NESTA Train the Trainers
Percy Emmett presenting the certificate to an attending trainer at the end of the course ©

British Council Vietnam

Lan Dang, our Creative Economy Project Manager, on why Nesta’s training for creative entrepreneurs, delivered in Vietnam in March 2015, reminded her of ping pong.

In mid-March 2014 we organised the first ever Nesta Creative Train the Trainer programme in Vietnam with facilitator Percy Emmett. Our aim was to impart knowledge of how to structure training sessions for new creative businesses, following Nesta’s practical creative enterprise approaches.

The success of the two Nesta training sessions is still vivid in my mind (we were overbooked with more than 200 applications for only 50 slots available). Once the trainings had concluded, our thoughts turned immediately to the Train the Trainer programme in 2015 and how it could help us to bring knowledge and skills from Nesta to wider creative professionals in Vietnam.

Tech that: IT participants join for first time

This year, I was quite happy to meet Percy our facilitator again, and was excited to see how the training would go, especially when everything would be from the trainer’s perspective. The group we got this time on 23-26 March was mixed. Many were trainers from a public institution (Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and private ones (Sage Institution, YUP institute, X Academy). Many were lecturers at universities in architecture, business, arts and design while others were from different creative hubs who were keen to understand and explore ways to support hub members (Hanoi Grapevine, ADC Academy and Hatch). 

One distinctive feature was that, for the first time, we engaged participants from the tech sector. For example, Dat Le Viet from, who is now running HATCH! PROGRAM, a social franchise that supports innovative and high-potential start-ups, and who helped developed the start-up ecosystem in Vietnam. Another participant with a tech background was Jason Khai Hoang,  co-founder of the now-closed Saigon Hub, one of the the first IT hubs in Ho Chi Minh City. 

So what happens when you get a group of active trainers, creative entrepreneurs and hub people together in a room? 

Answer: very long and heated discussions on various topics. We talked a lot about IP, how to sustain teamwork, how to realise talent, and discussed questions (such as should we allow too much imagination when setting up a company?). 

Many of the issues also touched upon common concerns among participants, i.e. at which stage should you start monetising your ideas and turning them into business or projects. On more than one occasion, I felt that it was almost a ping pong match with more than 20 players, because everyone wanted to have a say! 

Framing the big picture

My favourite part was the re-cap session every day, where participants shared what they thought about content from the previous day and raised questions. Many pointed out the fact that local participants often expect answers immediately from the trainer, which might be cultural in Vietnam. Percy’s answer, shared by others, was that the trainer should let participants come up with their own answers instead. The trainer should be the one who gives creative entrepreneurs the bigger picture, where they are on the road and what success looks like.

A question asked during the training was when and how participants could confidently begin to train others. This was also the question I wanted to ask Percy myself! It will take sometime though, as Percy advised. They should allow several weeks to digest the content and develop their own materials and case studies. Then they should train for a cohort of 10 first and collect honest feedback on the training.

What’s next

Luckily we will be able to support pilot training, which will be planned and organised by ADC Academy, a creative hub focusing on visual and graphic design. Pilot training and training for craft designers comprised two proposals that we decided to support. And we still have eight proposals from other participants to consider, with one targeted specifically at local artists, and the other on companies in creative/tech sectors. 

In the last few years, when running our creative economy activities we have encountered so many creative people who are young, talented with great ideas and really keen to start a business. In this Nesta training, I think the knowledge and skills are basic but also unique in a way that is personal, practical and down to earth. It very much aims at helping our creative people to explore more about themselves, their core values, their creative ideas and what are needed to make creative businesses flourish. And I think this training could work for them.