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Tom Shuker understands the value of a good team- one that runs smoothly, one where communication and ideas flow, and where things get done. Over his thirty plus years at General Motors and his subsequent years as a top consultant, he has had the rare privilege of seeing just what all can be accomplished when people get together and all the pieces of the “machinery” work and accomplish the mission for which they were designed.
Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Tom grew up in a home that encouraged trust, and he was instilled with a sense of diplomacy and faith in his fellow men and women in his life. Those qualities are evident to those who have worked with him through the years, and he says that many times he has found himself as “the go-between, the listener.”
Tom graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State, and after completing his MBA in his early thirties, he began a journey through many parts of the GM organization, focusing primarily on manufacturing. His work in these various roles honed his communications skills and his ability to transform complicated ideas into practical, doable concepts. “I see myself as having a very practical view of most issues,” he says. If something sounds too complicated for me, then I am pretty sure that it will be too complicated for others who have to work with it or figure it out on a daily basis.”
In 1994, Tom was invited into the rarified air of a very special project at GM, a joint venture with Toyota that he says was the best career move he ever made. It was an elite group of invitees to say the least. Only 12 people annually in all of GM were asked to be in this two-year intensive program that taught “The Toyota Way.” Tom and wife Jodi packed up their belongings, sold their home in Michigan, and moved to Fremont, California for two years of rigorous training that he admits changed his life in many ways.
These days he is a valuable member of Lean Transformations Group, an organization formed after he and 3 other principles in the company worked together on a project at GM with author, consultant, and Lean thinking pioneer, John Shook. “We had such a good time working together, and we did some terrific work. We wanted to do more of it,” says Tom.
Today, the LTG team has grown, and indeed, Tom and his associates are transforming organizations all around the globe. It never gets old,” he says, “To see the light bulbs go off and to see people understand that this could work.”And, the LTG team’s work together is as exciting as it has ever been. Tom knows how blessed he is to be doing it, and to be back living in his home state of Michigan near his children and grandchildren.
Tom and Jodi have two daughters and 4 granddaughters.