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.

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