Fabian Ringwald, CC, ALB, is a member of the Rhetorik Club Bern in Bern, Switzerland, who met his mentee, Manu Alexander, CC, ALB, while they both worked for the same information technology company. Fabian now works as head of IT products and operations for a Swiss railway cargo company called SBB Cargo. Manu works in information technology at BKW AG, an international energy and infrastructure company.
Manu wants to recognize his former colleague and mentor because “he never tried to change my style of speaking, even though we speak very differently—he insisted I stay true to myself.” Since Manu first joined the Rhetorik Club Bern, he has won several speech contests and served as an area director for District 59.
How did Fabian come to be your mentor?
Not long after joining Toastmasters, my excitement to improve as a speaker faded as I felt I wasn’t progressing. I considered quitting, but our vice president membership convinced me to stay and paired me with a mentor. Fabian, who was also my superior at a large company, took me fully under his wing. He even hired me as an intern and helped me develop new IT skills. After three months of Fabian’s mentoring, I was improving and decided to participate in my first club contest. I won first place at the club, area and division contests. Not only that, in one Toastmasters year I attained my CC, CL and ALB.
What skills does your mentor possess that you admire?
Listening carefully is one skill that my mentor practices in his personal life and in Toastmasters. It is a skill many leaders lack, but he has mastered it. He also supports his employees’ growth by allowing them to order educational books and encouraging them to take educational courses and earn certifications. He appreciates his employees and his fellow club members and makes everyone feel important.
Describe a memorable conversation with your mentor.
The best thing my mentor ever said to me was this: “You might surpass me one day. I hope we can still be friends.” This is what a mentor should do. He was giving me his best and teaching me everything he knew. I have adopted this way of thinking into my life. Now I am a mentor as well. One of the first things I tell my mentees is to surpass me; that’s what I want. Because one day, I want to meet them at a contest and lose to them. It wouldn’t be losing at all; it would just mean I need to keep improving.
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Tess Iandiorio is senior editor of the Toastmaster magazine.