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Transcript: Baskar Sundaram’s Detailed 7-minute Response to APMP Board Allegations on Revoking Baachu’s ATO Status at Professional Ethics Committee Hearing on 21st November 2022

Baskar Sundaram
Baskar Sundaram

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Thank you to the APMP Executive Committee members who are acting as an independent Professional Ethics Committee jury. Andrew, a big thank you for organizing this session, it’s not an easy task. We’ve spent the last 4 months organising this hearing,. Three allegations have been put forward. My team and I believe them to be unjust and without any basis. We reject these allegations outright.

We at Baachu have always been transparent about our paid membership services, even before we were officially recognized as an Approved Training Organization (ATO) by APMP in February 2018. Our mission has always been to provide a premium community for bid and proposal professionals, where they can learn, connect with industry experts, and access the strategies and tools they need to succeed.

This is reflected in our ATO press release statement from February 2018, “Baachu is excited to announce our ATO status and we are committed to providing a premium community for bid and proposal professionals, where they can learn, connect with industry experts, and access the strategies and tools they need to succeed.” Our commitment to this mission has not changed, and it is reflected in our current homepage statement. We strongly reject any suggestion that our paid memberships are a recent development or that they violate ATO standards in any way. We have always been upfront about our business model and we stand by it.

Our mission at Baachu has always been to provide world-class online training for the Association for Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) examination. This approach was in place from the day we became an Approved Training Organization (ATO) . 

This was also acknowledged in the Baachu ATO press release, where APMP CEO Rick Harris praised Baachu for our innovative “bid buddy e-learning platform” and for targeting young professionals and professionals in regions not currently served by traditional classroom-based ATOs. It’s important to note that our fee-based program has never hindered our commitment to serving the APMP community and complementing the efforts of APMP. We have never viewed ourselves in competition with APMP, and that is our clear and concise response.

At Baachu, we are committed to providing equal opportunities for professional development to individuals in under-served geographies. The cost of $800 (Membership, Exam and Training Fees) for the APMP certication  was prohibitively expensive for many in India and other emerging economy regions. In April 2018, we enabled APMP to publish printed materials in India. This was a crucial step towards making the APMP certification more accessible. But we didn’t stop there. In March 2019, we introduced a APMP 500 and APMP 50 low-cost training options, which made the APMP course even more accessible to individuals in these regions. Prior to this, we had offered a Proposal Specialist Certification, which was a pathway to the APMP course, at a cost of $99. we positioned the Proposal Specialist certification as a pathway to the Association for Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) course.

We introduced Proposal Specialist Certification to  ensure that individuals who may not have the financial means to pursue the APMP course immediately can still have access to professional development opportunities. We understand that “Not ready yet for APMP” can have multiple interpretations, but for us at Baachu it means start with the Proposal Specialist certification and upgrade to APMP when the individual is ready. We want to make sure that no individual misses out on the opportunity to advance their career in proposal management due to financial constraints.

However, with the introduction of APMP India low-cost membership and reduced exam fees, we discontinued promoting the Proposal Specialist Certification as our goal of making the APMP course more accessible to members outside of the US, UK, and Western economies has been achieved. By providing low-cost training materials and alternative courses, we at Baachu are proud to have played a role in creating equal opportunities for individuals to advance their careers and succeed in the field of proposal management. 

This is reflected in the number of resources available for the two certifications on our LinkedIn page, Baachu Scribble, where there are 550 plus posts and 55 videos related to the APMP course and only three posts and one video related to the Proposal Specialist certification.

On July 11th 2022, we conducted a survey among our Baachu Scribble LinkedIn followers to gather feedback on the promotion of the Baachu certification as a low-cost alternative to the Association for Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) certification. The results of the survey indicated that 99.92% of respondents, most of whom were also members of the APMP, agreed that Baachu had not been actively promoting its certification as an alternative to the APMP certification. This includes APMP CEO Rick Harris and COO Julia Duke.

Regarding the allegation that Baachu’s behavior was counter to the mission of the Association for Proposal Management Professionals (APMP), we would like to provide three specific examples to disprove this claim.

First, over the past 3 years, our Scribble scholarships have enabled over 700 APMP members to pursue memberships at zero training fees. We have worked with APMP chapter leaders to nominate individuals who may not be able to afford learning opportunities, and we have also reached out to anyone who expresses an inability to fund their training. This support has allowed 700 individuals to take advantage of free learning opportunities. As a result, we made zero revenue from these scholarships, while the APMP generated over $400 in exam fees and $170 in membership fees, for a total of approximately $400,000, from these 700 individuals. Additionally, our team has invested over 1,000 trained hours in creating and delivering course materials for the APMP supporting 1600 Professionals to attain APMP certifications there by generating APMP circa $500,000 over 3 years in membership and exam fees.

Second, we have also invested six hours per episode in editing and launching podcasts that highlight the contributions made by APMP fellows, board members, chapter leaders, and founding members. To date, we have launched 180 episodes, which have been listened to professionals in 71 countries. Through this effort, we have consistently supported the APMP and helped to increase the organization’s brand awareness.

The third point is that we have teamed up with SMA to increase APMP’s membership by 2,000 through the “Wow2K” initiative in three years. This partnership presents a great chance for APMP to expand and attract new members, and will further contribute to the growth and improvement of the organization.

All these examples demonstrate that Baachu’s behavior is not counter to the mission of the Association for Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) but rather it is in line with the mission of the APMP.

To summarize, our unwavering support for APMP is evident through the various initiatives and investments we have undertaken on its behalf. From providing free scholarships to 700 members, to investing in the creation and distribution of podcasts that increase APMP’s brand awareness, to partnering with SMA to help the organization reach its membership growth goals, we have consistently demonstrated our commitment to the organization. We are dedicated to continuing this support in the future and are proud to be a vital partner in APMP’s growth and success.

I am still perplexed about the unjust treatment directed towards Baachu Scribble. It is disheartening to consider that if my skin color were different, perhaps I would have been treated more equitably. Rather than being treated with dignity, we were given a 30-minute call, followed by a legal letter, and unceremoniously removed from the APMP website and APMG exam booking  within 24 hours. It is difficult not to suspect that discrimination played a role in this decision.

In the end, It’s not the honor that I’ll take with me, but the legacy I leave behind of 1600 APMP professionals smiling in 31 countries. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “we will be remembered not by the work of our enemies, but by the silence of our friends.” I earnestly hope that the APMP Board will do the right thing.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving.

That concludes my statement.

Sincerely, Baskar Sundaram and Baachu Team

#justiceforbaachu #apmpdiscrimination


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