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Sharing the Path Ahead: Insights From the Barclays GSK Partnership

Exploring how companies can join forces to drive growth, profitability, and sustainability



Driven by rapidly changing markets and blurring industry boundaries, many leading companies are exploring innovative ways to create commercially sustainable businesses that generate meaningful societal benefits. Barclays and GSK are two such organizations. They forged a unique partnership to explore new ways to provide access to affordable healthcare in Africa; promote economic development; and explore new ways of getting their products and services to customers who currently cannot access them. This report shares the insights Barclays and GSK have gained on what it takes to create a successful partnership focused on shared growth, in the hope that other companies with similar intentions can benefit.

Key findings

Barclays and GSK identified seven keys to a successful partnership:

  1. Target partners should have a shared vision, complementary skills, compatible cultures and a willingness to partner on something that will require time, energy and resources to become successful.

  2. Senior leaders of the companies should communicate a clear and compelling vision to help galvanize the effort that new partnerships typically require.

  3. Partner companies should research the opportunity they are focusing on, and the operating environment in detail, to understand what is possible and the potential risks.

  4. Companies should use partnerships as an opportunity to innovate and build things they could not easily create independently.

  5. Partner companies need to find the right people and skills to deliver against the vision.

  6. Companies developing and testing new ideas should focus initially on smaller-scale goals.

  7. Partnership teams need to be resilient to the challenges they face, be comfortable with ambiguity and be patient for success.

"We believe the bold example of Barclays and GSK is one that deserves due credit. With the right strategic vision and execution, companies can achieve greater shared value together than they can alone."

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Growth, Strategy & Sustainability


Executives considering a partnership should ask themselves important questions before proceeding:

  • What is your company’s purpose?

  • How could a partnership help you achieve your strategic objectives?

  • Which companies could you partner with and what do you want to achieve together?

  • How can you create an inspiring vision?

  • How can you build an agile and entrepreneurial organization and work together as a team?

  • What skills and capabilities do you need?

  • How can you focus the partnership on delivering value and outcomes?

  • How will you rapidly build momentum?

  • How should you measure the impact?

  • How will you return to business as usual?