There was no better way to kick start our industry events this academic year than with our very own Pearson. A number of Pearson College students had the privilege to hear from and meet some of Pearson’s senior managers including CEO John Fallon, Rod Bristow (President, Core Markets), Giles Grant (SVP English Language Teaching (ELT) and Global Markets), Tom ap Simon (SVP Finance, Growth Markets) and Gillian Seely.
It was a full day with a variety of talks about the history of Pearson and what direction it is taking as well as some of the challenges that businesses face. There was an emphasis on strategy, innovation, the product lifecycle and how we can try and be disruptive in the education industry.
Following this, students were set the challenge of designing a university of the future. With approximately 500 million people expected to be in higher education by 2040 what will higher education look like in the future and what role will Pearson have in this?
It was very interesting to hear more about Pearson as a company and the journey it has taken over the last 200 years. A lot of what the speakers talked about, in terms of the frameworks they use, we had covered in one way or another in our lectures and seminars so it was exciting to see this being used in the “real world” and being able to follow their thought processes when tackling problems within the business.
It was a great opportunity to work with people we hadn’t worked with before with a mixture of first, second and third year students. The first year students have only been with Pearson College for a few weeks and they are already presenting in front of the CEO and other Senior Vice Presidents of a FTSE 100 company which they did with confidence.
Team Xavier's Winning Idea
With 180 million people enrolled in higher education worldwide in 2013 and which is expected to rise to an estimated 500 million people by 2040 our challenge was simple: design a model for a ‘university of the future’. How can universities and colleges adapt their existing models to handle this influx of larger volumes of students in a way that is inclusive and realistic? Each group would be judged on the quality and originality of the idea, consumer appeal, feasibility and overall presentation skills.
In today’s society it is no longer enough just to have a good degree but having the experience is vital. This is what Pearson College London is all about. With this in mind, our group, Xavier, wanted to create a platform that would join students with the relevant skills that employers are looking for. Using the analogy of an album, rather than buying the whole album when it’s only a couple of songs you really want, ITunes enables you to purchase individual songs. Likewise, students will be able to get a certified qualification in particular areas of the course they are studying or they think will be useful to them for a potential career choice.
The industry link comes in where Pearson will approach companies asking them to provide problems that they would expect their employees to have/ skills they look for in potential employees and Pearson will help to tailor the course content around that. This can then be completed as a stand-alone qualification by students or current employees or rolled out to universities to use as part of their degree programmes. This is an online based qualification with any resources, such as text books, articles, talks, recorded lectures etc. all available online. In a talk given by Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, earlier this month she mentioned that 3 billion people have access to the internet. As a result, with this qualification based online this can be easily enrolled to other countries outside the UK opening up further opportunities to expand and help further the education of those less fortunate than us. Students can also see who else is currently taking the same course as them and there will be means for them to collaborate together and if they are based in the same area to meet up and have the peer learning aspect as well as this being online.
We presented to a panel of 5 judges that included John Fallon, Rod Bristow, Giles Grant, Gillian Seely and Alex Selwood
All who are very experienced in this area it was quite nerve-wracking especially since we didn’t have long to prepare, we couldn’t solidify and think through all the pros and cons of our idea. Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity and one we all really enjoyed. The feedback we received was very encouraging not only in the way that everyone presented but in the content of the idea too. All the ideas that were presented by the different groups had the potential to be taken further and we will hopefully get the chance to work more with Pearson in the future.
We also caught up with Deniz, also from winning team Xavier to ask a couple more questions!
What did you enjoy most about the day?
What I enjoyed most about the day was probably the presentation about The Product Life Cycle. This is something I am really interested in and since then I have taken away some very valuable information for a couple of my personal business ideas. I also really enjoyed listening to the CEO John Fallon talk about some of the history of Pearson College and it was very reassuring to hear his story and how everyone has to start from somewhere!
How did it feel to win!?
Winning! It was really exciting to be part of the winning team. I think days like these are really important for students to feel recognised by members of staff, especially those that are high up. Id like to think that all the student at Pearson College are working hard and towards making a difference. The industry day allowed us all to show off our talents and what we are capable of and of course meet new people! I think we worked very well as a group (mixture between first, second and final year students).
This was really beneficial as there was input from all year groups. I’d say that the challenge has also taught me how to work with some faces that I wasn’t so familiar with as I have been studying at the college for very long. It has
definitely boosted my confidence, especially because we were asked to present! In my opinion presenting and public speaking is one of the most useful skills to have and we should be made to do it more often.
Overall it was a constructive and productive day! I would definitely attend another Pearson industry day and I would love to listen, learn and get some more advice from members of staff that were once in my position as a student.
A huge congratulations to Sophie Preece, Jack Preston, Carlo Guatterini, Deniz Kadri, Thomas Fry, Jayna Halai and Dragan Anastasov of the winning team of Xavier! The students will be joining John Fallon for a celebatory lunch in the coming weeks!
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