By Charlotte Tait (Senior Manager for External Partnerships)
As the Senior Manager for External Partnerships of Degree Programmes at LBS, I manage the school’s corporate relationships with employers who sponsor their staff to study with us.
Organisations choose to support their employees through our degree programmes for a variety of different reasons. Some might be looking to fill specific skill gaps in their workforce, retain their highest performers or support an individual’s transition into a different area of the business.
There are different types of company support, and different rationales behind these policies. Some organisations have degree programme sponsorship built into their career development policies and are available to a certain number of top-performing employees, each year. Some organisations will sponsor individual employees who approach them for support, on a case-by-case basis.
Whatever type of company support you are seeking, before you prepare your business case to present it to your employer, you should consider the following questions:
1. What are your motivations for studying this programme?
Think about your reasons at the most basic level. In your business case, you want to be open and honest with your employer about these. If your objective were to secure a transition away from your current employer, I’d advise against asking for corporate sponsorship. If you choose to leave your organisation having agreed sponsorship, you will likely incur financial penalties and perhaps burn your bridges with that organisation that has invested in you.
By being upfront about your motivations, you can demonstrate the mutually beneficial outcomes that will result from your learning experience.
2. How is your performance viewed in your organisation?
Have you had strong and consistent ratings in your annual and quarterly appraisals? Have you been identified or selected for any kind of high-potential or fast-tracked leadership pool?
As the rate of career transitions an individual makes in their lifetime increases, most HR Directors have the challenge of retaining their high-performing/high-potential staff. It is much easier to approach the question of company sponsorship from a position of strength, so keep in mind how you are evaluated and what you have contributed to the organisation.
3. Have you checked the existing Learning & Development opportunities offered by your organisation?
It’s important to familiarise yourself with what is already offered so that you can elaborate on why your development needs are not already addressed within the existing internal development portfolio.
While some organisations have structured policies to support external training such as that offered by LBS degree programmes, the likelihood is that it will not be part of an existing offering, in which case you’ll need to be able to justify the additional expense of pursuing a degree programme at an elite business school.
Your business case will need to be professional and analyse where the programme will meet your needs where internal programmes will not.
4. What internal support do you have?
It is important to be able to harness any internal support to back up your business case. In most cases, it will be difficult to progress in negotiations without the support of your line manager and you should consider what support you might have at more senior levels of the organisation. Perhaps you have a mentor or other strong relationships that might be happy to demonstrate support for your plan.
Additionally, if you are aware of any LBS or business school alumni in your organisation, they can help attest to the value of obtaining a business school degree.
Once you’ve considered these questions, it’s important to be prepared with a carefully designed business case to take to your company. To help with this please read creating your case for company sponsorship blog.
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