Farzana Chohan, DTM

Farzana Chohan, DTM

Candidate's Office: International Director

Region Number: 5

Toastmasters member since: 2010

Education: Doctor of Management, Master of Architecture & Urban Design

Employer and/or position: Director / Optimize Excellence

Served as District Director of District number: 8

Term of service: 2015 - 2016

In term as District Director, District achieved: Select Distinguished

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

  • 2015-2016 District Director
  • 2018-2020 Region Advisor

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

  • 2016-2017 Presidential Citation: Toastmasters International

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

A Toastmasters International (TI) Board Member must have a strategic focus on the larger picture of developing and implementing strategies that will work for every member of TI. As an Architectural project leader of multi-million-dollar projects in the Healthcare industry for over 15 years, I have focused on the critical component of providing a healing environment to all the stakeholders engaged in the process. The complexity of healthcare projects has provided me with the excellent experience of focusing on the larger picture of a master plan while ensuring that smallest of detail is taken into account to save the life of each patient. As a multidisciplinary leader and practitioner in architecture and management, I managed the master planning, design, finances and onsite execution within the scope of financial budget and to the user satisfaction. This strategic experience will be invaluable to the TI Board in the development and implementation of the strategic plan.

What experience do you have in strategic planning?

An integral part of my professional experience has been in strategic planning, involving the masterplan, design and execution of user-friendly projects. This has enhanced my higher degree of acumen in managing human and financial resources. Designing Healthcare projects (Hospitals and Labs) has also trained me to integrate all the puzzle pieces together as the life of people depends on efficiently designed spaces for them to receive appropriate care. I have over 15 years of experience in different project types, each one of which required both strategic and tactical solutions.

My significant strategic planning strength comes from my experience working on projects and initiatives of high complexity, like cardio-thoracic unit, kidney center, neo-natal unit, cancer center and micro-photonics labs. As a project leader, I led and managed the diverse and virtual high-performance teams, building collaborative relationships with all stakeholders.

What experience do you have in the area of finance?

As a project leader I have managed the finances of multimillion dollar architectural projects. Every project and initiatives ongoing cost were carefully monitored and controlled throughout the life cycle of the project to ensure the financial feasibility and stability thus avoiding any unforeseen situations.

What experience do you have in developing policies?

As a member of several boards and being on numerous committees, I have worked on educational, financial and community development policies and processes. I am currently working on developing the policy for mentoring program for an organization at a national level.

What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?

I have learned that regardless of profession, business or volunteer work, We / I have to be Human-Centric. Meaning through leadership, we need to add value to the life of our fellow human being, to make their life better, as that is the only way we succeed as a leader. I also learned that to serve as a leader is an honor and privilege, given by a team member and its members. Serving with excellence required to enhance my skills in areas of emotional intelligence, empathy and relatability. I have learned that these are the key components of serving as an authentic-humble leader.

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

The integrative, multifaceted professional, academic, advocacy and entrepreneurial experience in the field of Architecture and Business Management is what I will bring to Board of Directors.

My key strengths and experience are:

  • My significant strength is working on projects of high complexity, like health-care, hospitals, research labs, leading global teams and being mindful of global sensitivities and cross-cultural contexts.
  • I am a results-oriented, collaborative and relationship cultivating team leader. This strength will contribute to the Board's identification, design, development and execution of the strategic plan in a highly collaborative manner.
  • Throughout my multidisciplinary professional experience, I have been responsible for planning, coordination, communication, and execution of projects / initiatives. My strength is in fostering the project with all stake holders in timely and effective manner as communication and relationship management have been the critical elements of success.
  • I also have a strong background in research, focusing on the human experiences and how decisions are made. Hence, my capability in developing research and piloting them will be beneficial to the Board.
  • In all projects / programs, I have been working with diverse teams in diverse sectors (private and not for profit), focusing on defining, developing a strategic vision.
  • I have more than 20 years of international work and academic experience. I have worked on the innovative design and leadership initiatives based on human experiences.

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

My aspiration to serve as an international director emanates from my objective in life, which is to “Make this world a thriving place for all humans.” After joining Toastmasters, I realized the life-changing impact of Toastmasters not only on my life, but thousands of others. Therefore, I want this transformative opportunity to be extended to millions of people around the world. As a working ambassador of Toastmasters International Director, I want to spread the value of the program in every part of the world. Since 2020, world has gone through a lot and our life has changed in unpredicted ways. We need to have a lens with strategies, which are aligned with the new realities. As a Board member, I will participate in exploring innovative ideas to add value for our members and in strategic strengthening of TI's envisioned future of being the first-choice provider of dynamic, high-value, experiential communication and leadership skills development.

What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?

I continually volunteer and collect donations and clothing for local organizations. As an alumnus, I also volunteer in orientation of new students at my university.

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

I have been a Board member of; “Institute of Architects”, “Human Development Foundation, (HDF)” and “Women in Healthcare (WIH)”. These boards have strategic objectives with a strong vision and mission. For example, HDF provides educational, financial, medical and community development services to under-privileged population in South-Asia. As a board member, I worked on a committee to strategically advance the programs. I was also chairperson for local chapter fundraising events and raised USD 150,000 to ensure the continual funding of the projects.

As a board member of WIH, I am on mentoring and advising committees. Objective is to provide a collaborative support platform to inspire women working in various fields of healthcare.

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

Based on what I gained as a member, I think Toastmasters International's major objectives are in helping human beings develop their individual potential to a maximum level. As an organization, we call it a program developing leadership and communication skills. However, I think it is much greater than just a program, as it factually transforms the lives of people all around the world. It impacts every aspect of life, including individual, professional, business and community building.

I will work with fellow board members to strengthen TI's objectives. First, we will identify the components which are working well and what can be added to take them to the next level. We will assess the areas of improvement, specifically related to the impact of pandemic in personal, professional, and business life, ways to find new ways forward. One of our critical tasks is to evolve in the best possible way to keep the core of Toastmasters intact for members and move forward with the changing times. We will strive to find best possible and actionable solutions, by working on multiple strategic scenarios as a board, representing the voice of members of Toastmasters International.

Additional information about candidate:

The lived experiences on two continents had given me a validation, that we all relate to each other through our humanity and that is why we help each other, no matter where we are and who we are. The experiential life and Mentoring research through my Doctor of Management studies have acted as a catalyst to transform my work into advocacy for developing human potential around the world. My Current work blurs the lines between architecture, leadership and stereotypical roles. I have Founded a platform for women in STEM professions, to advance their leadership journey. As a published author and researcher, my focus is on human-centric processes, specifically the impact of mentoring in developing leaders. The extensive combination of professional and leadership work, qualifications in architecture, urban design and management have prepared me to be an integral part of the Toastmasters International Board of Directors, during this unprecedented time of evolution as a result of going through the pandemic.