Towards a more inclusive and resilient future!

The pandemic and its aftermath has changed our organization and its member experience in many unique ways. I will be a voice for the members on the Board and work towards a more inclusive, digital and resilient organizational future.

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Sujit Sukumaran DTM

ILC Nominated Candidate for International Director Region 8

I have been a Toastmaster for the last 17 years, and have been a Gavelier for 3 years prior to that. Over the years Toastmasters has transformed me from a shy, reticent individual to a management consultant, entrepreneur and university professor. Today I am a person who spends 90% of his day with people from diverse walks of life. I am a “third-culture-kid”, having been born  and raised in the UAE, though my roots are in India.

Professionally, after being in the corporate domain in the UAE for over a decade in various HR management and people and culture roles, in 2016, I took a leap into the world of entrepreneurship and have been continuously running my own firm called Optimus Management Consultants. I also teach Strategic Management at the University of West London and am currently pursuing my PhD in Strategic Management from the Xavier School of Management (XLRI) in India.

I am also an avid YouTuber, Podcaster and content creator, with an audience of 19,000 across all platforms. Personally, I have a family of three comprising of my mom, wife and daughter and we live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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Toastmaster's Offices Held

2021 – 2022: Region Advisor – Region 11
Supporting Districts 105, 104, 79 and 20
2015 – 2016: District Director
District 20 (UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan & Lebanon)

2014 – 2015: Lt. Gov. Education & Training
District 20 (UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan & Lebanon)

2013 – 2014: Division Governor
Division J – District 20
2011 – 2012: Area Governor
Area 33 – Ranked Number 3 Worldwide, Division J – District 20

Professional Experience

Service Roles

Pathways Ambassador from November 2013 – January 2015
Committee Member, Region Advisor Handbook Revision – 2022

Unique Initiatives

Launched “100 Days of Education” a Toastmasters focused initiative in 2014 based on 100 days of educational resources directly delivered to your inbox. The program is still used annually by members across my district and the region.


Among the first in the District in 2012 to launch podcasts on the Toastmasters Program, when Toastmasters podcasts in our region were in its budding phase.


Won the Dubai Quality Group’s Silver Award for Innovation in Training for my High Performance Leadership Project – Champions Incubator. This was the first that Toastmasters had representation across the top 20 corporate and non-profit initiatives in the UAE, resulting in greater visibility and awareness of Toastmasters throughout Dubai.

Awards and Accolades within Toastmasters

Youngest DTM in Pathways (2018) and the Traditional Program (2006) in District 20. First pathways DTM in the District in 2018 November.

Youngest Area Director, Division Director, Lieutenant Governor of Education & Training and District Director at the time of assuming office.

Awards & Accolades outside Toastmasters

Honored with “Zayed the Inspirer” feature for being among the Top 50 inspirational personalities in the UAE in 2020. The award is bestowed upon achievers and inspirers from different walks  of life, chosen by an eminent jury. A commemorative video series was released, chronicling this. Was chosen for triumph despite adversity and community contributions.

Featured in Masala Magazine's 40 under 40 power list for the year 2019

Josh! 2020

This is an account of how from being someone written off early in my life owing to cerebral palsy, how I was able to bounce back and forge forward as a successful educator, entrepreneur and consultant in life.

TED 2013

This was an autobiographical and inspiring account of the story of my life, and most importantly how you can overcome adversities that come your way through grit, grace and gratitude..

TED 2012

Called back in 2013 by the TEDx Jury on popular demand for a special session on inspiring youth of how they can make a change in society, theme was that “The youth are not useless, they are used less”

Board Engagements outside Toastmasters:

  • Managing Trustee, PRERANA – the largest disability advocacy group for the Indian diaspora in the Middle East. I handle diversity, advocacy and inclusion. This is under the aegis of the Consul General of India, Dubai. Read More
  • Among the founding members of Al Mosanada, UAE’s first Cancer Awareness bodies and was a youth representative.
  • Member of the Consultative Committee for the People of Determination (Disability Empowerment and Provisions) Law for in the Emirate of Dubai in 2007.
  • Industry representative, mandatory insurance implementation 2008-2009, Dubai Health Authority, UAE.
  • Owner’s Committee Member, Park Gate Residences, Tower A, approved by the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority to represent 300+ homeowners and decide on budgets, facilities and strategies for a great community living experience. One of only four approved from 26 nationalities.
  • Course Committee Member, University of West London, RAK
  • Contributing to curriculum design and development as well as a great learning experience.
  • XLRI Scholar’s Committee Member – Representing 600+ PhD scholars and contributing to critical policy, financial, facility and academic matters.

My Credentials

Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board Member

Over the course of my corporate career, I have been involved with several organizations in the domains of policy development, strategy, marketing, product and content development, and training. During those years, I have been instrumental in every company’s growth from a one country entity to an organization with a presence in multiple countries. I have extensively worked, during these years, in drafting policy, laws and regulations, driving performance and achieving all deliverable goals. The industries I have served include insurance, telecom, education and management consulting.

For the past 6 years I have been an entrepreneur and CEO of my management consulting firm in the UAE. I was instrumental in balancing the budget leading to no losses within the first three months from incorporation. We have the distinction of serving over 20+ corporate clients and leading 300+ assignments in strategy, performance management, business turnaround and branding for our clients.

As a management consultant for half of my work day, I am actively involved in charting strategies for clients to achieve breakthroughs, taking their business/purpose mandate to the next level. Some of our clients are non-profit organizations as well as charities and philanthropic initiatives. My work with them deals with designing policies and strategic interventions, tracking the efficacy of these measures, making interim changes and course corrections, and designing forecasts for the "where to next?" question once the initially envisaged goals are reached.

My second half of the day is that of a university professor where I also set policy at the university level for student performance, curriculum design, and best practices. This has ensured that our university has become a Top 5 university in the UAE in just over 4 years. We started from an initial intake of 10 students and have grown to a base of 600+. Our team spearheaded digital marketing initiatives, student enrollment and engagement activities via social media, which brought our student acquisition costs down by 80%. I was also instrumental in pioneering the "COVED" - Covid Education Strategy, which enabled seamless online learning for 400+ students without affecting their student experience or engagement.

What deserves a special mention is the fact that I am currently a PhD Scholar in the domain of Strategic Management and am focusing on Entrepreneurship and Organizational Sustainability as my topic. My research journey so far has honed my analytical skills, problem definition and root cause analysis abilities, scenario planning and forecasting skills all while working on tight deadlines with a team of collaborators.

As an entrepreneur myself, I manage the finances of my own business spanning across 3 verticals of advisory, training, and special assignments. When COVID hit, most of our competitors went under or shut shop, while we were able to carry on in a lean manner, with zero layoffs from the team, and a 7-15 time return on our digital advertising investments as shown by our new client sign ups. This not only helped us survive the crisis financially, but we were able to give bonuses post COVID for the whole team.

In terms of finance education, I am an empaneled faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India teaching all of their core curriculum subjects and have trained in excess of 8,000 students in India and the Gulf so far.

As a Board Member on committees outside of Toastmasters I handle a $30 million US budget for our Community Management Association, with responsibility for procurement decision making, vendor appointments, tender evaluation, and negotiations, as well as policy review and approval for over 350 apartments housing 1,200 tenants.

I am also a personal finance mentor and an investment guide for over 60+ students.  Together we are handling a portfolio of around $3 million US in stocks across the US and India markets. The initial starting value of this corpus was only around $500,000 US. What makes it even more heartening is most of these students of mine were from the lower end of the economic spectrum and this has enabled them to become financially independent. Today, many of them are also fellow Toastmasters!

Apart from consulting for over 20+ clients in the telecom, insurance, and education domains and drafting policies for them on finance, operations, HR, and service excellence, some of my major milestones in this area were:

- Among the founding members of Al Mosanada, UAE's first Cancer Awareness body and was a youth representative. Made pivotal inputs for development of treatment best practice and management of cancer as well as sensitization for treatment of young patients.

- One of the Consultative Committee Members on the People of Determination (Disability Empowerment and Provisions) Law for the Emirate of Dubai in 2007.

- Industry representative, mandatory insurance implementation 2008-2009, Dubai Health Authority, UAE. Contributed to policy review, vetting and finalization

Being in Toastmasters leadership for over a decade now, the single most important lesson I learnt is that of empathy and the value of listening without judging. The second lesson was that leadership often involves several difficult decisions and it is not possible to please everyone all the time, and so, rather than taking the "crowd pleasing" decision, it is better to take the right decision in the interests of the organization, even if that means some people may have contrary opinions. The last and most recent lesson is that impact need not be a result of vigorous activity, but a consequence of small but firm and reassuring actions. As a Region Advisor during the pandemic most of our trios felt helpless in achieving the goals of the District as members were being lost, clubs shutting down and morale at an all-time low. Despite the same, our continuous communication and small reassuring gestures played a key role in not giving up too early and recouping whatever was physically possible.

Extensive policy making, legal expertise, strategic planning and deep digital marketing and content development experience. As a disability rights advocate with over 15 years’ experience in the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion space, I am also committed to making Toastmasters an accessible organization for all people irrespective of their disability, orientation, race or gender. I am also particularly strong in finance, investments and identifying areas for pivoting into for future growth as our organization evolves and goes towards its 100th anniversary

As a Toastmaster for 16 years and starting as a Gavelier at the age of 15, I have seen first hand the transformative effects that TI has had on my life as a communicator and leader, now as an entrepreneur and teacher as well. I firmly believe that the message that our organization espouses and the benefits of its program need to reach out far more. As an organization at the cusp of its centennial anniversary, I am also cognizant that what got us here though may not carry us for the next 100 years, in a rapidly evolving post-pandemic digitally savvy world. To that extent, I wish to serve on the Board with an intent of fostering greater inclusion, better representation across all age groups, growth in membership and increasing engagement and retention opportunities.

My second half of the day is that of a university professor where I also set policy at the university level for student performance, curriculum design, and best practices. This has ensured that our university has become a Top 5 university in the UAE in just over 4 years. We started from an initial intake of 10 students and have grown to a base of 600+. Our team spearheaded digital marketing initiatives, student enrollment and engagement activities via social media, which brought our student acquisition costs down by 80%. I was also instrumental in pioneering the "COVED" - Covid Education Strategy, which enabled seamless online learning for 400+ students without affecting their student experience or engagement.

What deserves a special mention is the fact that I am currently a PhD Scholar in the domain of Strategic Management and am focusing on Entrepreneurship and Organizational Sustainability as my topic. My research journey so far has honed my analytical skills, problem definition and root cause analysis abilities, scenario planning and forecasting skills all while working on tight deadlines with a team of collaborators.

- Among the founding members of Al Mosanada, UAE's first Cancer Awareness bodies and was a youth representative.

In terms of finance education, I am an empaneled faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India teaching all of their core curriculum subjects and have trained in excess of 8,000 students in India and the Gulf so far.

As a Board Member on committees outside of Toastmasters I handle a $30 million US budget for our Community Management Association, with responsibility for procurement decision making, vendor appointments, tender evaluation, and negotiations, as well as policy review and approval for over 350 apartments housing 1,200 tenants.

I am also a personal finance mentor and an investment guide for over 60+ students.  Together we are handling a portfolio of around $3 million US in stocks across the US and India markets. The initial starting value of this corpus was only around $500,000 US. What makes it even more heartening is most of these students of mine were from the lower end of the economic spectrum and this has enabled them to become financially independent. Today, many of them are also fellow Toastmasters!

- Managing Trustee, PRERANA - the largest disability advocacy group for the Indian diaspora in the Middle East. I handle diversity, advocacy and inclusion.

- One of the Consultative Committee Members on the People of Determination (Disability Empowerment and Provisions) Law for the Emirate of Dubai in 2007.

- Owner's Committee Member, Park Gate Residences, Tower A, approved by the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority to represent 300+ homeowners and decide on budgets, facilities and strategies for a great community living experience. One of the only four approved from 26 nationalities.

- Course Committee Member, University of West London, RAK Campus - Contributing to curriculum design and development as well as a great learning experience.

- XLRI Scholar's Committee Member - Representing 600+ PhD scholars and contributing to critical policy, financial, facility and academic matters.

- Among the founding members of Al Mosanada, UAE's first Cancer Awareness body and was a youth representative. Made pivotal inputs for development of treatment best practice and management of cancer as well as sensitization for treatment of young patients.

- One of the Consultative Committee Members on the People of Determination (Disability Empowerment and Provisions) Law for the Emirate of Dubai in 2007.

- Industry representative, mandatory insurance implementation 2008-2009, Dubai Health Authority, UAE. Contributed to policy review, vetting and finalization

Enhancing and maintaining club excellence, promoting and facilitating member achievement, creating greater awareness and engagement and well as ensuring operational effectiveness are among the main objectives of TI. In my view as a millennial and as someone who believes in the potential of digital, I believe we will need to focus on customized learning deliverables for our members as Pathways gets adopted and matures over the next few years. Furthermore, we will have to work on a member recruitment strategy for a younger demographic including early career professionals.  These are the members, if they become lifelong members, that will have long lasting impacts on the organization's future. Being someone who has seen both pre-Pathways and the post-Pathways era in Toastmasters and with my extensive experience of working with young people and mid-career professionals, I believe the right tools, a digital push and effective cross-organizational pollination and collaboration, as has been started with the Rotary alliance, will point Toastmasters towards its envisioned future.

Testimonials

I was inspired by Sujit’s desire to represent all Toastmasters when I sat in on interviews last year (2023). There are many issues which he is committed to working on when he is elected to the Board of Directors. These are issues that have been discussed for many years, but no ideas have come forward that seemed practical until I listened to Sujit. I believe that he will be an asset and will work hard to serve members throughout the globe. For this reason, I recommend Sujit Sukumaran.
I have known Sujit Sukumaran for a long time. I first met him in year 2014-2015, when I was serving as a District Governor D-46 NY. We were delighted by his thought provoking, inspiring presentation at the MINY, Toastmasters club at NY Life. What struck out the most was his keen desire to serve. His humility, reaching across the aisle to get consensus and his pragmatic approach are indeed added traits worth mentioning. I highly recommend him for any leadership role he wishes to pursue.
Sujit‘s credentials and attributes check off all the boxes for me. He is young, educated, driven enough to appeal to young and seasoned professionals alike, and he has been successful, and he’s not done yet. His leadership, financial, and business acumen, and ability to empathize with a group often overlooked – the physically handicapped, give him…. something more. Sujit has overcome myriad challenges that have left him with the ability to see the possibilities in their full dimension. He has been quoted as saying, “We are forced to see light, even in darkness.” This is what I want! Inclusive leadership. A visionary who is passionate about life and learning. Eager to give it all for our benefit. A collaborator, uniting peoples with different backgrounds and points of view, while upholding the core values of Toastmasters International – integrity, respect, service, and excellence.
Sujit Sukumaran is not just a candidate; he is a visionary leader who embodies the qualities necessary to drive positive change on an international scale. His ability to think innovatively, his global and inclusive perspective, his dedication to expanding the program’s reach, and his genuine concern for others make him an ideal choice for International Director for Region 8. I endorse Sujit Sukumaran and believe he will excel in this role, bringing immense value to Toastmasters, and to members across the globe.

Resources

Walk through pathways

Contains reference to the PPE section that can help you choose a path

How to be a member magnet

Interesting resources to keep in mind while marketing your club to get more members and traction 

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