To say Brenda Thomas handles a wide range of duties for Metropolitan Community College would be an understatement. In terms relevant to the Business & Technology campus she works at, Thomas is a multi-tool for the Institute for Workforce Innovation (IWI) and college.
“What I like the most about the job is that I get to do so many things that have an impact on people and the clients I work with,” said Thomas, a performance consultant who has worked at MCC for 19 years. “I get to do a little bit of everything. There’s a lot of variety.”
That variety spans the college and business community. Her work includes job assessments and leadership and supervisory training for business clients such as Honeywell, Central Plains Cement (Lafarge), Meadwestvaco, Billy Goat Industries, Unilever, ATK, Clorox, CertainTeed, Bennett Packaging and Church & Dwight.
“If you want a number between one and 10, she’s a 12,” said Angela Graham, a human resources coordinator at Central Plains Cement. “Brenda always goes above and beyond. She does all of our testing for new hires for production, and is always so accommodating to our employees. I wish everyone I worked with was like her.”
Thomas also works for MCC’s human resources department, providing professional development on several topics, including communication, leadership skills and customer service.
“Before I came to MCC, I spent 18 years as an HR manager, and through my years in that role, it became more and more evident that we were not hiring the right people, nor setting them up for success,” Thomas said. “I wanted to be on the proactive end and help employers hire the right people, give these people the skills they needed to be successful, and train them (frontline employees and leaders) to treat people the right way.
“I love my job because I get to do that here. I’m not fighting fires, I’m preventing them.”
One way to prevent those fires is developing better leaders, one of the key elements of Thomas’ work. She provides training on employee relations, implementing change successfully, resolving conflict, effective coaching, setting goals and objections, and more.
In addition, she has helped to train and develop individuals who bolster the workforce in Kansas City. That work includes teaching classes on such subjects as basic math, reading hand tools and soft skills such as teamwork.
In job profiling, Thomas develops a profile for a position by studying the tasks of the job, then identifying the skills required to perform those tasks. These skills can include basic academic skills, as well as manual dexterity, spatial relations, visual perception and reading precision instruments.
These job profiles enable IWI to test potential employees to see if they have the skills necessary, as identified in the profile, to do the work.
“Testing can be an extremely difficult and stressful for the people I work with, and I try to do everything I can to help them be successful,” she said. “Several years ago, I was having lunch with my daughter at Oak Park Mall, and a man who I’d provided training to after he had failed his initial Harley Davidson assessment came up to me and thanked me. He had passed the assessment and was now working at Harley Davidson, was making more money than he ever had and was helping his family.
“You like to know that you’ve had a part in changing someone’s life. There’s a great reward in that.”
Thomas grew up in Illinois and received a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Psychology from Southern Illinois University. She also has a master’s degree in management science from Baker University.
Thomas has been married for 23 years and has three children (a daughter and a set of boy/girl twins), two cats and two dogs.