When a delegation of distinguished government leaders from Kazakhstan made a trip to the United States earlier this month, they were not headed to the White House. Instead they arrived in New Haven for an executive training program at the Yale School of Management.

In response to a request from Kazakhstan officials, SOM administrators created an executive training program for the delegation held from March 7 though 19, SOM Director of International and Special Programs Manjula Shyam said. Members of the delegation had specifically asked that sessions be taught on the modernization of the public administration system and civil service, development economics, and globalization and international trade. The delegation included the Kazakhstan vice-ministers of economy, industry and trade, finance, energy, agriculture, education, healthcare, and department heads and committee chairmen in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, among others.

After requesting information about custom executive training programs at Harvard, Stanford and Yale, the officials chose Yale, Shyam said. The program created for the 25-member delegation was tailored to augment the managerial skills of the Kazakhstan officials responsible for the country’s growth and social policy.

Shyam said the delegation was impressive in both its size and its prestige.

“It really spanned the whole government, and typically a delegation does not consist of so many people from the very top,” she said.

SOM Associate Dean Jeffrey Sonnenfeld said through a spokesperson that the delegates were “delightful” to host on campus and were enthusiastic about the quality of teaching, the resources of the University and the warm welcome they received.

“This sort of leadership program is the exact type of adult learning which Yale can do uniquely well,” Sonnenfeld said through the spokesperson. “This partnership may be a first in our 300 years and proved very valuable for all parties.”

Shyam said she was impressed by the dedication of the participants. The program included a series of sessions taught by professors at SOM and the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, as well as other University and visiting professors.

“They were very serious — very committed and very eager to learn,” she said. “The people who came were very intelligent, well-trained people. They were high achievers and very conscious of the fact that they had been selected for this education and their purpose was to take back as much knowledge as possible.”

Yale professors involved in the program said they also learned a great deal from the participants despite the language barrier, Shyam said. Shyam said the professors gleaned knowledge about Kazakhstan from discussions with the visitors through an interpreter.

Kazakhstan is the largest country in Central Asia and is known for its abundance in oil reserves, but Shyam said the country is at an especially interesting point right now because it has not yet gone through the transition from a command economy to a market economy. She compared the country’s potential to that of the United States in its early history.

As for the success of the program, Shyam said the participants found the entire experience helpful and enlightening. Aside from the sessions at the University, the program organizers also arranged trips to the Government Accountability Office and the World Bank Institute in Washington, D.C. which the delegates especially enjoyed.

“I think it is always a good thing for people from other parts of the world to come to Yale,” Yale SOM professor Jonathan Koppell, who taught a session at the program, said. “I think that the people who participated in the seminar seemed to get a fair amount out of it. I think that in the future these kinds of international programs should become an integral part of what Yale is.”

Shyam said that SOM is likely to host another similar program with Kazakhstan or other countries in the future as a result of the program’s success.

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