Going Against The Grain with Shine Thomas
Sr Director of Talent Acquisition - Innovation, Consumer Creation @ Nike
Shine Thomas started her career as a Chartered Accountant at PwC before switching careers to Human Resources. Since her move into Talent Acquisition, she has held roles at Waggener Edstrom and Adidas North America. She now leads talent acquisition for Nike’s Innovation, Consumer Creation and Insights/Analytics departments at the company’s global headquarters in Portland, Oregon. She has also been instrumental in building teams to help transform Nike into a digital brand.
Within your own career, what has been the biggest catalyst for change in the workplace?
For me, the biggest catalyst for change has been technology. The freedom ,access to information and new levels of connection that technology delivers, has changed the game in terms of how work is done. Sadly, I am old enough to remember “dial-up” to now running an entire team virtually for 12 months!
There are also ways of working that have progressed significantly since I started my career – for example, freelancing is now a viable career path and not just a short term option.
In the last several years, we have also seen people use their voices to standup against inequality and inequity. We have seen companies embrace social justice and address how systemic racism needs to be discussed, addressed and changed.
When leaders can have an honest and humble conversation about their culture, they can start paving the way for change.
Do you believe there are quick wins in the equality debate?
True wins rarely come quickly. The wins that have come about, have not come quickly and more change is needed. The equality debate is about ongoing education, ongoing change, and ongoing stewardship of that change. It’s also not about a quick win because it involves unravelling decades, if not a lifetime of inequality and inequity. It involves changing and re-building culture and then guarding that change fiercely.
What were some of the obstacles you faced and how were you able to overcome them?
Early in my career I realised that I was simply not passionate about the profession I had studied and trained so hard for. Whilst I was unsure of my ideal direction, I was absolutely sure that I didn’t want to continue in a job I wasn’t passionate about. After some serious soul searching I was able to find a path that was better aligned to my skill sets, strengths and passion.
I could have continued to be frustrated in my career and not make that shift20 years ago, but my willingness to take a calculated risk really paid off for me. I also had great mentors and personal relationships that supported me throughout but I still had to take that first step to forge a new path. Today, I have my dream job leading an incredible team at Nike.
What advice would you give to new professionals beginning their careers?
Pursue your passion. The best place to start is by aligning your values to the possible ways you want your career to head. If you are not values driven, it’s easy to feel lost or get caught up in someone else’s definition of success.
Also, careers no longer grow in predictable, linear routes so be open to change and if you find your passion grows as a result, be prepared to do the work to make the most out of the new path you’re on.
How can the question of equality be a truly inclusive one?
Leadership. The concept of equality needs to be embraced by the entire organisation but leaders have the ability to drive change, as well as holding the organisation accountable. When leaders can have an honest and humble conversation about their culture, they can start paving the way for change.
However, the topic of equality, or more importantly, equity, belongs to everyone - so educate yourself, have open and honest conversations, make changes to wherever you can in your own life and let others see the change in you.
How have you managed to juggle personal and professional goals?
This is always a challenge and there have been seasons where certain aspects of my personal life, such as starting a family, have taken priority over my professional career. But my ambition has always been to juggle both aspects of my life in a way that I can be proud, as well as being a great example to those around me.
Have you ever had a mentor? If so, what makes a mentor/mentee relationship work?
I have multiple mentors for different areas of my life. I have spiritual mentors, relational mentors and varied professional mentors. Every mentor I have is someone I look up to and value how they live their life and professional world. The relationship works when there is trust and honesty.
My husband taught me a concept years ago -
...one up, one over and one down. You should have a mentor, you should have a trusted peer and you should be mentoring someone else.
I love this approach.
The 2021 For Everyone Report
Freelancers are doing work that will be seen by billions of people. So, as an industry, we have a duty to ensure that we’re creating work that influences a culture we are proud of. And even if we at YunoJuno can’t affect the work that gets made, we can highlight where there is room to level the playing field by showcasing great creative and tech talent regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or beliefs. In doing so, we can help the freelance community and client network logging on to YunoJuno access to a talent pool as diverse as the people they will influence.
This is the motivation behind this report and we are proud to champion equality in every way. For everyone.
Check out the report