So how exactly did the nervous new graduate make her transition from duty manager at a Dublin hotel to high-flying executive in a global company – in less than two years?
“As the [KTP] project neared its end, Catia was offered what she called her ‘dream job’: the post of Business Continuity Risk Manager.”
To those in the know, it’s not surprising that it was via KTP (Knowledge Transfer Partnership), the fast-track, talent-boosting programme that has launched many a business leader’s career over almost four decades. This is her story.
Catia came to our interview while working on possibly the lowest rung of the hotel management ladder. She was desperate to progress, but at the same time quite lacking in confidence. We were seeking a KTP Associate to work with one of the world’s largest hotel groups, designing and implementing a methodology for business continuity and disaster recovery that would bring rigour and integration to their global risk management. I was privileged to be part of the interview panel and to help select the talent we would later watch in action.
As the project unfolded, Catia quickly showed what she was capable of, and started to use the risk management principles she had studied so avidly in her degree. Her eagerness to learn coupled with her personal enthusiasm made her a perfect fit in this fast-moving, international environment. She hoovered up the guidance and supervision from the university, and made good use of the generous KTP training budget; among other things she managed to qualify as a Business Continuity Professional in less than 6 months instead of the conventional 24.
“Catia was indeed one of the best, and her achievement was recognised with the Business Leader of Tomorrow award, presented to her by Vince Cable.”
Possibly her biggest test came when the 2011 tsunami struck Japan. Catia’s boss was away from the office at the time, but her recently compiled database of plans and the people responsible for them enabled her calmly and efficiently to work with staff in the country and help safeguard the company’s operations; no lives were lost.
There were interpersonal challenges too, as she negotiated with hundreds of senior executives around the world to bring their risk management practice into line with the corporate plan, but she made her way through it all to deliver a resilient global framework of 49 plans, backed up by technology, that would bring huge savings in the company’s insurance budget as well as underpinning their fundamental commitment to safer hotels.
As the project neared its end, Catia was offered what she called her ‘dream job’: the post of Business Continuity Risk Manager at the company’s global headquarters. Naturally she accepted. Her advice for anyone considering a KTP? ‘It has been fantastic. I’d definitely say, if you can, do it!’
Catia was indeed one of the best, and her achievement was recognised with the Business Leader of Tomorrow award, presented to her by Vince Cable in front of the national press. But she was by no means unique in KTP: her story is echoed in the lives of hundreds of others every year who have the good sense to identify this programme for the opportunities it offers, and to seek out the post of KTP Associate.
And for the staff like me, in the university or with the partner company, there is endless satisfaction in watching this stream of talent develop, as bright young people seize the chance to learn, to practise new skills and knowledge, and to build confidence from tackling real challenges in a supportive environment.
It’s doubly frustrating then to see so little awareness of KTP among the generality of graduates. Most of those we interview have heard about it from a friend, or ‘just happened to see the ad’, rather than being routinely signposted by careers advisers or academic staff. Yet what other graduate employer still recruits to hundreds of posts each year and gives our alumni such a flying start?
Come on, universities – it’s time you did your bit. Do the world a favour and tell your students the news of KTP.
This post is part of KTP Month.
Are you involved in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership? How has your experience been? Join in with our KTP month and share your stories with us online, tweet us @NCUBtweets using the hashtag #KTPMonth.
KTP Summary Reports:
- Knowledge Transfer Partnerships: A Best Practice Approach to Open Innovation
An introduction to the KTP model, highlighting how the various players can contribute to success
- Best Practice Strategies for Successful Innovation through University-Business Collaboration
Highlighting the benefits of KTPs for business
- Successful Engagement in Open Innovation: An Insight into Knowledge Transfer Partnerships for Academics
Showing academics how you can use KTPs can build relationships with business