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Hewlett-Packard signs deal with University of Portsmouth to train 'black belt' change champions


Hewlett-Packard has enlisted the help of academics to train its senior managers to make the company more responsive and efficient.

The IT firm has signed a deal with the University of Portsmouth to train its ‘black belt' change champions. This elite group of individuals will study a bespoke Masters programme to support 'lean' methodology which is designed to help them turn HP into a more responsive and efficient company. 

'Lean' methodology is based on identifying waste within an organisation and focusing on customer needs. The course has been tailor-made to precisely match Hewlett-Packard's business requirements by the University of Portsmouth Business School. 

Hewlett-Packard, which has approximately 304,000 employees worldwide, has already identified 22 potential high flyers from their global staff who begin the work-based learning programme this month.  Each individual will take on a specific business objective fundamental to the organisation which will form the basis of their studies. 

Paul Maguire, director of strategic initiatives for HP EMEA, said: "By understanding process improvement and linking 'lean' to HP's strategy and growth agenda we can increase value and even surpass the expectations of our top customers worldwide.  Our lean 'black belts' will help us achieve this by learning new concepts, tools and methods and changing the way we work."

The MSc programme is designed to last around 18 months at which point their strategic goal should be achieved.  The individual is honoured as a 'black belt' within HP and will receive a Mastersqualification in strategic quality management from the university. 

Course leader, Barbara Savage, said that the university had taken a work-centred approach to the course which supports the students through various projects core to the company's objectives. 

"The idea was to work very much in partnership with HP to deliver a bespoke course to complement the strategic objectives of a growing organisation while retaining the rigour and integrity of a Masters qualification.  The organisation especially liked the tailored and flexible approach we were able to bring to the programme.

"We've avoided duplicating students' existing knowledge and training and focused purely on adding value.  Students will be exposed to fresh ideas from other sectors while focusing on increasing customer engagement." 

Black belt students spend two week-long sessions at the university and the remaining study is done via distance learning with access to university facilities such as the library and on-going email and telephone support from a mentor.  Student assignments will combine academic theory with academic application through their company based improvement projects.