Richard Hardie: UBS and The Bridge Academy, Hackney

"We take for granted the knowledge we have about the world of work, but many students are genuinely interested to know what holding down a job is really like."

Richard Hardie, Chair, UBS is proud of the impact his company's partnership with The Bridge Academy, Hackney has had on the young people at that school.

Each sixth former is mentored by a UBS Graduate Trainee. Our graduates find the programme both challenging and rewarding, and are able to develop their skills and reinforce UBS values and behaviours which has a positive impact on the business.

- Richard Hardie,
Chair, UBS

Our aim at UBS is to overcome disadvantage in our local communities by supporting education and entrepreneurship through funding and the commitment and skills of our people, so we were eager to be involved in Business Class.  We are one of the founding members of the programme as it allows us to share ideas and actual events or interventions with other organisations that are keen to support education.

Our flagship partner in the UK is the Bridge Academy, a school we helped to establish in 2007. The Bridge is a mixed, non-denominational school for 11-18 year olds in our neighbouring borough of Hackney. The partnership started with a £1million donation from UBS which was matched by a Wealth Management client. Since then 3,600 employees have provided 37,500 hours of support and UBS employees; clients and suppliers have donated a further £1 million.

The purpose of UBS’s support and ongoing partnership is to raise the attainment and aspirations of Bridge students, and to widen the impact of the Bridge/UBS partnership beyond this one school and community, through developing and sharing best practice.

30% of the sixth form are holding offers from Russell Group Universities, with two from Cambridge; Typically 4% of students on Free School meals attend a Russell Group university so this is a tremendous achievement for the students, the school and the partnership.

Each sixth former is mentored by a UBS Graduate Trainee. Our graduates find the programme both challenging and rewarding, and are able to develop their skills and reinforce UBS values and behaviours which has a positive impact on the business.

Our Community Affairs activity helps enormously to engage our employees in building a culture of integrity and collaboration which employees feel proud to be part of. Our partnership with the school provides a focal point for this activity and helps to increase and maintain this engagement. It also plays an important part in building our reputation with key stakeholders including clients, but that's not the main driver.

We see every day the impact of our partnership on these young students. We know there are many tens of thousands of children who still don't have these opportunities. Employers who haven't tried it will be amazed by the energy that can be released by offering their staff an outlet for their business skills and their sense of civic responsibility. Working with a school is particularly rewarding so I urge other companies to get involved in their local schools through Business Class.