Get to know: Tom Lokar '88, Leading in new ways

February 15, 2018

Thomas Lokar spoke about leadership to Detroit Mercy students.Tom Lokar ’88 knows a thing or two about leadership.

Currently the chief human resources officer for telecommunications company Mitel, he has worked in similar positions for HP, AOL and Bristol Myers Squibb. He also founded and ran an online career management and talent management business, where he developed a series of assessment tools and feedback protocols to help those seeking jobs define their career plan, and help recruiters find the right candidate.

He spoke about leadership to Detroit Mercy undergraduate students last week at an event hosted by the College of Liberal Arts & Education.

“Leadership sensibilities are changing,” he said. “The old model where the director is in control and everyone does what he says are gone. There is a lot more they need to understand about equity and collaboration.”

His advice to students who want to become tomorrow’s leaders? Get international experience early in your career; take every opportunity for leadership that presents itself; and be open to opportunities that allow you to follow your interests.

Today’s leaders are being called on to manage a more diverse workforce and cater to a more diverse clientele. Those two groups seem diverse, but when a leader creates a culture that is inclusive and individual, everyone can win.

“Today’s customer is looking for an experience rather than an outcome,” Lokar said. “That changes what we do for them and how.”

And listening — to customers, team members, the industry and your competitors — is the only way to really understand what needs to be done inside the company for the employees and outside for the customers.

Lokar, who graduated with a Psychology degree, said University of Detroit shaped his career and life. He had some knowledge of the University because his father, Robert ’60, and mother ’64 are alumni of University of Detroit’s dental and dental hygiene program, respectively. Robert Lokar was an orthodontist for many years and is an adjunct faculty member at Detroit Mercy Dental. He says he made the right decision to come here.

“To me, University of Detroit is the foundation of my life and career as a professional and as a man,” he said. “When I was here, I was really learning and the professors here made me love learning.”

He graduated magna cum laude, he said, which was a major accomplishment after finishing high school as an average student.

“I always tell people I went to a Jesuit university,” he said. “I loved my Jesuit education.”

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