5 Things to Learn From the CEO of Pearson

Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to join my leadership team at Pearson for a trip to the Pearson National Sales Meeting in Orlando, Florida. The annual meeting brought together all of the bees behind the hive. All in all, as a student, it was one of the most pivotal experiences in my life. I was able to see firsthand that celebration of a triumphant year of hard work and commitment, as well as an igniting to what looks to be another game changing year at Pearson. I was able to look into ground breaking projects and see how much effort it takes to not only fuel a multi-billion dollar company, but a constantly revolutionizing generation.  I was also given the opportunity of a lifetime when I was introduced to a multitude of important people including the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. John Fallon (@JohnFallon). His presence and charisma radiated in a rippling effect across the entire conference and was one of the most intriguing experiences in my young life time. As someone who wants to lead and serve as the head of such an organization, here are 5 of things to learn from the CEO of Pearson:


1. To be personal, and not untouchable. There was a moment of limbo when I first saw John Fallon. The CEO of a billion dollar company walked right up to our group. I looked around and saw all of my team standing with smiles – and standing in a frozen state. We had all mentally prepared for the moment and knew it was coming, but when it was actually about to happen, we all seemed to forget our script. He walked up and made his acquaintance smoothly with some jokes and personal connections. Everything I was intimidated by was immediately extinguished with his lively personality and cheerful attitude. He brought in some subtle wisdom and made sure we had that one-on-one time with him. Through that moment, I realized that to make the best connection, you have to be personal and non-untouchable. As young adults we look up to famous celebrities and leaders as realm holders, regardless of how they act. What I realize now is that it takes more than just standing as an idol. It takes being personal.

2. Be the captain of the team. It’s obvious that a CEO needs to be the leader of the team. With being the leader, however, comes a role that many people over look. Some may think that to be a captain you have to shout commands and lead by scoring all of the goals. Yes those can be considered roles, but the most important thing a captain needs to do is to motivate the team. To be create a fire under the team before they step on the field. To inspire them by reinforcing their pride and drive with the team. To be optimistic during times of defeat. As a CEO, the motivational factor is key to the success of everyone. I watched Mr. Fallon motivate everyone throughout the entire meeting and it surges through the entire team. It is clear that motivation and optimism are needed to lead a team to success.

3. Celebrate Success AND Failure. Throughout the entire National Sales Meeting, there was a vibe like nothing I’ve ever experienced. If I had to describe it, it was as if I was on a Champion Super Bowl team filled with teachers, educators, mentors, friends, and authors. Everyone was happy from a year of many lessons and many ups and downs. I remember vividly Mr. Fallon getting on stage and walking through the past year at Pearson. He mentioned many of the lows and many of the highs. Notice I put the “Lows” first. As Michael Jordan says in one of my favorite quotes of all time, “I’ve failed over and over and over again, and that is why I succeed.” I learned that you have to celebrate the failures and lows, especially in education, in order to create success. 


4. To be respected, you must respect others first – This is the golden rule we all learned as children: “treat others how you would like to be treated.” It’s true. If you want to be treated with respect, you must reach out and respect others first. I noticed first-hand how important respect is around such successful people. Sure, everyone at Pearson is happy and they all have a radiant glow about them, but I realized that if you look closely, everyone truly respects each other, no matter what level of the company they currently work at. I surveyed Mr. Fallon to see if it was a consistent theory, and sure enough, he too was reaching out to offer his respect to others. Respect is key to creating relationships and is a must if you want to lead anyone.

5. Knowledge truly is power. Something that I have always said is that knowledge is the most important thing we have in this world. To grow and to be successful, you need to learn. You can learn by reading books. You can learn by exploring the mountains. You can learn by drawing on a piece of paper. Literally, you can learn by doing anything. The key behind this is harnessing and embracing that knowledge as power. If you walk day in and day out taking every learning opportunity as a chance to better yourself, then you will see how much you can grow. Knowledge is a goldmine that everyone must tap into. Mr. Fallon, along with everyone else I met at Pearson, embrace knowledge as the most important factor to success. You may say, well no kidding, “Pearson makes money from selling education to others.” If you say that then you’re right, but there’s more to it than just that. Pearson and every worker within realize that education is a necessity and that it is the most important thing this world needs. Every person from every corner of the Earth needs education and the opportunity to learn and grow. Every person who works there has it embedded in their purpose to help others have the opportunity to learn.


Written on the wall at a Pearson office in Boston in bold letters is a quote from Nelson Mandela. It is a quote that really struck home with me and my journey through school. It was that quote that made me realize I was working at the right place. That Pearson is where I belong. It was there standing 10 feet from the wall, where I realized that Pearson is aimed at more than profits… they are aimed at providing the best and most beneficial educational experience to anyone and everyone from any corner of the world. I will never forget that quote and know that it means more than selling textbooks. It stands for helping others grow… It stands for helping others tap into their true potential.

The quote states, “Education is the most powerful weapon in which you can use to change the world.”– Nelson Mandela.

CoreyGearyNewHeadshotCorey is a Pearson Campus Ambassador and Hope Scholar at University of Georgia where he is majoring in Business Management. Read more inspiration for students on Corey’s blog.