Stefano McGhee, DTM
Candidate's Office: First Vice President
Region Number: 5
Toastmasters member since: 2005
Education: MA Military Operational Arts and Sciences, BS Chemical Engineering
Employer and/or position: Harvard Business Publishing, Director, DevOps and Infrastructure
Served as District Director of District number: 31
Term of service: 2012 - 2013
In term as District Director, District achieved: Select Distinguished
Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international-, region-, and District-level):
- 2007-2008 Area Governor
- 2008-2009 Division Governor
- 2009-2010 Division Governor
- 2010-2011 Lieutenant Governor Marketing
- 2011-2012 Lieutenant Governor Education and Training
- 2012-2013 District Governor
- 2013-2014 Immediate Past District Governor
- 2013-2018 Pathways Ambassador
- 2015-2016 Program Quality Director
- 2016-2017 District Director
- 2017-2018 Immediate Past District Director
- 2018-2018 Pathways Guide
- 2019-2021 International Director
Toastmasters honors and recognition (international- and District-level):
- 2011-2011 Distinguished Toastmaster
- 2011-2012 Excellence in Education
- 2015-2016 Excellence in Education
Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board Member:
Leadership, coaching, team building, strategizing, innovation. For the last 25 years, I have developed these skills through experience building the strategies, roadmaps and teams needed to support the organizations I am a part of. Central to that experience has been managing diverse workforces, working across cultures, fostering relationships at all levels of an organization and when necessary, delivering difficult messages. In my work at Harvard Business Publishing, I manage multi-year contracts, budget and strategic planning for the information technology organization I am responsible for. My goal is to continually evolve and modernize the organization to meet the changing needs of our customers and our changing market conditions. This relates to ensuring Toastmasters continues to evolve to meet our changing demographic.
In my corporate experience, I worked with fellow department heads to shift responsibilities and staffing to my organization for increased efficiency. This took quite a bit of persuasion and trust built on business relationships I formed over the years. On the military staff board where I served, we often looked at the demographic of our citizens and how it compared to our military volunteers. Military leadership wanted to ensure that the organization reflected those we served. I analyzed why volunteers left the organization after a short time and how to better keep them engaged, an experience that could benefit the Toastmasters organization with retention. The work in my current corporate organization recently expanded to include building out diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives for my business unit. This is work that all modern organizations need to keep front and center in their strategies.
What experience do you have in strategic planning?
In my current role at Harvard Business Publishing, I lead a team developing the strategic plan for our department's three year vision. This plan rolls up to our business unit and corporate level goals. The challenging part is aligning strategic priorities across all of the various levels so that the organization moves forward as a cohesive unit. Frequent conversations and occasional negotiation with our corporate executives are required to prioritize goals, funding allocations, and staffing levels. A key component of strategy building is developing organizational support for it, and by working together across business units we are able to build support for the vision and strategy of the organization as a whole.
As head of the Communications Directorate in the Rhode Island Air National Guard, I developed strategic policies to support the state's path towards the cyber defense of state assets. Everything from water stations, to departments of revenue and traffic control systems had to be considered. Among my chief strategic concerns was ensuring that the state had a method to secure the necessary assets within the five-year plan. The strategy and roadmap, along with key milestones and asset requirements was presented to senior leaders. Those leaders, in turn, used the plans created to persuade legislators to fund these initiatives.
What experience do you have in the area of finance?
As a corporate director, one of my key responsibilities is to understand our organization's finances and operate in a fiscally responsible manner by setting budgets and spending funds in accordance with our priorities. I have approximately 25 years of corporate experience managing multimillion-dollar budgets, negotiating with vendors, and managing expectations in the contracting process. I work collaboratively with other team members in making sure our budget is optimized to meet our prioritized needs as determined by our corporate Board of Directors. At times, I have needed to operate within the confines of a limited budget for the department and had difficult trade-off conversations in order to remain within the budget while supporting the organization's needs.
What experience do you have in developing policies?
As a member of the Toastmasters Board of Directors, I served on the Policy Review Committee that involved deep immersion in the policies of the organization. In that time, we took both detailed and holistic views of policy to recommend changes to the larger committee and Board of Directors. This involved researching the history of existing language with World Headquarters as well as a critical eye toward word choice to operate across a global membership.
As an officer in the United States military, I led the creation of new policies that would guide members in achieving the long-term goals of the organization. This involved interviewing senior leaders to get their thoughts on the way forward and synthesizing that into a coherent and relevant policy. I served with the group dealing with cyber security initiatives, but also worked at large with the team to develop policies outside my particular area of expertise, including retention and training. These were presented to senior leadership and approved, allowing a positive change for the state.
What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?
The military taught me that you must always balance the needs of the organization's mission with the needs of the people. Each is necessary for shared success. Another learning is that transparency in decision making generates more goodwill than malice. Finally, the organization can do more when members are empowered to do more. Toastmasters International will thrive when we provide our staff and members with the tools and support to help them help the organization.
What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?
I bring experience leading cross cultural and multinational teams in both for profit and nonprofit organizations. These experiences led to gaining understanding of language and cultural gaps that have caused challenges in the past. Different cultures expect feedback in different ways and understanding how different cultures work is critical to successful leadership. I learned the art of consensus building through negotiating budget increases and staff reallocations, a key strength I bring to the Board of Directors. I conducted strategic planning with a focus on future needs which included developing an implementation plan, making smart hiring decisions each year, and constantly measuring progress against our KPIs. In my current position, I have been closely involved in developing a diversity, equity and inclusion policy for our business unit that aligns with our corporate initiatives. Our goal is to become a better team by fully embracing diversity. These experiences taught me to prioritize issues while keeping severity in perspective. The goal being to help teams tackle conflict calmly, allowing us all to better support the organizations that we serve. I also bring experience and insight from my service on the Toastmasters International Board of Directors, which has deepened my knowledge of the organization and understanding of how critical decisions (such as policy changes) are developed with consensus. Key strengths that I have developed as a result include relationship building, conflict resolution, policy creation, strategic planning and building organizational awareness.
Why do you want to serve as an International Officer/Director?
I want to include more members in making our organization better. As an International Director, one of the most appreciated services I provided district leaders was an understanding of why the Board of Directors makes the decisions it does. This resulted in District Leader support for those decisions, which in turn translated to building more advocates communicating this back to our members and helping to move our organization forward together. I believe Toastmasters International is truly a world class organization and we have the capability of expanding our global reach by focusing on operating with diversity, equity and inclusion in mind.
I believe in the power of Toastmasters. I believe the next generation of leaders in the world need to come from Toastmasters and I hope to advance that notion. Our core values and leadership development programs are what the world needs from their leaders to be better. I look forward to the opportunity to further develop and promote those values and skills.
What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?
My primary volunteer experience outside of Toastmasters has been with the United States Air Force. As a military reservist, it was never something I did for the money. It was something I gave my time to in order to make the organization better and to perhaps better myself. In a way, there are a lot of parallels between Toastmasters and the military. More than some might expect. I have learned to put in the extra time on nights and weekends, researching how to make connections to move the organization ahead while inspiring members to stay in the program and get the most out of it. I have volunteered at air shows to benefit a local children's hospital. I led a group that worked with corporate donors to provide services to their VIPs at the airshow. I also volunteered to give educational sessions (using Toastmasters skills) to military members of the perils of being a bystander during a sexual harassment event and how to be effective at changing the outcome. Finally, I have volunteered to coach youth soccer teams for my town's recreational athletics program. This role serves to develop confidence in young players, coaching their performance and their mindset to win as an inclusive, diverse team. It also meant managing parent expectations of the program.
Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters? If so, describe your experience.
The largest board I have worked on was the last assignment I had in the Air National Guard. I provided strategic planning guidance to the organization in developing a five-year plan to develop a better member accession program, secure the critical infrastructure of the state of Rhode Island, and work to get those initiatives funded by the government. I have also contributed to the planning and presentation of materials to corporate boards within my corporate leadership jobs, which has given me visibility into what boards of directors focus their efforts on, what are important topics to be addressed during board meetings and how to effectively convey that information to them.
In your opinion, what are Toastmasters International’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?
Toastmasters International's major objectives include membership growth after the pandemic, diversifying how we generate revenue and embracing the many ways our clubs can meet. Short term, our organization needs to plan a way forward from the pandemic for all of our members. Different parts of the world are adapting to life post-pandemic at different paces. Our organization needs to take that into account. New sources of revenue need to be found to supplement our member dues so that we can do more of what our members need to grow. New paths, translations, marketing and technology upgrades are needed to continue modernizing our organization. As the pandemic has shown us, we must embrace the many ways clubs operate in the modern era to grow our membership. In-person, hybrid, and online clubs give us the highest flexibility to meet the next generation of members in an ever changing world.
Additional information about candidate:
Stefano McGhee lives just outside of Boston, Massachusetts with his wife of 24 years, their teenage son, and beagle. Toastmasters has become a family passion, with Jennifer celebrating 24 years of membership this past year and Tucker participating in club events as well as having attended well over 5 International Conventions already. They love to travel, attend professional soccer games and ski together as a family. They enjoy adventures in ziplining, rafting, and amusement park rides. Stefano is also a private pilot, motorcycle rider, boater, video gamer, soccer referee and a fan of listening to electronic dance music.