Mongolian civil servants receive training at York

York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies hosted eight public servants from Mongolia, between May 20 and 29. The group was at York to take part in an intensive project-management training program directed by York political science Professor Saeed Rahnema and financed by the Asian Development Bank.

Mongolia, located in East Asia, is a landlocked country bordered by Russia to the north and the People’s Republic of China to the south. The public servants participating in the program traveled to York’s Keele campus from all parts of Mongolia and from a variety of sectors in the public service including postsecondary education, government, finance, research, arts and cultural institutions.

Left: Saeed Rahnema

“York University has some linkages to Mongolia through the Office of the Vice-President Academic and York International,” said Rahnema. “Last year, the president of the National University of Mongolia (NUM) came to York to discuss the possibility of collaboration between the two universities. We put together a proposal for the establishment of a public policy & administration program similar to what we had developed for a Palestinian university.” (For the full story see the Jan. 20, 2006 issue of YFile.)

"We had also proposed an intensive management program for Mongolian civil servants," said Rahnema. "Our Mongolian partners however asked for an intensive project-management program and we designed a program accordingly.

“The Asian Development Bank ,which funds this project, reviewed a number of proposals for this program from different parts of the world and developed a short list of three postsecondary institutions. York University was selected to deliver the program based on the comprehensive nature of our proposal,” said Rahnema.

Above: The course participants try out Microsoft Project Management Office as part of their two-week intensive program at York University

The intensive program included courses taught by York faculty members and Canadian project management professionals from the public and private sector. The course components included full days of classes, which ran from 9am to 5pm. Sessions covered areas such as project management, planning and control; risk management; financing and budgeting; human resource management; critical-path methodology; program evaluation and review techniques; and Microsoft Project Management Office. Courses were presented using a blended teaching methodology including lectures, readings and case simulations.

“Our participation in this project-management and training program was very important to us. Speaking on behalf of our group, we really enjoyed the teaching staff and professors who conducted the program,” said Shiilegdamba Agchbazar, fellowship & training coordinator, Mongolian ministry of education, culture & science.

“Since I am a practitioner, it was very important for me to receive this training,” said Agchbazar. “All of the subjects covered were very interesting. The risk management component of the program and the software training will be very useful to me in my work.”

Over the weekend, the participants had an opportunity to visit to Niagara Falls and visit the CN Tower and a number of other destinations, which Agchbazar described as “fantastic”.

Above: Civil servants from Mongolia pose with their course instructors and administrators, including Atkinson Dean Rhonda Lenton (back row, fourth from the left), Faculty of Arts Dean Robert Drummond (back row, fifth from the left) and project director Professor Saeed Rahnema (back row, centre)

Rahnema offered a final wrap up during the program’s farewell dinner on May 28. “I am delighted to say that , based on the participants’ evaluations, the program has been rated a five out of five by our Mongolian guests. This is a very important project for York as each of the participants will be the University’s ambassadors when they head back to Mongolia.”

Left: Lenton with a painting of a Mongolian yurt that was given to her by Jigee Jager (right) as a gesture of thanks by the students

Rahema thanked the York staff and faculty and Canadian project management professionals who contributed to the program. York faculty included: Abdullah Dasci, professor of management science in the School of Administrative Studies in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies; Saeed Rahnema, professor in the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, and the School of Public Policy & Administration, Atkinson Faculty; Professor James Simeon, School of Public Policy & Administration, Atkinson Faculty; Parbudyal Singh, professor of human resource management, Atkinson Faculty, Steve Tissenbaum, a lecturer at York’s Schulich School of Business and Atkinson and an instructor in Seneca College’s English Language Institute. Other instructors included Michael Annamunthdodo, senior project manager in capital markets, Royal Bank of Canada; Daniel Martyniuk, manager of Deloitte Canada’s public sector and operations consulting practice.

Closing remarks for the program, delivered during the farewell dinner, were delivered by Atkinson Dean Rhonda Lenton, who expressed her appreciation for the hard work done on both sides to bring the group to York. As a gesture of their thanks, the group presented Lenton with a painting of a traditional Mongolian yurt.