Dr.Elizabeth Owino, a member of the Eldoret Toastmasters was curious about how the Administration Manager, Wacera Irungu; and the Finance Manager, Lalindra DeSilva were making MAGIC in their departments. This is what they had to say:
Elizabeth: How do you envision MAGIC in your current district position?
Wacera: Administration Manager: MAGIC represents: Mentoring: In my day-to-day role, I get to apply all these. As an Administration Manager, mentorship is key. I not only mentor my successors, I also mentor District Secretaries who are new by giving all them all the information they need to undertake their responsibilities. When my time to leave office comes, it is important that we have a seamless transition. This can only be possible with good mentorship. I also believe in using this platform to mentor members at club level. Appreciation: I believe in appreciating people. This can be done in various ways:
- Currently we are working at appreciating clubs that met 20 members by 20th January 2021.
- We also encourage clubs to give us reports on nominees for monthly MAGIC mentioning at club levels. This is often within given timelines.
Giving: I like giving my skills, knowledge and time. I know that giving is a good thing and one always gets back what is given. I am an all-time learner and in the process of giving my skills and time, I have experienced growth in people skills, organization skills, planning skills, to name a few. Caring: I do this very intentionally. I ensure that in my communication with district leaders, this stands out. I also make it my business to know how members are doing beyond their club roles. I keep on checking on members whenever I am able.
Lalindra: Before I became the financial manager, I was the Mombasa area director. I learnt that there were many inefficiencies in the past. When I came in, I vowed to turn things around, particularly with reference to doing things in time. I argued that since members pay their dues, it is my responsibility to act on their request in record time. I also make it my duty to communicate clearly to the leaders and guide them in matters finance. I am never tired of repeating the steps until I am clearly understood, for repetition to me, is caring.
I don’t brush anybody away. I know that whatever one asks, however simple, is because they do not know, and my task is to make them know. As a finance manager, I also try to be efficient. Toastmasters has deadlines which must be observed. Shortcuts are not good. It is good to do the right things all the time.
One does not need any knowledge in finance to be a finance manager, although it is an added advantage. Additionally, the position requires one who has a knack for numbers and attention to detail. All these add value and credibility for the post.
Elizabeth: What challenges have you encountered in your lines of TMI duties at your levels?
Lalindra: Many people, myself included, encountered challenges during the lockdown as a result of Covid-19 when most meetings shifted online. There were lots of expectations from all of us, yet we were also grappling with so many other issues. Therefore, many found balancing personal issues and Toastmasters issues a great challenge. But, so far so good.
Wacera: Serving the district during Covid-19 was a challenge. I learnt that one needs a holistic approach as a leader. This is because one is likely to be caught up with other responsibilities, yet he/she must deliver on Toastmasters tasks. When I became a district leader, I made a pledge to efficiently deliver on my responsibilities. I have learnt to set specific days to deal with Toastmasters work. I have also come to realize that working with individuals can be a great challenge because of differences in personalities, backgrounds, perceptions amongst others. People management skills are therefore important. Everyone in Toastmasters is a volunteer, therefore for any person to perform well, they need to be inspired.
Elizabeth: What advice do you have for your successor?
Wacera: Choose the right team to support you. Identify a good team early enough: people with a track record for performance, and who also commitment. Once you have identified them, and assigned tasks, guide them, but do not micromanage them. Your main goal should be to inspire and not to do the job you have already delegated.
Lalindra: Finance is the least glamorous job in the district, but quite powerful. However, with great power comes greater responsibility (If things go wrong, the entire district’s credibility is at stake). You will handle finances in millions; therefore, the key word is integrity. You need to pay attention to detail as well. Be open to questioning from any member, since any member is free to make inquiries, follow the Toastmasters guidelines to the letter, and avoid shortcuts; adhere to the rules and regulations.
Elizabeth: Parting shot
Lalindra: 2020 was a unique year; it made us realize that change is the only constant. There is therefore a need for people to learn to adapt in light of change, to embrace it. Those who could not adapt in Toastmasters fell off, those who did have grown in leaps and bounds.
Wacera: Toastmasters is where leaders are made. Members should take the full opportunity offered by Toastmasters and get value for their money. This can be done by taking up leadership roles for growth. Growth will propel members to renew their membership year after year.