Categories: Lessons from the Road
Today in Lessons From the Road we hear from Tom Wilson, Chairman of Lime Connect’s Global Board of Directors. Tom has been closely engaged with Lime Connect with from the beginning. As Global Head of Talent Sourcing and Recruiting at Merrill Lynch, Tom led the firm’s decision to become a founding Lime partner. Since then, Tom has played an active role not only in defining and driving the Lime mission, but also in providing guidance and insight to students as they begin to navigate their careers. Today, Tom is head of Talent Acquisition for OppenheimerFunds, Inc..
Tom, can you tell us a bit about your career journey?
My career in financial services has been built on developing an overlapping set of skills and applying them in different contexts over time. At various stages I have been a salesperson, an operating manager, a talent and recruiting manager, a consultant and a coach. In each new chapter, I have sought experiences that would both build on existing skills and expose me to new ones. In the long run, what I learned in a role and how much I was stretched was just as important as how well I performed.
Equally important to developing depth of expertise for me has been depth of relationships. The trust I cultivate in others and the knowledge I gain from colleagues has always been the basis for my career advancement. The great people I have met and worked with are also my greatest motivator as they have deeply enriched my life.
And, what is your advice to all the college students and working professionals in our Network as they seek to build their careers?
Networking and building deep relationships needs to be an ongoing commitment. It is important never to become complacent about your circle of contacts. It is often the depth of relationships - both internal and external to your organization - that distinguishes high performers.
The two great principles of networking for me are generosity and curiosity. Effective networks are always those who give rather than take in their interactions. Give information, introductions or anything of value to someone and they will go out of their way to do the same. Be genuinely interested in learning about the work, career or passions of others and they will happily share their experiences. Everyone likes to talk about themselves.
I know that you are a mentor to many people. Can you tell us what you think are the qualities and "responsibilities" of a great mentor?
The most important element of a mentoring relationship is real mutual trust. This is based on meeting your commitments to each other and looking out for the other's best interests. Honesty with a spirit of caring - telling someone what they need to hear in a way that they can hear it - is essential to helping a mentee to grow in self-awareness.
It is also invaluable to share your depth of relationships by introducing your mentee to others whose experiences and knowledge can offer new insight. The art of networking is highly transferrable and doesn't depend on being a great extrovert. (I have worked in relationship-focused roles my whole career yet am a true introvert) One responsibility of a successful mentor is to teach the value of networking and to impart the skills that drive success.
As the Chairman of the Lime Connect Global Board you are actively involved in its strategic direction. What drew you to Lime Connect and what do you see as its role?
What drove me to Lime Connect was the profound vision for changing both the workplace and the marketplace for people with disabilities. The underdeveloped and underutilized capabilities are an enormous resource that - if truly released - will change the world. Lime is positioned to play an essential role in achieving this vision. By fulfilling our mission of attracting and preparing outstanding students - and then connecting to opportunity with the leading companies, Lime Connect can be a great catalyst for transforming the experience of people with disabilities.