Managing the Moolah

By DTM Alfred Ravi Tauro, District Finance Manager

As Toastmasters, wherever we go we shine, whatever we do we do in style, meeting amidst shiny banners at plush venues across the country. Do you think these logistics, reimbursements and a million other things that are made available on the fly are possible without a streamlined budget? Managing all that money is not child’s play, so we bring you the experience of our efficient District Finance Manager DTM Alfred Ravi Tauro who calls it managing the ‘M’ resource.

When I was interviewed for the District Finance Manager’s role in June, I was asked about the qualities I would bring to this role. I boasted about having integrity, honesty and focus. They fell for it, persuaded by my verbal power.

Then, a past DFM told me that being a DFM is like standing on a double edged sword. You are in the hot seat whether you spend the money or not.

Yet I thought that being the DFM may not be too stressful since it doesn’t involve looking after an entire District, or ensuring the quality of education, or worrying about membership growth or renewals. I was wrong. I may not be married to this District but still have to handle the finances of this District 98 family.

Being a DFM is about dealing with a different aspect of leadership. Here, it’s not about learning how to bring about growth directly, but about managing the existing and available resources. Reaching your goals when resources are plenty with fewer restrictions may be easier than when you have finite resources and are forced to impose certain limitations.

This definitely brings in conflicts as aspirations have to be curtailed and plans stifled. This is unavoidable due to the non-profit nature of the organization and finite nature of the ‘M’ resource.  Avengers’ fans will agree that if resources were unlimited, then Thanos would have been a more peaceful being and not obsessed with wiping out half the universe.

However with limitations come opportunities to innovate. Every aspect of the Toastmasters forum provides a platform to learn and develop new skills, not just in speaking but in planning and implementation too. Being a part of the District’s core leadership, there are some important things that I hope to learn better over the next one year:

1.       Deciding what is essential and what is eye candy: What are your priorities right now? To fulfill the growth needs of your members or to put on a show bereft of quality which stretches your limited resources? I have seen club meetings that were hyped unrealistically but the end result was a poorly organised meeting with no mentoring of the speakers. Priorities were misplaced and the focus was on glitter. Take care of the basics first, everything else is secondary.

2.       Developing people skills: As communication is the cornerstone of the program, it becomes vital to have skills that can keep people informed and satisfied. One needs to keep an open ear and mind to listen to and understand the view points from across the table. When I was a Division Governor, if I did not receive my reimbursements on time, I used to have concerns and questions. Now it’s my turn to face the firing squad and answer other people’s questions and concerns.

3.       Dedication to the role: Passion, enthusiasm, positivity – all this wears out over time when we are faced with hurdles and troubles. But when we stick to our commitment, we find solutions to deal with our problems. The more we involve ourselves the more we get in return.

There will definitely be more specific lessons to be learnt over the remaining duration of this term. Leadership is funny in that way. It keeps throwing tests at you even as you finish the last one. So the learning is never ending.

I look forward to finishing this term on a stronger note than it started and gaining more wisdom by playing this role. I hope that I can tell the next DFM that this role is not a double edged sword but more of an enriching and fulfilling experience.

This article was first published on District 98’s bi-monthly newsletter ‘Communicate 98’. To read other articles, click here

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