The Benefits of Value-Based Partnerships

Andy Newnham, Business Engagement Partner at the University of Birmingham

Andy Newnham, Business Engagement Partner at the University of Birmingham talks about the benefits of value-based partnerships and why the University is working with HSBC ahead of its new HQ opening in 2018.At the University of Birmingham’s recent Business with Birmingham conference, Raghu Narula of HSBC was asked why the bank had engaged in a strategic partnership with the University.

His simple answer was that the two organisations shared the same values. In an environment where we are told to “collaborate, collaborate, collaborate”, it has never been more important to consider the starting point for creating new partnerships.

So how important are shared values to building sustainable strategic partnerships, and do Values-Based Partnerships ensure long-term success?

In March 2015, HSBC announced that it would create a new ring-fenced bank in Birmingham by 2018. Paul Szumilewicz is amongst the team leading the move to Birmingham. 

An alumnus of Commerce and Italian at the University of Birmingham, Paul was familiar with the city and the University, a fact that would prove beneficial in forging the partnership. 

The University’s Business Engagement team connected with Paul and by November 2016, senior board members from both organisations had agreed a strategic partnership that spanned teaching, research, employability and joint external-relations activity.

The partnership between HSBC and the University of Birmingham has been built on a shared set of values: those that both organisations possess independently, and those that have been forged together. The core values that shape the partnership are:

  • Responsibility:  a sense of civic responsibility to the communities of Birmingham
  • Openness: in discussing goals and ideas
  • Creativity: being bold in thinking around joint activities
  • Honesty: in discussing motivations for the partnership

By ensuring that these underpin every element of the partnership, a values-match has been made.

The University and HSBC have built this partnership in a very deliberate way and with the buy-in of all the key stakeholders in both organisations. With a Value-Based Partnership, strategic, long-term and mutually beneficial objectives are agreed rather than a raft of short-term goals. Of course, it is important for both parties to recognise that at different stages one organisation may benefit more than the other, but with a shared ‘end-goal’, there will be a long-term balance.

Value-Based Partnerships are not without their downsides, for example, there may be pressure to demonstrate outcomes and successes of the partnership too early.  However, any potential issues can be mitigated through honest discussion and ultimately, due to the strong, values-based foundation, the partnership will be more resilient.

So do consider whether your core values match when developing new business relationships, but also be aware of the power of serendipity. Without Paul having personal, historic links to the University of Birmingham the partnership may have taken a lot longer to develop… but then again, in our experience, don’t you make your own luck?

Contact Andy Newnham or another member of the Business Engagement team today.