Poole Staff Spotlight: Meet Brian Thomas
By Caroline Barnhill
As a leading research institution, it takes a capable leader to oversee a college’s research and funding. Luckily, Poole College of Management has Brian Thomas at the helm. Thomas, who today serves as the college’s director of research development and administration, has been with the college since 2006. He has seen lots of changes in the college through the years.
“When I started with the college, it was only 14 years old. It wasn’t called Poole College back then – and there was no Jenkins Graduate School of Management,” Thomas says. “But the college was, of course, part of NC State University – a preeminent research institution that consistently ranks in the top 10 nationally in annual research expenditures among public universities without a medical school. At the time I was hired, the college leadership recognized both the need and the opportunity to make sponsored research a key part of the college’s identity. I’m very proud to have been a part of that and I remain grateful to former associate dean Steve Allen for the opportunity.”
Q&A with Brian Thomas
What is a project in your current role that you are particularly proud of?
What I’m most proud of is having worked with faculty from all of our departments to help Poole become known for excellence in sponsored research. Generally speaking, business schools don’t place great emphasis on sponsored research, but for a young business school – particularly one at NC State – I think our investments in sponsored research capability were critical to helping us solidify our standing among the other colleges at NC State and also differentiate ourselves from other business schools in the region and in the country.
What’s the most memorable Poole College event you have attended?
The most memorable Poole events I’ve attended are definitely the Poole Porch Parties, as part of NC State’s annual homecoming celebrations. I enjoyed these because I got to entertain my colleagues and friends with bluegrass music as part of the Poole Pickers. These events had a great atmosphere for celebrating Poole, NC State and just getting to hang out with other Poole faculty and staff. My family enjoyed these as well – I think my son even won a costume contest one year.
Why do you love being a part of Poole?
What I love about Poole College is having had the opportunity to watch the college grow and evolve and to be a part of that. To have been here when the college of management became the first named college at NC State was very special. A naming gift doesn’t happen very often; to be part of the energy and excitement around Poole’s naming gift is a great memory. I also love that the college remains nimble, resourceful and even entrepreneurial. We’re not shy about investing in our growth. I love that we’ve invested in diversity, sustainability and new initiatives like the Business Analytics Initiative. I love that we’re not afraid to try things.
Tell us more about your life outside of Poole College.
Outside of Poole College, I am fortunate to have a wonderful family – my wife and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary later this year, and we have one son who is a senior at Broughton High School. He’s thinking of majoring in business in college but hasn’t decided yet where he wants to go. We are also parents to two German Shepherd mixes who could not be more dissimilar. We should’ve named them Oscar and Felix. I also have a lot of hobbies and pursuits outside of work. I’m an avid fly fisher and fly tyer, I enjoy woodworking, I play guitar and sing bluegrass and classic country music, and I’m an advocate for active transportation. I currently serve on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission for the City of Raleigh.
My Poole colleagues might not know…
I have a new band called Barndance that plays classic country from the 50s and 60s. I’m getting to play with some of the best musicians in Raleigh so it’s an absolute thrill to be part of this group.