By Zlatica "ZK" Kraljevic
A newly created private university located in a frontier market was in immediate need to build credibility through strategic partnerships and alliances with prestigious institutions around the world. The leadership of the private enterprise was progressive and committed to the achievement of the mandate of their board of trustees and private investors. Although the university was well funded and was following a rigorous and comprehensive American business model, it could not initiate the process of accreditation as an institution of higher education until after the first batch of students graduated.
The leadership was well aware that without accreditation, their prospects of attracting meaningful partnerships with prestigious industry and academic organizations were highly diminished. The leaders were also aware that the success of their unique educational model would impact education at a regional and national level. Unsure of how to proceed, they called on The Anders Frontier Group (TAFG) to assist.
Over a period of 18 months, the TAFG team designed and implemented a worldwide strategy to attract partners to this new yet unknown and unaccredited university. The team followed a disciplined approach to identify and assess the value that the emerging university might be able to offer to prospective partners in industry and academia. The first phase consisted of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and its surrounding market at the local, regional and national level. The analysis covered a comprehensive set of factors including leadership style, financial capabilities, academic capabilities, market conditions, geographic location, political capital, demographics, economic development forecast and others.
The team then combined the data gathered with its in-house knowledge and experience of the global market, taking into account political, economic and financial considerations affecting current trends and conditions and defined a set of initial value propositions that addressed the perceived interests and needs of governments, industry and academia in major financial centers in the industrialized world and key emerging markets. Selecting five major centers, the team then assembled a list of prospects among global corporations and universities that might potentially consider forming a strategic partnership or alliance with the new university.
The next phase consisted of designing a virtual network of target prospects and preparing meaningful material for virtual distribution to key leaders in the prospective organizations. Extensive utilization of virtual channels was deemed necessary to cover targets in every continent in a fast and cost-effective manner. Based on market reaction, the team initiated an iterative process to match value propositions with interests and needs of target partners, preparing appropriate documents from initial proposals to the development of formal agreements. The approach led to a five-step process:
- In-depth analysis of client’s capabilities and careful assessment of realistic and sustainable value propositions that could be leveraged at the local, regional and national level from political, economical and financial perspectives
- Expert understanding of global market conditions and subject matter expertise on particular trends, needs and interests of private corporations and academic institutions with international reach with particular focus on emerging economies
- Effective listening to market reaction and expert handling of negotiation throughout the introduction and relationship building process
- Extensive use of emotional intelligence to detect and respond to cultural nuances and business insights during the partnership development stages
- Disciplined approach to identifying and managing barriers to proposed partnerships within a political, social, legal, environmental and educational frame
Once a match was identified, the team organized face-to-face meetings with the top leadership of the client and the targeted organization. To maximize chances of success, the team engaged in regular coaching sessions with the leadership in the client organization on foreign protocol and customs, and played a key role in facilitating negotiations throughout the entire process.
- Within the established target of 18 months, thirty (30) strategic partnerships and alliances were officially signed between the new private university and Tier 1 organizations in industry and academia
- Industries included: information technology, energy, financial services, manufacturing, education and training
- Geographically, the partnerships covered the USA, Western Europe, Asia, North Africa, Australia, and the Middle East
- The quality of the partnerships was recognized at the highest levels in a special ceremony presided by the head of state, key government officials at national and provincial level, and local industry and academic leaders
Capabilities – Emerging Markets; Strategic Partnerships; Strategic Market Development; Negotiation