Believe it. Live it!: ‘The opportunities within change’ featuring Shinto Thomas, Commercial Manager at Alosra supermarket

When he joined the BMMI Group as a temporary employee in 1995, little did Shinto Thomas know that he would be beginning a journey of exciting career growth and learning experiences.

Throughout his career at BMMI, the organisation’s culture attracted Shinto because it offered opportunities for promoting employees internally, moving around in diverse business divisions and supporting training and development.

Now the Commercial Manager at Alosra supermarket, Shinto has worked under many different divisions at BMMI, including beverages, finance, IT, logistics and Alosra, with varying responsibilities ranging from admin work, to IT specialisations, to dealing with supplier management.

Below, Shinto shares some tips he learned throughout his experience. These lessons have helped him remain successful even when his career took unexpected turns and as he navigated unchartered waters.

  1. It all comes down to hard work

Shinto believes that hard work and dedication are crucial elements for career success, no matter what path you’re on. “A lot of opportunities come down to how hard you work. You need to have a reputation as someone who is willing to work hard to succeed. Moving between teams and divisions, it makes you realise that change is not easy, and transitions are not always smooth. But your colleagues are confident you can excel in different places because of your strong work ethic. It takes a lot of effort to learn new things, remember new processes and even change your work style to fit into your new position, it’s all a learning curve, and without hard work you will never make it through.”

  1. Never give up your thirst for knowledge

A successful career, especially in today’s shifting business environment, needs constant curiosity and an unwavering commitment to lifelong learning. “Ever since I began my career and even throughout my transitions, I always made sure that I updated myself in the areas I was passionate about and to continue my studies. This helped me become more and more well-rounded and opened the door for me for various future opportunities. Luckily, BMMI is supportive of learning and development, and they have helped me grow throughout the years through training and various programmes. But this commitment goes two ways, a company should be willing to ensure that their employees remain trained so that they stay on the cutting edge, but we also have to make sure to grasp the opportunities given to us. If you’re offered a chance for training or learning something new, take it. Explore, learn and grow and you will become much more successful, benefiting both yourself and the organisation.”

  1. Embrace change and don’t fear the unknown

Let’s face it, change can be terrifying at times. Yet, Shinto believes that by embracing different opportunities, we are gaining much more than we are losing. “Being adaptable to change is a very important skill. You need to know that everything changes at one point or the other. It’s crucial to be adaptable and realise that you are capable of handling whatever you are faced with. All the changes I have experienced in my career have made it so much more rewarding and have helped shaped me as a person. Change sometimes gives you a needed charge and a jolt to try something new, because if you’re too comfortable in one place, you might be missing some of the most exciting times in your life. Don’t ever reject an opportunity based on fear of change, always believe in yourself and that you can handle what’s to come.”

  1. Realise the opportunities in developing others

Shinto makes it a priority to always help his team members with their own career growth and personal development. Not only does that help keep them motivated and performing at their best, but he also believes it helps create something crucial for his own growth: a viable successor. “I’m always teaching my team members when I know and sharing my experiences with them, it’s something I’ve always done. I know that some people see it as a threat to train people to be able to have the skills to do your job because they are afraid that person will turn around and steal the job from them. But it’s actually not a threat, it’s an opportunity. It’s a sad reality that some employees feel stuck, because managers are afraid to promote or move them because there is no suitable replacement or a potential successor. I make sure my team knows how to do the work because if I see another opportunity I would like to take, I know that I can move and that there is someone that could handle my previous job, ensuring sustainability and also development for them. Employees must feel empowered and must feel that their manager supports their development, or else they will eventually lose motivation.”

  1. Develop your network and always remember who supported you

The people Shinto has met throughout his career have been as diverse as his experiences and have formed a network of trusted friends and colleagues. “Human interaction is one of the great things about business, because at the end of the day it is always about people. Some of the opportunities I got were because someone thought to recommend me and because I have worked on building a reputation as a reliable and professional employee. Furthermore, building up your network gives you the opportunity to meet new people you can learn from and who you can also offer your experiences to. At BMMI especially, this has been very important. We are in 11 countries now, with over 2000 employees. Knowing people in the company makes it easier for people to support each other and to resolve issues more easily because they know who to go to directly. Thankfully, BMMI also invests in the social aspect of work. I have been part of the BMMI badminton team for years and have also joined the cricket team. This gives me the opportunity to interact with BMMI employees who I am not in regular contact with in my day-to-day schedule.”

Today, Shinto remains open to considering new opportunities, which is exactly the way he prefers it. “When I started working here 22 years ago, I never imagined the trajectory my career would take. I am always eager for the opportunity to grow and develop within BMMI, and who knows what the future holds? But I am certain that by keeping the above lessons in mind, I will be able to adapt to any changes and to face them head on.”