Ahead of her Time

Sandra Lutchman enters the Territory Humorous Speech Contest as the first place winner of Area 12. At the club round she delivered a speech on marriage which left the audience “in stitches” and generated much discussion after the contest about commitment and relationships. The content of the speech is however no laughing matter when one considers the recent statement by Chief Justice Ivor Archie at the opening of the 2012-2013 Law Term about the increasing divorce rate in T&T. Sandra seems to always be on the pulse of things as the following interview shows.

Why did you join Toastmasters?
I wanted to break my fear of public speaking. I was called upon unexpectedly to say a few words at a family function and I had no idea that simple request could cause such stress. I did not want a repeat of that experience so I sought out Toastmasters International. At that time, there were no clubs in Trinidad. I was fortunate to get the opportunity to study abroad and became a founder member of a Toastmasters Club in Orlando, Florida. I tried to start a club in Trinidad but did not get enough interested persons. A few years later a club was formed out of the National Commercial Bank (NCB). As a former employee of the bank I attended some of the meetings. When I returned to Trinidad from my studies abroad I found out about Dynamic Speakers Toastmasters Club which I joined in 2004.

What is your favorite role during a Toastmasters meeting?
I like Speech Evaluations and delivering Toastmaster Wise Segments – Educational Sessions designed to educate the members on different aspects of speech writing and delivery and teaching about the TM Organization in general.

Why did you pursue aviation as a career?
I gave myself a challenge. It was my childhood dream to be the first female commercial pilot in Trinidad. It seemed impossible when I was growing up as there were no other female pilots in Trinidad at that time. I felt it suited my personality and aptitude. Travelling and seeing the world, was also on my list of things I would like to do. I thought; why not pursue a career that enabled me to achieve both? – I became the first Female Flight Dispatcher and second Female Commercial Pilot at BWIA. Travelling and seeing the world is work in progress.

50 years of Independence, discuss your views of the role and status of women in Trinidad & Tobago society.
I believe women are holding their own and standing next to and sometimes even ahead of the males in some sectors in society. There are areas that are male dominated but generally we have a favorable climate for females in this society. It really is not as bad as other places. Our females get the same pay for the same work. It is my understanding that does not apply even in some developed countries. The glass ceiling is only applicable to certain professions. Although the old boy’s club is not as pronounced as it used to be, there is more that can be done to remove the glass ceiling altogether. We now have a female PM so if there is ever a good time to make this happen, it is now. How about a female President next?

What would you name the autobiography of your life?
“Ahead of my time”. I started working at the bank (Foreign/Local Bank) at a very young age and wanted to do the Institute of Canadian Bankers Exams to get my certifications in banking. After pursuing my studies (and becoming a supervisor at 19-20 years old) the bank would not put me up for the exams because they knew nothing about those foreign accreditations. I had to be put up by a financial institution to write the banking exams. These banking qualifications are highly recognized and over the years the banking system here has become aware and now recognizes it. Because my employers were unaware of these exams and the examining body etc. I was denied the opportunity and my studies and preparations went in vain. But knowledge is never wasted. This is just one example of me being ahead of my time. This Karma followed me into flying school, at BWIA where I became the first female Flight Dispatcher and the Second female Commercial Pilot. Being the second female commercial pilot I had to break new ground. My success in flying school and at the airline was more about my coping with the breaking of barriers than the skill of flying.

When my husband and I pioneered Business Software Training in Trinidad approximately 27 years ago we had to explain to persons why they should become computer literate. It took a lot of convincing and persuading persons as this idea of using a computer as a tool for everyday office and home use was a novel idea back then. “Ahead of my time”

I attempted to bring Toastmasters International to Trinidad and start a Toastmasters Club in the late 1970’s and again in the early 1980’s.  I got the start up kits but I did not get enough interested persons.  Again I was “Ahead of my Time”

What chore do you absolutely dislike?
I do not specially like any and totally dislike all household chores.

Table Topics vs. Prepared Speeches – which do you prefer?
I have entered and won Table Topics Contests at the Cub Level but I believe I could do justice to a prepared speech a lot better. I am a better speech writer than speaker and I am better at professional type speeches than humorous. I enjoy speech writing and I am doing humorous speeches to push my boundaries a bit as I am a serious, conservative type person. I am stepping outside of my personality for this and stretching myself and realizing that I am really enjoying it very much. So Prepared Speeches it is.

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