2007

As the Senior Advisor to UNICEF’s Representative to Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei I was tasked with performing a detailed mapping in Singapore of potential partners for UNICEF. This four month long exercise was an amazing experience in research, partnership building and understanding the mindset of this super-successful island state. The Economic Development Bureau, Tourism Bureau, the line Ministries of the Government, civil society, academia, private sector and media.

What ?

sector

Where ?

When ?

With whom ?

Making a Strategic Plan actually work+
Making a Strategic Plan actually work

What?

Civil society

Strategic Planning, Strategic Communication

Where?

At a membership based peak professional body in Australia

Why?

An elite medical association in Australia had adopted a new Strategic Plan. Its implementation had hit an invisible roadblock. I was retained to help generate understanding and support for the Strategic Plan and find entry points for its implementation. A membership that spans three generations seemed to be pulling in three different directions, while the organization was loosing its policy clout.

When?

2007-2010

What exactly?

Through my consulting practice ProCubeI developed a comprehensive communication strategy that would in a step-by-step way engage internal and external audiences of the organization.

Engaging Internal Stakeholders

Ranges of products were created to enhance internal membership cohesion thus ensuring buy-in for the new Strategic Plan. These included the production of an Oral History video documentary by ProCube. The internal newsletter was revamped and a strategic approach injected into its content; format and layout. Road shows throughout Australia were conceptualized to address member concerns about change. Strategic Communication changes also included minute details such as re-drafting and re-recording of voice mail messages and implementation of document drafting guidelines.

With- whom?

CEO of the organization was the catalyst for change in this organization. She enjoys international recognition and credibility and when she led the change process it paved way for me to conceptualize and launch out of the box ideas. The President and the Secretary of the organization did not shy away from the enormity of the challenge and canvassed support for the process and the people involved.

What happened?

Enthusiastic and comprehensive support for the new Strategic Plan and for the senior management was generated. The organization has moved from one strength to another and continues to implement many of the processes introduced by Sunoor

“ Genuine strategy work mandates serious change leaders with good intentions. ”

-Sunoor Verma

Maximizing multimedia and online platforms for enhancing buy in for a new Strategic Plan+
Maximizing multimedia and online platforms for enhancing buy in for a new Strategic Plan

What?

Strategic Planning, Strategic Communication

Where?

Australia

Why?

400 members of this peak medical body are spread out in Australia. Each state has its own peak body, which in turn compose the peak national body. Finding a way to bring the membership together in an engaging and productive way seemed important for keeping the organization viable.

When?

2007,2008, 2009, 2010

What exactly?

Through my consulting outfit ‘ProCube Consultancy Services’,I developed a comprehensive external communication strategy that would in a step-by-step way engage external audiences of the organization. Identifying the web as the key platform for communications with external stakeholders a new intelligent and intuitive web site was developed. Twenty Video snippets which present the strengths of the organization were produced by ProCube and are available on-line to members.

Public Messages

ProCube Communications developed key public safety messages for this association in the form of 30-45 seconds video spots.

With- whom?

A medical association in Australia

What happened?

Manifolds increase in the informed engagement of members that was expressed through different channels of contact.

“ Sunoor’s successful track record in different countries and now in Switzerland can also be attributed to his fluency in the language of multi-culture. His diverse interests ranging from politics, human rights, trade and literature allow him to engage in meaningful and enjoyable discussions at any level. ”

Dr Slim Slama
Co-Founder
Geneva Health Forum

Mapping fundraising prospects and partnership support for UNICEF+
Mapping fundraising prospects and partnership support for UNICEF

Sector?

Child Rights, Humanitarian emergencies

What?

Fundraising;Assessments & Evaluations; Strategic Planning, Strategic Communication; Strategic Partnerships

Where?

Singapore

Why?

The global leadership of UNICEF wanted to explore the feasibility of setting up an operation in Singapore. Amendments to laws pertaining to the functioning of charities and foundations in Singapore were a trigger to these explorations.

When?

2007

What exactly?

In 2007 I conducted an in- depth mapping exercise for possible support to UNICEF in Singapore. To enhance the possibility of a quick and informed decision by the senior management, I produced a short video documentary capturing the essence of the mapping exercise. Directed by Sunanda Asthana, an Associate at ProCube, this documentary proved to be a valuable tool for decision-making.

With- whom?

UNICEF

Government of Singapore

What happened?

This report allowed the senior management of UNICEF to quickly reach a decision on how to engage with Singapore.

“ I have been together with Dr. Verma in negotiations with potential donors, senior government officers, ambassadors and partners. He thrives in creating genuine win-win arrangements without leaving any scope for ambiguity or misunderstanding. He prepares thoroughly for each negotiation and is able to step back and see things from the perspective of the counterpart. ”

Dr Slim Slama
Co-Founder
Geneva Health Forum

Connecting UNICEF’s strategy on HIV AIDS with a communication strategy+
Connecting UNICEF’s strategy on HIV AIDS with a communication strategy

Sector?

HIV AIDS; Child Rights

What?

Strategic Planning; Strategic Communication

Where?

Malaysia

Why?

For many years UNICEF had partnered with the Government of Malaysia to deliver numerous and effective grassroots initiatives. With the rapid strides Malaysia made in development and achieved a middle-income country status, it was felt that UNICEF could advance the well being of children in Malaysia more effectively by becoming an upstream partner of the government. UNICEF’s then executive director Carol Bellamy had hand picked the dynamic CEO of UNICEF Australia Gaye Phillips to set in a Malaysia a model of engagement with middle-income countries.

When?

2004, 2005, 2006, 2007

What exactly?

In 2005, UNICEF’s Representative appointed me to link the organization’s HIV AIDS programs to a meaningful communication strategy.

In addition to developing a comprehensive strategy on up-streaming UNICEF’s HIV AIDS program in Malaysia, key Strategic Communication products were developed:

  1. Video documentary- “Women in AIDS”: Conceptualized this video documentary to celebrate and document the contribution of women from various walks of life in the fight against HIV AIDS in Malaysia. This video galvanized support from the Govt. of Malaysia and the donor community for UNICEF’s HIV AIDS program.
  2. Video documentaries- Conceptualized video documentaries on joint projects of UNICEF & Ministry of Health that reflect the impact of good partnerships. These included the video capsules on ProStar Youth Initiative (Peer counseling), Village Health Promoters and Youth & Drugs. Youth volunteers for UNICEF in Malaysia filmed the films.
  3. Launch of UNICEF’s global campaign- “Unite for Children Unite Against AIDS” in Malaysia: After the global campaign against polio in the 70s, this is UNICEF’s biggest global campaign. Sunoor Verma co-conceptualized the Malaysia launch of this campaign in partnership with the Ministry of Health.
  4. High Profile Events: Conceptualized the launch of UNICEF’s Annual Corporate Social Responsibility Award in Malaysia. A top-level corporate event, it brought in valuable support for UNICEF’s programs in Malaysia from the corporate sector.

With- whom?

UNICEF

Prime Minister’s Office,Economic Planning Unit, Malaysia

Minister of Health

Attorney General of Malaysia

Minister of Women and Community Development

What happened?

UNICEF became the partner of choice of the Malaysian government on HIV AIDS

“ He has demonstrated his problem solving skills and emphasizes the need to back up words with action, and the need to engage in solutions that are forward-looking. ”

Michael Szporluk
Expert, Civil Society Development
Mercy Corps

Scaling up Harm reduction nationwide+
Scaling up Harm reduction nationwide

Sector?

HIV AIDS; Harm reduction; Child rights; Women

What?

Strategic partnerships; Strategic communication; Assessments& Evaluation

Where?

Malaysia

Why?

To counter the tide of HIV AIDS in Malaysia it was important to scale up the methadone substitution therapy and needle syringe exchange program nationwide.However there was opposition to this from a variety of influential quarters.

When?

2006, 2007

What exactly?

Sunoor Verma launched the consultations with the Ministry of Health, Royal Malaysian Police and civil society partners on the drafting of a National Strategic Plan on Harm Reduction. He then provided all the necessary support for the drafting of this national strategy in terms of technical expertise.

With- whom?

UNICEF

Ministry of Health, Government of Malaysia

Royal Malaysian Police

Institute of Health Management

What happened?

Strategic plan for scale up of Harm Reduction was adopted and budgeted by the government and was implemented nationwide.

I attributemy success in Malaysia to some key factors that I feels are vital though very rare to find:

A visionary-
UNICEF in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei was headed by Gaye Phillips who not only had a vision but also the courage to recognize that strategic partnerships can take the agenda forward. She articulated her vision and asked me to go and make things happen while she would ensure that there is Prime Minister and Royalty level support and that internal UN bureaucracy does not come in the way. Her experience as a long serving CEO of UNICEF in Australia gave her insight into the UN system without stifling her thinking as her accountability lay with Australian citizens who contribute to UNICEF’s coffers. Each and every partner of UNICEF in Malaysia was convinced that Gaye Phillip’s one point agenda is the well being of Malaysian children. This is rare for any Representative of a UN agency. She enjoyed equal credibility with government, private sector, civil society, royalty and above all the team she led. Every day I learnt some thing new and positive from Gaye Phillips when working as her Senior Advisor in Malaysia.

A catalyst
Indra Nadchatram was former CEO of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation and later UNICEF’s Communication Officer. Indra unhesitatingly shared with me her entire knowledge bank on the HIV AIDS landscape in Malaysia, encouraging me to take steps in unchartered territories yet warning me of potential land mines and also connecting me to the key players. Indra’s dedication to the well being of children and to halting the spread of HIV AIDS was a fountain of inspiration for me during my stay in Malaysia. It always helped having an office right next to Indra’s.

Committed local partners
The late Dr. Rohani, Dr. Christopher Lee, Dr. Norliza Noorodin, Dr. Hayati and Dr. Shaari of the Ministry of Health were committed to the fight against HIV AIDS at a time when it was the least sexy portfolio at their Ministry. Datuk Chua Soi Lek the Minister for Health took the bold step of introducing harm reduction well conscious of the political risk it carried. Shayne Nelson, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank who nurtured a culture of community service at all levels at his bank and launched the “Living with HIV” program in Malaysia in 2002, which educated 3000 of the bank’s employees on the basics of HIV AIDS.Fashion designer Sonny San who organized the first public fundraising for UNICEF… people who went way beyond the call of duty, everyday. They welcomed me warmly to their offices and were always willing to engage in discussions and search for solutions.

“ Through his extensive network of contacts, Sunoor Verma has built a keen understanding of the various concerns of potential donors and addresses them proactively in his project designs. Additionally, Sunoor Verma is quick to address new concerns as they arise. In this manner, Sunoor Verma maintains a high level of confidence on the part of potential donors, greatly facilitating budget negotiations in so doing. ”

Dr. Eben Friedman
Regional Representative
European Centre for Minority Issues

Review of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) program of the Government of Malaysia+
Review of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) program of the Government of Malaysia

Sector?

HIV AIDS; Women; Child rights

What?

Assessment & Evaluation

Where?

Malaysia

Why?

To improve the delivery of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV programs in Malaysia it was important to establish a baseline of the ground situation. The second challenge was to find ways of engaging the growing private health care providers in this public health initiative.

Finding ways of engaging the growing private health care sector to implement the PMTCT program.

When?

2006, 2007

What exactly?

I was tasked with conceptualizing and negotiating with the government of Malaysia the conducting of the first qualitative and quantitative survey of Malaysia’s PMTCT program. I also worked closely with the teams at the Ministry of Health in the design of the study and the analysis of the results.

With- whom?

UNICEF

Ministry of Health, Malaysia

Ministry of Women and Community Development

What happened?

The first qualitative and quantitative survey of Malaysia’s PMTCT program was done. This helped Malaysia make evidence based decisions on the future direction of this program.

“ Dr Verma provides consultancy and organizational services in the development area that are second to none. His strong emphasis on stake-holder involvement in needs-assessments, project delivery and evaluation is impressive… ”

Marc Weller
Director
Eurpean Centre for Minority Issues, Germany

Setting up a think tank on health policy with the government+
Setting up a think tank on health policy with the government

Sector?

Global Health; Child rights; Women

What?

Capacity building; Strategic partnerships; Fundraising; Assessments & Evaluations

Where?

Malaysia

Why?

Malaysia has a network of nine National Institutes of Health under the Ministry of Health. One of these is the Institute of Health Management in Kuala Lumpur. A joint review by the Prime Minister’s Office (EPU), Ministry of Health and UNICEF presented the need for a think tank in the area of healthy policy, finance and management.

When?

2006-2007

What exactly?

With- whom?

UNICEF

Institute of Health Management (National Institute of Health, Ministry of Health) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

What happened?

Set up a UNICEF collaborating centre at the Institute of Health Management (National Institute of Health, Ministry of Health) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The mission of this health policy centre is to provide accurate and timely information to health care decision-makers, analysts and providers, so that they can offer services, which are effective and efficient in improving the health of Malaysians.

“ Sunoor Verma’s work in the field of development stands out in its attention to detail, its constant innovation, its involvement of stakeholders at all stages of project design and implementation, and, most important, in its sustainability. ”

Dr. Eben Friedman
Regional Representative
European Centre for Minority Issues

Up-streaming UNICEF’s HIV AIDS portfolio in Malaysia+
Up-streaming UNICEF’s HIV AIDS portfolio in Malaysia

Sector?

HIV AIDS; Child rights; Women

What?

Strategic partnerships; Strategic communication; Dialogue management;

Where?

Malaysia

Why?

UNICEF has enjoyed a longstanding fruitful partnership with the Government of Malaysia. However with Malaysia graduating into a fast developing middle-income country it was felt that UNICEF could support the government better by becoming a policy partner. Countering HIV AIDS was one of the two MDGs that were eluding Malaysia. UNICEF felt that it could add value to the efforts of the government in that area.

When?

2005

What exactly?

Identifying key areas of support required by the Ministry of Health of Malaysia to address HIV AIDS & children & Youth in Malaysia. Key components of this support involved

  1. Identification of potential partners and analysis of their capacity & risk
  2. High level negotiations and building of strategic partnership with government and civil society representatives.
  3. Policy analysis and advise on partnerships, HIV AIDS.
  4. Development of project portfolio on HIV/ AIDS.

With- whom?

UNICEF

Prime Minister’s Office, Malaysia

Ministry of Health, Malaysia

Institute of Health Management, Malaysia

Ministry of Women and Community Development, Malaysia

What happened?

UNICEF became a close partner of the Malaysian government in addressing HIV AIDS through policy interventions.

“ I believe Sunoor Verma is well apt to mediate in conflicts, as he comes across as straightforward and trustworthy, calm and with a good listening ear. ”

Ulrika Lindberg-Labasauskas
Head of Development Cooperation
Embassy of Sweden in Skopje