Patricia O'Reilly, DTM
Candidate's Office: International Director
Region Number: 10
Toastmasters member since: 2002
Education: BA in Theology (in progress 2019-2023), Diplomas in the fields of accounting technician and legal executive, certification in computer programming and as a trainer in computer systems
Employer and/or position: ME Hanahoe Solicitors/Legal Accounts Executive
Served as District Director of District number: 71
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):
- 2016-2017 Club Growth Director
- 2017-2018 Program Quality Director
- 2021-2023 Region 9 Advisor
Toastmasters honors and recognition (international- and District-level):
- 2017-2018 Excellence in Program Quality
Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board Member:
I have accumulated 25 years of experience in the legal profession, serving as an Accounts Executive and a Legal Executive with a specialization in conveyancing and probate. Throughout my career, I have honed my expertise in evaluating a law firm's financial health, and crafting budgets that sustain the firm's profitability. Simultaneously, I've ensured our strict compliance with financial and regulatory mandates set forth by the Law Society.
My proficiency in dissecting complex data and effectively conveying insights to the firm's partners has been instrumental in achieving financial stability, bolstering profitability, and fostering robust client satisfaction. These competencies align seamlessly with the role and responsibilities associated with a board member.
What experience do you have in strategic planning?
The impact of the 2008 recession on Irish law firms was substantial. Strategic planning became imperative for the survival of small to medium-sized legal practices. During this period, I collaborated closely with the managing partner at my workplace to develop and execute a strategic plan aimed at securing the firm's resilience throughout the recession. This strategic blueprint remained flexible, allowing for necessary adjustments to align with the shifting economic landscape.
What experience do you have in the area of finance?
In my role as a legal account executive, I take on the responsibility of ensuring the firm's adherence to both tax regulations and the Solicitor's Accounts Regulations stipulated by the Law Society of Ireland. I also possess extensive experience in handling the placement and maintenance of client funds in designated deposit accounts.
Furthermore, during my tenure as a legal executive specializing in conveyancing and probate matters, I maintained a high level of accountability to our clients, particularly concerning financial transactions executed on their behalf.
What experience do you have in developing policies?
My responsibilities include the management of revenue collection under the Free Legal Aid scheme, encompassing the tasks of claiming, collating, and validating payments. Achieving optimal revenue requires a deep understanding of criminal justice policies. Upon assuming this role, I encountered a previously disorganized area.
To address this challenge, I conducted a thorough examination of how other firms managed this aspect of their operations. Subsequently, I developed and implemented a set of policies and procedures around ethics and office practice aimed at enhancing the accuracy and efficiency of revenue claiming and verification. The outcome was a more effective utilization of fee earners' time and a substantial improvement in the timeliness and precision of revenue receipts.
What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?
I've learned several valuable leadership lessons:
The significance of fostering a shared vision, not just a personal one. Effective leaders not only harbor a clear vision but also ensure its transmission to the entire team, securing unanimous buy-in.
The art of skillful task delegation, understanding when to delegate, when to personally shoulder responsibilities, and the critical role of accountability.
The importance of acknowledging team members, appreciating their contributions, and recognizing both their efforts and accomplishments.
During my tenure as a Region Advisor, I've recognized the imperative of early conflict identification and proactive resolution. Allowing conflicts to fester can profoundly affect the District team's ability to fulfill its mission.
In my professional journey, I've grasped that instigating change necessitates sensitivity and adept negotiation skills, understanding that transformative shifts take time and persistence.
What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?
I have consistently possessed strong listening skills, but my legal background in conveyancing and probate significantly sharpened my ability to actively listen to clients and pose pertinent questions. This legal experience also bolstered my analytical and research proficiencies, emphasizing the importance of meticulous attention to detail.
During my two-year tenure as a Region Advisor, I further fortified my communication and facilitation competencies.
Additionally, my studies in theology have played a pivotal role in advancing my critical thinking, writing, problem-solving, and text interpretation abilities.
These collective experiences and strengths will be invaluable as a board member in an organization striving to rebuild post-pandemic.
Why do you want to serve as an International Officer/Director?
While serving as a Region Advisor, I had the privilege of collaborating with inspirational District Leaders who ignited my passion and determination. Their warm welcome allowed me to delve into the successes and challenges within their respective Districts.
My journey through Toastmasters has not only fostered my self-assuredness but has also strengthened my effectiveness as a communicator. During my tenure in District Leadership and as a Region Advisor, I cultivated invaluable leadership skills that have significantly contributed to my professional success.
I've witnessed Toastmasters' transformative impact on numerous members, many of whom have assumed leadership roles within their Districts. It would be an honor to take on the role of International Director, enabling me to continue my personal growth while using my skills and knowledge to actively collaborate with other Board members to serve our current and future members.
What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?
I've been actively engaged in community service, which includes:
1. Literacy Tutoring: I've volunteered as a literacy tutor, providing one-on-one support, as well as teaching computer basics and Microsoft Office to groups.
2. Local Befriending Group: I take on a nurturing role within the local Befriending group, where volunteers offer companionship and support to the elderly and those facing loneliness in our community.
3. "Meals on Wheels": I've dedicated my time to delivering meals to elderly and homebound individuals within our community through the "Meals on Wheels" program.
4. Church Involvement: I participate in reading activities at my local church.
Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters? If so, describe your experience.
I have never directly worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters. However, I have advised and worked closely with professionals who serve on a Board of Directors.
In your opinion, what are Toastmasters International’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?
In my view, Toastmasters International's primary objectives align closely with its mission statements across club, district, and international levels.
At the club level, embracing Ralph Smedley's wisdom that "we learn best in moments of enjoyment" is key. Fostering a culture of enjoyable meetings that offer a positive learning experience is crucial. This approach not only attracts guests to become members but also encourages existing members to stay engaged year after year. Achieving this hinges on providing high-quality Club Officer Training that motivates officers to excel in the Distinguished Club Program.
Moving to the district level, the commencement of the year often finds District Leaders inundated with new roles, responsibilities, and the preparation for District Leader training. Exploring the possibility of delegating some of the time-sensitive report tasks to outgoing District Leaders could alleviate this initial feeling of overwhelm. Additionally, implementing more structured conflict resolution guidelines will enhance the overall experience of leadership at the district level.
At international level, focusing on getting growth back to where it was in 2019 while continuing to give value to the members, continuing to stay up to date with trends in technology and continuing to stay agile in adapting to market changes and members' needs.
Additional information about candidate:
I was born and still live in Dublin, Ireland. I am widowed with two grown-up children - Eibhlin and Eoin, three young grandchildren and a dachshund called Bailey. I love my Irish culture, especially its beautiful, rich language, its music and dancing. I enjoy walking in my local park and I still attend Irish set-dancing classes. I love reading and I am a member of a book club.