Michael Holian, DTM
Candidate's Office: Second Vice President
Region Number: 2
Toastmasters member since: 1992
Education: Chubb Institute for Computer Technology
Employer and/or position: Technology Delivery Specialist, CSAA Insurance Group (AAA Insurance)
Served as District Director of District number: 3
Term of service: 2018 - 2019
In term as District Director, District achieved: Not Distinguished
Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international-, region-, and District-level):
- 2013-2014 Area Governor
- 2016-2017 Division Director
- 2017-2018 Club Growth Director
Toastmasters honors and recognition (international- and District-level):
Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board Member:
Having spent my entire career in Information Technology, I have made it my life's mission to listen to people's challenges and try to deliver strategies that help meet their needs. There have been two significant branches of my career, one into Organizational Change Management and another into Customer Service. Both experiences have strengthened my ability to assess a challenge while considering the full ramifications of providing a solution from design to realization, while at the same time considering how the solution impacts people. This, in addition to my service on our Board of Directors, shapes my approach to identifying and delivering impactful solutions to address organizational challenges.
What experience do you have in strategic planning?
Strategic planning is an integral component of my daily role in my professional career. In my job role at CSAA, I served as a core member of the team that developed our Enterprise Strategic Initiative Office. I lead a governance organization which meets regularly to review the current utilization of Agile software development tools and practices, and outline strategies to deliver improved solutions with greater efficiency. This has resulted in the organization developing a more consistent approach to their Information Technology, and helped the company become more responsive to market trends.
In my role as General Manager of a Customer Service organization, I participated in planning and implementing a strategy to diversify our product portfolio from a niche product into a full range of food service offerings, increasing company revenues over ten-fold.
As a member of the Toastmasters Board of Directors, I participated in the board strategic planning sessions and helped develop solutions to address many of the highest priority needs that have contributed to the recovery of our organization.
What experience do you have in the area of finance?
Throughout my career I have participated in the planning of project related and annual budgets, resources, logistic and infrastructure considerations.
What has been more challenging professionally has been the re-planning of strategies when economies change, and hard choices have to be made as to how to proceed effectively while still working within corporate or regulatory guidelines. As a member of the Board of Directors, I have been an active participant in reviewing financials and proposed budgets, identifying key areas of interest and seeking clarification or proposing amendments as appropriate.
What experience do you have in developing policies?
Professionally, I have extensive experience in developing policies; from employee policies to those that specify how a tool or application will be used. My policy development experience has improved over time by listening to global feedback to better understand how policies may be impacted to various cultural norms and local regulations, and by incorporating all of these considerations, delivering a final product that is more complete and effective.
My experience as a Board member provided me extensive experience in reviewing, amending and proposing policy changes that helped assure the continued success of Toastmasters in the future.
What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?
I have learned that leadership has little to do with the implementation of my vision! While having a vision and plan are important, fully understanding the impact and considering the opinions of others is an important asset. This means allowing myself to be surprised by allowing other ideas to be played out and to make sure that learnings of the success or failure of those ideas are captured and implemented as we move forward. Leadership also includes making the hard decisions of knowing when to stand on your opinions and when to allow others to proceed, in spite of your doubts.
In my position as International Director, my prior experiences served me well and informed by actions and votes. Many decisions that needed to be made were difficult and not always popular, but I believe they were the proper and correct actions for the organization.
What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?
My experience with adversity is what has created the most personal growth in my life. I have worked to improve my Emotional Intelligence over time and consider every situation before acting. When confronted with a crisis situation, I try to eliminate the emotional reaction and focus on identifying the true source of the crisis and determine the best remediation. After the crisis has passed, I try to reconstruct the root cause and develop remedies to prevent the situation from occurring again.
As an International Director, I leveraged these skills, researching each subject, asking insightful questions, proposing actions that were always in the best interest of the members, clubs and organization. As Second Vice-President, I feel I can continue to resolve current challenges and find new opportunities to improve the Toastmasters brand and help achieve its purpose of making effective oral communication a worldwide reality.
Why do you want to serve as an International Officer/Director?
My decision to run for Second Vice-President of Toastmasters International was driven by my reflections on my experience as an International Director. I can honestly say I thought my contributions provided a positive impact to the organization through the work put in and the changes that were implemented during my tenure. I felt that as part of the Board of Directors, I helped the organization begin its recovery, and that my further contributions can continue that recovery and bring changes to the organization that will see it grow world-wide into the future.
I also expect to continue to grow and learn as part of this experience, and I feel I can incorporate that experience in helping Toastmasters thrive and deliver on its mission to empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.
What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?
I have actively volunteered in my community, working with food banks, the Special Olympics, the Crayon Initiative, St. Baldricks, and the Thunderbirds (a local charitable organization in Phoenix). I have been most active with Junior Achievement, and I serve as Community Impact Champion for my employer to identify and organize group events for the company.
Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters? If so, describe your experience.
I have led boards to govern the direction and standardization of processes and tools throughout my career, with fiduciary responsibility for the application and management of solutions to improve the efficacy of the workforce at my current employer. I have also worked to organize fundraising events in support of Children's Cancer research through the St. Baldrick's organization
In your opinion, what are Toastmasters International’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?
I believe that the Toastmasters club model should remain as our primary vehicle for organizational growth. There is, however, a need to develop alternate methods to drive membership. The intellectual property we have developed can be updated and leveraged into other learning channels. Corporations are always looking for communications and leadership training that have a start and end date; we can provide these directly to those organizations as a package, and then offer club-based services as a sustaining model. The appetite for immediate "YouTube" and "ChatGPT" type solutions is growing and is favored by new generations of individuals who are trying to improve their skills, by becoming more active in these channels we can provide quick answers while at the same time offering our club model as the way to apply those learnings in a safe environment.
As Second Vice-President, I would advocate for diversification of how we deliver value. By utilizing the two examples above and others as they arise, we can find new audiences and continue to grow.
Additional information about candidate:
I joined Toastmasters in 1992 with a specific objective: to prepare for a conference presentation. It's thirty years later, and I still need Toastmasters to help me refine my skills.
Along this journey, I have made countless friends from across the world who have enriched my life and given me strength to overcome life's challenges. My experience in Toastmasters, particularly in serving in leadership, has made me a better employee, a better parent, and a better person. This organization has given me so much, it is an honor to serve.
I live in Chandler, Arizona, with my wife and two children, and my older daughter lives in Tyler, Texas. I work from home as a SAFe Systems Architect for CSAA Insurance Group, a provider of insurance for AAA members, for over ten years.