Candidate's Office: Second Vice President
Region Number: 9
Toastmasters member since: 2000
Education: MS Electrical Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology; BE Electronics Engineering Bangalore University
Employer and/or position: AT&T/Senior Applications Developer
Served as District Director of District number: 46
Term of service: 2007-2008
In term as District Director, District achieved: Distinguished
Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international and regional level):
- 2017-2019 International Director
- 2015-2016 Region Advisor
Toastmasters honors and recognition (international level):
- 2009 Presidential Citation
- 2007-2008 Distinguished District Governor
- 2006-2007 Excellence in Marketing
- 2004-2005 Select Distinguished Area Director
Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board Member:
My career in the telecommunications industry has spanned over 30 years. I currently work on interactive voice response systems and am a Genesys Certified Sip Server Consultant. I troubleshoot problems, develop policies, and write software for projects that impact millions of customers. Serving on a Change Control Board, I am involved in making decisions to mitigate risk and enhance the performance of our systems. My experience working in multicultural teams for global projects that require close attention to detail aligns with the roles and responsibilities of an executive committee board member.
What experience do you have in strategic planning?
Over the years, working in multi-national technology companies, I have been involved in strategic planning for our services to achieve efficiency improvements, service reliability, and security. I have planned for future updates and features while considering the needs to scale and grow as the business requires.
As a Region Advisor, I served on several committees to enhance the quality of the Region Advisor role. Recently as an International Director, I was involved in strategic planning exercises to evaluate our current programs to increase effectiveness and accountability. I also served on several Board committees, including the Recognition, Corporate Relations, and District Fiscal Effectiveness committees. Serving on these committees has helped me acquire strategic planning skills that I will fully utilize on the executive committee.
What experience do you have in the area of finance?
As an International Director, I reviewed the monthly financial reports, provided financial oversight, and approved the annual budget. I also worked on the District Fiscal Effectiveness committee to promote sound fiscal policies and enhance the effectiveness of district spending.
My analysis and recommendations at work influence financial decisions. Optimizing costs are at the forefront during every stage of the project cycle, including hardware selection, software development, and user interface design. I have been a Real Estate agent and dealt with financial matters to help secure loans and close the sale of homes. I have presented workshops on financial management at my daughter's high school and Girl Scout troop.
What experience do you have in developing policies?
An integral part of my work is to develop policies and procedures to ensure the smooth operation and security of our services and to satisfy customer requirements. This also involves evaluating and modifying existing policies and procedures to meet emerging needs and contractual obligations. My role as a Toastmasters International Director required careful consideration of the merits of any proposed policy revisions for possible adoption within our organization.
What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?
Leaders need to have integrity, courage, and the utmost belief in their mission. Leaders need to have a vision, and they must communicate that vision widely, clearly, and frequently. Leaders develop leaders! Leaders need to create an environment of trust and mutual respect and recognize the contribution of every member of their group. Leaders need to lead by example and always be willing to listen, learn, and engage with people.
What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?
I bring a unique combination of skills and experience to the Board in three key areas: Toastmasters Experience, Global Exposure, and Professional Skills. (1) Toastmasters Experience: I have been a Toastmaster for over 20 years and have served in District Leadership positions, as a Region Advisor, and as an International Director. In the process, I learned to lead diverse teams, understand the various challenges districts face, and make policy changes to help Toastmasters. (2) Global exposure: I have been exposed to different cultures throughout my life. I grew up in Africa, attended college in India, and moved to America for graduate school, where I currently reside. I have traveled to over 30 countries, and this exposure has influenced my way of thinking. (3) Professional Skills: A master's degree in electrical engineering, with more than three decades of experience in the telecommunications industry, has honed my analytical abilities, critical thinking, and decision-making skills that are essential as an executive committee member. The skills and experiences mentioned above, along with my love and passion for Toastmasters, are what I bring to the Board.
Why do you want to serve as an International Officer/Director?
Toastmasters has helped me tremendously, and I can see the difference it makes in people's lives. I want to enable more people to benefit from our Toastmasters program. This is a critical time in our history; we need to face the challenges of this pandemic. I would like to be involved in developing innovative approaches and creative solutions as we adapt to these changing times. I believe, by serving as an officer, I can add value by bringing my skills and experience to help shape the future of Toastmasters.
What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?
From my early years in school, I have always valued and enjoyed volunteering in both an informal setting, tutoring math to the kids in the neighborhood to formal events with my Girl Scout troop. As an Assistant Troop Leader for my daughter's Girl Scout Troop for five years. I have helped plan activities, schedule trips, and earn badges. I have also mentored the girls and presented workshops to the troop. Additionally, I have captained the Arthritis walk several times to raise funds for Arthritis research. I have also been very involved with several employee resource groups, such as Women of AT&T and InspirASIAN.
Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters? If so, describe your experience.
I have worked on the Board of a local chapter of an employee resource group called the InspirASIAN. They inspire individuals to make a difference. Their focus is to create alliances that enhance professional and leadership opportunities. Since I was a Toastmaster and our missions overlapped, I stressed the importance of improving our communication and leadership skills.
In your opinion, what are Toastmasters International’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?
The realization of our envisioned future is Toastmasters International's major objectives.
As we face the challenges emerging from this pandemic, our priority should be to implement our Interim Strategic plan. We need to continue to work on Club Excellence, Member Achievement, and Awareness and Engagement along with the new area of focus Operational Effectiveness. These areas of focus are essential to improve member satisfaction and to grow our membership and network of clubs worldwide.
Adapting to these changing times and responding to the feedback we are receiving from our districts worldwide on what is critical to them and providing practical solutions is vital. We need to be empathetic to the hardships being faced by our members during these challenging times. At the same time, we need to grow our membership, emphasizing that the new skills we are learning in Toastmasters are the skills we need for the new tomorrow. Marketing strategies for recruiting members online is needed now more than ever as we lose members and clubs due to the detrimental effects of job loss and health issues.
Online clubs are now part of the districts and bring both challenges and opportunities. Meeting online opens a whole new market that we have not focused on previously. On the other hand, meeting online reduces the chances of making friends and building camaraderie. Developing innovative approaches to strengthen and retain members is required.
Enhancing our flagship product, Pathways, making it more user-friendly, mobile-friendly, intuitive to use, and the introduction of the highly anticipated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system will alleviate many of the issues districts face.
Fundamental to achieving our goals is the strengthening of our leadership development programs to ensure a consistent quality experience that will help attract and retain more members. This current pandemic has also revealed the need for us to develop the agility and flexibility required to effectively respond to any global crisis while maintaining organizational integrity and efficiency.
Additional information about candidate:
Married to Steve since 1989, he has always believed in me and is my biggest supporter. Proud mother of two wonderful daughters: Sharon, who graduated with a degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Cornell University and is just four courses shy of an MBA, and Karen, who graduated from Rutgers Business School with a degree in Supply Chain Management. Our daughters are gainfully employed, out of the home, and working full time. I have the time, energy, and passion to devote to Toastmasters. I believe strongly in the adage, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained!"