Time for the Curtain Falls

24th June 2017

I pondered what to talk about for my last speech as President and as a result I only scripted my speech in the wee hours of the day we had meeting.

Though I had placed my tablet before me as a psychological crutch, I didn’t use it, thankfully.

Those of you who were here for last year’s installation ceremony would probably remember that I said I was an accidental President and a reluctant one.

Angela was designated for the President role while I was the Vice-President Education-elect. A week before the executive committee was installed, Angela was given a project at work that required her to travel often. Being a responsible person, she decided that she couldn’t hold on to the post of president without being around most of the time. They scrambled to find her replacement but it was tough.

When approached, I declined to be the president initially. As a free spirit, I didn’t want to be responsible for others. That’s why I hadn’t been a leader after secondary school.

But I was told that everything was ready for the installation ceremony that was just a week away, and several members had turned down to be president. I had accepted the post under such circumstances.

That’s how I became the accidental and reluctant President and Angela’s scapegoat.

What most of you didn’t know, however, was my challenge started even before my presidency began. Just a week after installation and before the term kicked off, the then-VPE said she’d like to quit.

Upon checking if I was the problem, she told me frankly that I was micromanaging. I thought I was helping out to lighten the heavy workload but I didn’t expect it to be seen as micromanaging.

This reminded me of what a colleague said, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

Perhaps I was overly enthusiastic, the immediate past president Jun said.

I managed to persuade the then-VPE to stay on, assuring her that I would take a hands-off approach.

I did. Nonetheless, two months into the term, she resigned.

It was a challenge to fill this second-in-command position.

Thank goodness, there was Jean, who must have been sent by my fairy godmother.

Then, she’s only a three-month-old Toastmaster. But experience isn’t a perfect yardstick of capabilities, skills, attitude and character.

Jean is the most capable right-hand assistant any leader could dream of. She was instrumental in helping some 40 of us track and achieve our public speaking and leadership projects and goals.

She did this while juggling the demanding roles of a daughter, daughter-in-law, full-time worker, wife and mother of two teenagers.

She deserves an applause from us.

Other exco members, most of whom are unable to make it today – a rare occurrence – have contributed behind the scenes as well.

So it wasn’t just me doing the work. It was a team effort. I salute all of them for giving their time and effort selflessly.

Edward said that it’s a thankless job. I could say with confidence that none of us who took up exco post was looking for thank-yous. We just wanted to help because all of us have a stake in Kampong Ubi Toastmasters Club.

But I must say, we have received words of appreciation from members.

To the non-exco members, you’ve your reasons for not taking up the posts. I respect your decision but I urge you to help in other areas and render your support to the incoming exco.

Lastly, I would like to thank the incoming exco members for willing to contribute.

In particular, I have great respect for Puspita. She accepted the post of President despite knowing there were difficulties completing the team. She roped in her husband and fellow Toastmaster Ajoy last minute to fill the last role on the committee, in effect doubling the contributions this couple would make to the club.

Let’s give Puspita and her team a show of support. Thank you.

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Last Chapter Meeting During My Term as President

24th June 2017

Unlike last year’s installation ceremony that was attended by the who’s who in the local Toastmasters scene, it was a no fanfare but cozy event this year that saw the attendance of only senior members and an invited guest from another club.

I didn’t know what the incoming committee thought about the lack of heavyweights but I preferred it this way. After all, this was an important event to the club, it’s great to keep it to those who matter and those the club matters to.

Besides the installation ceremony, there was the usual chapter meeting. Suhas who was supposed to be the Toastmaster of the Day was mobilised last minute for national day parade rehearsal on the day we had the meeting. Fortunately, Kate saved the day by agreeing to stand in for Suhas at such short notice. Credit must be given to Suhas as well because when he was notified about the unexpected army deployment, he has had his script written out – in detail. It really helped Kate, who had never been the host of the chapter meeting.

Generally the meeting went well. Where there were hiccups, Kate reacted fast enough to turn things around. Being TMD trains one’s responsiveness and affords one room for creativity. That’s why I relish being a TMD.

It’s heartening to see members taking on responsibilities, and they learned and improved in the process.

I ended the session with a brief closing speech:

Thank you for your participation, especially thanks to EGG,  Edward Ma, Gideon and George, as well as guests who joined us in this special occasion.

That is the end of today’s meeting.

With this, my executive committee has completed our term. We wish Puspita and her team a successful term in leading the club to greater heights. And you a fruitful toastmasters journey in the coming term.