Candidate's Office: International Director
Region Number: 10
Toastmasters member since: 2002
Education: Diploma from Accounting Technicians Ireland, Diploma from the Irish Institute of Legal Executives, Certificate in Computer Programming - City & Guilds
Employer and/or position: Accounts Executive in a medium-sized law firm with responsibility for claiming, collating, checking and maximising free legal aid revenue
Served as district governor of district number: 71
Term of service: 2018-2019
In term as district governor, district achieved: Not Distinguished
Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international and regional level):
- 2018-2019 DD
- 2017-2018 PQD
- 2016-2017 CGD
- 2015-2016 PR Manager
- 2014-2015 District Secretary
- 2012-2013 Division Director
- 2011-2012 Area Director
- 2009-2010 Club President
Toastmasters honors and recognition (international level):
- 2018-2019 PD for Distinguished Clubs & SD for Club Growth
- 2017-2018 Excellence in Program Quality - PD for distinguished clubs
- 2016-2017 Select Distinguished for Club Growth
- 2015-2016 Select Distinguished District
- 2012-2013 President's Distinguished
- 2011-2012 District Governor Commendation
- 2011-2012 Select Distinguished Area
- 2009-2010 President’s Distinguished Club
Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board member:
I have worked in the legal profession for 25 years as an Accounts Executive and a Legal Executive in the areas of conveyancing and probate. I have experience in assessing a law firm’s financial status, looking to the future by creating budgets to ensure continued profitability for the firm while also ensuring that we rigidly adhere to the financial and other regulations imposed by the Law Society. My ability to analyse information and to communicate that information to the firm’s partners so that together we can achieve financial stability and profitability as well as strong client satisfaction are qualities that relate to the role and responsibilities of a board member.
What experience do you have in strategic planning?
The 2008 recession hit law firms in Ireland very badly. For small to medium sized law firms to survive the recession, strategic planning was very important. I worked closely with the managing partner where I worked to formulate and implement a strategic plan to ensure the firm survived the recession. This strategic plan was modified as required to adapt to the changing economic climate.
What experience do you have in the area of finance?
As an Accounts Executive I have a responsibility to comply with the 5 basic principles of Integrity, Objectivity, Professional Competence and Due Care, Confidentiality and Professional Behaviour. Working specifically in the area of legal accounts and therefore with client monies, I ensure that the firm complies with the Solicitor’s Accounts Regulations in accordance with the Law Society of Ireland. As a legal executive working in conveyancing and probate, I have experience of dealing with client monies.
What experience do you have in developing policies?
Currently I claim, collate and check revenue received under the Free Legal Aid scheme. This was an area which had been very poorly organised. When I took over, I looked at how other firms dealt with this area of the business and I devised policies that would ensure better claiming and checking procedures and as a result a more efficient use of fee earners’ time and more timely and accurate revenue receipts.
What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?
I learned that it is important to have not just a vision but a shared vision. While a leader should have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, they must also communicate that vision to the rest of the team and ensure that the entire team is on board with it.
I learned the importance of effective delegation of tasks; of knowing what tasks to delegate and what tasks to assume personal responsibility for.
I learned that it is important to recognise team members for their efforts as well as their achievements.
What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?
I have always been a good listener but my legal experience in conveyancing and probate taught me how to really listen to what the client is saying and ask relevant questions. That legal experience has also enhanced my analytical and research skills and has honed my ability to pay attention to detail. I believe that to understand people sometimes you need to stand in their shoes and try to see things from their perspective. These are all important experiences and strengths to bring to an organisation that is growing rapidly and embracing so many wonderful diverse cultures.
Why do you want to serve as an international officer/director?
I believe that Toastmasters International has a great future and I would love to contribute to this great future. The growth of Toastmasters International since 2004 when there were 10,000 clubs and 200,000 members to today’s 17,000 clubs and 358,000 members leads me to believe that there is much potential for further growth. Toastmasters has helped me to be a better communicator and leader. Serving as an International Director will allow me to continue to grow while at the same time contributing to current and future members having the same experience.
What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?
I have worked with “Meals on Wheels” delivering meals to the elderly and housebound members of my community. I have experience as a literacy tutor – both on a one to one basis and teaching basic computers and Microsoft Office to groups. I read in my local church. I look after the local Befriending group where volunteers spend time with the elderly and lonely in the community.
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 opinion Toastmasters International’s major objectives are reflected in its mission statements at club, district and International levels. While working to achieve any new objectives, it is important to ensure that our governance structure remains fit for purpose.
One major objective is to continue growing the organisation by building sustainable clubs. In my opinion there should be a task force in every District whose sole purpose would be to source potential club leads, especially corporate clubs. This task force would be made up of 5 - 10 members (experienced toastmasters, past District Directors and members with strong corporate connections and knowledge). Members of the task force would make the initial contact, sell the benefits of toastmasters for both the employer and employee and encourage management buy-in to any club founded. Once a club has been established the task force then hands over the running and support of the club to the DLT.
Another major objective is to continue growing the organisation through clubs bringing in new members and retaining existing ones. Clubs differ from district to district but even within districts clubs differ. We encourage our clubs to carry out a Moments of Truth program and we get insights into the clubs from the AD club visit reports. But do we ask our clubs about their well-being? In my opinion we should ask our clubs to complete a simple questionnaire where they tell us about their clubs, e.g. their top 5 challenges, the demographics in their area, financial concerns, do they get adequate support from the district. I believe we could use the results of such a questionnaire to get a better understanding of club needs that we could take into consideration when planning for the future of the organisation.
Pathways is still very much a work in progress. There is still a lot of work to do to increase the adoption rate by clubs and members. It’s worrying that the adoption rate by new members per the July report was just over 51%. It is to be hoped that making onboarding to Pathways for new members easier, this figure will increase. In my opinion, with no November conference, PQDs should be tasked with specifically boosting adoption rates by all club members in their respective districts. In order to retain new members, it is important to ensure that all new members adopt Pathways within 2/4 weeks of joining a club. Monitoring this should be part of the role of the PQD.
Additional information about candidate:
As IPDD this year, I am working on webinars to help our members better understand what’s involved in taking on leadership roles in the district with a view to motivating more of our members to go forward for these roles.
I’m also a Pathways advisor for clubs in the district with a view to increasing the adoption rate of Pathways in our clubs.