UAE Resident Makes History as First International President of CAI

REM TIMES talks to Professor Jeevan D'Mello, about his new role as the International President for the year 2024 at CAI
Megha S Anthony | USA | Community Management

In a significant development for the Community Associations Institute (CAI), Prof. Jeevan D'Mello assumes the mantle of International President for 2024. An esteemed figure and the first International President of CAI, Prof. D'Mello propels the organisation towards a globally impactful community association management landscape.

In a conversation with REM TIMES, Prof. Jeevan shares insights into his visionary leadership, transcending the boundaries of the CAI. He delves into his personal journey and unfolds forward-looking perspectives that promise to shape the trajectory of this dynamic field.

Expressing genuine gratitude, Prof. Jeevan reflects, “Serving as CAI's President is a great honour. When I first engaged with CAI in 2007, the idea of becoming its president, let alone the first international president, never crossed my mind.”

Extending CAI's Reach Globally

A pivotal aspect of his vision is the expansion of CAI's influence beyond domestic boundaries. “My vision is to extend CAI's influence globally, particularly in regions hungry for professional learning and networking, like the Middle East, Far East, Indian Subcontinent, and South America. This year, we already have confirmed visits to institutions and associations in Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia and Brazil,” he shares.

This vision transcends a mere promotion of CAI as an institute; it's about fostering a collaborative international community in the field of community association management. He emphasises,

“I want to take CAI to places where professionals have a great hunger for learning and networking but lack a cohesive body like CAI to facilitate it.”

 Prof. Jeevan D'Mello

Global Expansion Strategies

During his tenure as International President, Prof. Jeevan has meticulously outlined three primary goals to shape CAI's global expansion. He articulates, “I have three primary goals: taking CAI worldwide by promoting the institute, bringing international best practices to the USA, and elevating the global perception of our profession.”

These objectives are not confined to expanding CAI's footprint internationally; they also underscore a commitment to creating a dynamic two-way exchange of knowledge. He envisions a continuous flow of expertise, stating, "Bringing the world to CAI means bringing international best practices, innovations, and the latest trends from abroad to the USA."

In fostering these global connections, Prof. Jeevan acknowledges the varied challenges and opportunities across different regions. "Every community is unique, and by embracing the diversity of global practices, we enrich the perspectives within our own community associations," he adds.

Contributing to Global Democratic Principles

Beyond geographical expansion, he also recognizes the intricate intersection of community association management and societal change. "Community Associations embody democratic principles, providing platforms for active participation. CAI, as the world's largest institute for Community Association Management, actively promotes these ideals globally."

He emphasises the role of CAI in countries that may not have a democratic structure, stating, "By fostering open communication and inclusive decision-making, we contribute to democratic governance, particularly impactful in non-democratic countries where such platforms are scarce."

He envisions CAI as a catalyst for change, inspiring global communities to adopt inclusive and transparent governance structures. "The principles we champion go beyond mere management; they are about empowering individuals within communities to actively shape their destinies," he asserts.

Guidance for Emerging Leaders

As a seasoned professional in community association management, Prof. Jeevan imparts valuable advice to emerging leaders. "This profession can be challenging, but it's enduring and essential. My advice is to persevere, prioritise continual education, embrace technology, and become educators yourselves."

He underscores the importance of resilience in navigating the complexities of community management. "It's easy to get burnt out, especially when dealing with the stress and often thankless conditions of this profession. However, staying the course is crucial. This is a great profession, and it's not going out of fashion," he encourages.

Moreover, he stresses the imperative of continual education. "We have to constantly learn new things and become future-proof. The world is moving quickly, and technology is evolving rapidly. If we don't keep up, we risk becoming redundant, and the people we serve will move ahead with professionals who are knowledgeable and updated."

Recognising the pivotal role of education, CAI has already initiated major educational programs in countries such as the UAE, Bahrain, Australia, Canada, and South Africa. “We started the M-100 programme in Spanish, teaching the very first one in Bogota, Colombia, in 2022 and in Cali, Colombia, in 2023. We initiated programmes in India before COVID-19, and we're set to resume this year,” he shares.

In addition to education, Prof. Jeevan calls on his colleagues to become educators themselves. “One of the key roles of the community manager is to educate and create awareness about our industry among all stakeholders, including developers, homeowners, tenants, and service providers. We need to spread the knowledge so that they clearly understand their roles and responsibilities and the need to work together to achieve a common goal of safety and security, enhancing property values, and community wellness.”

Vision for the Global Profession

In concluding his insights, he shares his vision for community association management as a global profession. “My vision is for every professional in Community Association Management to attain high levels of education and professionalism. We must serve our communities transparently, ethically, and with integrity.”

Prof. Jeevan addresses a concerning disparity in how community managers are perceived compared to professionals in other fields. “It is disheartening to note that while people view doctors, lawyers, and architects as experts within their professions and take their advice seriously when they need medical, legal, or real estate development advice, they don't accord the same respect and deference to community managers.”

He envisions a shift in this perception, emphasising, "My endeavour is to change the perception of owners, board members, and residents in communities to ensure they view community managers as professionals in the real estate management arena and take their advice seriously."

In pursuit of this vision, Prof. Jeevan believes that a focus on education, industry knowledge, customer service, and self-belief is paramount. "If we focus on these aspects, we can alter the perception of community managers and ensure they are respected professionals in the real estate management arena globally."

In essence, his leadership ushers in a new chapter for CAI – one that envisions a globally connected and highly professional community association management landscape.

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