Media, Communication & Publishing

Global High Flyers Leadership Program,
Pearson (Worldwide)

SG - Case Study - Pearson


Pearson is an international media company with market-leading businesses in education, business information & consumer publishing. They have more than 32,000 staff based in 60 countries, focusing on making the reading & learning experience as enjoyable & as beneficial as it can possibly be.


In 2014/15 they had sales of £4,9bn & an adjusted operating profit of £720m. Our work with Pearson began in 2000 & we have completed several projects for them over the years. We have worked with senior managers across each of their 3 main businesses: Pearson in Education; Financial Times Group; & Penguin Group.


Together with Pearson’s internal OD Team (including the talented Sally Muggeridge & Justine Drew) we delivered this three day ‘leadership forum’ in sunny San Diego – designed to bring together a group of 150 highly valued leaders from around the world to discuss the goals & challenges facing the company. Participants focused on specific problems directly relevant to their area of the business & came up with many creative solutions which they presented to the Board on the final day of the program. It was an action packed event including top international speakers & interactive exercises along a gorgeous beach!


Successful evaluation led to this key leadership program becoming an annual event as part of Pearson’s commitment to growing their talent – the idea is to help people increase their knowledge & think more deeply about real business opportunities & threats. We also advised the company on establishing Action Learning Teams & Senior Leadership Masterclasses aimed, developing future leadership excellence.

These have now been implemented to help Pearson attract & retain the best people. In recent years, under the leadership of Dame Marjorie Scardino Pearson has transformed what they do, focusing on ‘education in the broadest sense of the word’, & how they do it, embracing technology to change the way that people learn…adding other well-known brands to their valuable portfolio such as Dorling Kindersley, Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, Addison Wesley & Longman. From their roots as the world’s largest book publisher, Pearson have grown to provide a range of related services: testing & learning software for students of all ages; data for financial institutions; & even public information systems for government departments. They are an inspiring company that really ‘walks the talk’ with their corporate values – Pearson’s products, customers & technologies are changing fast but some things stay the same. In everything they do, Pearson aspire to be brave, imaginative & decent. Pearson are proud of their talent, drive & enthusiasm. They are an ambitious & successful company with more than 90% of their staff as shareholders, working to build the value of the company. In a rapidly changing industry David Bell, Pearson’s Director for People, recently summed up their approach to staff retention by saying: “We’ve set ourselves the goal of becoming the best place to work in the world so that, though all our people could leave tomorrow, they choose to stay.

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