Success story by Leeds Beckett University

Leeds Beckett University and global retailer IKEA are in the running for the ‘Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration’ at the annual Times Higher Education awards.

Leeds Beckett’s partnership with IKEA – the company’s only such collaboration in the UK – includes placements and scholarships that have helped mould some of the Swedish company’s global retail strategies.

The university’s partnership with IKEA has been led by Robert Minton-Taylor, senior lecturer at Leeds Business School.

He said: “Working with a world-leading company like IKEA has been incredibly positive and productive for our students.

“It’s a two-way partnership – our students gain great experience working for a global brand, while IKEA benefits from the fresh ideas and relevance that our students offer.

“As far as I am aware, IKEA doesn’t work with any other university in this way, and it’s great that our collaborative working has been recognised by our shortlisting for the Times Higher Education awards.”

Leeds Beckett projects with IKEA – recognised as one of the world’s top 20 brands – have included a project involving students from 11 countries working in multicultural teams, many from BAME backgrounds.

The partnership has given students the time management, organisational, teamwork, strategic thinking and planning skills to work in practice and the confidence to present ideas and translate them into action with IKEA’s management team.

Among the ideas suggested by Leeds Beckett students is a bulb exchange scheme, in which IKEA will swop old light bulbs for more environmentally versions, free of charge. Another project involved explaining the environmental history of products that could be used for furnishing student rooms.

Both schemes have since been embedded into the firm’s business strategy.

At Leeds Beckett, many students have cited their IKEA work as one of the key reasons for gaining relevant employment after graduation.

Professor George Lodorfos, Dean of Leeds Business School, said: “Our mission is bringing learning to life through practice and our IKEA Leeds partnership brings students closer to business and the professions.”

Tom Douglas, IKEA Leeds store manager said: “It’s important for us to play a role in the development of future professionals.

“We are keen to build our partnership with Leeds Business School because we believe their students can help us to grow our business in the Leeds area in a sustainable way. They have already helped us to develop ideas for the store.”

The winners of the award, who must demonstrate the most imaginative and effective partnership between a business and an educational institution, will be announced at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 29 November.

Published: 4 October 2018