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D’ville woman takes Toastmasters reins

A Durbanville resident, Merryl Jubber, has just been handed the reins as chief executive officer (CEO) of Toastmasters in Southern Africa.

Jubber (52), currently the learning and development director of Toastmasters, will start her term of office on 1 July as the district director of District 74 Southern Africa. This district encompasses nine African countries, including Botswana, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique, eSwatini, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia.

There are more than 220 branches in Southern Africa, more than 20 in Cape Town, of which one in Durbanville, the Winelands Toastmasters Club.

Jubber – originally from Johannesburg, but who has been staying in Cape Town for the past five years, of which four in Durbanville – has been a Toastmaster for more than 20 years and has served in various executive leadership roles.

Her role as district director will be to direct the district in a way which fosters strong clubs; produces maximum growth in education completions, clubs and membership; and be consistent with the interests of members of Toastmasters International, she told TygerBurger.

Jubber joined Toastmasters International on 1 May 1991.

“I joined to have a platform to deliver speeches and to learn the skill of leadership. People join our organisation for different reasons, but often stay within the organisation for very different reasons,” she said.

“I stay with the organisation as I continue to hone my leadership and communication skills, but more importantly, I am able to help other people develop their skills and become the best version of themselves,” she said.

“The Toastmasters programme has recently changed over to a new educational programme which was an amazing highlight for me.

“The programme now has all the material online with loads of tutorial material and videos to help you navigate the projects and presentations you need to do.

“The projects and presentations are very relevant to the workplace – whether you work in corporate or are an entrepreneur.

“One of my personal highlights was when I achieved the status of Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest accolade in Toastmasters International, on the new Pathways system.

“As a district we achieved the highest accolade last year by becoming a Smedley Distinguished District and stood on stage with other districts around the world, who had achieved the same accolade, in front of 3 000 people from 145 countries. It was truly inspiring and humbling,” she said.

Other highlights of her journey with Toastmasters was being elected four years ago as the public relations manager of the district, then a year later as the club growth director (the equivalent of the marketing director in the corporate world), last year as programme quality director and now as district director.

“These roles have enabled me to learn so many new leadership and communication skills and I am looking forward to the challenges of the new Toastmasters year as my team and I help the district navigate through lockdown and beyond,” she said.

Jubber works as a client liaison officer for Madeleyn Attorneys in Durbanville, concentrating mainly on facilitating the transactions within their conveyancing department.

“I was an estate agent for nearly 23 years, so this is a natural path to follow. As an estate agent and in my current position, the Toastmasters network has really helped me to bring in business. However, the skills that I learn within the organisation are key to my success in the field.

“I have met many Toastmasters across Southern Africa and the world and there is one regret that almost all Toastmasters have, and that is that they did not join sooner. The reason is that they have learnt so much through the programme and it has helped them so much in both their personal and professional lives,” she said.

Regarding her vision for Toastmasters, she said she and her team are planning to spread the word of the Toasmasters programme throughout Southern Africa. “It is the most cost-effective programme to develop leadership and communication skills for both the individual and the corporate company. Now that Covid-19 has forced the organisation to have online meetings, it is more accessible to everyone,” she said.

When asked about her lockdown coping skills, Jubber says what has kept her sane, is the Toastmaster family.

“I have been able to join meetings online in every country within District 74, as well as meetings in countries around the world.

“I would encourage every one of your readers to visit our website https://www.toastmasters74.org/ and join an online meeting where you will be welcomed, inspired and motivated.

“Joining a Toastmasters online meeting will be one of the highlights of your day and you will not feel alone or isolated,” she said.

Jubber spends lockdown with her 77-year-old mother. Her son (32) lives in Hout Bay.

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