Thursday, September 30, 2010

Entrepreneurial diplomacy

Entrepreneurial diplomacy
Business World Online
September 30, 2010

Junie S. Del Mundo
Chief Executive Officer

In communications, the way one packages a message is often as important as the content of the message itself. In a rapidly digitizing and intensely sensory world, people are bombarded with thousands of messages each day, making it even more challenging to ensure that messages are transmitted with unequivocal precision. Particularly in sectors such as business or politics, misunderstandings can have extensive repercussions. This is the world of professional communicators like Teodoro "Junie" S. Del Mundo, CEO of EON.

Educated in the Philippines, the United States and France, Mr. Del Mundo spent 13 years of his professional life strengthening ties between countries. He built a career in foreign service with postings in the Philippine embassies in Paris, France and Dakar, Senegal and at the Philippine Mission for UNESCO in Paris. After deciding to return home for good in 1995, Mr. Del Mundo felt a burning need to explore other avenues for his career and future. Serendipitously, he was asked to help organize the 1996 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Manila. Gaining much knowledge and confidence from this experience, he followed his instincts and entrepreneurial spirit, making the jump from government service to the private sector. He founded EON in 1998 and focused on events organizing.

His past experience in facilitating communications and bridging ideas proved invaluable in helping him build trust and cooperation -- this time among clients, media, investors, businesses, and government and nongovernment organizations.

Happy with EON’s events management services, Mr. Del Mundo’s clients also requested him to handle their publicity requirements. This opened up a new avenue of opportunity, enabling EON to evolve into a full-service communications agency. EON’s services expanded to include public relations, corporate communications and stakeholder relations. The company also affiliated itself with Edelman, one of the world’s largest global public relations network.

A defining service that EON provides to its clients is stakeholder relations, which involves building trust-based relationships between an organization and its stakeholders such as media, the government and business entities. "Different stakeholders will necessarily have different issues and concerns. We need to internalize the unique needs of each stakeholder, then tailor tightly focused strategies for each group. Using a broad-based communications platform just won’t work," Mr. Del Mundo explains.

EON is a forerunner in rendering this innovative and personalized communications model. To help others understand stakeholder relations, Mr. Del Mundo illustrates it with the work done recently for a client. "We managed a corporate social responsibility project for one of our clients, a global oil and gas company with drilling operations in the Sulu Sea. They wanted to do something for the town closest to their operations, so they initiated a water pumping project. To make this work, not only did we need to raise awareness of community’s very pressing needs for potable water, we also needed government and media groups to buy in and support the whole thing."

In addition to developing an effective community profile for their client, EON also facilitated dialogues with media and government groups, including arranging for these concerned groups to see the situation for themselves.

Over the years, EON’s client base has grown to include both local and regional companies, 95% of which are multinational corporations. EON has done projects in Uzbekistan, Singapore, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Mr. Del Mundo hopes to win more regional projects within the next five years. The firm has been accredited by the Asian Development Bank and is the only Filipino agency with a specialization in Central Asia. He intends for EON to be a regional player using the Philippines as a hub, believing in the creativity, ability and resourcefulness of Filipino professionals. He draws encouragement from the success of projects such as one done in Uzbekistan, where all online requirements were done out of the Philippines.

Recognizing the huge potential and growing importance of the online landscape, Mr. Del Mundo created a separate company called Tangerine in July 2010. This spin-off company will offer web content development and design, blogging research and Web site-related interaction.

In an industry that relies hugely on talent and aptitude, quality people will always be a professional services company’s greatest asset. Mr. Del Mundo expects his people to differentiate themselves from competition in terms of professionalism, immediacy and quality of response, speed in delivery, and intelligence. To ensure that EON can deliver consistent high-quality work to meet the specialized requirements of its clients, he also focused on building a strong and experienced management team to guide and mentor the young and enthusiastic staff. From 36 people in 2009, the company has now grown to 60 employees in 2010.

One of EON’s core values is joy. Mr. Del Mundo constantly works to promote a happy, friendly, light and interactive culture within the company. He is involved with Hands On Manila and the League of Corporate Foundations and encourages his employees to fully embrace the ideal of personal and corporate social responsibility. With his staff members, they support 10 scholars under World Vision by contributing through voluntary salary deduction.

While he may have left the foreign service and has found his niche in entrepreneurship, Mr. Del Mundo remains a diplomat at heart. "I still get to apply my people-relation skills because we do a lot of business with local and foreign governments. And really, if you think about it, our job is to act as envoys for companies and organizations. I’m really still building bridges and connecting ideas between people," he muses.


The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 is sponsored by SAP Philippines. The official airline is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, operating on behalf of the Air-France KLM Group. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 will be announced on October 12, 2010 at a banquet at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.