Monday, 30 April 2012

Partnerships with multinational employers - risk and changing expectations

Looking back through our JISC application, we were asked to identify potential areas of risk and to rate the;
  • probability of it occurring
  • the severity of it
  • any actions to prevent or manage that risk
One area that we did not highlight as a risk was partnerships with external stakeholders (although we did cover relationships when discussing 'Engagement with the Community').

It was our plan to pilot and then formally launch a mentoring scheme for our students in collaboration with a multinational employer, with premises in Glasgow and a large set of Glasgow alumni employed by them. Key staff in our Careers service had been building a relationship for some time with key staff within the employer, with a view to piloting the scheme with them and it was anticipated that we would commence the pilot scheme in January 2012.

What we failed to anticipate was a change in key staff (in the employer) and a shift in their priorities.

What I should make clear is that we do retain the support of the employer in the long term in achieving our goals. We are currently working together discussing some networking events with the view to collaborating with another company to push forward with a formal mentoring service, via employers. It is anticipated that by working together in this fashion, that we can satisfy the requirements of all stakeholders involved in the process. Whilst the delay was not anticipated, our customers (students) will benefit more in the long term as we will be able to offer at least one additional careers/networking event. Additionally, it looks increasingly likely that there will be a benefit to a wider range of students by incorporating another external partner into the mentoring pilot. Whilst our original plans might be delayed, we are thankful that it is providing other opportunities. Furthermore, it has also helped us in being able to shift focus and prioritise other areas that we can offer our students and alumni.

We, as a project group, have learnt that it can be difficult to align our priorities with that of a company that may be looking for a 'business return' or have to make a business case to form a partnership. This is a risk that we could have identified at the start of the programme.

One of the key benefits of receiving JISC funding is that they are as much interested in the lessons learnt as the measurable deliverables and achievements. What we are learning as we go along will be shared across the sector, for the benefit of the sector and that can only be a positive outcome.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Why we have made certain decisions

Those reading this blog will more than likely identify with the notion that regardless of how well you think you have anticipated risk or how well you think that you may have put together a project plan, things will not always run the way you had thought. This however is not necessarily a bad thing; it can help to shape the way that you make certain decisions. What may not have been a priority at first can quickly become so and it will probably not be to the detriment of your project. In fact, it can help push it forward a little.

This is something that we have learned with our project (and there will be a follow up post to discuss this further). In this blog post, I'd like to focus on why we have structured our Alumni Profile form in the way that we have.

A quick bit of background; We are in the process of going out to our alumni to ask them to complete our profile form. Alumni are asked a range of questions relating to;

  • The city of Glasgow
  • Their course
  • University life
  • Career experiences/path after Glasgow

Submitted profiles will form part of our Ask our Alumni service, where students can search a bank of profiles based on search criteria of;
  • Profession
  • Industry
  • Country
We are encouraging all of our alumni to become eMentors, so that by providing their LinkedIn url, students are able to contact them to ask for informal careers advice.

As you can see from the profile form, we decided as a project team to ask a lot of questions. We did so because we hope to use the information provided not only for the benefit of students, but also to use in university publications and promotional materials both printed and online. It's hoped that the positive messages and experiences of our alumni can assist the university in its domestic and international recruitment efforts. Alumni do not have to answer all of the questions but they are encouraged to do so.

We have deliberately structured the questions to map the journey from undergraduate, to graduation and then life beyond that to ensure that students, regardless of what year group they belong to can take away the information and guidance that is relevant or important to them at that time. What a student determines to be useful infomation when studying in year two can be very much different to a final year student.

As mentioned previously, we are in the process of identifying both domestic and international alumni to complete our profile form to build up a bank of profiles. We will pilot our student mini-site and search functionality with a small group of students and also follow the progress that they make contacting alumni for informal careers advice before full launch of the service.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, please do comment!