I was born and raised in Springs in the Transvaal Province of sunny South Africa. My father's family was in the construction business for fifty years which allowed me to explore building sites and fiddle in my grandfather's carpentry workshop when not in school. We lived two houses down from Strubenvale Primary School and had a one minute walk to school.
After completing matric with University exception at Vereeniging Technical High School, I joined the permanent force of the South African Army at the tender age of seventeen. I completed an apprenticeship as motor mechanic focusing on military trucks, graduating top of my class. During my apprenticeship I completed my National Technical Diploma (N6) and a heap of technical development courses at the Centurion Technical College in topics including pneumatics, refrigeration and industrial diesel engines.
During my eight year career in the South African Army, I repaired a variety of classes of military vehicles. I also trained new recruits on my favorite vehicle the CASSPIR. I participated in land mine tests on anti-mine vehicles and drove all sorts of military vehicles in extreme terrains that civilians can only dream of. I completed tours of duty in South West Africa earning the rank of Sergeant and a Pro Patria medal along the way.
As Personal Computers became freely available in the 1980's, I was fascinated by programming these new devices. I enrolled at UNISA (University of South Africa) and pursued a Bachelors degree in Information Systems and Psychology part-time.
During my studies I was hired by the Department of Public Works and Land Affairs to develop code for the evolving field of Personal Computing. Our team programmed in Clarion, Dbase III and COBOL. In the typing pool at the Department of Public Works I met the girl of my dreams and in a few short months she was my lawfully wedded wife.
The University of South Africa Graduate School of Business, in Midrand offered a six-month course in Project Management. I completed the training and immediately knew that project management is in my blood. Sitting in the auditorium I realized the power of structured project management planning principles that can be applied to projects in all walks of life. Project Management allows us to predict the probable future outcome of current activities and also to break down larger tasks into smaller work packages. Project Management is the best profession in the world in any age and civilization, because we are the people that convert ideas into reality. The pyramids and space shuttle would be dreams and ideas without Project Managers to identify tasks, assign resources and manage progress.
After leading a team to implement the first large scale Novell network on the first Wide Area Network for the Department of Public Works, I moved on to GOVNET in Centurion as network administrator. This was a fun time in history of computing when new routers were being installed every day and the networks were being connected in unprecedented rates to form the Internet.
Then, I was recruited to teach Microsoft certified courses for fun years at SYS:COMM, Windows Academy, and later IT-IQ in Centurion, Gauteng. As a trainer of Microsoft courses I accumulated many computer networking certifications including MCSE, MCT and Master CNE. I trained students in Riyadh, Dhahran and Rotterdam and traveled to Tech-Ed '99 in Dallas, Texas while working for this great company.
Being burned out from presenting full-day training courses every day of the week, I chose to go on the consulting road. I consulted to clients on Microsoft and Novell products for a year before joining the Standard Bank IT department in Johannesburg. Then we received the news that our flights were confirmed for immigration to the USA and the rest is history.
In a January snowstorm we touched down at JFK in 2001. I came to this country with my wife, four-year old son, six "bursting at the seams" suitcases and $400 in cash in our pockets.
We lived in hotels for a few months in New Jersey. I was placed in a consulting position in Connecticut and we moved to Connecticut with all our belongings in the family minivan. After a year of consulting, I accepted a position at a multinational Healthcare Insurance company in Hartford Area in Connecticut and have managed IT projects over the past few years for this company.
In 2004 I completed my MBA (e-Business) and also joined Toastmasters. I have thoroughly enjoyed working through the Toastmasters program, including a term as Area Governor. Toastmasters has grown me from an awkward seventeen second Table Topics response to regularly presenting breakout sessions to conference audiences of one hundred or more people. I believe that everyone should follow the Toastmasters program and achieve the Distinguished Toastmasters Award.
I first heard about the profession of coaching in 2007 and was intrigued at the thought of having a supportive partner at my side without the drag of personal attachment. There are many definitions of professional coaching which include "personal cheerleader", "supportive partner", "sounding board" and "guide to success". I experienced the benefits after engaging a personal coach and started my studies into professional coaching with Coach University in 2008. For me, coaching is the ultimate collection of best practices to enhance personal development which drives professional effectiveness. Coaching allows me to integrate my successes to help clients and organizations improve performance. For example, I help new South African immigrants settle down in the USA, because I have done this successfully. I know the challenges and frustrations and coaching is one vehicle that allows me to help South Africans in the transition, even if you choose to not live in Connecticut.
Personal Interests that I feel strongly about and support.
1. Understanding Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder and working to improve the ignorance of learning disabilities in public schools today. I am astounded at how unwilling the public school system is to accommodate, investigate and study learning disabilities even though an estimated twenty percent of children in a class are not receiving appropriate education. Results of scientific surveys are now forming volumes of information to help parents and students understand the best ways to use unique brain wirings for maximum effect.
2. Toastmasters International. As a beneficiary of the Toastmasters program, I encourage everyone to invest the time and small amount of money to follow the Toastmasters program. Visit a local club today to see the opportunities available to improve your leadership and communication skills in a supportive environment.
3. The Profession of Project Management.
4. FoodShare a regional food bank in Bloomfield, CT that works to end hunger by securing large donations of food and distributing to local partner agencies such as food pantries.
5. Ongoing adult education. We never have enough education. Our educations merely bring us to a new level of realization where we realize how much more we are able to learn.
Volunteer positions that I have served in.
1. Director of Marketing for SNEC-PMI.
2. VP of Membership for SNEC-PMI.
3. VP of Education for CIGNA Lunchtime Toastmasters Club.
4. Area B2 Governor for Toastmasters - District 53.
5. Board of Directors for Chapel Hill Homeowners Association.
6. Volunteer speaker for Foodshare, educating and thanking Rotary clubs for support of my favorite charity.
7. President of ProSpeakers Advanced Toastmasters Club.
8. Faculty at Toastmasters Leadership Institute in District 53.
I have been fortunate enough to enjoy success in a variety of career settings over the years. I rely on examples from my diverse background and encourage others to take risks, experience new adventures and ignore "Conventional Wisdom" while listening to the beat of their personal drummer.