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Interview with Chevening Scholar, Toastmaster Malaeka Goodwin

Toastmaster of the Black Pineapple Toastmasters Club, Antigua and Barbuda

, Forensic Accountant advises,

“Diligently pursue your goals and do not give up! “

Why your interest in Forensic Accounting?

I chose forensic accounting because I saw that there was an opportunity to improve compliance at the Inland Revenue Department where I work. My job involves investigating matters related to persons who are non-compliant. The goal is to increase revenue, as such taxation is very important. Taxation generates revenue so that the economies of countries can function effectively.

How do you think being a Toastmaster has assisted you in developing your leadership and communication skills especially within the discipline of forensic accounting?

When I joined Toastmasters, I was very shy as a public speaker. I joined because I started advancing in my career at the Inland Revenue Department and was required to speak to large groups of persons. This was a nerve- racking experience and as a result I knew that my public speaking and communication skills needed to improve.

What skills did you acquire when you served as Contest Chair for the Humorous and Table Topics Contest at the Black Pineapple Toastmasters Club?

No one coerced me to take on the role, but something within me said, if you really want to improve your skills very quickly, you need to jump in and jump in headfirst.

As Contest Chair, I drafted the questions for the Table Topics competition. I also coordinated all aspects of the competition and this helped me to organise my thoughts and be spontaneous.

How has being a Toastmaster helped you to prepare for the interview as part of the process to earn a Chevening scholarship?

You are given four essay to write and asked questions based on the content. There are also follow up questions and the skills that I learned as Contest Chair allowed me to organise my thoughts sequentially while responding.

I recall when I was in Barbados at dinner with one of the members of the panel, he indicated that my ability to respond to the follow up questions was one of the criteria used to choose persons to be awarded scholarships.

What skills do you think you have acquired as a Toastmaster that you have taken with you to the University of Portsmouth, UK as a scholar?

I think definitely time management which was learned from responding to Table Topics questions within two minutes. As a club member, I performed the roles of Treasurer and Secretary, coupled with participating in an online taxation course which was job related. Toastmasters has helped me to manage my time between these activities.

In Toastmasters, we have to write speeches and convey messages in accordance with the specific requirements of the Pathways Education Program which helps me to write meaningful essays at this university.

Before becoming a Toastmaster, I was never mentored. It is a concept that I really like because you have one person who is going to look out for you and advise you on how you can improve while providing opportunities to speak. In addition, I get the opportunity to showcase my leadership and networking skills. I found that these were very fundamental in my journey, because Chevening is about developing emerging leaders and giving them the opportunity to achieve goals that will impact their country.

What is your message to young persons who probably never heard of Toastmasters or other individuals who may be interested in joining Toastmasters?

I want to highlight again the importance of mentorship. As soon as you enter the program you are assigned a mentor and there is something remarkable about having somebody who helps you to hone certain skills. If you are not a great communicator, if you want to improve your leadership skills, if you want to expand your network, whatever is the reason, join Toastmasters.

There is no downside to joining Toastmasters, because I joined to improve my communication skills and I got time management, mentorship and networking opportunities.

What would be your message to any young person not necessarily in Antigua and Barbuda who may be aspiring to earn a scholarship?

Just make sure that you have that confidence. I knew a while now that I wanted to pursue forensic accounting, and I put things in place to get there. I did not succeed on my first or second attempt, but I am here on my third attempt. Diligently pursue your goals. Do not give up!

Here is the link to view the interview:

Passcode: CPwNE8!

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