A watershed moment: Inside the Chartered Professions Trade Mission

11 May 2018 -

Chartered Professions Trade MissionThe objective was to promote the value of “Chartered” status on the global stage, and the impact has already been profound

Matthew Rock

The idea of a trade mission to promote Britain’s unique ‘Chartered’ status and the benefits of partnering with Chartered bodies was first mooted by CMI chief executive Ann Francke in early 2017, and became reality a year later, in mid-April 2018, when six leading UK Chartered bodies, including CMI, took part in a three-country mission, led by the Department for International Trade, to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.


There were two main objectives behind the trip, says Ian Myson, CMI’s Director of Higher Education Partnerships, who was CMI’s representative alongside Ann Francke and CMI’s recently appointed executive in Singapore, Alex Foong. The first was to enable UK Chartered bodies to build partnerships in this fast-growing part of the global economy, with universities, government and employers.

The other, underpinning objective was to show the UK government’s backing for ‘Chartered’ status as a global mark of the highest professional standards. The mission was heavily promoted by the UK government, as part of its “GREAT” campaign, under the specific banner, “Knowledge is GREAT”.

Taking part in the mission were two people-centric Chartered organisations, CMI and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD); two financial services-related bodies (the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales); and two organisations representing the built and engineered environment (the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). In each country, the Mission was fronted by senior-level UK diplomats, including High Commissioner Scott Wightman in Singapore, and Ambassador Giles Lever in Vietnam.


‘This was a watershed moment,’ says Myson. “This was the UK government showing public support for ‘Chartered’ status, and also showcasing all the benefits and soft power implications of having a generation of the brightest and best growing up in this part of the world who embrace British professional standards and development.”


The first two stops on the mission – Malaysia and Singapore – are established markets for UK education. Indeed, these are the two top overseas markets for UK transnational education delivered by UK universities, with thousands of students studying here at local branches of UK universities and business schools and their partners. Many UK Chartered bodies have existing connections in Singapore and Malaysia, and were able to deepen these relationships during the mission.

Vietnam was more “exploratory”, says Myson, reflecting the DIT’s wish to develop UK trade with more emerging markets. Of the UK professional bodies on the mission, only ICAEW has a significant presence in Vietnam. Yet the country was clearly an eye-opener. “There are around 200 universities in Vietnam, it’s truly extraordinary!” says Myson. The country is an exciting potential market for any Chartered body looking to expand its footprint and embed the highest professional standards through partnerships with educational institutions. And the UK has a strong strategic interest in the country because of the Vietnamese government’s commitment to deliver English language teaching across the education system.

While in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, there was huge local interest in the UK mission, says Myson. “There was a queue of universities for CMI’s speed-dating session, all of them with an appetite for adding value through professional accreditation”. A programme to improve the management and leadership capabilities of academic staff across the university sector is also under discussion. And there was strong local media interest, with Ann Francke interviewed for Vietnamese television.


The mission “surpassed all expectations”, says Myson, who followed it up with a visit to Hong Kong, another key overseas target market for CMI. The possibility of a further Chartered Professions Trade Mission has already been aired, which could involve other Chartered UK bodies, with China likely to be in the running as a destination.

“The intention in the original proposal for the Mission was to generate 50 educational partnerships that didn’t exist before,” says Myson. The group of Chartered bodies came away with prospects for more than 75 potential partnerships as well as making invaluable new contacts in these fast-growing economies.

“The mission was a great success, showcasing each institute and what each could offer in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam,” says Mark Protherough, ICAEW’s Executive Director, Learning and Professional Development. “We established contacts with a number of important employers, universities and governmental officials which we hope will lead to an increase in our students and members in the ASEAN region.”

But the mission’s impact went even further than developing partnerships. “What was interesting is that the ‘Chartered’ cachet resonated very strongly in all the countries,” Myson reflects. “We were able to communicate that ‘Chartered’ is a tool that goes beyond an individual’s own qualifications. In fact, ‘Chartered’ extends to capacity-building in these emerging economies, to driving professional standards, to establishing new governance standards, and to overall progress in the economy.” In the build-up to Brexit, this mission can only assist in developing Britain’s global status in an area in which it excels – knowledge-based standards.

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