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Sir Michael Barber, Pearson: Pacific global leadership is in the ascendancy

The 21st century could be ‘absolutely fantastic’ if a number of short- and medium-term challenges can be resolved, according to Sir Michael Barber, Pearson’s Chief Educational Adviser and former UK government guru on school standards.

His lecture for the Cambridge Leadership Seminar Series, entitled ‘Oceans of Innovation’, emphasised his belief that the Pacific region seems set to become the focus of global leadership following 50 years of spectacular economic and educational achievement. Although it laid a foundation, the same mix that brought those achievements will not meet the challenges ahead, and leaders of the Pacific region are aware of this.

“They understand that they have to change the model of their education systems and indeed the way their societies work if they are going to succeed in the next 50 years.”

In an interview for the Cambridge Judge Business School website, Sir Michael said he could see many threats to a successful second half of the 21st century. These include, in the short- to medium-term, big challenges around the environment, wealth, poverty and conflict.

If those challenges are to be resolved in a world which by 2050 will have a population of nine billion, then everybody working in government, the voluntary or business sectors must have a ‘moral compass – an ethical underpinning’ to the way they think about their lives.

On leadership itself, Sir Michael picked out ‘integriity’ and ‘authenticity’ and the keys to success in the role.