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“My aim is that The Union becomes the industry ‘go-to’ for all lung health training and education,” Marianne Gaye-Ayrault, Global Training and Education Director

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Since Marianne’s tenure as The Union’s Global Training and Education Director began, The Union’s training programmes have undergone something of a revolution.


Since Marianne’s tenure as The Union’s Global Training and Education Director began, The Union’s training programmes have undergone something of a revolution.

A re-developed and re-energised training faculty, offering tuberculosis (TB), lung health, tobacco control and leadership training for public health professionals, accredited and taught by industry experts, has since been brought to market by Marianne and her team, a development seen by her as “absolutely essential” in an increasingly changing and competitive field.

“The Union has always placed great emphasis on training and education as fundamental to system strengthening in the countries where we work,” says Marianne. “In 2016, José Luis Castro, The Union’s Executive Director, asked me to take this further, a complete standardisation of all The Union’s training globally, from medical TB training to tobacco control advocacy - and more. The aim being that the training should be the industry-standard in the field.”

For Marianne, this was a move that was exciting but came with its own challenges, one of which was delivering consistency and high-quality across all the training programmes, while taking account of the needs and systems of the diverse countries offering the training.

“For me, it is paramount to maintain quality while increasing opportunities and access to training around the world. I am satisfied that we have more than fulfilled that brief. We now offer courses in different languages including Chinese; we’ve expanded into new territories such as Dubai; and we’re looking at expansion into Africa and Latin America. The potential is enormous – it is a thrilling area in which to work.’

Marketed as ‘Union Courses’, the department provides the skills needed by healthcare professionals to develop public health programmes that are both clinically sound and administratively effective. All the courses are accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and the fee-based courses are accredited by the European Board for Accreditation in Pneumology (EBAP). These accreditations guarantee the quality of the courses and provide universally recognised CEU and CME credits for participants. A brand-new website showcases all the training programmes on one platform:

Marianne first became aware of The Union’s work in 2014 while attending the 45th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Barcelona. “This was my first experience of The Union and was before I formally began working with the organisation. There I met a group of delegates from Francophone Africa. The first thing they said was 'Why are management development courses not in French? We need this training in our part of the world.' That was a light bulb moment for me.”

Marianne formally began work at The Union in 2015, as Director of the International Management Development Programme (IMDP). As a training professional, with an MBA in International Business and Marketing, the opportunity to train public health professionals in global management techniques and introduce strategies from the profit to the non-profit world provided the initial attraction.

Marianne explains, “But it soon became apparent that it was so much more than this. I discovered The Union’s work and the TB burden around the world. The Union operates locally in low- and middle-income countries as well as on global issues. These are complex environments and it is essential we give professionals the tools to help countries develop their own TB programmes. I realised then that this was more than training. It’s about the patients, it’s about the medical professionals and healthcare workers. The people are fundamental to ‘Union Courses’ and the work is life-changing.”

Describing her daily schedule, Marianne explains that no two days are the same. “I am involved in activities as diverse as managing the training and education team to travelling to conferences and course locations; selling ‘Union Courses’ to potential clients, negotiating training contracts and ensuring that the courses financially break even. As Union Courses is not supported by a grant, the onus is on the department to generate revenue to support the work of The Union.”

It’s a demanding brief and requires that Marianne is across the latest TB, lung health and management topics and stays abreast of industry developments. The Union’s training has to be relevant and reflective of new technology and advances. Marianne and her team similarly must consistently evolve in order to offer programmes that meet the industry’s ever-changing needs. This is one challenge; Marianne also cites another: “Having a team spread over three continents and 12 time zones! It can be exhausting but is also what makes this such a great and stimulating job...”

Pursuing a career with a non-profit organisation – rather than a commercial company – fulfils Marianne’s personal motivations: “Throughout the years, I have supported many causes. Currently, organ donations and the fight against leukaemia are particularly close to my heart, as my brother lost his battle against the disease a few years ago. I also actively support equal opportunities for women in management and leadership positions.”

Looking ahead, Marianne says, “The work is not done. I want ‘Union Courses’ to be the reference point and ‘go to’ brand when it comes to TB, lung health and public health management training.  But I’m proud that those delegates from the 2014 World Conference can now book onto IMDP courses in French and also in Spanish.

She adds, “We have opened the door for more public health professionals to improve their skills, for the benefit of the countries they operate in. Anything a professional needs to know relating to TB and lung health care, we now offer it in ‘Union Courses’.”

Visit the Union Courses showcase page on LinkedIn

Visit the Union Courses website