Arnaud, I remember you telling me about your home town, tell me more?
I was raised in Lyon, which is the third biggest city in France. Lyon is beautiful, it is just two hours from the sea, two hours from the Alps and two hours from Paris. Lyon probably has the best food in the world because of its traditional “bouchons” and many Michelin star chefs, probably the most famous being L’Auberge of Paul Bocuse.
So do you cook too? What’s your signature dish?
Yes I cook a lot at home. My ambition is to build an outdoor kitchen, not just a barbecue but the whole kitchen where I can cook and eat all food outside. My signature dish is probably crêpes – our week-end wind down meal, both savoury and sweet.
How long have you lived and worked in England?
In total, about 15 years. I spent the first 20 years of my life in Lyon and then spent one year in England, which I loved. I then continued my studies in Paris and Madrid before returning to the UK. I am now a digital evangelist, introducing new technology to the pharmaceutical world.
Which club(s) do you belong to?
I live and work in Sandwich so I am a member of Toasted Sandwich, and also Kent Speakers.
How did you find out about Toastmasters?
It all started when I overheard a meeting where lots of people were clapping. A colleague then approached me at a corporate event and then invited me to a meeting. I enjoyed the meeting, got sucked in Table Topics and never looked back. That was over five years ago.
What did you hope to learn from Toastmasters?
At my annual performance review I received some strange feedback. I was told to go on a “Prince Charming exercise”, meaning go around the place telling people about what I do – I thought Toastmasters could help that exercise. Also I spoke regularly at conferences but struggled with questions after the presentation – I realised Table Topics could help. I like that Toastmasters is fun but you receive continuous feedback.
So, did Toastmasters help you with your career?
Undoubtedly so, I wish I discovered Toastmasters earlier – it is the best kept secret.
What are you currently focusing on at Toastmasters?
Florian Bay has done a lot of hard work this year and I want to build on what he started. I want to reach out to the clubs and share more information, more resources and more ideas. I also want experts within the clubs to share their knowledge and best practice with the district. We need to stop reinventing the wheel and build upon the expertise and resources we already have.
As part of my role of Club Growth Director, I am also exploring how we can charter more clubs. I am considering Toastmasters exhibitions at conferences and trade shows.
You were awarded area director of the year, why do you think you were given this award?
I am not that sure. Maybe it’s because I was always present. I encouraged club members to attend district events and to take on leadership positions. I was also assistant divisional director. I guess I was just diligent and delivered.
What will it be like having two French people on the DLT?
Well we have no intention to leave despite Brexit. What I like about Toastmasters is that it extends beyond boundaries, race and creed. We are all learning to communicate better regardless of our background. Speaking French and Spanish as well as English may help with liaising with other European districts.
Now that you will be CGD, do you have aspirations to go further within Toastmasters?
I want to take things one step at a time, but it is appealing to have influence at the district level. I’ve attended the International Conference for several years and I’ve seen the power of Toastmasters. District 91 punches above its weight, we are great district, but we can always improve.
So, what do you do in your spare time Arnaud?
I’ve already mentioned cooking. I also spend a lot of time with my children in particular swimming wit them with which is fun. I also play and referee basketball.
As is customary in my interviews, what music do you like?
I listen to anything but do enjoy the energy of dance and electronic music. I recently started listening to the French country music of my youth, such as Louise Attaque and Matmatah.