Aalto EE impacts the development of Vietnam’s knowledge society
Aalto University Executive Education (Aalto EE) has provided high-quality leadership development services in the Asia Pacific region since 1995. At the end of 2016, the company took an important step and expanded its business to Vietnam with Team Finland’s support.
The first group of Vietnamese senior civil servants from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) completed Aalto EE’s innovation management program in November 2016. The program was a success. Currently, Vietnam is keen to continue improving the quality of its research, development and innovation policies by educating more public sector managers using Aalto EE’s offering.
Delegation visit opened doors
In the Asia Pacific Region, Aalto EE’s programs are available in Singapore, Taiwan, China and Indonesia. The company has had its subsidiary in Singapore since 2000, and a new Singapore City Campus was opened in May 2016.
According to Anu Sirkiä, Aalto EE’s Executive Director, Asia Pacific, Aalto EE had been considering entering the Vietnamese market for some time. The decision to finally enter the market crystalized when Aalto EE learned that a minister-led Team Finland business delegation, with education as one of the program themes, would be visiting Vietnam. Sirkiä is extremely happy that Aalto EE joined the delegation in March 2016.
"Thanks to the delegation trip we directly met the right contacts in Vietnam,” Sirkiä says. “The program was highly intensive and well-planned. We had around 15 meetings during the week, during which we were able to learn the needs of potential clients and had time also to present our offering.”
Sirkiä highlights that in addition to saving a lot of time in finding the first client, the visit provided a valuable basis to start long-term collaboration in Vietnam.
“Being a part of official government delegation, led by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development of Finland, opens many doors. Ministerial prestige plays a vital role in Vietnam.”
Successful first implementation
The inaugural six-day Vietnam MOST Innovation Management Program commenced in mid-November in Finland. The program had a great opening, with former Prime Minister of Finland Esko Aho speaking to the group of 21 senior civil servants. The group stayed in Helsinki for a couple of days, after which they traveled to Singapore to finish the remaining segment at Aalto EE’s Singapore Campus.
The program aims to build the capabilities of the Vietnamese public sector for driving innovation and generating organizational and system level impact. Finland and Singapore were chosen as training locations since they both offer an excellent benchmark and learning environment for the training.
“These two nations were ranked 5th (Finland) and 6th (Singapore) in the Global Innovation Index (GII) in 2016,” Sirkiä notes. “In addition, Finland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is undoubtedly one of the most vibrant in Europe and arguably in the world. The successes of Slush, Startup Sauna and the Aalto Entrepreneurship Society (AES), among other organizations, have resulted in the building of a globally recognized entrepreneurial and innovation community.”
The next training sessions, which are already under negotiation, are planned to be arranged in Vietnam and will contain training days also in Finland.
Valuable Team Finland support
Aalto EE is a member of Education Export Finland (EEF), a Team Finland growth program managed by Finpro. EEF and Finpro’s local office in Vietnam, together with the Embassy of Finland in Hanoi, have actively been working to promote Finnish companies and institutions education business in Vietnam. In Aalto EE’s case, the Embassy of Finland in Singapore has also been playing an important role.
After the first successful training program, things have been moving smoothly for Aalto EE. As Vietnamese society is quite bureaucratic, Sirkiä sees Team Finland’s assistance as being very useful.
“We need to tackle bureaucracy in different projects and implementations, and get the necessary licenses,” she states. “It is nice to know that we have Finpro’s local office and the Finnish Embassy ready to advise us with their know-how of the Vietnamese society and education market.”
Vietnam is a dynamic emerging market with over 92 million inhabitants. The country has the fastest growing middle class in Asia. Enhancing education and developing national innovation and the entrepreneurial system is high on the agenda of the government and major cities.
Finland is supporting Vietnam’s development with the Finland-Vietnam Innovation Partnership Programme Phase (IPP). Launched in 2009 and finishing next year, IPP is funded jointly by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology MOST. In fact, a visit of MOST officials to Aalto’s campus in Finland, organized by IPP in November 2015, generated the hot sales lead resulting in the training program provided for MOST officials the following year.
“Most of all, the development of the Vietnamese knowledge society requires innovations, entrepreneurial skills, productization and commercialization,” Sirkiä says. “There is a genuine demand for our programs. I firmly believe that collaboration between Aalto EE and Vietnam will be successful and long-term.”
Images: Aalto University Executive Education.