| 5 minute read

How to navigate impactful partnerships in education, with 3ID Labs

Elena Galán-Muros
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In this episode, we bring you the second part of our conversation with Lieven Desomviele, Lab Master at 3ID Labs, and Daria Kisina, an international business development professional and current “Labber” participating in their program. Make sure to listen to part one, Empowering innovators and discovering their potential at 3ID Labs, if you haven’t already.

From navigating partnerships with external stakeholders to fostering a culture of co-learning, join us this week as we uncover the impact of 3ID Labs and envision the future of education.

In this article, we summarise part of that conversation, but you can listen to the full interview in our podcast:

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Tasha Day:
Coming back to the external stakeholders, is seems that 3ID Labs has these functional relationships with its stakeholders, who are really involved in the program. Was it always like this?

Lieven Desomviele:
In the beginning, when we were more of an educational module, we had many people who wanted to collaborate with us, mainly because they liked the idea and they would have wanted to do something like this when they were students. There was a sincere sympathy for the program and for what we were trying to do.

We thought we wouldn’t find anyone because we would have to pay them. To our surprise they were not interested in the pay, but in the acccess to these young, bright minds who have that skillset that they really needed, because there’s a real scarcity on the market for self-directed, self-reflective professionals.

Tasha Day:
Daria, would you be able to tell us how working on projects for these external stakeholders is enhancing your learning experience?

Daria Kisina:
It’s not easier to manage external stakeholders. In the beginning, we realised that our stakeholders don’t really care too much about the program, or they don’t have time, or they didn’t want to talk to us.

My team came back to the labs, and started doing some researhc and we noticed that there is a certain negative image in the media about retirement homes, so they might have thought thet we were there to assess them, to judge them, to put attention on them.

Learning to deal with these kind of things is only taught by experiencing it. You learn to make decisions on the go, to observe without judging, to ask questions, you learn empathy, to understand the motives of other people and to act within that framework.

Tasha Day:
Lieven, would you have any other challenges that you faced in this process with engaging with these stakeholders and what has helped you to overcome them?

Lieven Desomviele:
A big one is how external stakeholders see our partnership. We get our challenges from external stakeholders, and many times their perception is that students will work for them, but that’s not the case.

Our students have the ownership of what they create, so we really need to communicate very clearly that nobody owns a challenge, but somebody can own a solution. We need to manage expectations and give a clear enough sense of what their investment will be in terms of time and what they will get back from it.

We have lost partners who were disappointed because they expected that students would work for them, and then students had their own perspective and way of doing things. I would say that’s the biggest challenge because students having the ownership over their solution is the most important for us.

Tasha Day:
Could you maybe talk to us about how you maintain these ongoing relationships with the stakeholders beyond the duration of the specific projects or iterations of the program?

Lieven Desomviele:
We have started working together with research groups from our different programs to have them as intermediates between the external stakeholders and our university. That way, our research groups would also benefit from the cooperation within our semi-professional environment.

Some stakeholders only collaborate with us for one cohort and while others have already been collaborating with us for three or four years, sometimes with different challenges, but other times with the same challenge throughout the year. We have now two teams working on the same challenge. They will come with a different point of view so we can keep on collaborating with these different stakeholders.

If the processes are very smooth within your institution, you can share many stakeholders, but that is really down to the structure, the culture, the mission and the vision of your university.

Ready for more?

If you are interested in other student-focused university-industry partnerships, head now to our episode Building tomorrow’s workforce – A digital education revolution by IAT-D, to learn more about the dynamic collaboration between TAFE, Macquarie University, UTS, Microsoft, and more industry partners.

You can also check our case study collection Fostering talent through education partnerships, where you can read about four more initiatives that are bridging theory and practice to future-proof the careers of students.

Stay tuned for the next episode on this series and don’t forget to follow us on your preferred podcast platform!

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