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Jul 23, 2013 A report: promoting IITTI in China

Jul 23, 2013 from Patrick

Kimberly and I just got back from a 3-week trip to China.  We met with many of the Beijing AICI members over tea in an ancient tea house.  The current Beijing chapter president, Grace Zhang, suggested that the China image industry is perhaps 5-10 years behind the West.

After a few days in Beijing, we traveled to an inland province, Shanxi, to its capital Taiyuan, an ancient city.  Over one of the weekends, we were able to promote IITTI to over 500 people in 6 sessions who were government officials, hotel managers, airport officers, etc.

With many of the people who came to listen to the sessions, the concept of IITTI seemed to have been easily understood with some immediately asking about how to get training in order to write the IITTI exam.  The recurring theme seems to be that managers were more willing to entertain the idea of image training if and when there is a goal at the end of the training; this gives students something to look forward to after the training.

In the coming months, as part of her private business, Kimberly will be designing appropriate training materials for people in China to help them in preparing for writing the IITTI exam.


One thing we have learned for IITTI to work well is that we need to really finalize our Learning Outcomes for Level 1.  It also means that our question pool needs to reflect ONLY the scope within the Learning Outcomes.  Otherwise, if the scope is too wide, it would be difficult for any image consultants to practically design their own appropriate training program.  (Currently Kimberly is thinking of something like a 25-30 hour program in order to cover everything within the Level 1 Learning Outcomes.)  If the Learning Outcomes get too big, then the training program would be too long and the fee could be too expensive for most students.

After talking to many people, one thing I feel is that people in China are treating image and etiquette training to be something sorely needed, especially given that China wants to improve their business opportunities outside of their own country.  They see the IITTI exam to be able to help them establish a credible certification structure for their training needs.

Attached are photos during one of the sessions in Shanxi.

Jul 23, 2013 from Deborah

Thank you for the update! Sounds like a fabulous and productive trip.

Maybe we should design questions based on what a program may include - a one day, three day, five day, or longer course. This would be in line with the clients knowledge.

Jul 24, 2013 from Lynne

Your trip was a wonderful accomplishment and can really help us plan the next steps.

One way of planning the programs would be to come from the most pressing needs you observed and they want. Would you be able to compile a list of the top information that was most wanted and needed from your conversations and research? Then we can tailor the Learning Outcomes for Level 1 to fit. In other words we can start with the Need to Know list and see how long the training would be. 25-30 hours or 3-4 days is a long training by western corporate standards and in the US and UK we are lucky to get 1-2 days!

Alternatively we could think about dividing the level 1 exam into two modules: Appearance and Etiquette and students prepare for and take each module separately. But they don't get the certificate until both modules have been completed. Often exams are offered in this way.

Food for thought.

Jul 24, 2013 from Christina

I'm excited to hear about Kimberly and your trip though I will view photos when I am back in town after my training in Malaysia this week.

Thanks for introducing IITTI to 500+ people. That's a great step forward for IITTI.

I agree with Lynne that 25-30 hours is not a practically doable training proposition in many markets including what we've experienced so far. I thought it would be useful to share that for our corporate clients, the typical training duration is 1-2 days. Anything more than that is not only a matter of cost/budget but time that employees or their bosses are unable or unwilling to spare them from business operations.

As for Nanyang Business School, we originally had 24 hours in 4 hour segments over 6 sessions in 2007. Over the years, it has been reduced not so much because of budget but jus the sheer demands of academic curriculum on an undergrads schedule. Our program is currently 16 hours covering Appearance and Etiquette.

What Lynne suggests sounds practical.

Jul 24, 2013 from Kimberly

I agree with Lynne and Christina's feedback about the length of a program. Patrick and I have already been in discussion about this because here in Canada I too have run into the same difficulty. Clients want the training but do not have the budget nor can take their employees away from their work for that length of time. This has been a concern of mine from the beginning of ET and continues to be a concern as the question pool keeps growing outside of the current scope of learning outcomes. Any ET prep training offered needs to reflect the scope of learning outcomes required for the exam.

One thing to consider though - is that the 30 hours Patrick was referring to also includes time adjustment for a translator. For example in the 1.5 hour sessions I facilitated 30-40 minutes was translations. So a 30 hours session would be about 20 hours if conducted in English alone. However, my feeling is that 20 hour training may not be long enough to cover all of the current learning outcomes.

Patrick and I also discussed the module idea. My personal feeling based on feedback and observation is that dining etiquette is of most interest in China. Business dress is also an area that needs attention. However, I don’t know if they realise the need for this.

India was more sophisticated in all areas. However if I had to pick one I would say business behaviour would be number one importance.

Jul 24, 2013 from Christina

I tend to agree that dining etiquette is of great interest.

Based on our experience with China nationals, business etiquette is next followed by appearance.

However, though they don't realise it, I regret having to say that personal hygiene standards among men in particular sorely needs attention too.

Jul 24, 2013 from Deborah

Thank you so much for sharing the beautiful photos! You made IITTI look good.

I find dining etiquette is always of interest no matter where I am globally. I also find that attendees do not know what they need to know until it is presented. One of our roles is to address difficult issues that HR is not, or does not know how to address. Appropriate dress and grooming is an issue, as is appropriate business behavior. Most of my clients wish to limit training to one or, at the most, two days of training. I have been doing a two day training for Boeing on a regular basis for over a year, and while they would like more they find it difficult to schedule. My challenge is to address the key issues in that time frame. In rare occasions companies will extend the training. Schedules and budgets are stretched and there is little left for this training.

Jul 24, 2013 from Serena

Many thanks once again for sharing your experience in China and India. Very encouraging to see the work you're doing there. When all of us are able to expand our respective market reach, I believe the overall share of voice that image consultants can command will invariably grow for good.

I hope it's not too sensitive to ask openly here – did the individual participants have to pay a sum to attend your sessions? Or were the sessions mainly funded by sponsorships from organizations/self? I think it's always important to keep tab of the consumer appetite and price sensitivity of our programs, especially in developing markets. This will also help us to calibrate IITTI's pricing to market.

Jul 25, 2013 from Patrick

I am hearing the recurring issue of not enough money/time as a major barrier to a more comprehensive training program here in "the West". Whereas when Kimberly and I were in China, and proposing a 30-hour program, nobody seemed to have blinked an eye! They may not want to pay for the 30 hours, but from their reaction, they see that this is a serious program worth paying attention to. If it were only a day or two of training, China would feel that it would not be substantial enough to warrant an international certification test like IITTI. But because of the notion that the Level 1 IITTI would require a 30-hour training, I have heard that there are already discussions from people about going for the IITTI exam.

As I am also hearing from you that a multiple-module approach would give students the maximum flexibility, how about dividing up our Level 1 material into not only multiple modules, but also dividing the material up into face-to-face and e-learning? From experience, with a hybrid classroom/web-learning, you stand to make a higher profit margin than with a strictly face-to-face learning. The other benefits are that your services may be perceived to have more value, and companies don't have to schedule all the training within their working hours but learn on their own time at home.

Topics that are good candidates for web learning are those that might be boring or tedious to deliver in a classroom (for example, email etiquette, social faux pas). When you deliver face-to-face, you may want to pick topics that are naturally fun and interactive, such as those that can be role-played using volunteers (for example, handshake and business introduction always seem to generate laughters in China).


Since our group has gone through the Level 1 Learning Outcomes two or three times already (and I think it is quite solid), could we agree to "freeze" any more changes or additions to it until at least for the next year, so that designing products can begin in order to be used to help people in writing the Level 1 test? (For example, Yvette Weekes of Trinidad and Tobago is building her program to cater to the IITTI exam. I know Kimberly is also eager to start planning to build something...)


P.S. Serena, this time in China, Kimberly received a stipend for her work. All hotel, ground transportation, flights were also paid for. How our Chinese partner got paid, we don't know (and we don't want to know!). But we see that they had driven her (and me!) very hard. They had kept on asking for longer hours for each session and more materials. At one point, we turned down a 3-hour training session for 300 people in a nearby city for their walnut festival because we felt the fee was too low. (I think they were expecting us to bargain, but we didn't. We just flatly refused their offer, quoting that the international going rate was much higher.) It was probably the best move we did for Kimberly's brand because they had seen what an excellent trainer she was and that she would not hesitate to turn down work.

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