From a Certified Public Avoider to Confidence, Promotion and Assignment Overseas Through Toastmasters
I was born and raised in the Philippines.
And yes, English is only my 2nd language.
Growing up, I used Filipino or Tagalog in everyday conversation at home, in school, and at work.
Until I got a Fund Accounting job in Bermuda Island in the year 2007.
I struggled a lot — homesickness, adjusting to the culture, and speaking English.
One afternoon, I had a meeting with my manager.
He said, “Shiela, if you want to step up your career, level up your communication skills.”
I didn’t say anything but in my mind, “Me? Stepping up my career? Of course not?”!
Fellow Toastmasters and guests,
Raise your hand if you agree with my manager that to step up our careers, we have to level up our communication skills?
I agree with him that communication skills is important.
But, thinking I want to step up or to be promoted was an incorrect assumption.
I was already earning a high salary, 50 times compared to my salary in the Philippines,
I was with J.P. Morgan, leading financial services in the world
and I was in Bermuda Island — a paradise.
I was perfectly fine.
Leveling up my communication skills to be promoted is not needed at all.
You may wonder why I was so allergic to communication skills.
It’s because my lowest grade when I was in school was English.
My professor said,
“Shiela, if you love your life, avoid English at all costs.”
And that’s the reason why I became a CPA — Certified Public Avoider!
As an experienced accountant, I calculated everything.
- More telephone conversation with clients. — Oh, I’m scared of the ringing telephones.
- More Happy Hour — I always wonder why they call it a happy hour when I view it as a dreaded hour. You’re holding a glass of drink and chitchatting in English. I’d rather go home and sleep.
- More calls and meetings with clients.
So, I was sure that it’s okay to stay in the same position.
Years later, I relocated from Bermuda to the US to Hong Kong.
I was moving locations, but there’s no salary increase nor promotion.
I was okay with the belief that I need to speak more English (which I don’t like) if I get promoted.
Until one day, I saw a post of my former colleague in Bermuda.
She was promoted to Assistant Vice President.
Do you have those moments when you compare yourself with your peers?
And you ask yourself, “what did I do with my life?”
I remember what my manager said,
“Shiela, if you want to step up your career, level up your communication skills.”
It’s like a slap from the universe, “why I waited for several years before I realized the importance of communication skills in my career and my life?”
I immediately joined Toastmasters in Hong Kong in the year 2012.
After years of active participation, I gained CPA.
I developed C — self-confidence.
I told my manager that I want to be promoted. I didn’t get the promotion, so I applied to another company.
With the Table Topics skill I learned in Toastmasters, I aced the job interviews. From an Officer role, I got the Assistant Vice President role.
And in less than 3 years, I was promoted to Vice President.
That is P — PROMOTION
I continued attending Toastmaters. I became the Vice President of Education and other leadership roles.
I learned so many things, especially how to be persuasive…
One day, I proposed an idea to my managers about hiring employees
I didn’t just get the additional employees.
I also got rewarding job ASSIGNMENTS in India and the Philippines. A is ASSIGNMENT.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Where are you now in terms of job title, salary, and status?
And, where do you want to be in the future?
Leadership role, dream salary, dream job
What if improving your communication skills will help you achieve your goals?
And what if the answer is in front of you — by joining Toastmasters?
I was once a Certified Public Avoider, but with the help of Toastmasters
I gained Confidence, I was Promoted at work multiple times, and had overseas Assignments.
You, too, can have these if you will take action.
In closing, let’s all remember what my manager said,
“If you want to step up your career, level up your communication skills.”