We interviewed Gary van Broekhoven, Head / VP of CX, DMI International, about his recent work in the DMI offices in Cambodia. Read on for his thoughts on where the program is headed.
Begin at the beginning – how did this all come about?
It was born out of a trip we took to our offices in Cambodia. We were struck by how, despite tremendous poverty, the people were so pleasant. The country has a very strong creative culture based on traditional materials – just beautiful arts and crafts, but generally speaking does not have a lot of training on how to apply that culture to today’s digital world.
Cambodia has no schools where you could learn UX design, and as someone who has been a guest professor at several universities, I thought we could fill a need and it would make sense to just create a course and offer it to the people.
The cost for the course wouldn’t cover our expenses, but it really is a chance to share our experiences and help keep the spirit of Cambodian creativity in the digital world. So this really was a chance for us to pay it forward so to speak.
So tell us about the program – what is it doing for Cambodia?
So, we’ve created a six-week course with some really great people. With the help of UX Design Director David Gheorghita (BCN), UX Design Director Deepika Dutta (India) and Lead UX Designer Nuria Bringué (BCN), we have trained more than 40 students in UX.
So what are your expectations for the next step in the program?
We expect the Cambodia program will be a source of new talent for DMI. Our plan is to bring these graduates in as interns and then keep training them to be full-fledged UX designers. If the plan is successful and we can turn these students into successful designers, we’ll expand it and keep driving digital innovation in Cambodia expanding into digital strategy and service design.
And what’s the big takeaway at the end of the day?
The demand for this kind of education is very strong. We planned for a small group of students, but we ended up having more than 40. They are eager to learn and to become UX designers.
Our team on ground has been telling us how satisfying it is as they conduct workshops and lectures. It really is a situation where “one teaches, but two learn.” They’re telling us the experience is pushing them as experts to grow as designers and now teachers too.