Blog: Collaboration with Goldman Sachs and go_girl

The go_girl project is a community outreach project in Oxfordshire that empowers young women not in education, employment and training (NEET) to develop skills in digital media and coding.

Profile photograph of Tracey Denton-Calabrese

Developed by University of Oxford’s Department of Education, it aims to inspire disadvantaged young women to explore tech careers or expand their potential.

Whilst working as a lead doctorial researcher on the project, Tracey Denton-Calabrese spotted opportunities for business partnership.

She began a Knowledge Exchange secondment with global investment bank Goldman Sachs to explore and map how go_girl could fit into their wider programme of training and career opportunities for women in tech.

Funded by ESRC’s Impact Accelerator National Productivity Fund, her three-month project researched how go_girl shared synergies with Goldman Sachs other philanthropic initiatives. She combined online research and interviews to develop a short report that gave recommendations about how several projects could work effectively together.

She also mapped out how the go_girl programme could deliver industry impact by feeding into more advanced programmes, therefore extending opportunities for the women involved as well as diversity and reach for Goldman Sachs’ recruitment and training.

Tracey said: “We’ve been able to further develop our collaboration with Goldman Sachs to integrate our go_girl with other university-led programmes, and build a strong relationship between our department and the firm.”

Tracey has gone on to be awarded a place on a pre-accelerator business start up programme with Oxford Foundry, to explore opportunities for a social enterprise around her project.

Benefits and challenges of a KTP project

  • Working with a business such as Goldman Sachs provides a different lens through which to view your project. It enables you to expand your thinking and broaden impact.
  • You will gain valuable skills and fresh perspectives on the world of business.
  • Face-to-face access to your business partners may be limited, so think outside the box in terms of how you could keep them up to date. When diaries wouldn’t allow meetings or calls, Tracey created a newsletter to send by email demonstrate progress.
  • You may find there are hierarchies within the organisation that could put the brakes on your project. Other colleagues may not be in a position to step in when your project lead isn’t available. Think about how you will negotiate this – can you move forward and report back later on?

Advice for other researchers

  • Understand the business goals of your partner business and how your research project fits in with these
  • Network and build relationships with colleagues within the business Be flexible with your project plans.
  • Business and academia can have different commitments and priorities, so be prepared to patient.