Fran Morris reports from Bangkok on the initiation of the Thai Institute of Directors training program
In May 2000, AICD commenced a project - funded by the World Bank - to assist the Thai Institute of Directors to establish a director education program, based on AICD's own program. When mooted in mid 1999, it seemed a fairly straightforward project to be implemented over time. But when the Thai IOD wanted the "whole kit and kaboodle" of the Company Directors Course in one go, it seemed almost insurmountable. There were numerous legal and cultural differences, plus different approaches to formal professional education. After all, AICD has 26 years experience in designing programs and encouraging members to take exams and submit assessment tasks. We all know you just can't parachute one country's program into another's - especially in an environment where major shareholder and family company structures have a great impact on culture, how boards work and economic performance. While AusAID and Austrade were supportive, the World Bank agreed to fund the project, as Thailand is a country which is seriously implementing the necessary reforms for governance and economic rejuvenation. Three sets of lawyers, seven versions of a 200-page contract and numerous timetable changes were signed off barely a week prior to the scheduled commencement.
Train the trainers
The initial part of the project involved presenting the program to prospective Thai tutors, the board of the Thai IoD, representatives from the Stock Exchange and Securities Commission, and various other leading directors. To ensure we were well prepared, AICD commissioned a cultural trainer-training session, presented by Beasley Intercultural, conducted at our May Residential Program in Canberra, before the tutors boarded planes for Thailand, armed with copies of Thai legislation, listing rules and case studies. A tutor training session was held the night before each session of The Residential Program was presented. This gave the opportunity to discuss with the Thai tutors how AICD structures its sessions, and discuss what modifications should be made for cultural reasons. A tutor debrief was held at the end of the afternoon. The first weekend featured Kate Costello and Henry Botha, and, as those who have experienced one of Henry's sessions will appreciate, the Thais were left wondering what they'd let themselves in for.
From Monday-Thursday, I worked in the Thai IoD office, setting up the files and working with the Thai staff to produce their marketing materials. Then it was Thursday, and the second half of the program commenced with modules 6-10. Benoit Trudeau and Greg D'Arville flew in, and later Henry Bosch to present The Role of the Chairman. As the Thais had expressed an interest in M&A issues for the Strategic HR topic, Anne Riches and Henry Botha presented The Skills Update Program 1999 (The Role of the Board in Mergers). During the following two weeks, the Thai tutors met and discussed how they would like their subjects to be presented. In June, Henry Botha and I returned to work with each subject group defining both the specification of the papers and the way the sessions would be presented. Henry Bosch will return to complete the project in August, when he will hear syndicate presentations and speak at a Thai IoD luncheon. Behdad Nowroozi, the World Bank representative, closely monitored the program in Bangkok and continues to keep in touch with its development prior to the launch of the first Thai public program in late-July.
While this may sound very organised and simple, it wasn't. Our motto was "Just cope". However, it was very successful - testament to the warm encouragement and interest given by our Thai colleagues, our Thai cultural training and the experience of AICD's tutors. The CEO of the Thai IoD, Charnchai Charuvastr, education manager Rongruja Saiecheua and their enthusiastic team were a great support and we wish them every success in establishing the new institute. At the end of each session, each tutor was presented with a photograph taken during the session and already framed. Various tutors' photos ended up in The Bangkok Post and we found the most amazing foot massage street in Bangkok (street next to the Novotel, Siam Central BTS stop). Henry Botha is doing the numbers for an Australian franchise. We also became expert at riding the BTS Skyrail and finding fabulous Thai restaurants. AICD looks forward to working with the Thai IOD to assist with the development of its institute and education program, and hopefully working with our Thai colleagues in program development. Indeed, we've even scheduled The Skills Update Program 2000 for Bangkok in the first week in December.
AICD or IoD NZ members working in Thailand who would like to attend a Thai IoD function should contact: Tel (662) 229 2171, Fax: (662) 654 5484 or e-mail: email@example.com. The website is www.thai-iod.com
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