Peoria Illinois bungee jumping
Mike Raffety, DTM, PIDI grew up on a farm in Iowa, where my parents still grow corn and beans. I attended Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, majoring in computer science, with minors in political science and business. I moved to the Chicago area, and did database programming for a small family company for a year after college, then got a great opportunity with the financial derivatives trading O'Connor and Associates.
Over the course of my 21 years with the organization, O'Connor was merged into Swiss Bank, which then merged into Union Bank of Switzerland, with the resulting company called simply UBS. Other companies that are now part of UBS include Paine Webber, Dillon Read, and S. G. Warburg. In the first few years, I built and administered the Source Code Administration system, but then in 1991, shifted into the budding networks group. For the last few years, my focus has been on global network performance and capacity planning, making recommendations for technology upgrades to ensure our ability to meet users' needs.
In 2008, I found a new career opportunity with Northern Trust, a Chicago-based bank. I am currently working on problem management, which involves both a tactical response to computer system and application outages, as well as strategic planning on how to better design systems for high availability, identify potential problems pro-actively, and monitor availability.
I earned my Masters of Business Administration from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in 2000, graduating as a "Hotchkiss Scholar", a group selected from the top 5% of the class. I heard several professors endorse Toastmasters during my courses there, and a few months after graduating, I saw a sign advertising a club meeting in the lobby of the building where I work. I figured it couldn't get much easier than taking the elevator!
At the meeting, there were several speeches, one of which was the visual aids speech. The speaker told us all about the jackelope, and near the end of the speech, from behind the lectern, she pulls out a stuffed and mounted jackelope! I was impressed, came back to another meeting, and decided to join.
One of the club officers was Toni Rodgers, DTM, PDG, and at the time, I had no idea what DTM or PDG meant. She evaluated my Icebreaker, where I talked about bungee jumping in Cairns, Australia. As I progressed through my first year giving CTM speeches, though, I came to understand she was a senior member who always gave great feedback. I look on her as my first Toastmasters mentor, someone whom I respected and admired. She's the person who got me involved outside the club, when she asked me to be a facilitator/introducer at the 2001 summer TLI in Grayslake. It was so much fun, I ended up assisting with the 2002 summer TLI, and then volunteering to be dean of the 2002 summer TLI, running that as my first High Performance Leadership project. (Coincidentally, she also works at Northern Trust now!)
Charles Brooks, DTM, PDG, was the man who, at my Area Governor training in July 2002, asked me what I was doing the next year. I was already feeling challenged (and energized!) by everything the AG is responsible for, and here he was asking me what I planned on doing the following year! He was going to be District Governor next year, and he was already working on filling out his DEC - and it made the need for succession planning very clear.