A short history of the Master Trainer Institute
The Master Trainer Institute started life in early 1995.
John Townsend, who founded the Institute, had been training independently for 10 years as “Interaction” concentrating more and more on workshops for trainers – a profession whose own training and development seemed to have been neglected in Europe. By the early 90’s, these workshops along with John’s best-selling series of train-the-trainer pocketbooks were beginning to create a demand for an “A to Z” public seminar for professional, full time trainers based on accelerated learning techniques and providing straightforward, simple models for training design and delivery.
In response to this demand and with some friendly pushing and help from John’s friend and academic alter ego Paul Donovan of the Irish Management Institute, the very first Master Trainer Programme was organised in 1995 at a special annex of the Domaine de Divonne hotel on the French-Swiss border near Geneva.
It ran for 6 days starting on a Sunday morning!
Paul’s job was to help facilitate on the programme as well as to find 100 ways of improving each session. Although feedback from participants was excellent Paul always managed to find at least 150 new ideas!
The philosophy behind the Master Trainer Programme was that serious learning should be interactive and fun rather than lecture-driven and boring. Training should be linked closely to organizational goals and not delivered in a vacuum. Training should be tightly designed according to adult learning principles so that only the people who need the skills are trained and can practice with relevant exercises in a resource-rich environment
In 1996, after four sessions of the programme in Divonne and with the help of the late Diane Hart and her husband Mike, 300 square metres of office space were located in Ferney-Voltaire (even nearer the border with Geneva) and John set about designing a participant-friendly training centre which was baptised the ‘Master Trainer Institute’.
The vision was for an international centre of trainer excellence in the hub of Europe.
The Institute's mission was drawn up and states:
- Teach tested take-away tools and techniques
- Provide ready-to-use methods and checklists for each phase of the people developer's job
- Are at least 50% participant-led
- Are reinforced with user-friendly reference material
- Take place in a creative open and modular environment
- Encourage international networking and benchmarking
The original Master Trainer Programme was streamlined to its present 4,5 days and two new public programmes were added to the Institute's catalogue. The 3 day Transforming the Trainer workshop was designed for the part-time, subject matter expert trainer and the Master Facilitator catered to the growing need for managers and trainers to develop facilitation skills.
During this time, international customer demand was increasing for workshops designed for line managers to help them with their responsibilities as people developers notably in areas like leadership and inter-personal communication skills as well as team building. So the decision was taken to expand the Institute's product range.
In 1997 Fiona Hunter joined the Institute as Programme Manager and Workshop Coach and worked with John to develop the Leadership and Teambuilding Workshop as well as number of modules in the Communication Skills series. Both of these offerings were added to the burgeoning in-company "event" portion of the Institute's international business.
Fiona also took over the marketing and administration function, establishing lasting customer relationships and creating and refining the processes which have helped the Institute to become one of the world's preferred suppliers of people development workshops.
Focus on Training - the Institute's most recent workshop covering the strategic aspects of training - was developed from John's continuing work with Paul Donovan in Ireland. It targets not only newly-appointed Training Managers, but also all those who want to position training for maximum impact within an organization.
In 2001 Richard Bradley attended the Master Trainer Programme looking to build on his successful management and HR skills and experience to become a master trainer, and was soon running the Institute's new Powerful Presentations workshop!
Richard gradually took on more and more of the training at the Institute adding his creative touch to both content and delivery, and in 2006 he took over from John.