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Vietnam leadership development programme

Academics from Cardiff Business School successfully redesigned a face-to-face Executive Education programme into an online blended course for five Vietnamese universities.


Cardiff Business School was originally approached to design a customised leadership programme for senior management staff from five partnering Vietnamese universities. Training was to be delivered in two programmes of 4 days each, one in Cardiff, and one in Vietnam. Whilst the Cardiff-based programme ran as planned, the Vietnam-based course was affected by the global lockdown caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The challenge

The second part of the Universities Wales, British Council of Vietnam, Higher Education Leadership Programme was due to take place over four days in Vietnam.  Following the pandemic, the team, working with an online learning design expert, redesigned the programme as a fully online experience.

The solution

The online programme was split into the following main themes:

  • Leadership, the Basics and Exploring Your Personal Profile
  • The Inspirational Leadership and Collaborative Leadership
  • Raising Performance through HR Practice and KPIs.

Each theme included an online module which contained a range of videos, activities, and readings that delegates had to complete each fortnight. There were also live sessions with academics where delegates could discuss the content of the online module and have opportunities to ask questions and share ideas.

The live sessions were hosted on Zoom and were built on the premise that delegates had completed the online modules beforehand. Sessions were very interactive and delegates were expected to fully participate in all aspects of the learning experience, from contributing to polls and presenting findings to contributing to a virtual whiteboard.

Also included within the programme were live Cardiff Insight Sessions delivered by leadership experts from the University, covering different aspects of developing and implementing Higher Education strategy and pursuing internationalisation. These sessions were an hour long with an opportunity for participants to ask questions throughout.

The programme of study

The four day face-to-face programme was redesigned to be delivered as a 10-week online programme.

The project team, including academics from Cardiff Business School, Executive Education and our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Unit worked closely with online learning design specialists to create a vibrant programme that delivered the same outcomes for delegates, yet was specifically designed for online learning.

The programme was delivered as a mix of asynchronous and synchronous learning. Asynchronous activities provided delegates with flexible, self-directed learning opportunities, focusing on understanding key concepts and reflecting/investigating practice. Delegates were able to learn at their own pace, taking the time to re-read and re-watch content as required.

Delegates were given further reading materials, exercises and tasks to complete during the week before the live synchronous sessions, which focused on faculty facilitating discussions, questions and feedback.

Benefits and outcomes

Whilst the online programme was created to resolve a problem, there were many benefits to running the course in this way, including:

  • more time for delegates to reflect and integrate their current practice into the training
  • more opportunities for delegates to bring about change in their practice
  • potentially greater value and impact to organisations than an isolated training event
  • a blend of asynchronous and live sessions to enhance the learning experience and provide a sense of shared community.


Attendees overall found the programme an enjoyable experience and would be able to apply what they had learnt to their professional practice. One participant commented:

I thought that the contents of the webinars are really interesting and useful for Vietnamese university management.

Delegate feedback

Sarah Lethbridge, Director of Executive Education and External Relations, Cardiff Business School, commented on the experience of developing the course:

I am delighted that we were able to redesign this programme of study for the British Council of Vietnam and avoid any delay in delivering our Higher Education Leadership Programme. The pandemic has clearly been a very challenging period for universities, organisations and businesses across the globe, so it is fantastic that in the midst of unprecedented change we have been able to take such a positive step towards a new way of delivering high quality professional development programmes. We look forward to developing further blended learning courses with our international partners.

Sarah Lethbridge Pro Dean of External Engagement

Continuing Professional Development Unit