Photo Caption: Toastmasters International Executive Director Daniel Rex and International Director Theo Black met with executives of Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (GPIC) and District 79 officers during their January trip to Bahrain. Pictured in the bottom row, from left: Past District 79 Governor A. Imtiaz Ahmed, DTM; District 79 LGET Khalid Al Qoud, DTM; International Director Black, DTM; GPIC President Abdulrahman Jawahery; Executive Director Rex; and District 79 LGM Alex Ginete, DTM. Pictured directly behind Mr. Ginete is Chairman, Gulf Toastmasters Council, Alaguthevar Ponnuchamy, DTM.
Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (GPIC), a multi- billion-dollar petrochemicals manufacturer in Manama, Bahrain, is a strong advocate of Toastmasters. In fact, the company is so supportive of the Toastmasters communication and leadership program that it offers a number of financial incentives to members of its corporate club.
For example, GPIC pays all membership fees, and the club hosts its own meeting venue on company premises. GPIC also pays for all items that members order from the Toastmasters International store, including shipping costs. In addition, GPIC covers all registration fees for Toastmasters workshops and conferences that the corporate club members attend.
But the most dramatic show of company support is this: Once members achieve the Competent Communicator award, they receive a five percent increase in salary. It is an outstanding and effective motivator to encourage members to meet their goals and make the most of their membership. Achieving Distinguished Toastmaster status brings another five percent increase.
Members of GPIC Toastmasters say the club benefits them in many ways, but mainly with helping them perfect their technical and business presentations. “The experience gained from the Toastmasters meetings enhanced the presentation skills and boosted the confidence of our staff,” says Abdul Ameer Al Mulla, founding president of the club and its liaison to GPIC management. “This has boosted the company image when these individuals represent the company in conferences, workshops and meetings.”
“GPIC Toastmasters opened the stage for me to communicate in a professional manner,” adds Hassan Ali, a trainee utilities shift supervisor. “It also provided me with all the means to develop the hidden skills of communication.”
The company’s support for Toastmasters starts at the top. GPIC President Abdulrahman Jawahery is an admirer of the program who believes strongly in promoting public speaking and leadership training. His involvement is hands-on.
“Despite my extremely busy schedule as company president...I do not miss any opportunity to attend Toastmasters events,” he says. “I have personally benefited immensely from the experience, not only in terms of honing my speaking skills, but in the wealth of knowledge I have gained and the golden opportunity it provides me to socialize with people from all walks of life.”
Money is Well Spent
Mr. Jawahery says money spent on the corporate club and its members is an investment in its employee training.
“The Toastmasters programs offer the best value available in the market to shape the personalities of our employees, help them develop their presentation and leadership skills and uncover their talents,” he says. “Our company has uncovered talents in our employees that we have nurtured and utilized – talents that would have remained hidden and wasted [if not for Toastmasters]. So it’s a benefit for both the employee and the organization.”
Mr. Jawahery not only supports Toastmasters in his company, but in his country and internationally as well. He supports the annual Toastmasters conferences held in Bahrain. In addition, Mr. Jawahery, company executives and members of the GPIC Toastmasters met with Toastmasters International Executive Director Daniel Rex and International Director Theo Black during their January visit to the Middle East.
With the company’s strong backing, the GPIC club has thrived. It has 50 members in the registration process for this year, and at its peak had 70 enrolled members – a record for a Bahrain club.
GPIC club members say Toastmasters training transfers directly to the workplace. “Words cannot describe the huge improvement in my leadership and communication skills,” says club president Mahmood Ahmed Ghuloom, an instrument engineer for the company. “GPIC Toastmasters paved the way to my becoming a better engineer and boosted my confidence in how I do my job.”
A significant benefit of Toastmasters’ leadership training is the appreciation for “team spirit” in the workplace and the effectiveness of working in groups, say GPIC club members. “The roles I took up during the meetings enabled me to appreciate the importance of teamwork and gave me much-needed experience to progress in my career,” notes Mariam Al Mousawi, the club’s treasurer, who works in the Human Resources Department.
GPIC President Mr. Jawahery also encourages GPIC Toastmasters to improve their skills by taking leadership positions at the area, division and district levels.
Learning More about Colleagues
Club members say that Toastmasters enables them to interact with fellow employees in positive ways. By listening to speeches given by colleagues throughout the company, employees gain a better understanding of their co-workers’ duties and are exposed to different ways of thinking. In addition, club members say they make valuable social connections across departments and disciplines, which enhances both their work and personal lives. The club provides a forum for members to meet on an equal footing, and this can be extremely valuable within a corporation.
Toastmasters skills should also be applied outside of work, say members. The company and its Toastmasters club reach out to the greater community around them: For the last two years, they have run a Youth Leadership Program for more than 80 of GPIC employees’ children. Club member Mr. Almulla says, “Spreading the word about Toastmasters is an effective way to practice public speaking and leadership.”
The management team at GPIC, which was formed 32 years ago and employs nearly 500 people, embraces the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The corporate club helps the company meets its goals in that area. “The Toastmasters program enabled us to expand our CSR activities as part of our mandate to serve the society we work in,” says Mr. Almulla, GPIC’s electrical maintenance superintendent and acting training and development superintendent. “To date, we have trained hundreds of people all around the Kingdom of Bahrain.” This enhances the company image and builds strong relationships between individuals and companies.
Currently, 58 Toastmasters clubs exist within Bahrain. While GPIC Toastmasters has a restricted membership, members from any club are always welcome as guests. GPIC Toastmasters, which holds meetings in both English and Arabic, frequently holds joint meetings with other clubs.
GPIC Toastmasters – boosted by the company’s avid support – has managed to instill in its members a joy of achievement. Perhaps Ms. Al Mousawi, the club’s treasurer, says it best:
“Public speaking is something that I had feared. Enrolling in Toastmasters has given me the chance to try and change this, and to overcome the barrier that I placed upon myself. It was a challenge, and I always enjoy challenges.”
Dean Sheetz, ACG, CL, is a member of Dubai Men’s College Toastmasters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He also teaches in the school’s business department. You can reach him at email@example.com.