When approaching your employer for company sponsorship, it’s important to carefully design your business case for the greatest chance of success. When thinking about how to do this, a large part of it is about how you can show potential ROI for your company. You should research the programme carefully; understand which elements directly apply to your role and what the time/financial commitments might be.
In terms of highlighting parts of the programme that will create ROI, you can focus on these in three main categories: learning, network and brand.
For instance, on the Masters in Finance (MiF), the company project is an opportunity to solve an issue that your employer is facing, by conducting research, sharing insights, and getting advice from the specialised MiF peer group.
This could potentially save your organisation the cost of hiring external consultants to look at the problem. You could pitch this to your organisation as someone who already understands how the company works and will now have the oversight and support of world-renowned thought leaders in the form of the LBS Faculty.
At LBS you will be studying alongside professionals covering an extensive range of sectors and regions. You will also have access to an LBS alumni network of over 45,000 professionals in over 150 countries. This is a very useful element to cite when facing push-back if your employer would rather your take internal training instead.
We build our classes to include broad and interesting work experience, studying alongside such a diverse group enables you to think beyond your own sphere and develop insights from practices in other industries and functions that could enable you to drive innovation in your own business.
Working alongside these classmates and building a better understanding of their day-to-day challenges will better prepare you to understand client needs and forge better relationships to bring in additional revenue.
The LBS Brand
The brand that LBS offers might hold substantial value to the organisation. This is particularly relevant if you have significant external visibility. An LBS degree signifies credibility and reputation, and could potentially give you a better chance of attracting new clients.
Keeping all of this in mind, make sure that you frame yourself within the current strategic context of the organisation in mind. Some companies do use sponsorship as a tool for more general reasons like retention or supporting key transitions, others have very specific reasons in mind. For example, a company expanding its operations overseas may require its management to have greater exposure to various international locations and a more global mindset in its way of doing business.
Finally, I would recommend putting together research into a number of different options, which might facilitate your development. You need to approach this business case as an investment proposal, therefore substantial due diligence is necessary, including an assessment of similar alternatives. You may wish to present this with a value curve to show the benefits of each option and include the comparison of any programmes offered internally.
Levels of Company Support
Once you have constructed your business case to present to your HR or Head of Department, you are entering into the negotiation phase. In our experience, those who have successfully pitched to their employer for support will have received some push-back at one point or another, the key is persistence.
The employer funding our students receive varies greatly on a range from around 10% of tuition costs to more substantial packages that include full tuition as well as other items like accommodation and travel expenses.
Organisations that see the most value from sponsorship are those who build a clear career path for you and tie the programme into your personal development plan.
Those who are able to fully utilise the new knowledge, skills and networks they have acquired during their studies are most likely to feel fulfilled and therefore stay for a longer period.
Consider that the organisation will want to protect its investment and therefore likely put a contract addendum in place to tie you into employment or be required to reimburse their contribution. If you are seeking full funding, and are genuinely committed to the firm, I would recommend being as flexible as possible here. However, keep in mind that if you are tied in for longer, you will want to know that your opportunities for advancement within that time frame are clearly defined.
If full funding appears to be unlikely, then suggest a sharing of the burden of tuition. We see this more and more and could be seen as a fair compromise in that many elements of the programme will add value for the company, but many will intrinsically be of personal benefit.
Before preparing your business case and approaching your employer, here are 4 questions to ask yourself.