Toast to a new experience 

As a student and young professional, Saveen Hegde always assumed that oration is an inherent skill.
Saveen Hegde
Saveen Hegde

BENGALURU: As a student and young professional, Saveen Hegde always assumed that oration is an inherent skill. That was until he was one of two persons to represent India at the 86th Annual International Convention which was held at Vancouver, Canada in August 2017. Now on August 27, Hegde will address a gathering from around the world at the International Convention of Toastmasters’ first-ever Virtual Convention, where he will talk about design thinking in the 30-minute slot. The 34-year old is the only person to represent South Asia and South East Asia region (Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Mynamar, Bhutan, Vietnam and Malaysia). While it was supposed to be held in Paris, the pandemic has led to the summit going virtual. 

In his upcoming talk, Hegde, who has a certification from Harvard Business School, will delve into design thinking as a way of life. “It’s important to incorporate creativity and flexibility in the work space. Design thinking combines creative and critical thinking that allows information and ideas to be organised, decisions to be made and situations to be improved. It’s about looking at a business from an artist’s point of view,” says Hegde, who decided to start his own firm,, after leaving an automobile design company in 2011.

Around the same time, Hegde felt the need to hone his public speaking skills. “I then came across Toastmasters’ clubs and felt that a platform where feedback is provided would help,” he says. Hegde is also an improvisational theatre artiste who performed over 300 live performances in four countries for over 2,00,000 people. He is the founder of the Indian Improv Tribe and learned improv theatre at the UCB Theatre in New York, and has played a cameo in two South Indian movies – Humble Politician Nograj and the upcoming Ten. 

While he previously feared acceptance, especially on a global forum, regular participation in Toastmasters’ programmes have rid those. “This summit is different from the World Championship, which I previously participated in. This is not a competition but instead it has 14 select educational speakers from across the world. Some years ago, a non-native English speaker won the World Championship, which broke the glass ceiling about how anyone can do it,” he says.  

The takeaways from the session, Hedge points out, will be learning why design thinking is effective for leaders in today’s changing world; using it to develop an open, flexible mindset; and applying it to better organise ideas and improve situations. 

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The New Indian Express