Sujit Sukumaran, DTM

Sujit Sukumaran, DTM

Candidate's Office: International Director

Region Number: 8

Toastmasters member since: 2006

Education: MSc HRM, PhD in Strategic Management (Pursuing)

Employer and/or position: Founder & CEO - Optimus Management Consultants

Served as District Director of District number: 20

Term of service: 2015 - 2016

In term as District Director, District achieved: Not Distinguished


Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international-, region-, and District-level):

  • 2014-2015 Lieutenant Governor Education & Training - District 20
  • 2015-2016 District Director - D20
  • 2021-2022 Region Advisor

Toastmasters honors and recognition (international- and District-level):

  • 2006-2012 Traditional DTM
  • 2013-2015 Pathways Ambassador
  • 2014-2015: Excellence in Education and Training
  • 2015-2016 District Reformation Committee Member D20
  • 2018-2018 Pathways DTM
  • 2022-2022 Committee Member, Region Advisor Handbook Committee

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

Over the course of my corporate career, I have been involved with several organizations in the domains of policy development, strategy, marketing, product and content development, and training. During those years, I have been instrumental in every company's growth from a one country entity to an organization with a presence in multiple countries. I have extensively worked, during these years, in drafting policy, laws and regulations, driving performance and achieving all deliverable goals. The industries I have served include insurance, telecom, education and management consulting.

For the past 7 years I have been an entrepreneur and CEO of my management consulting firm in the UAE. I was instrumental in balancing the budget leading to no losses within the first three months from incorporation. We have the distinction of serving over 20+ corporate clients and leading 300+ assignments in strategy, performance management, business turnaround and branding for our clients.

What experience do you have in strategic planning?

As a management consultant for half of my work day, I am actively involved in charting strategies for clients to achieve breakthroughs, taking their business/purpose mandate to the next level. Some of our clients are non-profit organizations as well as charities and philanthropic initiatives. My work with them deals with designing policies and strategic interventions, tracking the efficacy of these measures, making interim changes and course corrections, and designing forecasts for the "where to next?" question once the initially envisaged goals are reached.

My second half of the day is that of a university professor where I also set policy at the university level for student performance, curriculum design, and best practices. This has ensured that our university has become a Top 5 university in the UAE in just over 4 years. We started from an initial intake of 10 students and have grown to a base of 600+. Our team spearheaded digital marketing initiatives, student enrollment and engagement activities via social media, which brought our student acquisition costs down by 80%. I was also instrumental in pioneering the "COVED" - Covid Education Strategy, which enabled seamless online learning for 400+ students without affecting their student experience or engagement.

What deserves a special mention is the fact that I am currently a PhD Scholar in the domain of Strategic Management and am focusing on Entrepreneurship and Organizational Sustainability as my topic. My research journey so far has honed my analytical skills, problem definition and root cause analysis abilities, scenario planning and forecasting skills all while working on tight deadlines with a team of collaborators.

What experience do you have in the area of finance?

As an entrepreneur myself, I manage the finances of my own business spanning across 3 verticals of advisory, training, and special assignments. When COVID hit, most of our competitors went under or shut shop, while we were able to carry on in a lean manner, with zero layoffs from the team, and a 7-15 time return on our digital advertising investments as shown by our new client sign ups. This not only helped us survive the crisis financially, but we were able to give bonuses post COVID for the whole team.

In terms of finance education, I am an empaneled faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India teaching all of their core curriculum subjects and have trained in excess of 8,000 students in India and the Gulf so far. I also teach as part of the faculty for the Bachelor's in Accounting and Finance Degree (mapped to ACCA curriculum) as part of the University of West London

As a Board Member on committees outside of Toastmasters I handle a $30 million US budget for our Community Management Association, with responsibility for procurement decision making, vendor appointments, tender evaluation, and negotiations, as well as policy review and approval for over 350 apartments housing 1,200 tenants.

I am also a personal finance mentor and an investment guide for over 60+ students. Together we are handling a portfolio of around $3 million US in stocks across the US and India markets. The initial starting value of this corpus was only around $500,000 US. What makes it even more heartening is most of these students of mine were from the lower end of the economic spectrum and this has enabled them to become financially independent. Today, many of them are also fellow Toastmasters!

What experience do you have in developing policies?

Apart from consulting for over 20+ clients in the telecom, insurance, and education domains and drafting policies for them on finance, operations, HR, and service excellence, some of my major milestones in this area were:

  • Among the founding members of Al Mosanada, UAE's first Cancer Awareness body and was a youth representative. Made pivotal inputs for development of treatment best practice and management of cancer as well as sensitization for treatment of young patients.
  • One of the Consultative Committee Members on the People of Determination (Disability Empowerment and Provisions) Law for the Emirate of Dubai in 2007.
  • Industry representative, mandatory insurance implementation 2008-2009, Dubai Health Authority, UAE. Contributed to policy review, vetting and finalization.

What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?

Being in Toastmasters leadership for over a decade now, the single most important lesson I learnt is that of empathy and the value of listening without judging. The second lesson was that leadership often involves several difficult decisions and it is not possible to please everyone all the time, and so rather than taking the "crowd pleasing" decision, it is better to take the right decision in the interests of the organization, even if that means some people may have contrary opinions. Another lesson is that impact need not be a result of vigorous activity, but a consequence of small but firm and reassuring actions.

The last and most recent lesson as a result of running for a second time is a greater understanding of the grassroot problems of Districts around the world, having had the honor of interacting with 120+ districts and their leaders as part of my journey in the previous year. It is that to be a good leader, it is not all "head" but also a firm "heart" that is needed, which beats with the voices of our members, in order to translate their hopes into strategy for our organization.

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

Extensive policy making, legal expertise, strategic planning and deep digital marketing and content development experience. As a disability rights advocate with over 17 years' experience in the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion space, I am also committed to making Toastmasters an accessible organization for all people irrespective of their disability, orientation, race or gender. I am also particularly strong in finance, investments and identifying areas for pivoting into for future growth as our organization evolves and goes towards its 100th anniversary.

Why do you want to serve as an International Officer/Director?

As a Toastmaster for 17 years and starting as a Gavelier at the age of 15, I have seen first had the transformative effects that TI has had on my life as a communicator and leader, now as an entrepreneur and teacher as well. I firmly believe that the message that our organization espouses and the benefits of its program need to reach out far more. As an organization at the cusp of its centennial anniversary, I am also cognizant that what got us here though may not carry us for the next 100 years, in a rapidly evolving post-pandemic digitally savvy world. To that extent, I wish to serve on the Board with an intent of fostering greater inclusion, better representation across all age groups, growth in membership, revenue diversification and increasing engagement and retention opportunities.

What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?

  • Among the founding members of Al Mosanada, UAE's first Cancer Awareness bodies and was a youth representative.
  • Industry representative, mandatory insurance implementation 2008-2009, Dubai Health Authority, UAE.
  • XLRI Scholar's Committee Member - Representing 600+ PhD scholars and contributing to critical policy, financial, facility and academic matters.

Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters? If so, describe your experience.

  • Owner's Committee Member, Park Gate Residences, Tower A, approved by the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority to represent 300+ homeowners and decide on budgets, facilities and strategies for a great community living experience. One of the only four approved from 26 nationalities. Here it is a challenging experience managing a multi-million dollar budget and ensuring the day to day issues of the homeonwers and the community at large are properly served
  • Managing Trustee, PRERANA - the largest disability advocacy group for the Indian diaspora in the Middle East. I handle diversity, advocacy and inclusion.
    This is a non-profit Board accountable for the welfare and emancipation of 40,000+ families of children with disabilities, as a team, we are in charge of procurement, education, finance and regulatory affairs.
  • One of the Consultative Committee Members on the People of Determination (Disability Empowerment and Provisions) Law for the Emirate of Dubai in 2007.
    Served as part of a panel which was instrumental in designing and suggesting improvements for disability infrastructure in the Emirate of Dubai.
  • Course Leader & Course Committee Member, University of West London, RAK Campus - Contributing to curriculum design and development as well as a great learning experience.
    As part of the university I serve in this is a non-profit Board position, where I am the country representative with our campus in the UK, ensuring that all educational curriculum, standards and student experience in undiluted compared to the UK campus and best in class.

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

Enhancing and maintaining club excellence, promoting and facilitating member achievement, creating greater awareness and engagement and well as ensuring operational effectiveness are among the main objectives of TI. In my view as a millennial and as someone who believes in the potential of digital, I believe we will need to focus on customized learning deliverables for our members as Pathways gets adopted and matures over the next few years. Furthermore, we will have to work on a member recruitment strategy for a younger demographic including early career professionals. These are the members, if they become lifelong members, that will have long lasting impacts on the organization's future. Being someone who has seen both pre-Pathways and the post-Pathways era in Toastmasters and with my extensive experience of working with young people and mid-career professionals, I believe the right tools, a digital push and effective cross-organizational pollination and collaboration, as has been started with the Rotary alliance, will point Toastmasters towards its envisioned future.

Additional information about candidate:

I have been a Toastmaster for the last 17 years, and have been a Gavelier for 3 years prior to that. Over the years Toastmasters has transformed me from a shy, reticent individual to a management consultant, entrepreneur and university professor. Today I am a person who spends 90% of his day with people from diverse walks of life. I am a third culture kid, having been born and raised in the UAE, though my roots are in India.

Professionally after being in the corporate domain in the UAE for over a decade in various people and culture roles, in 2016, I became and entrepreneur and started Optimus Management Consultants. I also teach Strategy, Law and Finance as the University of West London, Ras Al Khaimah and am currently pursuing my PhD in Strategic Management from the Xavier School of Management (XLRI), India.

I am also an avid podcaster and Youtuber with an audience of 18,000+ across all platforms. Personally, I have a family of 3 comprising of my mom, wife and daughter and we all live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.