Robert Thomas

In my nearly 30 year career, I’ve transitioned from a line engineer, tasked with building, staffing and operating an active ingredients pilot plant in a start up pharmaceutical company, to managing the ~$700mm capital expenditure process for the largest food company in the world. In between I’ve chaired capital investment committees attended by CEOs, CFOs and the like, developed and implemented company-wide Lean Six Sigma programs, transitioned large scale manufacturing sites from manual to high-speed, automated equipment, and hired and managed hundreds of people. I’ve re-engineered production lines, transferred products from one plant to another, mapped and installed the latest technology, planned production, streamlined changeovers, and trained thousands of unionized and non-unionized employees on improvement tools and the intricacies of new equipment and processes.

What’s remained true for me across dozens of transformational projects and thousands of equipment and process changes is the critical role that our people play in getting it right, especially with all those moving parts. An engaged team can make a mediocre idea succeed beyond wildest expectations, while a dysfunctional team can sink the most brilliant plan. It’s really 80% about the people and 20% about the process (or the equipment, or the technology). My from-the-line-up approach means I don’t miss the nuances that can jeopardize a multi-million dollar investment. It works when our teams understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it AND believe in it.

I hold a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from University of Saskatchewan, and am a licensed Professional Engineer. My experience includes increasingly progressive roles with the world’s largest multinational food and consumer packaged goods companies including Colgate-Palmolive, Cadbury and Kraft.