In May 2015, nine delegates from BT enjoyed a short secondment to the University of Cambridge. Members were selected from the Technology, Service and Operations Talent group to spend two days at the University focussing on innovation.
The delegates were based at Pembroke College and visited a range of departments across the University, including the Cavendish Laboratories and the Institute of Manufacturing.
Each session was designed to inspire delegates to consider new and creative approaches to innovation processes outside of the commercial context. They were also given the chance to engage with academic-thought leadership by meeting local entrepreneurs, members of Cambridge Judge Business School, students and researchers working in cutting-edge fields such as graphene development and 3D-printing.
The broad range of topics covered included ‘frugal innovation’, spin-offs, networking, working with small businesses and promoting social cohesion. There was also an emphasis on how the academic and the corporate world can come together in new innovations.
A range of BT employees attended, from recent graduate recruits to those with 25 years experience in the company. The secondment provided them all with a valuable opportunity to learn from each other as well as challenging their usual assumptions about how innovation can be fostered.
Scot Nelson, BT TSO, GM Operational Transformation, said: ‘The secondment was a fantastic combination of exposure to bleeding edge thought leadership, thought provoking sessions and debate, and was an excellent environment in which to make connections both internally and externally. It’s a great example of the business world and academia working together.’
The scheme was organised through the Corporate Partnership Programme at Pembroke College, which offers businesses unique access to the wealth of knowledge of the University of Cambridge.