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Leading a professional nonprofit

Two small professional nonprofits that I founded and led taught me a few things I'm sharing here. One organization was focused on business process management and the other on user interface design. Both were based in India. In spite of the challenges, both were successful in meeting organizational objectives in terms of realizing audience needs.


We found it hard to get:
  1. Volunteers who can help run the organization and the events
  2. Conference papers with original content
  3. Audience participation.
And this is how we overcame ... we used these solutions:
  1. My team members as volunteers
  2. Only foreign speakers
  3. Fail fast.

My own team members as volunteers

Jefferson and Kshama welcoming audiences in two different conferences
Topics covered by the organizations were of interest to my team members at Cognizant. These folks willingly took up volunteer roles. While I had the control I needed, they gained a broad new exposure and enjoyed it.

Only speakers from the West

Richard Anderson at one of our events in Bangalore
Most conference papers submitted had plagiarized content. So we decided to only have speakers from the West. This met the objective of bringing new knowledge into the country.

Fail fast

Audience participation at our business process conference in Mumbai
We did try the usual things that professional societies do, such as regular meetings, memberships, and newsletters. When one did not work, rather than keep trying, we quickly moved on to another. The IT industry folks were not interested in any of these. So we focused on hosting one big annual conference that practitioners would look forward to. All events were hosted in 5-star hotels. People came from all over the country and the events were rated high year after year.

Thanks to . . .

While one of the two organizations brought user interface education to India's IT industry, the other one kick-started business process management – back when these topics were new and needed by companies. I want to thank all those who contributed to the success of the two organizations, including Arun Christian, Kshama Vijayakumar, Jefferson Cornelius, Ramachandran ES, Prashanth Venkataramani, Edwin Benedict, Mukund CS, Divya Ruth, Keerthibushan Jala, and many others. A big thank you to Richard Anderson (in pic above), who mentored me every step of the way – from starting up to finding speakers.


  1. AnonymousJuly 25, 2013

    It would not have been possible without Pradeep leading us from the fore-front. His thought leadership was the game changer here...Regards, Mukund.


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