Wednesday 2 December 2020 3:51 pm

Pearson taps former British diplomat for new consumer push

Pearson today said it has hired a former British diplomat as its chief strategy officer as the education group pushes ahead with a new strategy of targeting consumers directly.

The FTSE 100 firm said Mike Howells will be tasked with strengthening its relationships with learning institutions.

The appointment is the latest move by new boss Andy Bird, who has pledged to overhaul Pearson’s business model to adapt to the digital age.

The group has suffered a torrid period of trading in recent years, struggling to shift its reliance away from textbook sales and towards a more digitally-focused model.

But Bird, a former Disney executive, last month announced plans for a new direct-to-consumer division that will look to channel the model used by streaming giants.

Pearson today said the appointment of Howell reflected its new strategy and the need to continue building partnerships with global educational institutions.

The veteran diplomat previously served as HM General Consul in Los Angeles, where he promoted trade, investment, media and educational ties between the UK and US.

“Mike is an innovative and creative strategist, with brilliant negotiating skills, and has a proven record of achieving results,” Bird said in a statement.

“As we seek to have a direct relationship with millions of lifelong learners, Mike is exactly the transformational leader we need to seize this opportunity.”

It follows the appointment of Warner Bros executive Lynne Frank to head up Pearson’s new division alongside Ishantha Lokuge.