Tonya ThomasMy name: Tonya V. Thomas

My company: EduTechDiva Enterprises

My title: Principal/Chief Effectiveness Officer

My location: Detroit, Michigan

Best business advice I ever received: Remember to treat yourself as your own most valuable commodity. You cannot neglect your own personal and professional development for the sake of any one organization. You must continue to make yourself as marketable and in-demand as possible, even if that means investing in yourself, by yourself.

Most daring personal career move: My most daring personal career move was when I decided to leave a perfectly adequate job for one working as an L&D director with a prominent education reform organization. For the first time in my career, the role required me to do a lot of traveling across the US. That was a daunting prospect as a single mom—working two jobs and going to school full-time—but I made it work. It was an opportunity I could not pass up because it allowed me to work full time to further educational equity, a cause near and dear to my own heart.

What I’m most proud of: I’m most proud of the fact that despite the challenges of being a divorced single mom working two jobs and going to school full-time, I’ve been able to further my own education and be an example of hard work and perseverance to my daughters, who both now have blossoming professional careers of their own. Many people have shared with me how encouraging and uplifting my personal journey has been to them, which has inspired me to write my first book. It is currently being edited and will be published in the very near future. 

Current workplace challenge: Bringing workplace practices up to speed with modern workplace tools, while adjusting attitudes at the same time. The constant tug of war between companies trying to do more with less while demanding that their staff stay updated and retooled for the changing future of work is exhausting, but it makes what I do for my clients even more valuable because we learn to maximize ourselves without losing our focus on individual goals. I attribute my success in maintaining such a balance for myself to the teachings of Dr. Stephen Covey, David Allen, and a few others—and I share these practices with folks I come in contact with.

Something people don’t know about me: I’m a closet interior decorator, which probably stems from my propensity as a professional organizer and effectiveness consultant. I’m a huge advocate of creating an environment that is conducive to being your most effective self and doing your best, most meaningful work. Effectiveness techniques like this, and many more, will be the topic of my next book, currently in draft.