Words of Wisdom with Eileen Thomas

Eileen Thomas
Executive Director, River City Food Bank
Email Eileen

What are three things you wish you’d known as you embarked on your career?

1. Say “yes” to a challenge. You learn so much by stepping outside your comfort zone, and you might surprise yourself by finding a new passion.

2. If you don’t know something, admit it and take the time to find out what you should know. If you make a mistake, admit that too!

3. Practice the principles of a sponge and try to soak up as much experience and information as you are able. Live in the moment and absorb as much as you can.

Did you have a mentor? If so, what was the most important piece of advice they gave you?

My best mentors, other than my parents, were the IBVM Sisters of Loretto High School.  They taught me to have faith in myself and my abilities and to see the very best in all people by concentrating on the positive. The most important advice Sr. Nora Lowe gave me was to “see the face of God in everyone you meet.”

How did/do you handle work/life balance?

Balance is difficult, especially if you are a woman who wants a career and a family. I try to be “present” to my family when I am with them; I don’t answer work emails or take work related phone calls. I also use my commute time to “change hats,” so by the time I arrive at home I have left most of my concerns and work related tasks in my brief case. I always use my mornings before I leave the house to make a list of things that need to be done at the office so that by the time I sit down at my desk, I know what I need to do first.

Do you have any suggestions of books, articles, websites, etc. that might help a young professional?

I love "Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!" Also, "Hit the Ground Running…A Woman’s Guide to the First 100 Days on the Job," by Liz Cornish.

How important is it to be involved in organizations outside of work (church, networking groups, philanthropy, alumni groups, athletic groups, etc.)? Why?

I think it is very important to be involved in organizations outside of work.  First of all, we all need to connect and find different, interesting people and projects that do not necessarily relate to our professions. Secondly, it is surprising how much our personal and professional lives intersect, especially in a small place like Sacramento.

What do you love about Sacramento?

I love the way people connect in Sacramento. It is so nice to be able to go to a River Cats game or a fundraiser and see people you know from different aspects of your life. I also love the way Sacramentans rally to help each other. I will never forget how everyone came together to help River City Food Bank rebuild after our devastating fire. I think Sacramento is a very caring community, and I love that!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the 40 and under business professionals in our region?

In this age of speed and instant gratification, don’t forget the power of a hand written note of thanks or encouragement. An email is fine, but a note shows someone that you have remembered and taken the time and energy to be more personal and caring.