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, have you run really well, come back to I'm going to be sort of the redgens podcast. You are listening to the regens podcast with no one and are from the nonprofit issue, the re done dot org. We have people who go back to work after they have had a long hollow and garlier. Today our special guest is connorent Palmus, who has the seasonal mentor and currently she works in subflighting and there was to be an inclusion. So we're going to hear from home her journey of mentoring so many different women acrosses and back forms and how she navigated cod US within subflight. You know that was being dous, so let's hear it from Gona. Not gonna go ahead and introduce yourself. Yeah, thank you so much, Levinita. I really appreciate being here on this forum and talking to the audience and the members of returnshiporg. So to share a little bit about my journey, I do go back at two decades of having a successful spell in the food service and restaurant industry and, as you mentioned, I have specialized predominantly in the supply chain domain, and the subsets would be distribution and logistics to training and development and managing national restaurant chain accounts. And this past decade is definitely close to my heart because it is dedicated to mobilizing US global restaurant brand and it's international growth. So I got to work with international franchises from thirty different countries and suppliers and diverse stakeholders from additional, you know, different parts of the world, almost all the five inhabited continents, and helping again our franchisees in or the brand's Franchisees in growing sustainable supply chain models and networks around the world. So that actually transitions me. I'll give the opportunity that I had to work with diversity members and stakeholders from around the world embark me on my journey into diversity, equity and inclusion. And since two thousand and seventeen, where I like to call pursuit of purpose, I have been, you know, tapping into my global intelligence and cultural competence in furthering diversity, equity and inclusion and of conducted workshops and empowering women, in addition to mentoring women and Veterans Advocating Representation. Also taken part in anti racism campaign. Still been very involved, but I'm also a community builder and I mentor Veterans Through American Corporate Partners and mentor again other mentis and emerging leaders. So I brought my passion and purpose, real life experiences and practitioner expertise and actually started my own venture called current atoms coaching and consulting, which is in coaching and also consulting in the city, Equity Inclusion and supply chain. Well, you have such diverse experiences. I'm...

...sure that the listeners listening today have so many questions to ask you, and I'm sure the plastering that goes to my mind is, you know, what are some of the similarities in the different domains and the part of weed supplied to you and, as the Incu shouldn't read, starting Your Own Business of entering and coaching. And how do you navy? YOU DISCO USE? Yeah, great question, you know, because when you're pivoting and transitioning different fields and industry, there you will find a lot of, you know, transferable skills and also a lot of similarities. I think the proverb that comes to my mind actually when it comes to supply chain, which is commonly known, is you know, your supply chain is only as strong as it's the weakest link. So I think that is applicable not only for supply chain, but even for teens and a company culture. So what the problem literally stands for is the strength of the chain is limited to that of the weakest link in the chain, even if the other links in the chain are strong, the strength of the chain depends on the weakest link. So that's goes even to, you know, employees and Culture and coaching. It's like leaving no team member behind, regardless of whether it's their diverse perspective or diverse background. So I think this is the best description that I can give when it comes to similarities. Everything life in the strength or it's as strong as your weakest link. So ensuring that all aspects are taken care of and not minimizing anyone aspect or link in the chain. Well, that is awesome. This is like completely new information for me, like I'm not somebody works in sublighting, so just knowing about like you know what all you do to all these school us, is amusing. Like can you tell me a little bit about how does somebody get into supply to you or what does the work they're going to be to do? This is look like. Yeah, yeah, I know. Thank you for that question. Supply chain, it's a very broad spectrum and there are many areas that fall under this umbrella. It goes from planning to protoremnt to distribution, logistics, manufacturing and for me, coming from the Food Service and restaurant side of the industry, it was, you know, dealing with food and non food equipment, smallware. So it gives you a robust array of product line and supply chain also opens you up to a lot the fundamentals of business. It tends to, you know, being that unifying force in business that ties each moving part together. So as a supply team professional, you get to see a product you know throughout its cycles, from from the beginning to the ends. You work with marketing to understand and shape demand. You work with finance to understand and need financial objectives of the organization, then with product development to ensure products can be moved to the distribution network,...

...with Qa to again make sure you're meeting the brand standards and quality customer service. Then, of course, the consumers. Ultimately, you know, it's managing the product from inception to its end users, the customer. So you really have the ability as a supply team practitioner to add to the significant business value, increasing revenue, decreasing costs, improving customer service. So there's both strategic and practical initiatives involved and also diversity. You get to work with a lot of different stakeholders and for me personally, I got to work with, you know, suppliers from all around the world. So it's it's definitely got a lot to offer. So you mentioned working so many more sort of people and backgrounds. Is that what inspired you to didn't do an inclusion. Are they? How do somebody find them something? Income Yours, which are around, was an inclusion. Nothing is asolutely you are spot on. So it was my work in the international arena and forum that got me interested in diversity, equity and inclusion because for the past decade I was involved with working with, you know, diverse franchise, the stakeholders, team members from around the world. So the EI, short for diversity, Equity Inclusion, was embedded in my role organic. So being able to work through all the different facets of an individual with part of the job. So learning how to collaborate, how to appreciate those differences actually tap into innovation. There was so much innovation, innovative ideas that came to the table. You just learned to collaborate and have diverse opinions and also work through that diversity of difference in opinions at times towards the common goals. So the whole collaboration was so beautiful that there were times that we did not agree and but at the same time we worked towards a common goal. So it was ultimately, you know, bringing the brands, launching the brand on international grounds. And what is the end result? That's serving the guests, bringing that exact same experience that we have here in the US, culminating that, adjusting that to the audience and the guests globally on each international, you know, country that we went into. So I really got to see diversity and inclusion firsthand without necessarily calling it out as a separate, you know, discipline. So that's really got me thinking about how can we tap the same level of talent, the same level of diversity, the same level of innovation within the four walls of an organization right here as well? So I'm curious for you. Do you even mean these kind of rules? What kind of renovation degrees, courses? Somebody can do or expediences...

...would even to the value and do rules of B and I or supply to yeah, so for supply team specifically, there are universities that extend, you know, majors and minors and supply chain their NBA's that are again dedicated just to supply chain management. So the educational forms are pretty vast when it comes to specializing in supply chain, logistics distribution. So there is definitely, you know, certifications and even degrees that are associated. Now, on the other hand, for diversity, equity and inclusion, it is quite interesting in the sense that I have seen a lot of diversity equity leaders, you know, share of the eyes and cdeos, chief diversity officers, who actually come from various different backgrounds. It could range from HR human resources or human capital now to even attorneys who moved to heading the departments, to even folks who were managing a counting departments. So it is pretty diverse when it even comes to the leaders who lead diversity, equity and inclusion. So it really depends on the need of the organization and how involved you have been in the various facets. In my example, I was involved on the global in front and then I got engaged at the corporate level in working with the diversity a leader and helping with setting up employee resource groups or engaging in the various diversity, equity inclusion activities, and I also got engaged outside of the workplace as well. But to your coint now there are more certifications that are available through, again, universities like Cornell. Cornell has a Great Certification Program University of Michigan does, and various diversity councils also offer certification in the EI. But based on everything that has happened in the past year, the pandemic has brought so many disparities to light, now universities are also considering extending programs and like minor and major in diversity equity inclusion as well. That's awesome. I mean, I did not know about all these different resources. Well, like through this podcast, we try to build stories of different women who have championed in different ideas, with suppliging with education, with different ideas that you're interested in. So, moving on the Internet track a little bit more, you mentioned that you know, you have been a God, you in mentor and you have actually opened up your own going your mentoring business. So you have any gifts for somebody who actually wants to become a God your mentor? Yeah, absolutely, I think for of all, there is, there has always been and there...

...will always be a need for career mentors. So professionals, you know, seasons, professionals especially, who are considering career mentorship should definitely, you know, move ahead. If it is through their organization. They can check with their organization if they extend mentoring programs. If not, what would it take to start one? I know I have worked on creating mentor menty programs as well, even before I started my own venture, because there is a big need. There is still a lag in mentorship. I still hear, you know, emerging leaders, young professionals, stating that, you know, they have difficulty in finding mentors or they are interested in finding mentors. So definitely, going through your organization is one way another, and there are now even companies that are set up just to match mentors and menty. So you can even join an organization that extend these programs so they are dedicated to again matching mentors and Mente from various industries and backgrounds, and the court you can do that even through community outreach and give back for example, like I've mentioned, I'm part of a mentor for American corporate partners, which is a veteran organization that helps victions transitioning from the military into the civilian workforce. So you mentor them on you know, how to assimilate into the civilian work war. What are the skills that they bring to the table, what do they need to hone in on, and things like that. But I think one of the important things to keep in mind is the matching process. So it's really necessary to it's important to know the matching process who you would like to mentor so understanding the needs of the Mente, understanding your skills and specialization that you bring. So the matching process, I would say, plays a big role in the success of the mentorship and then, of course, outlining expectations, the outcomes, roles and responsibilities, what mentorship is and isn't. So it definitely helps even the mentor and building their leadership skills and even when it comes to managing the team. So it's a win win for both. Absolutely. Have you worked in different mentoring Oho Tom this before? Right now that you know I'm really you, don't shoot at Org. We actually are going to launch our first mentorship go hard when we would basically match mentors and gotn't actually assigned up to be one of our mentors. So all the mentis who are especially interested in Lexi and the and I, they can definitely, you know, never reach this program. So definitely looking forward to all the activations that is going to come for the first you don't should smoove our program so cornscence. You have mentored so many different women before in so many different Adias. What kind of things do people need? The most helpful that you've noticed? A yeah, that's a great question, because I do see, you know,...

...that there are some common denominators that I would say that some of the women, you know, are challenged with or require additional mentorship with. Is One. You know, we talked about securing a seat at the table, learning that seat at the table, getting that seat at the table. What also happens is once that seat is secured, there is still that hesitation in owning that seat at the table, and this is something even Sheryl Sandberg has called out in her book. Leaning sometimes, I suppose it comes from Imposter Syndrome, and that is something else that has come to light in this past year where women are talking more openly about having that challenge of imposter syndrome. You know, whether are we good enough for this or am I ready to take on this next role, but having that almost deflective, you know, self talk. So what helps? Through mentorships and also joining women's organizations or having that support network, can kind of help deflate some of that negative self talk or help overcome some of those challenges or barriers, because you also find out from other women who have experienced that as you're not alone and it is something that can be overcome. And the other one that I come across quite a lot is we tend to get so involved in our job that we procrastinate the networking or or just expanding our exposure to other professionals and other industries or other companies. So I feel these are two things that I come across a lot because I can't emphasize enough, especially during these last two years, how important it is to have a strong network, whether it is within your own organization but also other organizations. And one of the good things that has come about from the pandemic is that as really shrunk the world, everybody is just a boom call away. So taking advantage of some of those opportunities that have come about as a result in the last two years where you can actually grow and have more exposure and expansion, is what I would say. Absolutely. I've seen so many moving go to living boss syndrome and feeling hesitant, that being to qualify each and every single thing before they even apply for jobs or in general, like even after being hired. I've definitely seen a W millionoly they feel like they are not doing their best in that they are. So I feel like usually have having that person to go to, especially before your career, is so, so instrumental. So I definitely recommend business listening, you know, seek aw that coreer mentorship by the tow professional services or just look for those mentors in the organization. It could be somebody new deal with, be somebody you sister team, could be a friend in a different company.

So they make sure after the network and SE condos mentorship opportunities. So what are questions? I guess men these have very commonly asked you. Why do you wear those mentorship sessions? Yeah, most of my mentees are millennials and of course, now genes's and the biggest question they asked. I would like to call it, refer to it as the three these, so it's visibility, voice and value add, or add value. So they asked, you know, what are some ways to be more visible, to gain, you know, visibility in the right platform or right forum or leadership, managemental level, and then getting their voice heard, you know, being taken seriously, because sometimes there is that feeling that they get dismissed because their expertise is not as much, they're not validated with that much experiences is expected and some believes are even misconceptions, they could say. And then value add, again wanting they are very driven, very ambitious and have very, very talented and have a lot of expertise. But again, how do you channel that in a way that has impact? So these are three things that I do you know, 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 can continue to contribute where it's in is the value add. So what I normally say is, you know, be aware of all the resources that are out there, the network, the you know, your sponsors, your mentors within the organization and you have to be your biggest advocate to begin with and being more, you know, continuing with the self advocacy and, of course, do you have access to all these resources, so as being aware of what they are and then having access and then, of course, being able to implement that into action? Absolutely, I think the three aspects that you brought up. It's also importantly a lot of big companies have something like Internet performance reviews or connects. They depended from the company to company and usually it is around all these aspects. You know, that's how kind of free the mother in fact, you've brought to win in the organization. And you know, having that want to be certain time ahead in time helps you not only like even like if you's job searching, but also why the job the stock to you when you are going for the next performance review, but asking for the trees or even changing jobs with having that reflection really helps. So that is amazing you're doing current. I thank you so much. The next thing that comes to my mind is our organization. returnships are an IT's focus to helping people who are returning to the work more after we have happened gaping career. So do you have any advice for this school lot of people...

...who are trying to get back to the workforce after we have had a significant gap and just starting the Jom right now. First of all, congratulations on again, you know, setting up returnships dot org. I think this is an initiative that is that the long overdue and it certainly helps bridge the challenges that people, you know, face when they're returning to work after having a break, whether it was to raise family or take care of children or, you know, any for any other reason. So I think the biggest advice that I would give, or recom recommendation, would be to continue to tap into the resources that's being extended through returnships dot org, because it can be pretty on daunting and overwhelming getting back into the workplace after an extended break. So, instead of facing any of those challenges alone that they may come across, making sure they're tapping into the support system that is being extended through return ships dot org, making sure they do have life coach or a career coach as support work again, continuing to take advantage of the other resources that are being extended programs and continuing to upskill again through the various channels that the organization extends. So what I would say is everything that they have tapped into to make that concision, to continue to do that so that they're not combating any challenge alone. Support Network is key, I would say absolutely so we have a forum and they have a member's side, so you can go to the forum right now and basically leave your thoughts of what you felt about listening to this podcast. So we will be hosting asking me anything with Corona on our bree downships forum website. So feel free to leave any questions you had for corona or in general. If you have any questions or mentorship, finding mentors or even like getting master to the mental feel free to leave those comments on the returnshipstorg forum page that you can find on the returnship org are. You can even follow us on instagram and returnships are in for and seeing those. For facebook, we can find us on the returnships return to workforce. Thank you so much, Calona, for coming on our podcast today and sharing your vast knowledge about mentoring, about the supply chain and about navigating careers in the and I divers day inclusion. So this ens who are listening today. Thank you so much for listening to us. And if you want to speak at our podcast, feefly, to reach out to us at www dot return hips org. Thank you, by thanking of Benita. Thank you so much.

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