It’s been a tough week for Ms Pyit Thiri Thaw, the founder and owner of The Myanmar Certified Training Centre (MCTC). As she grabs breakfast in the restaurant at the Pullman-Centre Point Hotel on Sule Pagoda Road, she switches between her coffee, her phone, her omelette and her laptop. Her cooling food seems to get less attention than it deserves as her focus lies elsewhere. Thiri is in the middle of putting the finishing touches to the preparations for the forthcoming Myanmar Women Leaders event at the Rosewood Hotel on Strand Road. It’s a lot of work, but she is determined to make it a massive success.

The Myanmar Women Leaders event supported by the second lady of Myanmar Dr  Anna Sui Hluan is a component of the growing Myanmar Women Leaders programme. The programme brings together some of the most influential women business leaders and entrepreneurs in the country. The aim is to strengthen their relationships, build collaborative opportunities, and to create lasting personal and professional change that will increase their leadership impact.

Earlier this year Thiri led a diverse group of 11 Myanmar Women Leaders on an exploratory study trip to Europe. The group travelled to Germany, Italy, and Switzerland and met with a number of European Women entrepreneurs including Regine Sixt the Senior Executive Vice President of SIXT International, one of the largest car rental and leasing businesses in the world. They also visited several Universities in Germany, Switzerland and Italy and were hosted by TUM University in Munich who has an all-women board to learn about the role that women leaders hold not only in business but also in academia. Through the trip, the women were able to learn more about gender equality in the European business environment and develop their entrepreneurship and innovation skills through workshops in Munich. They also had the opportunity to study Corporate Governance at St Gallen University in Switzerland. The trip was an excellent opportunity for the women to share information about Myanmar with their European peers and explain the challenges and opportunities faced by women entrepreneurs in the country. One of the most significant impacts that can be seen by the innovative Myanmar Women Leaders Programme has been the close-knit and supportive relationships that have developed between the participants themselves within Myanmar.

Thiri is excited about the first-ever Global Women’s conference in Myanmar planned for November this year. This inaugural event will see international guest speakers from all over the world attending to support the growing network of Women Leaders in Myanmar, and to empower women entrepreneurs to develop and grow their businesses at all levels.

Thiri always wanted to be a teacher, but she has the natural talent of an entrepreneur and has an eye for developing innovative solutions to harness potential. She self-financed her education in Singapore through this approach, obtaining a double degree in Business Management Marketing and Finance before working in India setting up 11 training  centers across the country. When an opportunity became available to return to Myanmar in 2012 to establish Lithan University in Yangon she jumped at the chance to return to her home and be a part of the growth of Myanmar. However, from her experience, Thiri could see that there was a massive amount of potential not being met in Myanmar. Myanmar was changing at this time, and despite Education reform, the skills gap between graduates and the real working environment was significant. Thiri believed that she could have a big impact in addressing that gap.

Photo: Gerhard Joren.

From a storage room at the back of the Strand Hotel, with just two employees, a table and three chairs, Thiri established the Myanmar Certified Training Centre (MCTC) – The first Competency-based and result oriented Training Provider in Myanmar. Their first project, the Myanmar Financial Centre (MFC) quickly established itself as a leader in its field by providing quality training and development solutions through international partnerships and internationally recognised certifications. Since its inception in 2015, MFC has contributed towards closing the workforce skills gap in areas such as Banking and Finance and Project Management. In 2018 the Myanmar Future of Finance Fellowship held their first European study trip. Eleven senior representatives of Myanmar’s financial and banking sector visited Germany to explore the European financial markets. The trip enabled them to gain valuable international knowledge and experience in international finance, banking trends and new opportunities in the sector that they could bring back to Myanmar.

Today MCTC employs a team of over 70 staff (the majority of whom are female) and the Myanmar Project Management Centre (MPC) was added to their portfolio of offerings in 2016. To date, MPC has supported over 3,000 professionals all across Myanmar in obtaining internationally recognised qualifications in Project Management. Courses are available in Yangon, Mandalay, Magway, Taunggyi, and Naypyidaw, and more than a hundred students attend the 5-day Project Management Programme every month. MPC is currently the only education provider in the country hosting international students on a Project Management Programme. Such is the reputation of MPC that, professionals are coming to Myanmar from Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia to study here. 

Thiri is keen to highlight that the rapid growth of MCTC is much to do with the hard work of her team and those that have supported her and believed in her vision, this includes the acknowledgement and support of several Government Ministries and numerous industry organisations.

Although the forthcoming Myanmar Women Leaders event is Thiri’s main concern today, she always has her eyes focussed on the future. Her ability to spot a gap and develop an innovative solution to address that gap is something that she is good at, and something she enjoys. For example, the JUMPSTART not-for-profit program also established in 2017 has trained more than 800 undergraduate final year students at seven universities across the country. The students gain vital Project Management skills and the essential soft-skills needed to attain and succeed in post-graduation employment.

The publication of Myanmar’s first-ever Project Management magazine – PULSE, and the presentation of International Project Management Symposiums demonstrate her drive and passion and belief in the future of Myanmar. MPC is both PMI and APMG accredited and can offer certification  trainings such as Project Management Professional (PMP) and the first Project Management for Sustainable Tourism Programme (PM4SD), which is a vital component in the development and growth of the Myanmar Hospitality and Tourism sector.

Thiri’s approach to her work and her role in the development of Myanmar professionals is pragmatic and honest: 

“Myanmar is facing an enormous change, and now is the time to have a positive and sustainable impact and affect real change in people’s lives. Now is the time to do something together to change the country, we can’t just wait to see the change, we must be the change ourselves.”

September Magazine Cover. Photo by Gerhard Joren

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