August 2018 – Sophiana Chua

One of BSC’s best evaluators, humourous speaker and resident matchmaker; introducing August’s featured member, TM Sophiana Chua!

Not long after Sophiana joined BSC in 2009, she competed in the Humourous Speech Contest and went on to win first place at Area and Division levels, with her ice breaker speech.

Currently she is a researcher and trainer at the Centre for Strategic & Policy Studies and a Senior Special Duties Officer at the Prime Minister’s Office. Sophiana sings Alto in a choir and recently picked up cello again. She looks forward to playing in an ensemble or orchestra upon her retirement.

What is your current profession?

  • I am currently a researcher and trainer at the Centre for Strategic & Policy Studies and a Senior Special Duties Officer at the Prime Minister’s Office.
  • Prior to that, I was a Principal Lecturer and Faculty Dean of Business & IT at Universiti Teknologi Brunei and spent a brief stint as a Computer Programmer at Economic Planning Unit (now called JPKE or Department of Economic Planning and Development)

What do you like to do during your free time?

  • My family and I now have a litter of stray cats and kittens that have become a big part of our family. We spend a lot of time cleaning after them and keeping them happy and gave them beautiful names like Leon, Rumi, Sasha, Kenzo, Leia, Lady and Talullah till I reminded my husband that we should really reserve some nice names for our future grandchildren and dish out names suitable for cats only e.g. Kitty, Comel, etc.
  • I sing an Alto part in a choir and enjoy practising every week, especially after a long day at work.
  • I recently picked up my cello again and look forward to playing in an ensemble or orchestra upon my retirement.

When did you join Brunei Speakers Club, and why?

I joined Brunei Speakers Club in 2009 and it was apparent that I had much to learn and improve as a speaker.  At that time, I was already a lecturer for over two decades so it came as a huge surprise when the comments I received from BSC was that I should improve my eye contact and project my voice better.

After attending a few sessions at BSC in 2009, TM Kaewen Tan approached me and asked if I would like to join the Humorous Speech Contest.  I remember thinking, “At last, I get tell my jokes in a proper way!”, only to find out that it was not about telling jokes, but more about keeping the humour going with a strong underlying message.  With my ice-breaker speech on ‘One Person, One Me’ about self worth and empowerment, I worked closely with my mentor, TM Rozana Yunos to improve my script several times over.  I remember feeling thrilled with getting second place at Club level and worked with Rozana and Clovis Lai on further polishing up my speech before going to win first place at Area and Division levels.  That was a big highlight in my life and till today, I am able to deliver my speech, word for word, and would do so at any opportunity mainly with the aim to convey the underlying message especially to those with low self esteem.

How did you find out about Toastmasters?

I found out about Toastmasters in the early 2000s after reading about Brunei Speakers Club in the Borneo Bulletin.  I read the likes of Dr Melanie Chin, Clovis and Genevieve Lai and initially did not think Toastmasters was for me, but more for the intellectuals, for people who are poised for public speaking.

How has Toastmasters help you at work?

It has helped me in many ways. I became much more conscious about verbal and non-verbal communication and would focus on delivering my points or messages across as succinctly as possible, with little or no ‘noise’ (noise as in waffling, mincing of words, crutch or filler words).

TM Sophiana Chua, conducting the final session of Day 1 of Brunei Young Leaders Convention 2018.

How has Toastmasters affected other aspects of your life?

TM has taught me not to take myself so seriously and. I now try to find humour in different situations and to draw out the best, not the worst, in people.

I feel that through writing my speeches and fine-tuning the underlying messages, have helped me to overcome my issues and insecurities in life.  TM has indeed enriched my life.

What do you appreciate most about Toastmasters/BSC?

The comradeship and helping one another grow.  It is a unique platform where people of different ages and backgrounds come together and mingle in a non-intrusive but constructive way.  I acknowledge that I am in midst of people of my children’s age but as long as no one calls me Aunty, I am fine!

Learning never stops!  I learn new things every time I attend TM and from different people.  In Rozana Yunos, I learnt the art of mentorship and clear thinking.  In Genevieve Lai, the art of adding flair to my speeches. In Shawn, the art of acceptance. In Ruey, the art of patience. In Pooja, the art of believing in oneself. In Heidi, the art of timing and conciseness.  In Ong Yin, the art of good diction.  In Rano, the art of convincing.  In Syatrah, the art of peppering in humour wherever and whenever possible. In Aziman, the art of preparedness. In Rahmat, the art of delivery without script.  In Lai Ling Ling, the art of bringing out the best in people.  In Jidun and Hazwan, the art of persistent probing! And the list goes on…

What was your goal when joining the club?

My goal was to improve my public speaking skills and overcoming stage fright.  My longer term goal now is to speak naturally and comfortably in any given situation, without the need for script.

What’s next for you?

I shall be retiring at the end of this year from government service after 33 years, which means I shall have more time for hobbies, friends and family.  I will continue to learn and grow and I believe Toastmasters is a platform which I shall stay on for a long long time to come.