MiA Asked.. Dr Sudeep Mohandas, CEO Of I First International

Hello Dr Sudeep. Can you share with us a little bit about yourself and your role in the company?

I consider myself to be a professional ‘nonprofiteer’. I belong to a community of individuals who feel passionately about changing the way the nonprofit sector is perceived and viewed. I help others make the impact they want or wish for by developing the nonprofits that focus on people and planet.

I have worked abroad and lead many global teams in areas of management particularly IT, Legal, HR and Finance. My academic and early career background was as a scientist but due to personal reasons that were tragic I made a turn in my life to focus on what my heart wants to do and that is to develop people. Since then I have been working for nonprofits both at a local and international level of management and board.

My first book which is published and available in Amazon is titled  “What makes Gen Y attracted to join a Nonprofit Organisation?” I have written many articles in the area of management and board issues for the nonprofit sector. I am holding certain roles as a Board member, advisor and Adjunct Professor to social enterprises and universities in Europe and US.

In 2014, I decided to set up I First International because I felt strongly that there was a need to professionalise this sector in terms of Board and management expertise. We set up the Company in 2014, we have a powerful role in transforming the nonprofit sector in Malaysia and across the globe.

What is I First International all about?

Our role is to professionalise the nonprofit sectors Boards and Management in the area of decision making and organisational development. We do this by providing the necessary tools, expertise, network and knowledge such we are seen to be strategic partners in the decision-making process and the eventual transformation. I found that my concerns about what was happening in the nonprofit sector resonating across the globe. Thus it was no surprise when I decided to include the word International to our company name. Right now we do a lot of work outside Malaysia.

Can you break down to us a little bit about how non-profit organisations are normally run, and how I First International is adding value to these organisations?

Nonprofits are run based on a constitution and bylaws. They must have a specific reference on how they govern their organisation. Within the constitution depending on how extensive it is, it will determine if the organisation is managed efficiently or effectively.

Our role as consultants is to walk them through best practises and standards from other established nonprofits in the country and overseas. Through the constitution, we are able to help the Board and management work out their own shortcomings and challenges.

Does I First International exist only in Malaysia or you guys also having presence in other countries?

We are based in Malaysia but our work brings us around the globe.

It seems that there are so many non-profit organisations out there in Malaysia. Sometimes we wonder why the industry is mushrooming. Is it because the government is not functioning as it supposed to be, hence so many people out there need help?

Nonprofits are set up to remedy a dysfunctional system, a void in society or to cater to communities that are often ignored, neglected or disregarded. Nonprofits can also be established because of a Founders passion or to promote a person’s legacy. Many nonprofits are set up for political or religious gain, or to promote a company agenda. It does not mean that just because we observe an increase in nonprofit organisations being registered that it directly correlates with the government’s inability to be efficient or effective. It is incorrect to make that link without understanding the other issues behind the set up of a nonprofit.

How would you define a marketing success from the perspective of a non-profit organisation?

I would define it as beyond expected results.

Can you share how I First International is currently doing its marketing initiative?

We drive our initiatives by doing things in simple mode. We have discovered this to be the best way forward. Our marketing initiatives focus on the word of mouth. We have found it to have surpassed beyond any technological mode.

Between online and traditional media, how do you play your marketing stunts based on percentage, is it 50-50?

We have benefited a lot more from traditional media than the non-traditional media. We realised what works for us is results and what our clients say of us. Our percentage is 70 (traditional)-30 (non-traditional).

Why is that?

Our clients have to experience the result and not read or listen to what we want them to hear.

Do you still see PR as one of the must-have strategies in this era on top of the current marketing strategy you’re having?

Certainly. I suggest anyone who is interested in knowing more about PR to read up about the Father of PR, Edward Bernays and learn what strategy meant during and after WWII.

Do you mind sharing your marketing wish list for I First International? Share with us your top five.

We do not have a marketing wish list but we have a marketing game plan. Every day we roll the dice and hope and pray that we are able to make the difference. When you work with nonprofits at all levels, there is a lot of uncertainty we have to deal with. We persevere, remain patient and confront the odds. That’s our ultimate formula on marketing.

The best way to contact you?

Via email here, sudeep@ifirstinternational.com

Anything you wish to share with the readers?

Read my articles on LinkedIn, watch my videos on Youtube and join us for our quarterly seminars.