Instruments product designers and software developers worldwide. In 2009, with no previous facilities-related experience, I was asked to lead the TI Worldwide Facilities organization in becoming a truly global organization supporting all aspects of TI’s business. To meet this challenge, I did the following:
- Reorganized to create a structure that would establish clear boundaries, role definition, execution, and trust
- Brought in the right leaders to set the tone and establish a new culture of trust and collaboration
- Created a unifying vision to help our team members understand where the organization was headed and increase confidence in leadership
As a result of these actions, our key stakeholders have given our organization its highest performance ratings in more than 10 years, and our company is able to operate more reliably, safely, and efficiently.
My father and one of my high school teachers are my inspirations. They epitomized lives well lived and they had an impact on others. They inspired me to get an education, help others, and do more than is expected of me.
HOW I MOTIVATE OTHERS
I openly and transparently communicate with my teams to gain their trust, and use stories and analogies from my personal experiences to teach important lessons. I create opportunities to publicly recognize teams and individuals for the great work they do. And I strive to make each member of my organization feel valued and appreciated.
OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE
Lack of strong male leadership in our families. Addressing this one area would have a dramatic impact on many of the other challenges we face.
Texas Instruments has a strong commitment to minority business development. It is up to me and other TI leaders to ensure that this commitment extends beyond procurement. As a non-procurement executive, it is my responsibility to ensure that Worldwide Facilities supports this corporate priority by setting expectations and driving accountability. These efforts help to ensure that
Minority business entities (MBEs) are connected to key decision makers at all levels of our organization;
mentoring, growth, and development of MBEs occurs naturally;
we seek to expand minority suppliers globally, wherever opportunities exist; and
multi-tier opportunities via large prime suppliers are expected and achieved regularly.
The result is more and stronger MBEs in our community. In 2012, I was recognized by the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council as Buying Entity Executive Advocate of the Year.
In my personal life, I am involved in Operation Oasis, whose mission it is to help at-risk youth, formerly incarcerated persons returning to society, and provide alternative education and workforce development for low- and moderate-income members of the community, which may be achieved in the following ways:
- Personal Development Skills
- Employability/Retention Training
- Mentoring Relationships
- Educational Assistance
- Professional Counseling
- Criminal Legal Assistance
- Housing Resources
- Support Group Participants
With 200 nieces and nephews, much of my time and attention goes to building strong individuals within my own family. I remind younger generations that the combination of a good education and hard work is their primary ticket to attaining success. The first question I ask young people is what their plans are. If finances or lack of resources are roadblocks to those plans, I am usually the first to initiate steps to remove those roadblocks.
Treat everyone with respect and dignity. Someone who is a peer or subordinate today may someday be your boss, or may be someone you need to rely on for an important assignment. The relationships you build today have the power to help or hurt you in the future.
Certain habits help me to perform at my best, including these:
- Watching my diet and exercising daily (even when traveling)
- Getting enough sleep
- Managing my time spent watching TV
- Using music to manage my moods
- Not allowing my work time to be dominated by email
- Giving constructive feedback
- Taking time to think about my job strategically
I track these and several other habits daily, and when I notice any that are getting off track, I step back and look at what corrective actions I need to take.
During my 23 years in IT, I had never dreamed of pursuing another field. So taking the responsibility of managing TI’s facilities, real estate, security, and safety and environmental programs was a huge leap for me. I learned I could do more than I thought, even at this late stage of my career.
As a senior leader at TI, I am often asked to speak to large groups of employees and share my career advice. One recommendation that I frequently give is to “think at the next level.” I tell people that to excel in their current role, and prepare for their next opportunity, they constantly need to think like their manager. How would their manager answer a question, solve a problem, or communicate with a higher level manager? Demonstrating this ability helps show that the employee is ready for more responsibility and challenge.