Insights from a Top HR Leader – An Interview with Ron Thomas


Ron Thomas is a well-known figure in the world of business and human resources. As the Managing Director of Strategy Focused Group (SFG), he brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his role. With years of experience in HR, Ron has worked with a wide range of organizations across the globe, helping them to improve their talent management and leadership development practices. Ron was also named to the Top 50 HR Leaders Shaping the Future of Work. 

He is also a sought-after speaker and thought leader in the HR community, regularly contributing his insights to industry events and publications. Ron’s dedication to excellence and his passion for helping others achieve their goals make him an invaluable asset to SFG and the wider business community. Learn more about Ron and Strategy Focused Group through our interview below.

The Beginnings

We asked, “Which career path led you to where you are today?”

“My career path has been full of twists and turns. After graduating from university, I started working in sales at IBM. The training I received there provided a solid foundation for my career. I learned how to think on my feet, build relationships, handle objections, and, most importantly, close deals. Adopting a win-win attitude has also been immensely helpful to me.

Later on, I transitioned to selling different products. However, everything changed when I landed a job as a trainer at one of IBM’s subsidiaries. In that role, I trained companies on using MS Office, which was a new product at the time. I was eventually promoted to oversee training for the Eastern Region. When that division closed, I became a technical training manager for Martha Stewart Living.

Nine years later, I was Vice President of HR. After leaving that position, I joined Xerox as Director of Talent and HR Solutions Practice. While working there, I received a note from an executive search firm inquiring about my interest in becoming the Chief Human 

Resources and Administrative Officer in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I accepted the position and worked in that role for over a year before being recruited to lead CEO Great Place to Work in Dubai.

Although I stayed in that role for nearly a year, I eventually founded my own company, Strategy Focused Group, which is based in Dubai and has offices in New York City and partnership arrangements in Singapore and Macedonia.” Ron replied.

We were also curious about how the company started. So we asked him, “What inspired you to develop the idea for your company?”


He continues, “During my time in the Middle East, from Riyadh to Dubai, I had the opportunity to give speeches throughout the region. This increased my brand awareness, and I received numerous inquiries about consulting. That was the stepping stone that got me started. It has been nearly seven years, and we are still going strong.”

Major Business Priorities

We wanted to understand how the priorities of Ron’s business have evolved over time. So, we asked him, “How have your priorities in terms of business evolved since you first started?”

“As a business grows and becomes more established, priorities may shift towards diversification and exploring new opportunities. This could involve expanding into new markets, developing new products or services, or pursuing strategic partnerships with other businesses. At this stage, entrepreneurs may need to balance their focus on core business objectives with exploring new opportunities to stay competitive.

Building global relationships can also become a priority as a business grows. This may involve developing partnerships with international suppliers, distributors, or customers or even expanding operations overseas. With the increasing globalization of business, entrepreneurs may need to focus on building relationships with stakeholders from different cultures and backgrounds to succeed in today’s global marketplace.

As a business grows, priorities can evolve to include a wider range of objectives, such as diversification, exploration of new opportunities, and building global relationships. However, staying focused on core business objectives remains important throughout growth.” shared Ron Thomas.

Overcoming Challenges

Every business goes through challenges to achieve its goals. What makes them special is their way of overcoming those challenges. To learn the same about SFG, we asked Ron, “What are the most challenging situations that your company overcomes?”

“I believe that all businesses have been impacted by COVID-19. It was a very trying time for our company as all our work stopped, and travel was non-existent. We had to pivot to an online solution until things opened back up. Thankfully, we were able to hold on, and we have had our best year since COVID-19 hit, and we are still going strong. 

However, there are some key implications:

Competition: In today’s business environment, competition is fierce, and companies must work hard to stand out. Companies may need to differentiate themselves through innovation, quality, customer service, or pricing to overcome this challenge.

Staffing issues: Companies may need help with staffing issues such as finding and retaining talent, managing employee conflicts, or maintaining morale. To overcome these challenges, companies may need to invest in employee training and development, improve communication and transparency, or provide incentives for top performers.

Companies can overcome many challenges by remaining agile, adaptable, and focused on their goals. By staying ahead of the curve, investing in their people and technology, and building strong relationships with customers and stakeholders, companies can thrive despite difficult challenges.” he replied.

When we asked him about the key strength to overcome it, Ron added, “Resilience is essential for being a successful business owner, as the entrepreneurial journey can be unpredictable and challenging. It requires adapting to changing circumstances, overcoming obstacles, and maintaining a positive attitude in the face of setbacks. Business owners who possess resilience can weather tough times, bounce back from failures, and use their experiences to grow and improve their businesses. Ultimately, resilience enables business owners to persevere through difficult times and achieve long-term success.”

Standing Out From The Crowd & Major KPI

We further asked, “What makes your company stand out from all the other businesses in your industry?”

“SFG stands out as we possess a combination of global experience, C-Suite experience, leadership experience, and strategic HR, allowing us to stand out from our competitors. These key differentiators enable us to easily navigate complex business landscapes, make informed decisions, and implement effective strategies that drive growth and success. By leveraging these strengths, we can differentiate ourselves and establish ourselves as leaders in this consulting space.” he replied.

What KPIs do you use to measure your business success?  

“The major KPI from our side is No. 1 revenue, and then we look at global reach as we have had projects throughout the Middle East and APAC region. We have a few projects that will take us to Europe this year, so we are excited about what this year holds for SFG.” Ron shared.

Customized Solutions At Its Best

We were curious about understanding the services of Strategy Focused Group. So, we asked Ron, “Tell us something about your services. What are you working on now?”

“Our company offers a range of services related to organizational consulting, leadership development, and strategic human resources upskilling. Specifically, we offer HR business partnering, change management, strategic workforce planning, and talent acquisition, all from a strategic approach.

However, our major focus is on leadership development, which we customize based on the unique challenges facing the organization and the C-suite. Our leadership development services are tailored to the specific needs of our clients, which can be an important differentiator in the consulting industry. We do not offer off-the-shelf leadership development programs.” replied Ron Thomas. 

We further, “How do you build trust with your employees and boost productivity without causing burnout?”

“I have an amazing team of people who keep me grounded. I often tell them they are in charge because they guide me through our approach and keep me grounded. We are all virtual and global, so there are no set office hours. We do our work based on deadlines, and I let them guide me. That is my key to establishing trust.

One of our new employees sent me a detailed spreadsheet with the daily hours, etc. She was breaking down every detail. I immediately reached out and said no. I don’t need this. Just do the work with your style, and that’s the end of the story.” he said. 

Technological Advancements

It’s a modern era where more and more businesses are adapting to technology. We asked Ron, “How do you stay on top of new technologies and trends in your industry?”

Ron replied, “I am a lifelong learner who is committed to staying informed about new developments in the organizations and industries I work with.

Lifelong learning: I am committed to ongoing education and professional development. I take webinars during my free time to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in my industry.

Stay tuned to business news: I read the business sections of multiple global sources to keep up with the latest news and trends in every industry. I follow reputable sources of information, such as trade publications, industry blogs, and news outlets that cover my industry or client industries.

Research areas of interest: I actively seek new information by researching topics that interest me within my industry or clients. This could include attending conferences, reading books or academic journals, or participating in online forums and discussion groups.

Daily mental exercise routine: I set aside time daily to read relevant news and research or social media alerts to stay up-to-date on breaking news.

I am committed to staying informed and willing to invest time and effort into ongoing professional development.”

Words Of Advice

We lastly asked, “What advice would you give to starting entrepreneurs?”

“Develop a plan and work the plan: Creating a solid business plan is essential for any aspiring entrepreneur. This plan should outline your goals, strategies, and tactics to achieve success. However, having a plan is not enough. It is important to work on it consistently and persistently.

Be resilient: Starting and growing a business is a challenging feat. There will be setbacks and obstacles along the way, and resilience is important in the face of challenges. Persistence and determination are essential qualities for any entrepreneur.

Stay focused: It’s easy to get distracted by shiny objects, new opportunities, or other business ventures. However, staying focused on your goals and sticking to your plan is important. Avoid getting sidetracked by things that don’t align with your vision.

Surround yourself with other people in business: Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals working towards their entrepreneurial goals can be a valuable resource. Networking with other entrepreneurs can provide collaboration, mentorship, and support opportunities.

Avoid procrastination: Procrastination is a common pitfall that can derail even the best-laid plans. To overcome procrastination, it’s important to set realistic goals and deadlines, break big tasks into smaller ones, and hold yourself accountable for progress toward your goals.

In conclusion, starting and growing a business takes hard work, dedication, and a willingness to overcome obstacles. Aspiring entrepreneurs can increase their chances of success by developing a solid plan, staying focused, being resilient, networking with other entrepreneurs, and avoiding procrastination.” Ron Thomas concluded. 

Connect with Ron Thomas on LinkedIn

Find Strategy Focused Group on LinkedIn and YouTube.

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