What can be a relationship between a Catholic priest and professionals of the corporate sector? Father VM Thomas has redefined this relation. He is training industry professionals in Assam to improve their work efficiency and motivate them to reach the zenith of success.
Father Thomas is now busy conducting 19 training programs for the senior officials and executives of Oil India Limited (OIL) in Duliajan in Upper Assam. Christened Skill Matrix Assessment Retreat and Training or SMART, the program was specially designed as an experiential program, in line with the way the young consume information today.
Speaking to Awaz-The Voice Assam Father Thomas, a Harvard Graduate who played a key role in setting up the Don Bosco group of institutions in North East, said: “At the invitation of OIL, we built a uniquely curated training program that would be delivered to 576 young OIL India employees under 35 years of age. The program helps in identifying leaders of the future and plays a role in succession planning.”
Students enjoying a lighter moment in Fr V M Thomas's classroom
The program touches upon four key areas – Self-Awareness, Teamwork, Creativity and Innovation, and Leadership.
“By helping participants get a deep understanding of themselves, they are provided a base to build on and become the best versions of themselves,” Father Thomas said.
“The program also helps them to understand one another showing what makes each one individually unique and how they can embrace these differences to work well with each other, strengthen their interpersonal skills and work well in teams,” Father Thomas explained the dynamics of the program.
On a positive note, Father Thomas says, “Our program helps unlock people’s minds and address stereotypes, socio-cultural biases, gender biases, and assumptions among others that compartmentalize people's thoughts limiting their thinking.”
A class of OIL executives by Fr V M Thomas
Besides input and interactive stimulation games, the program also had multiple assessments based on popular tools.
These assessments have helped provide a deep understanding of personality and ways of working that will help participants realize their potential.
The participants are also allowed to grow in confidence and harness their inner strengths. They were taken on a journey of self-discovery and transformation and pushed to come out of their comfort zones and experience magic.
The program uses a mix of different training methods such as immersive and multi-sensory including lectures, discussions, music, videos, simulated exercises, and group activities.
Executives of OIL working together during Ft Thomas's class
At the end of the program, each participant can understand how to enhance their personal and professional effectiveness and make a significant, positive impact on OIL India.
In the second phase of training, assisted by a team of professionals, 130 of the SMART participants will go through an advanced 5-day Leadership Training program at Siloam -Transformational Leadership Resource Center on Barapani Lake in neighboring Meghalaya. The program is entitled SHARP (Strengths, Health, Absorption, Relationship, and Purpose) to enhance their leadership insights and skills.
A Harvard graduate in Educational Administration, Planning, and Social Policy, Father V M Thomas has had a very illustrious career as an educationist and social worker. He had been a visiting Faculty member at the Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, teaching IAS cadres to prepare for the life ahead. He was adjudged the best faculty member year after year by the IAS probationers at LBS Academy. He has been visiting the premiere management institutes delivering lectures and sharing his experiences.
From teaching at the hallowed precincts of India's most elite institutes to the relief camps of Assam has been quite an experiential journey for Father Thomas who wears many caps and is associated with some of the top-notch premier educational institutes of India.