“Sometimes as a CEO, you have to make tough decisions and it’s human nature to dwell on them – having the weight left on you. My TEC group helps me clear my mind and focus on the things that are more important and create influence through FHQ Developments,” -Thomas Benjoe, President/CEO FHQ Developments, and TEC member
THOMAS IN 100 WORDS
Throughout Thomas Benjoe’s list of career accolades – which includes being the President and CEO of FHQ Developments, receiving a Young Humanitarian Award from the Canadian Red Cross, and being a member of CBC’s Future 40 coveted alumni – he has always been committed to helping shape one of the most important growth sectors within the Saskatchewan economy – Indigenous business development. Thomas is a part of several committees and boards, including the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, and is recognized as one of the Top 10 Most Influential Economic Developers by Treaty 4 News for his significant contribution towards improving the lives of Indigenous people through business.
Established in 2020, FHQ Developments was formed through a limited partnership agreement of the 11 First Nations communities that make up the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council in Treaty 4 territory. Representing over 16,000 First Nation citizens and 435,000 acres of reserve lands in Treaty 4 territory, FHQ Developments is dedicated to creating long-term economic independence by developing profitable business ventures, pursuing economic development opportunities, and advancing the employment and livelihood for its Nations and citizens.
After graduating from First Nations University of Canada in 2011 with a Bachelor of Administration degree, Thomas joined the Aboriginal Banking unit with the Royal Bank of Canada. After achieving spectacular growth within his client’s portfolio and accelerating RBC’s Aboriginal strategy for new partnerships and investments, members of the FHQ Developments Board of Directors unanimously approached him about becoming the company’s President and CEO. Upon accepting the position – where he knew he was best equipped to facilitate multi-generational wealth for his community – Thomas discovered TEC after an introspective discussion with FHQ’s Board of Directors. “I expressed to the rest of the board members that I realized I was a young President & CEO. I had the vision but knew that having a community to discuss ideas with – and the opportunity to work with other business leaders – was important for FHQ’s growth and long-term success. That’s when members of the board started to talk about TEC and the invaluable opportunities it provides to leaders,” said Thomas.
Since joining a TEC Small Business group led by TEC Chair Linda Allen-Hardisty, Thomas has infused TEC’s transformative process throughout the entire organization. “We have implemented a coaching culture within FHQ Developments. If there are situations that people are dealing with, I am not going to ‘save the day’ or solve the problem for you. I am going to ask you, ‘how can I coach you to make a better decision or to find the right resources? We also talk about the underlying issues that might be affecting the decision-making process. These aspects of coaching culture are something I’ve learned through TEC and brought into FHQ Developments as a result,” said Thomas.
As a business leader, it’s common to experience feelings of isolation – which can greatly impact decision-making and leadership effectiveness. Through TEC’s advantage of one-to-one executive coaching and confidential peer group meetings, Thomas has been able to mitigate feelings of isolation and navigate the business landscape with the support of a sounding board that is dedicated to his success. “Having a coach and people to go to in a safe space, where I can admit to mistakes or discuss tough decisions I’ve had to make as a CEO, is extremely helpful. Sometimes as a CEO, you have to make tough decisions and it’s human nature to dwell on them – having the weight left on you. My TEC group helps me clear my mind and focus on the things that are more important and create influence through FHQ Developments,” said Thomas.
As a leader that is constantly thinking about how to create meaningful impact – to the degree of seven generations ahead of his own – TEC has been instrumental for Thomas to create effective future-oriented planning and respond to timely business perils with greater confidence and ease. “TEC gives you access to other CEOs, insight into the issues they’re dealing with – and how they should effectively deal with them. Getting access to that real-life experience has been invaluable because a lot of the issues that I heard through my group members ended up being issues that myself and FHQ Developments had to face at a later date. Having the foresight about how to mitigate those challenges has helped us get to where we are,” said Thomas.
Indigenous people are the youngest, fastest-growing population in Canada and in Saskatchewan. Thomas Benjoe, second vice chair of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, has contributed to the creation of the Indigenous Engagement Charter – developed for Saskatchewan businesses to improve their Indigenous engagement strategy, educate their workplaces on Indigenous history and culture, hire more indigenous people and implement procurement practices, actions and partnerships with Indigenous businesses. For more information about the Indigenous Engagement Charter – and to get started on formalizing your Indigenous Engagement objectives and goals. – click here.