Learning effective communication and leadership skills is an important part of the curriculum for business students. Since 2011, many of those students at the Naveen Jindal School of Management have enhanced their classroom experience by joining one of the four Toastmasters International clubs on campus.
JSOM’s longtime support of Toastmasters, which helps its members improve communication, public speaking and leadership skills, has been recognized with an award from the organization.
Toastmasters International Second Vice President and JSOM alumnus Richard E. Peck, Global Leadership Executive MBA 2004, presented the award to Vice Dean Varghese Jacob during a Q&A event April 26. It is the third time that JSOM has received the recognition.
The Q&A, “Meet Richard Peck,” was organized by Gaurav Shekhar, MS in Information Technology and Management program manager, information systems lecturer and an advisor to the Orators at UTD Toastmasters group. Shekhar also served as moderator. Questions touched on Peck’s experiences at Toastmasters as well as his time as a JSOM student.
Peck’s career with AT&T, where he is a senior member of the Network Support department of Network Operations, spans more than 30 years. He told the audience of about 100 students and faculty that he came to UT Dallas in 2002 because he wanted a challenge.
“At the time, I was commuting from Connecticut to San Antonio for my job. I needed something to make me feel smart again,” he said. “I found the MBA program here online, and I clicked on it. It was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.”
Peck has held several leadership roles in Toastmasters International, including international director and district governor. He is a candidate for the office of president of Toastmasters International in 2020.
The first Toastmasters group at JSOM was Management Toastmasters Society, organized in 2011 by Dr. Maria Hasenhuttl, a clinical assistant professor in organizations, strategy and international management. She currently works with the JSOM Friday Toastmasters Club.
“When I came here from Austria, I realized that, if I was going to be successful, I needed to be able to communicate well with people in this country,” she said. “I joined Toastmasters, and it transformed me. I tell students, you’re already spending so much, why not spend another dime a week to do something that is going to really enhance your classroom experience.”
Dr. Jeanne Sluder, a clinical assistant professor in organizations, strategy and international management, is the faculty advisor for Tuesday Toastmasters. “The organization is a good fit for our students, because communication skills in business are so important,” she said. “One big trend we’re seeing is that many large companies are now starting Toastmasters groups onsite.”
Two of Sluder’s students who recently did internships at large companies reported that the job application included a question about whether they had ever been members of Toastmasters.
Information about Toastmasters International and individual Toastmasters groups can be found on the organization’s website, www.toastmasters.org, by clicking on “Find a Club,” or on the JSOM website on the Student Organizations pages.
Some of the JSOM groups are open to students only, while others are open to anyone. Meeting days and times vary.
— Glenda Vosburgh