Ron Thomas

About the Author

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, StrategyFocused HR-MENA, based in Dubai. He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf countries, also based in Dubai. A former CHRO who was based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Ron is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute [ ] covering the MENA region. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as a Master Human Capital Strategist (MHCS) and Strategic Workforce Planner (SWP). Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living. Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia. Contact him at

Making HR a True Strategic Partner: It’s Not As Easy as Some Make It Seem


Nothing is easy today. When I lived in the U.S. (I currently work in Dubai), I would always marvel at late night TV commercials. My take was that whatever it is that ails you, just turn on late night TV and you would invariably find a product that could solve whatever it is…

The Bar Has Been Raised and It’s Time For a New Kind of HR Executive

Woman executive

Like a lot of you, I get requests from executive headhunters looking for C-Level HR officers. As I read through the job descriptions and mentally scan my network, I am noticing a powerful trend. That trend translates to a new level of HR officer. The days of the “maintainer” are out of the…

The Power of Feedback — Even When It Is Completely Unexpected


“I just had my annual review and during this meeting, it was indicated that my moodiness and ‘dictator-like’ management style are the reasons you decided to leave.  I sincerely apologize that my management style caused you distress, and perhaps stripped you of an opportunity to advance here. I think you are a strong…

What I Learned About Leading People Watching Undercover Boss


One of the most fulfilling things for me over the holidays is watching the TV marathon. I sat today with TV as background and watched the show Undercover Boss. Eventually, the multi-tasking stopped and I had a laser focus on this show where CEO’s go undercover in their own companies and interact with…

When All Employees Feel Empowered, the Entire Organization Benefits


“I was raised to treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO.” That quote was from Janelle Monae at the recent BET awards ceremony, in which she thanked her parents — the two of them were cleaning and sanitary workers — for her upbringing and thriving music career. More surprising was that Monae…

When It Comes to Managing, You’re at Your Best When You’re Leading the Orchestra


“Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra.” That statement caused me to stop multi-tasking. As I looked up, I realized it was a statement by Steve Jobs. The trailer of the upcoming movie about him was on TV and it projected itself out of the TV noise. What a powerful statement, I thought….

Get Off the Phone and Remember: HR Is NOT Just an Order Taker

phone call

“HR must stop being order takers.” Browsing the Internet this week, I came across this quote from my good friend, Josh Bersin. It caused me to stop as I read the accompanying article. My first foray into Human Resources was through Training & Development as I eventually ended up running one of IBM’s…