"The thing I love the most about our Toastmasters journey as a family is that we get to see each other in ways that we have never seen before.”—Sheetal Bahirat
- Each earning their CC and CL
- Each serving as club president
- Becoming closer as a family
The Bahirats are originally from different parts of India, and lived in the United States for eight years before settling in Bangalore 16 years ago. They joined Sunshine Toastmasters club in 2008 and have all earned their Competent Communicator and Competent Leadership awards. In addition, each of them has served as club president, among other officer roles.
Vijayalaxmi initially discovered Toastmasters for her son Amit when he turned 18. The mother/son duo was the first in the family to join. “I took him to a meeting or two, and loved the experience myself, so I joined with him! Then, when we started giving a few speeches, Sheetal and Anand tagged along,” she says.
Anand is the patriarch of the family. He worked in the software industry for more than 30 years. He is partially retired but still helps his wife, Vijayalaxmi, with her business, Big Blender Foods Private Limited—a company that makes healthy drinks accessible.
Sheetal is a fashion stylist and image consultant who has used her Toastmasters skills while training people and speaking at events. The networking and mentors she’s met have added immense value to her career and life, she says.
The youngest of the family, Amit, runs a digital marketing agency called MadHat Communications. He says his experience has helped him gain skills that he’s applied to his business and career. “It has certainly helped in my professional career, and I believe that it was one of the main reasons I landed my first job,” Amit says.
Anand and Vijayalaxmi have watched their children grow in all stages of life—but sharing in their continued education has created even more proud moments for them.
“Normally the baton of leadership transfers from father to daughter/son. In the Bahirat family it is quite different, as I had the pleasure of taking over as club president from my very own daughter!” Anand says. “And it was a proud moment when Amit took over as the president of our club, as he was complimented for showing his leadership skill and worked as a good team leader during his term.”
The same goes for Sheetal and Amit, who get to witness their parents transform. “My mum’s transformation was one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen,” Amit says. “It cemented my belief in the value and power of the Toastmasters movement.”
His sister believes Toastmasters has brought a new dynamic to their family. “The thing I love the most about our Toastmasters journey as a family is that we get to see each other in ways that we have never seen before,” Sheetal says. “It has brought us a lot closer, built trust and bridged the generation gap.”