Tom Colhoun has lived an audacious life so far. For nearly 20 years, he’s worked in customer service across Australia and the United States in retail, hospitality, bartending, camp-counselling, magic, theatre and balloon-making. Today, he brings his infectious energy and profound empathy to Icon Group as our Switchboard Team Leader. At Icon, he says he’s discovered a culture characterised by outstanding teamwork and genuine recognition.
Meet Tom Colhoun
Icon Group’s Switchboard Team Leader, a bright star, in more ways than one
Working tirelessly behind the scenes, Tom and his switchboard team are integral to communication within Icon Group and our connection with the outside world. On average, the small team of four directs up to a thousand calls a day for several Icon Group sites. Their role requires excellent interpersonal skills, immense teamwork and a generous dose of enthusiasm. For Tom, the reward is everyday impact.
“Although our interactions with callers are short, our role is rewarding. It’s nice to know we’re helping someone. We might be the first person from Icon who a caller speaks to. It could be a tumultuous time for them – so to be that friendly voice on the end of the phone is very humbling. I try to treat the last phone call of the day the same as the first. I could be having a good, bad or busy shift – but ultimately, we need to remember the person on the end of the line.”
Reflecting on his time at Icon since he joined us in 2018, Tom says his team has overcome several hurdles which have only strengthened their bond.
“I love the people here – we have a really positive culture. Everyone has each other’s back – if someone needs to swap a shift or have a day off, we step in to help.”
“Our team has overcome a lot together. We’ve been through our share of challenging times – most notably when the team was juggling to cover annual leave following a colleague resigning, and the rollout of a new phone system. But we’ve come out the other side even stronger than before. We’re a robust little unit – prepared for anything.”
Words worth their weight in gold
Among Tom’s favourite things about working at Icon is the strong culture of recognition. In particular, he points to our ‘recognition board.’
“Icon encourages us to celebrate each other for great work. When we see someone going above and beyond, we can add them to the board. The top nominees from each month are invited to a Gala at the end of the year. There, an overall winner is selected for each of five values that Icon cherishes: Energy, Innovate, Connect, On-Purpose and Nurture. This program creates a culture that encourages teamwork and recognising others. It’s a nice way to show appreciation.”
Tom often visits the recognition board to nominate a fellow colleague. But he certainly isn’t short of receiving accolades himself.
“One piece of feedback I received since starting with Icon has stayed with me. I was assisting an elderly gentleman who was just beginning his cancer care journey with us. He was so grateful for my assistance. I remember exactly what he said: ‘People like you are a bright star for people like me.’ I get emotional thinking about his words. When you hear this kind of feedback, it gives you perspective. You could have 200 pretty standard calls, and then you get a call like this and you realise you’ve really helped someone in a meaningful way.”
“It’s sad that the world can be so challenging for some people, but it’s comforting to know that simply by being kind and helpful, you can make all the difference to somebody’s day.”
A career of sparking joy
Tom has built a career on bringing happiness to others. From counselling at a kid’s summer camp in California, to performing magic shows at Universal Studios Orlando or creating balloon spectacles for kids who couldn’t believe their luck, Tom knows a thing or two about delighting people.
“I started out doing acting and magic tricks when I was 18. In my early 20s, I headed to California to work at Mountain Meadow Ranch as their Head High Ropes Instructor for the summer. I loved it so much that I saved up my money to go back. When I returned to the US, I moved to Orlando and worked as a magician in various magic stores. Then, I joined Universal Studios as a performer doing magic shows. It was an incredible experience! After that, I tried my hand at bartending and waiting tables. Then one day, I noticed balloon artists going from table to table, making balloon animals for the kids. They were having so much more fun than me! So I joined their troupe and worked as a balloon entertainer.”
Sensing it was time to come home after five years in the US, Tom returned to Australia and worked in retail, before joining Village Road Show Theme Parks as a Team Leader for their contact centre. However, when the call centre was closed in 2018, Tom turned his attention to a new sector entirely.
“I had heard so many good things about Icon via word of mouth. I knew they had a great track record in terms of being a fantastic employer and I immediately identified with their mission statement. It almost felt like fate that I discovered this position.”
Needless to say, we’re delighted Tom chose to bring his zest for life to the corridors of Icon Group.
“I’m proud to be part of this organisation. My team and I have come a long way. If I may be so bold as to reference a quote from our CEO, Mark Middleton: Regardless of what life throws our way, I’m confident that we will continue to hold our heads high and approach any challenge in a calm, connected and committed manner. I’m looking forward to seeing what new and exciting challenges await us.”