Pan Kao


Candidate's Office: International Director

Region Number: 2

Toastmasters member since: 2005

Education: PhD in Management, Leadership and Organizational Change, Walden University, 2011; Master of Computer Science, Mississippi State University, 1986; Bachelor of Science, Agriculture/Entomology, Chung-Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan, 1982

Employer and/or position: Honda North America, Inc. / Sr. Project Manager

Served as district governor of district number: F

Term of service: 2015-2016

In term as district governor, district achieved:


Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international and regional level):

  • 2016-2017 Immediate Past District Director
  • 2015-2016 District Director
  • 2014-2015 Lieutenant Governor of Education & Training
  • 2013-2014 Lieutenant Governor of Marketing

Toastmasters honors and recognition (international level):

  • 2014-2015 Excellent of Education & Training
  • 2013-2014 Excellent of Marketing

Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board member:

According to Policy 11.0, key responsibilities of Board of Directors include but not limited to: upholding the mission of Toastmasters International, developing organizational strategy, creating organizational policies, approving and overseeing budget and financial matters. As a Sr. Project Manager at Honda North America, a multi-national company in auto manufacturing industry, I have extensive experience in upholding the mission and values of the company, overseeing multi-million dollar budgets for projects and operations, aligning projects to strategic objectives, and creating and executing department policies for IT governance and regulatory compliance. As a volunteer leader of Project Management institute Los Angeles Chapter (PMI-LA), I have served as a member of the Board and a trustee of the chapter for the last 9 years, overseeing the strategic plan, budget, and policies and procedures.

What experience do you have in strategic planning?

As a Sr. Project Manager at Honda North America, my responsibilities are to align project objectives to global and regional strategic objectives in three key areas: quality, cost, and delivery. Quality refers to products and services. Cost is calculated through benefits realization. Delivery is to comply with methodologies and governance to manage risk. As the President of the PMI-LA (Project Management Institute Los Angeles Chapter) in 2011, the Board and I authorized a strategic initiative to help high school students learn skills in project management; and at the same time improve membership retention through outreach to communities and a range of internal and external recognition programs. As the result of the strategic initiative, we were awarded with the PMI Chapter of the Year in the Marketing Outreach Category.

What experience do you have in the area of finance?

As a Sr. Project Manager at Honda North America, my responsibilities are to actively review and analyzing multi-million dollar budgets for projects and operations, and to ensure that all projects are delivered on budget and on schedule. I work with the Budget Controller of the Finance Department. The key consideration from the employer’s perspective, is to receive maximum benefits realization. Within any project, personnel is also a recognized resource which must be considered in the management of all results and outcomes. PMI-LA identified a vulnerability within the finance area. As a result, the chapter decided to create financial policies and procedures and in 2017, as a trustee of PMI-LA, I was part of the Finance Committee that created those PMI-LA Finance Policies and Procedures. This was carried out through a collaborative and consultative process.

What experience do you have in developing policies?

As a Sr. Project Manager at Honda North America, one of my responsibilities is to develop policies and procedures to ensure that operations and projects are in compliance with all regulatory requirements within the industry. An example would be policies and procedures to address issues of reporting safety and recall in vehicles to government. As a volunteer leader at the Project Management institute Los Angeles Chapter, one of my responsibilities is to review, evaluate, and make recommendations for revisions to policies and procedures, as well as all by-laws of the chapter. This annual initiative is undertaken to ensure that the governing documents remain relevant for our chapter members.

What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?

Lessons while serving as Founder’s District Director & President of PMI-LA can be summarized as shared leadership: 1) Sharing Decision Making: As a Founder’s District Director, I collaboratively planned and led the TLI team to improve club officer training by 20%. Sharing the decision making through a collaborative process proved to be a key success factor in encouraging joint ownership of the initiative, and members became invested in the outcome; and ultimately learned and grew together as a team. 2) Inclusiveness and Diversity: As a newly elected district leader, I recruited like-minded individuals to most of the district committees. As a result, many district programs were not fully executed in all clubs in a way to benefit all members. I learned that it is important to recruit team members who represent the diversity within the district and therefore have more inclusiveness. Another personal lesson was to realize that I represented both the people who agreed with me and those who didn’t – and I needed to find my own unique way to do so – at the very least, taking the time to look at issues from all sides of the discussion. 3) Buy-In: As the President of PMI-LA, I spent a lot of time trying to sell an audacious vision to key players. An early buy-in from other participants would be more effective in building team and achieving more because of the synergy created.

What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?

My key strengths are diversity, critical thinking, and technology or research. I was born in Taiwan, arrived in USA as a student and have lived in Los Angeles since 1984. I have worked for multi-national companies with diverse cultures and global virtual teams for my entire professional career. These experiences provide me with understanding and compassion for members who are living in different cultures, perhaps challenged with learning another language and becoming a contributing member and student of a global organization. I bring that respectful diversity lens to whatever I do. 30 years of experience in critical thinking and IT skills, learned as an adjunct professor, allow me to research and analyze vast quantities of information from various sources, synthesize it and then make recommendations regarding that topic (Strategies, plans and policies) . These skills support me in the role of ambassador for our global organization, connecting with diverse membership and being well prepared for each assignment or project assigned.

Why do you want to serve as an international officer/director?

I experienced great learning while serving as Founder’s District Director and wish to continue that learning within our program on a more global scope. I am a life-long learner who is involved in other people’s learning experiences through my professor role. Leadership learning is an area where I feel I have great capacity to continue growing and developing, given the supportive environment, but also that I am able to be a valuable contributor to the future of our organization while learning. I also envision an opportunity to apply some of the lessons learned while serving as District Director. I wish to have the opportunity to continue my Toastmaster’s journey with the Board of Directors.

What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?

I have been a volunteer leader of the Project Management Institute Los Angeles Chapter (PMI-LA) since 2009. Served as the President of the PMI Los Angeles Chapter in 2011 and a trustee since 2013. The main strategic goal of the chapter is to outreach and promote project management as a profession. Other volunteer experiences include: A volunteer member for the annual fund raising Nissan Open Golf Tournament for the Los Angeles City of Hope; A volunteer member and participant for the annual golf tournament to raise funds for Special Olympics Los Angeles teams, A volunteer parent for the Cerritos Aquatic Club for Kids, and the volunteer Program Committee Chair for the Mississippi State University Chinese Foreign Student Association.

Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters?

I am a current Board member and a trustee of the Project Management Institute Los Angeles Chapter (PMI-LA) from 2009 to present day. The Chapter was awarded the “Chapter of the Year Award” by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in Marketing Outreach Category in 2011, while I was the Chapter President. Under my leadership as President, we successfully promoted project management as a profession to high school students and local communities. This was a very satisfying outcome.

In your opinion, what are Toastmasters International’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?

According to 2015 Strategic Plan, three areas of focus are: 1) Club Excellence 2) Member Achievement 3) Awareness, Engagement and Participation. As an International Director, I will continue to identifying the critical internal and external factors that impact the organization globally, socially, technologically, legally and competitively; and continue to work together to synthesize and prioritize these critical factors until goals, objectives and supporting initiatives have been realized. Each objective impacts our membership and I would continue asking our members what they envision our organization’s future, how we can meet their evolving learning needs and also to gather information/feedback on how our new Pathways program is meeting their practical learning needs in the world of business. Club Excellence continues to be a challenge in many regions of the world and this appears as a lack of consistency in the quality of each club meeting regardless of where they are located. Training, evaluation and accountability of our leaders at Area, Division and District levels would move this initiative forward, in my opinion.

Additional information about candidate:

I was born and grew up in Taiwan. I moved to Starkville, Mississippi, USA as a post-graduate student and when I graduated, moved to Los Angeles, USA where I have lived and worked since 1984. My wife, Lieling, is my greatest source of inspiration and support. I am a proud father of Jessica, who graduated last year from University of California; and Ryan, currently studying at University of California, Berkeley. Over many years, I have built strong relationships with a variety of Toastmaster leaders from around the world and they represent a diverse array of cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. My three hobbies are golf, golf, and more golf.