While he knows that education is the way to change the world, Laurie Pearcey of UNSW Global also believes in the importance of collaboration and guidance from the unfamiliar.



Hello, Laurie! Can you fill us in on your career prior to joining UNSW Global?

I came to this role with a background focused on China, Asia and Australia’s engagement with the region. Prior to joining UNSW Global, I was CEO of the Australia China Business Council, and I have been to Asia over 100 times over the past 20 years. I am a fluent Mandarin Chinese speaker and have lived, worked and studied in the region. 


Can you please explain what UNSW Global offers and share some insights on some of the new, exciting developments you’re currently working on? 

UNSW Global is a premium provider of higher education pathways to UNSW Sydney. We provide online, transnational, and in-person pathways ranging from Diplomas, Foundation Studies, and Academic English. 

The COVID-19 pandemic represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine our portfolio. We have recently launched an exciting new fit-for-purpose fully online four-month transition studies program in partnership with ASX listed Open Learning to bridge the gap between high school and university study. We have set up 20 new offshore campuses over the last year to expand access to our degrees to more students across Asia, and we are developing a gold standard student experience strategy which will position our Sydney campus to provide students with an unparalleled “concierge” service as they embark on their higher education degrees.


UNSW Global is a premium provider of higher education pathways to UNSW Sydney. We provide online, transnational, and in-person pathways ranging from Diplomas, Foundation Studies, and Academic English. 


How would you describe your leadership style? 

Collaborative, open, and honest. A mentor of mine once told me you can do anything if you bring amazing people with you. A successful CEO needs to recognise that they are the first among equals. They need to build a culture of consensus-based decision making, where everyone has their say; but also where everyone gets behind an agreed decision. That’s what makes (and breaks) strategic planning.  


Where do you draw your motivation from and how do you keep your team motivated? 

I will never forget standing in front of a packed classroom of year 12 students in an international school in Udaipur, watching the glint in their eyes as we spoke about the power of tertiary study. Knowing what we do changes people’s lives is what makes me jump out of bed each morning. The same goes for my team. Education is the tool we have to truly change the world.  


How do you personally implement a strategy to achieve key business outcomes? 

I have always taken inspiration from China when thinking about strategic planning and measuring success in a business. The Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai once famously said “it was too early to tell” when he was asked about what he thought was the impact of the French Revolution. Chinese businesses think about long-term investments, and aren’t nearly obsessed with results for the next reporting season. Instead, they think about long-term shareholder value. I think there’s a lot in that for us to learn from. 


Which other CEOs do you admire most – and why? 

Alan Joyce. He has real grit and determination. He has reinvented Qantas, turning it into one of the leaders of global aviation. That was true before the pandemic, and it has enabled the airline to withstand the biggest hit to the sector in its history. 


What career advice would you give a younger you? 

Listen in maths and science. Do a double degree. Make sure you have STEM up your sleeve as well as humanities. I look at amazing scientists in leadership positions and have nothing but enormous admiration for the way they solve problems. If the world could have a bit more science with humanity, we would be much better off. 



Laurie Pearcey is the CEO of UNSW Global


Jeeves.Plus presents this ‘Language of Leadership’ series.

Jeeves.Plus is a local enterprise passionate about tearing down the communication barriers that divide us. Their forward-thinking customer support platform allows users to manage multiple text-based conversations, translating to and from 109 languages effortlessly.




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