Leadership has long been recognized as a key part of safety culture.

And Keni Thomas knows all about leadership.

When the combat veteran speaks at Enform’s Petroleum Safety Conference May 2-4, 2017 in Banff, his audience will hear compelling stories of how taking charge helped save his and other lives in war.

Thomas will be the keynote speaker on Thursday, May 4 with the topic Get It On! What It Means To Lead the Way.

“Motivate your team to train as they fight, fight as they train and create leaders at every level.”—Keni Thomas’s website.

Black Hawk Down

In June 1993, he was a member of the U.S. Army Task Force Rangers as a part of the UN Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. Its objective was to capture a warlord.

It was there that Thomas survived the ultimate safety challenge – the two-day battle that became known as Black Hawk Down. Some facts:

  • It took 18 lives, with 73 soldiers wounded and one helicopter pilot captured.
  • The downing of two Black Hawk helicopters and the subsequent attempt to rescue their crews were chronicled in a book and a hit Hollywood movie, Black Hawk Down.
  • Tac Fitzgerald portrayed Thomas in the 2001 film, directed by Ridley Scott.
  • When gunfire from Somali militia injured Thomas’s commanding sergeant, someone suddenly had to be responsible for decision making.

“My sergeant looked at me and said, ‘Thomas, you’re in charge,'” the ex-soldier later recalled.

“We find ourselves in those situations. You don’t always have to be happy about how it’s landing on your doorstep, and most the time it isn’t fair, but if you don’t take charge of it, then who’s going to?”

Leadership is at the core

The Ranger motto is Rangers Lead the Way, and leadership is at the core of every skill developed as a Ranger. However, leadership is not an official position but rather an example set by every Ranger.

Whether approaching the beaches of Normandy or the mountain ranges of Afghanistan, Rangers believe the world is made better when leadership is owned by each member of the team.

Expounding principles like this has built Thomas’s reputation as a motivational speaker. His messages about helping others stay out of harm’s way are timely and highly relevant in any workplace where risks exist, and his passion is evident in videos shared by his fans.

“The greatest gift you have is the person on your left and the person on your right,” Thomas told one group in 2014.

“When you walk out those doors, who are you leading? Who are you following? What example are you setting? Ask yourself that on a daily basis and I promise you, you’ll start to live up to it.”

Keni Thomas

Keni Thomas, photo courtesy of www.kenithomas.com

Georgia-born Thomas is also a country singer and recording artist, touring as an act called Keni Thomas and Cornbread. See his Facebook page.

Cameron MacGillivray, Enform’s president and CEO, is looking forward to hearing the keynote speaker at the conference.

“Keni Thomas is a dynamic and engaging speaker whose remarkable experiences, anecdotes and proven leadership qualities are a motivating force for those who encounter him,” MacGillivray says.

“He’s going to be one of the highlights of the conference.”

This year, the 66th annual Petroleum Safety Conference program will also examine lessons our industry and community learned from both the Fort McMurray fire and the economic downturn. Topics include emergency response, crisis communication, safety culture transformation, mental well-being and resiliency.

More information:

*Special discounted rates on Conference fees being offered until February 28, 2017. Save $200 off regular delegate package OR 25% off lowest rates for groups of three or more individuals.