BUCS ‘Deloitte Leadership Academy’ Shoes Sports Skills Impact Employability

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With an annual rights fee paid to The British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) of £100,000 and an activation budget around £50,000 per year, the ‘Deloitte Leadership Academy’ programme has won sponsorship awards across the education and leadership space.


Between November 2015 and February 2016 the BUCS Deloitte Leadership Academy visited six university campuses across the UK and delivered inspirational leadership training to over 500 students who lead aspects of sport at university.


The programme, accessible via application, was made up of male and female students who could demonstrate a desire and commitment to improve their university sport offering.


They reflected the diversity of the sector: different universities, different sports, different leadership roles, different aspirations, and different approaches.


And they represented different leadership positions: sabbatical officers, sports team presidents, captains, deputies, secretaries, social secs, treasurers, IMS representatives, sports volunteers, referees, physios and more.


What they all shared was a rigorous ambition to improve themselves and lead the way with commitment, desire and integrity.


Campaign Background:


BUCS’ relationship with Deloitte was initally founded following an extensive research project, conducted in conjunction with the Sport Industry Research Centre (Sheffield Hallam University) in 2013, which set out to understand the impact that engagement with sport has on graduate employability.


The findings concluded that skills acquired through involvement in sport at university, in particular the ability to lead and work in teams, has a positive impact on a student’s employability.


Extensive evidence and insight was provided, supported by statistics from a wide range of graduate employers, which highlighted the following themes:


> As the numbers of graduates increase, students need to do more than pass a degree to get their first job and sustain their employability. Playing sport helps, but involvement in the management aspects of sport provide a real advantage in the competitive job’s market.


> Employers consider organisational roles within sports clubs and leadership positions in particular as beneficial in providing ‘added value’ for graduate employability.


> Above all, the research highlighted that higher education sport is a vital arena for students looking to enhance their leadership credentials and thus improve their employability prospects.


Effective and responsible leadership at a grassroots sport level was also deemed of fundamental strategic importance to BUCS, the governing body for student sport in the UK.


Yet, despite 5000 sports teams playing in BUCS leagues and competitions on a weekly basis no leadership training existed for the students who led them, often the most talented and employable individuals of the next generation.


The team felt this needed to be addressed and Deloitte were identified as the perfect partner to help BUCS achieve this.



Deloitte & BUCS – The communication requirement:


Interacting with this pool of gifted young people appealed to professional services firm Deloitte who, in the summer of 2013, were looking at ways to differentiate themselves and stand out from other graduate employers engaged in competition for top talent.


Through a partnership with BUCS, Deloitte set the following objectives:

  1. Approach and attract top graduates who play sport.


Our employability research demonstrated that graduates who play sport are more employable, with those who lead an aspect of university sport being even more so. Deloitte set out to communicate specifically with this group and thus attract high performing graduates to their firm.

  1. Improve the employability prospects of BUCS sports men and women through extra-curricular education.


Tying in with the firms CSR agenda, Deloitte set an objective to make an impact in the grassroots sporting community that matters, by providing inspirational leadership education to men and women involved in higher education sport.

  1. UK PLC


Deloitte has invested significant energy to improve the brand of “UK plc”, by transforming top young talent into captains of industry, with the aim of improving the output of business across all sectors in the UK. The BDLA aims to assist this by nurturing the leaders of tomorrow and creating a mutually beneficial outcome for both students and the UK as a whole.

  1. Brand image shift.


University campuses are a branding battleground amongst the UK’s leading graduate employers.


Deloitte set an objective to position their firm as a desirable brand on campus and one that would be a natural environment for top talent involved in the BUCS sporting programme, the largest of its kind in Europe with 170 universities, 802 leagues, 5062 teams and 100,000 students competing regularly.


  1. The aim is to enhance the leadership of university sport at a grassroots level


After all, effective leadership is fundamental to the ongoing success of university sport.


Through the BDLA we hope to indirectly impact over 4000 students who regularly play sport at university.



The BUCS Deloitte Leadership Academy (BDLA):


The BUCS Deloitte Leadership Academy (BDLA) was created in late 2013 to meet the overarching Deloitte sponsorship objectives and in its second full year has grown fivefold into a multi-site, multimedia, nationwide campaign.


In 2015/16 the BDLA programme consisted of six one day educational events, taking place at universities across the UK, all of which are Deloitte recruitment ‘target institutions’.


Each academy followed a similar format and was designed specifically to inspire, motivate and improve the leadership credentials of those students who won places.



2014/15 BDLA Programme:

  • 100 students.
  • 1 BDLA programme, held off campus at a neutral location.
  • 30 universities represented.


2015/16 BDLA Programme:

  • 480 students.
  • 6 BDLA programmes across the UK.

o   University of Leeds BDLA – 19th November 2015.

o   University of Manchester BDLA – 20th November 2015.

o   University of Edinburgh BDLA – 27th November 2015.

o   University of Bath BDLA – 29th January 2016.

o   University of Birmingham BDLA – 5th February 2016.

o   King’s College London BDLA – 12th February 2016.

  • 80 universities represented.
  • BUCS Deloitte Student Leader of the Year Competition launched – 15th February.
  • BUCS Deloitte Student Leader of the Year announced – 20th March.



Application criteria:


To apply for a place on the academy students must hold a leadership position within their university sport function as defined through application criteria found here [hyperlink]. Along with general application questions and reference information students were asked the following:

o   Which job sector you are you interested in pursuing after university?

o   Have you ever considered working for Deloitte?

o   Have you previously applied to Deloitte?

o   What employability skills would you most like to hear about at the BDLA and future events?

o   Would you like to hear from a Deloitte career advisor about graduate opportunities at the firm?


This information allowed us to build a programme that appealed to students interested in pursuing a career at Deloitte and elsewhere, track possible entrants to the firm after the events and build communications to target this highly desirable group.



Raising Awareness:


To raise awareness of the BDLA programme across the university sector BUCS & Deloitte built a number of communications designed to inspire sport club committee members to apply:

  • Email marketing.
  • Direct social media targeting of sports clubs using #BDLA.
  • Extensive support of university specific communication plans.


Application Stats:

o   Interest from 4700 students.

o   480 places allocated.



Themes of the Leadership Academy:


Deloitte commissioned Fieri Leadership & Development to deliver instructors for the BUCS Deloitte Leadership Programme. Together with BUCS and Deloitte it was agreed that focus would be given to the following educational themes:

o   High Performance Leadership

o   Effective Communication

o   Motivation

o   Negotiation


Why? Because the Deloitte recruitment teams actively look for mentions of the above themes when shortlisting candidates and BUCS view these ‘soft skills’ as integral in ensuring the ongoing success of teams and individuals involved in BUCS leagues and university sport more widely.


The BDLA was also recognised by ILM as an official development programme. This allowed students to leave the BDLA with an official ILM certificate to help bolster their career chances.





Since the BDLA programme finished last week (12th February 2016) we have completed a preliminary evaluation based on feedback provided by attendees.


This will be followed by a more extensive evaluation project that will be completed in the next three months. (1 = poor, 2 = average, 3 = good, 4 = excellent, 5 = outstanding)


  • Question: Do you think the BDLA will help improve employability prospects in your chosen field? 202 said yes. 100%.

  • Question: Are you more inclined to apply for a position at Deloitte following the BDLA than you were before the course? Yes – 137 No – 65.(Note that not all attendees were selected based on their suitability to enter the professional services field. We were delighted with this result).

  • Question: Overall how would you rate your experience on the BDLA (1 = Poor, 5 = Outstanding)? 89% gave 5, 9% gave 4, 2% gave 3.

  • Currently, a large number of BDLA alumni have either been accepted onto a Deloitte graduate programme or are in the process. A number will be apportioned to this when the 2015/16 intake closes and re-measured again next year when we expect more students to apply.





Deloitte Leadership Academy:


BUCS Website:

BUCS Sport Twitter:


BUCS Sport Facebook:


BUCS Sport YouTube:


BUCS Sport Instagram:


BUCS Sport LinkedIn:


Deloitte Sponsorship:


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