Outsiders Leading in Education

19 June 2018

McKinsey recently published an interesting article about universities seeking more “outsider” leaders for their top jobs; prompted by economic pressures, digital disruption, and rising job complexity. The article relates to the US experience, but in the UK, colleges and universities are similarly squeezed by the same factors.

Already familiar to those in private industry, corporate boards often respond by seeking non-traditional leaders — from outside the sector — who have different sets of skills and who can bring fresh approaches to problems.

At Friisberg we regularly act for clients that, when facing a crisis or with less risk-averse boards, tend to look for non-traditional leaders. Over time, I am sure we will see this increasing trend in education accelerate. We are asked to identify and consider “outsiders” for the academic sector, many of them from business – and as they prove themselves ever more successful; the doors will open wider for more of them.


“Shaking up the leadership model in higher education” (Scott C. Beardsley, McKinsey & Co.)