Curious | Creative | Change

Curious | Creative | Change

My first corporate job was with a Big Four, where I joined as an intern and was later promoted to Consultant. For the unaware, the hierarchy in Big Four normally proceeds from Consultant to Senior Consultant to Manager to Senior Manager to Director to Partner and can take anywhere from 10+ years. Now, as much as I dreaded audits, I loved Tax, and I could read the act, clauses, and case laws throughout the day. I was supposed to prepare the income tax return of a client – it was supposed to be standard from the last few years – same sources of income and expenses – same tax implications, etc, and go through the entire chain of approvals before being filed. The curious person in me wanted to check why each income was taxed in a particular manner and the rationale for each deduction.


Long story short, I delayed the return filing (we did meet the government due date) and forced ourselves to question some of our standard assumptions, got them reviewed and changed, and took a new position that financial year. For the initial few days, I did receive a little resistance from my seniors who wanted to tick off the return from their checklist, but I held my ground and got back with evidence for my different viewpoint. Everyone, including the Partners, heard me, and later I was appreciated for my research and getting into the details.


In my last corporate stint, we had the company constantly laying off manpower and shutting down segments in order to achieve profitability. When I took charge, I took the focus away from costs and emphasized increasing revenues as a better way to meet profitability, and within three months, we started seeing a month-on-month increase in cash flow.

During COVID, since students couldn’t come to school, we decided to get creative and build something to take the school to students’ homes.

We don’t need to follow a practice because it has always been done in a particular manner. Be curious to ask, research, and be creative to find answers to your questions because they’ll not always be a simple yes or no and bring the change because that is what people will remember you for – thanks to you, we are doing this differently today. 


Being different doesn’t mean revolting but putting in a different perspective to look at things. Back in college, I used to ask a lot of questions to my teachers and debate on their approach to solving problems – I would usually be wrong, but I got better clarity, and just once when I was right; that feeling was amazing. Let’s not look down at asking questions – we need to encourage curious minds.


In my Toastmasters journey, I have asked a lot of questions on why the meetings are conducted in a particular manner and why as a club, we follow a particular practice – sometimes the answers were in the governing documents, sometimes an unsaid practice carried on over the years. For instance, while we mention that ‘refrain from talking about sex, politics and religion’, it is not part of the official rule book of Toastmasters. It is a practice we have adopted, given our complicated society. But there have been members who have taken up the challenge to speak on these topics and manage the audience’s sentiments wonderfully. Be creative and change the conversation.

We recently conducted the second District Executive Committee Meeting and the first District Council Meeting for the current program year. In a departure from tradition, all members of the Districts were welcome to attend the proceedings and better understand how the District functions. For the first time, we also had committee members present their reports to create better respect, awareness, and accountability for the roles that they are playing toward the success of the District this year.


What is something about District 98 that makes you curious?


Hardik Shah

District Director | District 98 | Toastmasters International