Returnships Podcast - Navigating Supply Chain-Diversity&Inclusion-Mentoring Careers with Karuna Thomas


Through this episode, we will be navigating careers in Supply Chain, Diversity and Inclusion and Mentorship and diving deep into what it is like in each of these domains and careers. education needed and day-to-day work, by chatting with Karuna Thomas. Karuna is one of our amazing mentors from the upcoming Returnships Career Coaching and Mentorship cohort, champion caregivers to get back to work after long haul in career :

If this episode inspired you to try career mentoring and you would like to be a mentor for our upcoming cohort, sign up here :

if you would like to ask Karuna additional questions, checkout our Returnships Form :

A bit more about our guest speaker:

Karuna Thomas is the Founder and CEO of Karuna Thomas Coaching and Consulting, LLC. Her mission is to equip Emerging Leaders discover their ‘Thrive-Version’. As a dynamic leader with a diverse global portfolio, she specializes in Supply Chain, International Business, Training and Development, Distribution and Logistics, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Coaching. She holds a two-decade successful spell in the Foodservice and Restaurant industry, which
includes the launch, development, and expansion of a US global restaurant brand in 30+ countries. She also mobilized supplier operations in all five inhabited continents while orchestrating sustainable supply chain models and networks to scale. Karuna’s work has earned her global recognition from the various stakeholders. In addition, to consulting in Global Supply Chain, she also provides expertise in DEI which was organically embedded in her role from partnering with team members from around the world, plus she holds multiple certifications in this domain. She has since been dedicating her global intelligence and cultural competence to conduct talks and workshops on various forums from Lean In, Power To Fly, Connect4Women etc. on empowering women in the workplace,
#IamRemarkable, anti-racism campaigns, DEI initiatives, and importance of community outreach. Karuna is a passionate Community Builder who champions organizations and community leaders in creating impactful moments, causes and experiences. Among her various advocacies, she mentors’ veterans transitioning from the military into the civilian workforce and several mid-management women leaders, which led her to earn her ICF accredited certification as a Senior Certified Professional Coach

Hi every one an when come back toanother episode of the retortion spot cast. You are listening to the Tersispodcast with rope and a bay from the north of it in Shaneen, shoot that orwe help people to go back to work after they have had a long fallen career to.They are special guests to scare a Congress who has the seasonal mentorand currently she works in Suplica and I was to be an inclusion. So we have aa few from her on her journey of mentoring, so many different women, aclass different backbones and how she navigated Pudo it in supply Conan thanto be an Putin. So let's hear some CONUCO ahead and introduce yourself yeah. Thank you. So much, never that Ireally appreciate being here on the forum and talking to the audience andthe members of the township dock, or so to share a little bit about my journey.I do go back to decades of having asuccessful spell in the food service and restaurant industry and, as youmentioned, I have specialized predominantly in the supply chaindomain and the subject would be distribution and logistics to trainingand development and managing national restaurant chain accounts. And thispaste. It is definitely close to my heart because it is dedicated tomobilizing US global restaurant brand and it's international growth. So I gotto work with international franchisees from thirty different countries andsuppliers and diverse take holders from additional. You know different parts ofthe world, almost all the five inhabited continents and helping againour franchises in or the brand franchisees in growing sustainablesupply, chain models and networks around the world. So that actuallytransitions me I'll. Give the opportunity that I had to work withdiverse team members and stakeholders from around the walls. Embarked me onmy journey into diversity, equity and Intus, and since two thousand andseventeen what I like to call pursuit of purpose, I have been you know,topping into my global intelligence and cultural competence in furtheringdiversity, equity and in Tution and of conducted workshops and empoweringwomen. In addition to mentoring, women and veterans, advocating representationalso taken part, an anti racism campaign so been very involved, but I'malso a community builder and I mentor Veterans to American Corporate Partnersand mentor again other Mentes and emerging leaders. So I brought mypassion and purpose real life experiences and practitioner Portes andactually started my own venture called Corina, Tomas, coaching and Consulting,which is in coaching and also consulting in diversity, equity,inclusion and supply chain. Well, you...

...have such diverse experiences. I'm surethat the listeners listening today have so many questions to ask you and I'msure the first thing that Gros, to my mind this, you know what are some ofthe similarities in the different Romains and fling part of mid supply.Then an the infusion be starting your own business of Tinting and coaching,and how did you navigate? This cares yeah great question. You know, becausewhen you're pivoting and transitioning different fields and industry there,you will find a lot of you know transibiles ills and also a lot ofsimilarities. I think the proverb that comes to my mind, especially when itcomes to supply chain which is commonly known, is you know, your supply chainis only as strong as it's the weakest link, so I think that is applicable notonly for supply chain, but even for teams and a company culture. So whatthe problem literally stands for is the strength of a chain is limited to thatup with the weakest link in the chain. Even if the other links in the chainare strong, the strength of the chain depends on the weakest link, so thatgoes even to you know: Employees and Culture and coaching it's like leavingno team member behind, regardless of whether it's there devote perspectiveor diverse background. So I think this is the best description that I can givewhen it comes to similarities. Everything live in the strength or it'sas strong as your weakest link, so ensuring that all aspects are takencare of and not minimizing any one aspect or link in the chain. Well, thatis awesome. The this is like completin information for me, like I'm, notsomebody cords in Suplica, so just knowing about making a. What are you dothrough all these careers is amazing. Like can you tell me a little bit abouthow does somebody get into supply chain or what Isthe work like canibats basis?Look like yeah yeah. I know thank you for that question. Supply Change, it'sa very broad spectrum and there are many areas that fall under thisumbrella. It goes from planning to procure men to distribution, logisticsmanufacturing and for me, coming from the Food Service and restaurant side ofthe industry, it was you know, dealing with food and non food equipment. Smallware, to give you a robust array of product line and supply chain, alsoopens you up to a lot the fundamentals of business. It tends to you know beingthat unifying force in business. That ties each moving part together. So, asa supply chain professionals, you get to see a product, you know throughoutits cycles, from on the beginning, to the end, you work with marketing tounderstand and shape demand. You work with finance to understand and needfinancial objectives of the organization, then, with prod ofdevelopment to ensure products can be...

...moved to the distribution network, butyou way to again make sure you're meeting the brand standards and qualitycustomer service. Then, of course the consumers. Ultimately, you know itmanaging the product from insecting its end user, the customer. So you reallyhave the ability, as a supply chain, petitioner, to add to the significancebusiness value, increasing revenue, decreasing cost, improving customerservice, so there's both Pratesi and practical in. I should have involvedand also diversity. You get to work with a lot of different stakeholdersand for me personally, I got to work with. You know: suppliers from allaround the world, so it's it's definitely got a lot to offer. So youmentioned working for so many different divers set of people and bad grounds.Is that what inspired you to get into Diviya inclusion or take? How doessomebody find themselves in careers which are around the Vostenberg? Youare spot on, so it was my work in the international arena and form thatgotten interested in diversity, equity and inclusion. Because for the pastdecade I was involved with working with you know, diverse Franchisees, takeholders team members from around the world, so dei short for diversity.Equity in cusion was embedded in my role or Janiki so being able to workthrough all the different facets of an individual was part of the job, solearning how to collaborate. How to appreciate those differences actuallytap into innovation. There was so much innovation, innovative ideas that cameto the table, you'll just learned to collaborate and have diverse opinionsand also work through that diversity of difference in opinions at times towardsthe common goal. So the whole collaboration was so beautiful thatthere were times that we did not agree and but at the same time we workedtowards a common goal, so it was ultimately you know bringing the brandslaunching the brands on international grounds and what is the end result.That's serving the guests, bringing that exact same experience that we havehere in the US, culminating that adjusting that to the audience and theguests globally on each international. You know country that we went into so Ireally got to see diversity and intuit first hand without necessarily callingit out as a separate. You know discipline. So that's really got methinking about how can we tap the same level of talent, the same level ofdiversity, the same level of innovation within the four walls of anorganization right here as well? So I'm curious for you. Do you even be inthese kind of rules? What kind of educational degrees or courses somebodycan go, or what a experiences would...

...even soleant you into rules of t, Ni orsupply to yeah so for supply than specifically, there are universitiesthat extend you, know majors and minors and supply chain, their Mbas that areagain dedicated just to supply chain management. So the educational foreignsare pretty vast when it comes to specializing in supply chain, hojus adistribution. So there is definitely you know, certifications and evendegrees that are associated now, on the other hand, for diversity, equity andinclusion. It is quite interesting in the sense that I have seen a lot ofdiversity, equity leaders. You know share of DIS and CDs, truth diversity,officers who actually come from various different backgrounds. It could rangefrom H, R, human V sources or human capital now O to even attorneys, whomoved to hitting the I departments to even folks who were managing a towningdepartment. So it is pretty diverse when it even comes to the leaders wholead diversity, equity and intuition. So it really depends on the need of theorganization and how involved you have been in the various facets. In myexample, I was involved on the Global Front, and then I got engaged at thecorporate level in working with the diversity, a leader and helping withsetting up employee resource groups or engaging in the various diversity,equity inclusion activities, and I also got engaged outside of the workplace aswell, but to your coins. Now there are more certifications that are availablethrough again. Universities, like Cornell Cornell, has a greatCertification Program University of Michigan does, and various diversitycouncils also offer certification in Dei, but based on everything that hashappened in the past year, the pandemic has brought so many disparities tolight now. Universities are also considering extending programs and likeminor and major in diversity. Equity Inclusion is O, that's awesome. I meanI did not know about all these different resources. Well like through the spotability stories ofdifferent women who has championed in dissent areas we Supli change witheducation, with different ideas that you're interested in so moving on,changing the track. A little bit more. You mentioned that you know you havebeen a code Menton and you have actually opened up your own connelandoing thisness, so you have any tips for somebody who actually wants tobecome a career, Mente yeah. Absolutely I think. First of all there is therehas always been, and there will always... a need for career mentors. Soprofessionals, you know seasons professionals, especially who areconsidering career mentorship, should definitely you know, move ahead if itis to their organization, they can check with their organization if theyextend mentoring programs. If not, what would it take to start one? I know Ihave work on creating mentor, ment programs as well. Even before I startedmy own venture, because there is a big need. There is still a live inmentorship. I still hear you know emerging readers, young professionalsdating that you don't they have difficulty in finding mentors or theyare interested in finding mentors so definitely going through yourorganization is one way another, and there are now even companies that areset up just to match mentors and Minty. So you can even join an organizationthat extend these program, so they are dedicated to again matching mentors andMenti from various industries and Badgr unds. And of course you can do thateven to a community outreach and give back, for example, like I mentioned,I'm Porto amoment or for American corporate partners, which is a veteranorganization that helps vectis transitioning from the military intothe civilian workforce. So you mentor them on. You know how to assimilateinto the civilian workforce won on the skills that they bring to the table.What do they need to hone in on, and things like that? But I think one ofthe important things to keep in mind is the matching process. So it's reallynecessary to it's important to know the matching process who you would like tomentor so understanding the needs of the mente understanding, your skillsand specialization that you bring. So the matching process, I would say,plays a big role in the success of the mentor ship and then, of course,outlining expectations, the outcome, roles and responsibilities. Whatmentorship is and isn't so it definitely helps even the mentor andbuilding their leadership skills and even when it comes to managing the team.So it's a win, win alcool, absolutely having worked in this and mentoring oPotin this before right. Now that you know I'm building the down ship dot orwe actually are going to launch our first mentorship Cochot, where we wouldbasically national and tours and come in actually a signed up to be one ofour mentors. So all the Mantis who are especially interested in Omanya I theycan definitely you on levitates program, so definitely looking forward to allthe applications that is going to come for the First Return Ship Cove thatprogram so curries Ye have mentored so many different women before in sodifferent areas. What kind of things do people need the most help with thatyou've noticed a yeah. That's a great question because I do see you know thatthere are some common denominators that...

I would say that some of the women youknow are challenged with or require additional mentorship with is one. Youknow we talk about securing a seat at the table, learning that seat at thetable getting that seat at the table. What also happens is one that seed issecured. There is still that hesitation in owning that seat at the table, andthis is something even Sheryl. Sandberg has called out in her book, meaningsometimes I suppose of stems from Imposter Syndrome. That is somethingelse that has come to light in this path here, where women are talking moreopenly about having that challenge of imposter syndrome. You know O whither.Are we good enough for this, or am I ready to take on this next role byhaving that almost deflectin? You know self talk. So what helps throughmentorship and also joining women's organizations or having that supportnetwork can kind of help deflate some of that negative self talk or helpovercome some of those challenges of barriers, because you also find outfrom other women who have experienced that as you're not alone, and it issomething that can be overcome and the other one that I come across quite alot is we tend to get so involved in our job,that we procrastinate, networking or or just expanding our exposure to otherprofessionals and other industries or other companies. So I feel these aretwo things that I come across a lot, because I can't exercise enough,especially during these last two years, how important it is to have a strongnetwork, whether it is within your own organization, but also otherorganizations and one of the good things that has come about from thepandemic. Is that has really shrunk? The World? Everybody is just a boomcall a way so taking advantage of some of those opportunities that have comeabout as a result in the last two years where you can actually grow and have more exposure andexpansion is what I would say, absolutely I've seen so in when gothrough liking, posters and Ronan feeling hesitant. Then they need toqualify each and every single thing before they even apply for jobs or ingeneral, like even after being hired as definitely seen O men, an no like theyfeel like they are not doing their vesting, that they are so. I feel likeusually have having that person to go to, especially before your career is soso instrumental. So I definitely recommend this mess listening in toseek out of career, mintos VI the superficial services or just look forthose mentors in your organization. It could be somebody it could be. SomebodyNessita, if could be a friend in addition company, so like make sure youact IV, the Niteroi condos mentorship...

...opportunities. So what I saw of thequestions? I guess men these have very commonly asked you why even thosementorship sessions yeah most of my men tie, are millennials and, of course,now jess and the biggest question they asked. I would like to call it reportto it as a three being so it's disibil voice and value out or at value. Sothey ask you know what are some ways to be more visible to gain. You know:Visibility in the right platform or right for a more leadership managementlevel and then getting their voice heard you know being taken seriouslybecause sometimes there is that feeling that they get dismissed because theirexpertise is not as much they've, not validated, with as much experience asis expected and some believe or even misconceptions. Te could say and thenvalue at again wanting. They are very driven, very ambitious and have arevery talented and have a lot of expertise. But again, how do youchannel that in a way that has impact? So these are three things that I do youknow come across. A lot is: how do I gain visibility in front of leadership?How can I my voice be taken seriously and what are some ways that I cancontinue to contribute where it Tanis the value ad? So what I only say is,you know, be aware of all the resources that are out there. The net words theyou know, your sponsors, your mentors within the organization, and you haveto be your biggest advocates to begin with and being more, you knowcontinuing with a self advocacy. Then, of course you have access to all theseresources first being aware of what theyare and then having access and then,of course, being able to implement that interaction. Absolutely, I think thethe aspect that you brought up, it's so so important if a lot of big companieshave something like intonate fumous reviews or connect it different fromcompany to company, and usually it is around all these aspects. You know thatsound kind of frame, the matter, in fact you brought to in in theorganization- and you know, having that amount of is setting time ahead in time-helps you not only like even like, if he's job searching bras, why you havethe job it. I stuck or when you are going for the next performance to youfor asking for decrees or even changing jobs. I having the perfection, reallyhelps, so that is amazing, perfectly doing coronating e so much. The nextthing that comes to my mind, is our organization to tenor the car. It'sfocused to helping people who are returning to the workforce after theyhave had a gaptain career. So do you...

...have any advice for this poatas peoplewho are trying to get back to the workforce after they have had asignificant gap and there sucking the journey right now. First of all,congratulations on again. You know setting up returns Ip tot ord. I thinkthis is an initiative that is has been long over to you and it certainly helpsbridge the challenges that people you know face when they're returning towalk after having a break, whether it is to raise a family or take care ofchildren or you know any for any other reason. So I think the biggest advicethat I would give a RECON recommendation would be to continue totap into the resources. That's been extended through the turnspit workbecause it can be pretty on daunting and overwhelming getting back into theworkplace after an extended break. So, instead of facing any of thosechallenges alone that they may come across, making sure they're tappinginto the support system that has been extended to return, hip dot or makingsure they do have live Coch or a career coach as support work again continuingto take advantage of the other resources that are being extendedprograms and continuing to up skill again through the various channels thatthe organization extends. So what I would say is everything that they havetacked into to make that concision to continue to do that, so that they'renot convicting any challenge alone. Support networkers key, I would sayabsolutely so. We have a foom and we have a member of sin. So you can go tothe forum right now and basically leave your thoughts of what you felt aboutlistening to the podcast. So we will be hosting asking me anything with Coronaon our Breton hips for our website, so pestle ve. Any questions you had forcorona are in general. If we have any questions for mentorship, findingmentors or even like getting mashed to the melted feet, leave thus comments onthe Litui that are for Umpas that you can find on them with a with aCoretorto to on or you can even follow us on instagram and return ships are infor and seeing go surface now you can find us on the return ships. You turnto work force. Thank you so much coenato coming on our podcast study andsharing your vast knowledge about mentoring, about the supply chain andabout navigating careers in the Ani in it in Luton. So this is to listening astoday. Thank you so much for listening to us and if you want to speak otherpodcast efy to reach out to us as Dosetts. Thank you by yeah. Thank youno Benita. Thank you. So Much.

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