CASE STUDY: Applying shared value principles to develop a whole-of-business partnership strategy, model and assessment framework for Bupa.

Rhod  •  Thursday September 18, 2014
Commercial  •  Health & Ageing

Helping Bupa to develop a whole-of-business partnership strategy, model and assessment framework to ensure all investments in sponsorships, research partnerships and community initiatives create positive social and/or health impacts while delivering returns to the business.


Bupa Australia and New Zealand is a leading healthcare organisation and part of the Bupa Group which cares for over 33 million people across 190 countries. In Australia, the company provides a wide range of services through its private health insurance, aged care, health coaching, optical, dental and wellness services businesses. Reinvesting its profits in improving health outcomes for members, its purpose is to help people live longer, healthier, happier lives. The Bupa Health Foundation is one of the leading Australian charitable foundations dedicated to health.


Bupa invests in a range of strategic relationships across its business. The more prominent are managed by a dedicated strategic partnership group but business units also invest in commercial relationships relevant to their markets and operations.

Bupa looks beyond the horizon, investing in medical research that may never lead to development of a service offering but which helps to ensure the company has insight and opportunity. Bupa is also aware that the size of its customer base, scale of its market access, and network of channel partners places it in a unique position to help achieve whole of society impacts in important areas such as (but not limited to) wellbeing, ageing and obesity.

The challenge for the group was to:

  • Define what a strategic partnership is/means to Bupa Australia.
  • Develop a whole-of-business approach to identifying, assessing, managing and evaluating all partnerships.
  • Ensure that the company’s purpose of investing in health for societal impact is evident in all partnerships.
  • Create a system that aggregates and provides visibility over partnerships, ensuring that investment is appropriately allocated across different health conditions and business objectives.
  • Provide a compelling argument to the business for change.

“There is no reason why we can’t establish a high profile strategic partnership that is both commercial and achieves our purpose through health impact.”
– Elizabeth Still, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Bupa Australia & New Zealand


Ellis Jones is leading the development of ‘share value’ as a practice. Shared value principles were a natural fit for Bupa’s strategic partnership exploration because they provide the basis of a model to identify, assess and manage those partnerships to ensure realisation of purpose and business returns are outcomes of every relationship.

During the project, the company’s business, brand, marketing, health research, health grants and health innovation program reports and strategies were assessed for objectives, outcomes and synergies. Interviews with heads of department and executive team members also clarified the different objectives of each team and some of the perceived conflicts the group was facing.

A full day workshop with all team members explored the different aspects of strategic partnerships considering market, economic, and internal company conditions. Using shared value as a guiding concept, the group worked through the nature of their roles and mandates, and where alignment or shared objectives could be identified.

Full lists were drawn up for health and social impact and business impact areas. The exercise also defined impact areas the company did not view as strategic from a competency, risk or return perspective.

Importantly, a base strategic partnership management model was created for further development. The management model will ensure whole of business visibility over partnership investment to ensure aggregate health and business impacts reflect the partnership strategy.


The project had a number of important immediate business outcomes:

  • Recognition among departmental leaders of the value each team creates across the business-health impact spectrum.
  • A clearer definition of what Bupa seeks in a strategic partnership, and what it brings to any relationship.
  • A process for finding, assessing, initiating, managing and evaluating partnerships.
  • A framework to enable assessment of any single partnership in the context of whole-of-business partnership investment and with which to define the range of outcomes expected.

Ultimately, when a final model is in place, all of Bupa’s strategic partnership investments should achieve health and social impacts. From a shared value perspective, these partnerships are revealed as lead instruments in achieving social change.

Indirectly or directly, strategic partnerships provide evidence for Bupa’s role in longer, healthier, happier lives. The company’s purpose is embedded in health research, brand activation activities, operations, consumer outcomes, and channel partner relationships.

Talk to us about shared value strategy.