Toastmasters member since: 2015
  • BJuris
  • BCom: Organisational and Industrial Psychology
Toastmasters offices held and terms of service:
  • Club Growth Director 2021/22
  • Division E Director 2018/19
  • Area Director 2016/17
  • Algoa: President 2015/16, VP Education 2014/15, Sergeant at Arms 2012/13
  • A.C.T: VP Membership 2020/21, Sergeant at Arms 2019/20, 2021/22
Toastmasters honours and recognition:
  • District 74: John Whiffen Helping Hand Award 2020
  • Algoa: Community Service Award 2018 and 2020
  • A.C.T: Community Service Award 2019, Toastmaster of the Year 2020, Leadership Award 2021
Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a District leader:
25 years of customer relations experience, understanding, evaluating, investigating and solving customer related challenges. The Toastmasters members are at the top of the inverted pyramid, and my experience aligns with ensuring each member achieves their personal development goals through the Toastmasters educational program. I played a significant role in establishing a management support structure at my work place, including establishing effective processes to ensure that a specific level of service is maintained when internal and external stakeholders interacts with our department. My work colleagues consistently give me feedback on the positive manner in which I handle challenges and how they valued my problem solving skills. I am currently the Deputy Director: Revenue Programmes, a strategic finance role, where I am required to do analysis, amend processes, policies and create alignment amongst stakeholders in the Revenue value chain within our organisation. I have been made responsible to host interns, who join my team to gain valuable work experience, through hands-on, real work life activities and interaction with various levels within the organisation and my sphere of influence. I have successfully guided my interns to attain gainful employment and to function effectively within the work environment. I know that with these skills, I can contribute to achieving the mission and vision of District 74 to build new clubs and ensure that existing clubs remain viable and flourishing. Applying the skills will give me also an opportunity to continue to build on the standard of Program Quality that I was able to access through the leaders that have gone before me and I want to give back what I have been privileged to receive with gratitude.
What experience do you have in strategic planning?
I am currently in a strategic finance role, where I am required to do analysis, amend processes, policies and create alignment amongst internal and external stakeholders in the Revenue value chain within our organisation. In addition, I have successfully led teams on internal projects within my work organisation. I understand the "big picture" and have a systematic, analytical approach to ensuring that strategic plans are effectively resources and executed. Communication and buy-in in executing a strategic plan is one of my strengths, as I lead by example in my actions. My current role of Club Growth Director has allowed to extend my ability to remain focused on the Key Performance Areas, to adjust to changing environment and to remember the members that we are serving in the process of meeting our goals. Collaboration and team work has become the key component of building and attaining collective goals that make a significant impact on all members involved in the process. My learned experience from work life and within Toastmasters have reinforced my desire to continue my leadership journey within Toastmasters, by continuing the building of the legacy of Toastmasters International within District 74 Southern Africa. I know that with these skills, I can contribute to achieving the mission and vision of District 74 to build new clubs and ensure that all clubs achieve excellence.
What experience do you have in the area of finance?
I work in the finance department currently, and have a sound knowledge of budgets, accounts, creditors, staff remuneration, etc. I am conscious of cost of returns on investments, be it time, money, expertise, growth and development, etc. which have impacted organizations due to the pandemic. Similarly, Toastmasters International had to make a number of concessions towards potential future gains, by holding the First Virtual Toastmasters International Convention, by continuing club meetings Online, in giving free paths for renewals and to waiver the new club charter fee. The financial burden on members to pay their dues or even start a new club, will require innovative thinking to enable future gains for each Toastmasters member and the Toastmasters organization as a whole. During my journey as Club Growth Director, I have maintained a prudent approach to the finances, monitoring the return on investments in building new clubs and increasing membership to direct activities to expand the reach of Toastmasters in District 74 Southern African. My experience in finance and my work done as Club Growth Director will ensure that each member reaps the benefits from investing in their Toastmasters journey, by ensuring educational program and auxiliary activities relating to empowering and up-skilling members are done in a sustainable manner, working with existing processes, leaders and members to ensure viability through collaboration with the broader Toastmasters community.
What experience do you have in developing procedures?
As stated above, I have developed procedures and processes within my current work environment that have resulted in greater efficiency, productivity and enhanced alignment with internal and external stakeholders in achieving our collective goals. As stated I look at thinks from a systematic and analytical perspective, which allows me to remain objective in handling challenges in existing procedures as well as mapping out new procedures to make the organization and teams work more effectively. Again, communication is key when developing new procedures, so that everyone feels that they are part and parcel of the success of the organization. Working with interns, I have developed sound procedures to guide them from integrating into the work place, team dynamics, work conflict, preparation for work placement interviews, up to managing their own behavior to situations which enable them to function effectively to get the job done. The procedures have now been implemented since 2017 within my work environment.
What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?
I learned that no man is an island, we exist to be of service to our fellow human beings. Each individual member of a team has their own skills set and expertise, as a successful leader it is my responsibility to mix all the various skills together to get to our goals. I have learned to listen more intently to the unspoken words, and to consciously acknowledge my humanity when making a mistake and correcting it promptly. Dealing with conflict can be done in a positive, respectful manner without demeaning or degrading anyone around the table. We can walk away from the table having learned something new to work on for the future. I am never to old to learn, so having a mentor on my leadership journey has helped me overcome some tricky hurdles and allowed me to gain better insights into my behavior towards others and my opinion about myself. My Club Growth experience showed me that opportunities are available for personal growth if you open yourself up to other individuals learnt experiences, to build new knowledge, new perspectives and gain better insights for future actions that I may be confronted with whether at work or any where life takes me..
Why do you want to serve as a District leader?
I have been a Toastmaster for just over 11 years now, and it is only in last six years that I have been exposed to the District 74 Toastmasters community. I have been inspired by many leaders over the past few years that have serviced on the District Cabinet and who selflessly gave their time, money and expertise to service me and my fellow toastmasters on our journey of personal growth and development. I want to continue on the path they have set before us and work with my fellow leaders to expose more individuals to the excellent world renown Toastmasters educational program and the leadership development opportunities. I have seen so many people shrink into obscurity when facing obstacles of communication and leadership, that it would be an injustice for me to sit idly by and not extend myself in pursuit of a higher ideal - changing individual's lives positively so they can impact their families and their communities, and their countries! Through my current role of Club Growth Director, I embraced my responsibility and commitment to myself not to remain quite - but to pursue this ideal with passion and conviction. I am enjoying the beauty of sharing the quality of Toastmasters with others and seeing the transformation this program has brought to so many lives, including mine.
In your opinion, what are the District mission’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?
In my view, the District mission's major objectives are to build new clubs and to support all clubs to achieve excellence. I believe that each member matters, and that without the members involvement and participation in pursuing their own personal development goals, the District mission is not achievable. Let me start with existing clubs where there has been a decline in membership or where they are not registering any awards on the DCP dashboard. My first point of call would be to understand whether the members are encouraged to achieve educational goals, do they have mentors, is the club executive committee functioning effectively and to ask some difficult questions in the process. By analyzing the status quo, what worked or did not work in the past, I would be able to work on a strategy to bring about change, in collaboration with the other District Cabinet members and existing strategic plans already afoot, such as the CFR league, DLC, etc. The embracing of the Pathways program in some clubs are not as good as expected, therefore I would work on building a value proposition to present to the clubs and members that have not fully embraced it. As stated previously, collaboration and team work make for effective engagement with members and understanding where they are on their personal development journey and how Toastmasters can meet their needs. The mentors program within Toastmasters will be further encouraged as a standard requirement as a support for new members, in addition I would want to establishing specialist mentoring, for example voice control, gestures, using technology, building a speech, contest preparation, etc. just to name a few, to help members as they reach for their extraordinary goals. As the Toastmasters International program evolves, I would set up a "virtual notice board" directing members to changes and ensuring that implementation of such changes are embraced by all through empowering educational interventions. In the area of new clubs, building sustainable clubs that charter is fundamental not only for the charter members, but also for future members. So ensuring that club mentors provide the quality support to create a solid foundation on which the club can continue to build. Ensure officers of the club understands their roles and the importance of consistency and transparency to make the club function effectively. This will encourage leadership development for the future and create the foundation for a legacy club. In my work as Club Growth Director I have consistently reinforced the concept of building a legacy club for the future - planting seed today that will grow in to tree in the future, with many benefits to others.
Additional information about yourself
Roy Bennett said, "If you have a strong purpose in life, you don't have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there."
I live by this philosophy. I embarked on epic adventures that shaped and moulded my views on achieving the impossible. For example in 2005, after years of saving, training, research and planning, I achieved something impossible by standing at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain on the African continent and the highest free standing mountain in the world. In 2015, I embarked on a solo expedition to Base Camp Mount Everest which challenged me in many ways - as I had to find my way to Nepal on my own before meeting up with the Everest expedition group.
In addition to my passion for hiking/trekking and mountaineering, I have been studying French for a few years, as I hope to travel through Africa in the future.
I have a belief that every individual has a Big Impossible Dream, whether you are a child or a parent, and that you deserve to make it a reality. In a small way making someone's dream come true has become my mission. This life philosophy allowed me to be more determined, resilient, aware, strategic, logical, financially savvy, and so much more. I have learned to be open to new cultures and communities, additionally I have overcome some of my own vulnerabilities. My journey has just started and I am growing with each experience and each encounter every single day! And I am loving it!