SA Growth rewarded by international organisation

Rob Douglas, a retired engineer from Johannesburg, has received a Presidential Citation from the International President of Toastmasters International for his role in the growth of the organization in southern Africa.

Rob, who served as District Director in 2010/11 kickstarted a five year growth spurt in the non-profit after 10 years of stagnation.

Business schools are recognizing people who achieve in the non-profit sector as the “triple athletes” of business. To really succeed in the corporate world in the 21st Century, experts say leaders need to have experience in Government, Non-Profit and Business.

Rob, who has achieved Toastmasters’ highest award, the Distinguished Toastmaster, ended his successful career at a French oil company in senior management – a feat he attributes to Toastmasters.

“I only discovered Toastmasters at the age of 40,” he said. “Imagine I had discovered it at the age of 20!”

Rob ran Toastmasters International in southern Africa, overseeing an organization of 2,500 people in 9 countries, and grew the organization by a modest – but significant 3,1%, outstripping GDP growth in South Africa.

In the prior 10 years the organization had only once broken out of the 3% band.

After proving that 3% was an attainable goal, he inspired his successors to even greater heights. Five years later, the organization is 50% larger than when he directed it, and is set to achieve 20% growth this year.

Rob Douglas joined the CIS and Rosebank Toastmasters Clubs in 1996. He joined the District Executive in 2003, serving with distinction, until ultimately being elected District Governor in 2010. Since completing that year of office, he has continued to serve, focusing on starting new clubs; to date he has started thirty-four clubs, which is unprecedented. Throughout his membership, marked by numerous awards and achievements, he has been a role model, respected by all for the humble, unassuming way in which he quietly gets things done. Rob Douglas is the epitome of the Toastmasters International slogan: “Where Leaders Are Made”.

Upon receiving this award, Rob was typically modest: “I’m proud to receive this award and humbled to join the small group our District’s winners, people whom I look up to”. There has been only five previous recipients (Howard Steinberg 1996, Len Urdang 1991, Mike Levinrad 1981, Adrian Spruyt 1977, Joe Garmeson 1976), in Toastmasters Southern Africa’s thirty-five year history.


Tribute to Rob Douglas, DTM PDG

Written by Iza Grek

More than 70 people from Toastmasters clubs around Gauteng and even Pretoria, Cape Town and Zimbabwe turned out to pay tribute to the outstanding contribution of Rob Douglas.

CIS toastmasters hosted Rob in the context of a regular club meeting on October 20, complete with toasts, speeches, evaluations and a programme addition that included presentations to Rob.

Titled, Tribute to Rob Douglas DTM PDG, the meeting acknowledged Rob’s Presidential Citation Award, received in Los Angeles in August.

Paul Jensen district director said Rob had impacted more clubs and more districts and had helped more people reach their dreams. “Rob is the Rock of Gibraltar of Toastmasters and always there when you need him.”

David Preece described him as “quietly humble and assertive” pointing out that he often went “way beyond the call of duty. He is the constant thread through everything we do.”

Erich Viedge said, “I am humbled to so long have served with you.”

Lazolla Belle, Division L director, also paid tribute to Rob saying how much he had learnt from him.

Responding Rob Douglas said CIS was his home club which he joined in 1983 and where he remains a member today. He said many district governors and others who rose to high positions within the Toastmasters organisation had emerged from CIS.

He spoke of a time when CIS was so popular they had to limit members to 40 and said the club was strong right now, growing from strength to strength as it marked its 1020th meeting that evening.

Rob outlined his Toastmasters journey detailing the many clubs he had chartered over the years, with dogged persistence sometimes, trials and tribulations, some reaching earlier success than others, while others failed. But to date he can lay claim to starting no less than 34 clubs in District 74 which include a significant number of corporate and local clubs.

Robs latest achievements are a new club in Polokwane and his proudest moment to date – seeing his two daughters sign up for Toastmasters on the night.

CIS club president Michael Silberman presented Rob a framed picture of his reception in Los Angeles with signatures of club members, and a bottle of whiskey.