Day 4 of our World 100 Conference looked heavily at relationships; whether that be departmental relations, relations with government and other stakeholders, and how relationship building will manifest itself in the future. 

Shifting priority stakeholders 

Governments have become one of the really key stakeholders for universities due to the impact of fast-changing pandemic-related policy that has affected universities around the globe. “Some policy is made in minutes or hours as opposed to weeks or months,” said Alex Lawson, Executive Advisor, Public Affairs at McMaster University.  

Government relations teams have really come to the fore, interpreting what policy-makers really mean with those fast-changing policies; and making the case to governments around the impact of universities. ‘We’ve been able to really demonstrate our economic impact,” said Kirsten Andrews, Director of Government Relations at the University of Sydney. And HE’s role as part of the solution to Covid-109 has been critical. “Research has been the saviour during this pandemic,” said Kirsten. 

Watch the video of our session on Government Relations

Relationships matter 

At the core of successful government interactions– as well as other stakeholder relations work – is having the right sort of relationships built on trust and understanding. “Friends really matter, but they are made before a crisis not during it,” said Kirsten Andrews at Sydney. 

In some ways the pandemic has helped universities to re-define relationships, due to a recognition that we can really have a tangible impact, particularly in the field of health. Communications with stakeholders have changed because we have become more relevant to them.” said Abi Kelly from RCSI University of Health and Medical Science in Dublin. 

Abi spoke about the pandemic as a Trojan Horse: “It has brought about significant changes we couldn’t have foreseen, and although painful some were beneficial, and we hope they are lasting.” 

Watch the video of our session on the Trojan Horse: changing the way we build relationships.

Hybrid may be the new virtual 

We have all go used to living life on Zoom – particularly during this virtual conference, with 17 sessions spread across a week. But one particular area of reputation management activity has been impacted more than most – the strategic approach to academic conferences that many universities have been putting in place over recent years. 

Anders Frolund at Aarhus University is an acknowledged leader in this areahighlighting how traditionally conferences have played a huge reputational role. “Most of the academics who end up working here have visited us before so it’s very important for us to get them to visit us, says Anders. 

Whilst almost all have gone online in the last few months, Anders believes that there is a future role for hybrid Conferences: We might see in 2021 that we can invite people close to Denmark, but with others joining virtually from all over the world because it’s not sustainable,” said Anders. 

An excellent example of Reimagining Reputation! 

Watch the video of our session on the challenge of building reputation in an era of no flying



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