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Nik Gowing

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STOP PRESS - The new Thinking the Unthinkable site is up with a wealth of case studies and background info. Do visit to find out more: https://www.thinkunthink.org/

Nik Gowing was a main news presenter for the BBC’s international 24-hour news channel BBC World News 1996-2014. He presented The Hub with Nik Gowing, BBC World Debates, Dateline London , plus location coverage of major global stories.

"Thank you for a wonderful workshop.  You were wonderful, and it would not have been a success without you.

 I appreciate your partnership in this effort, and I hope our paths cross again in the future to continue to advance this important topic."
Nik Chaired a major international conference in 2019

For 18 years he worked at ITN where he was bureau chief in Rome and Warsaw, and Diplomatic Editor for Channel Four News (1988-1996). He has been a member of the councils of Chatham House (1998–2004), the Royal United Services Institute (2005–present), and the Overseas Development Institute (2007-2014), the board of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy including vice chair (1996-2005), and the advisory council at Wilton Park (1998-2012 ). In 1994 he was a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Barone Center in the J. F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.  He is a board member for the Hay Literature Festival.

His peer-reviewed study at Oxford University “Skyful of Lies and Black Swans” predicted and identified the new vulnerability, fragility and brittleness of institutional power in the new all-pervasive public information space. The work builds on his work initiated at Harvard.

In 2014 Nik was appointed a Visiting Professor at Kings College, London in the School of Social Science and Public Policy. Since 2016 he has been a Visiting Professor at Nanyang University (NTU), Singapore focussing on deepening and widening the “Thinking the Unthinkable” research. From 2014 he was a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Geo-Economics. In September 2017 he was appointed an adviser on leadership challenges to the President of the UN General Assembly

He was awarded Honorary Doctorates by Exeter University in 2012 and Bristol University in 2015. They recognise his ongoing cutting edge analyses and distinguished career in international journalism.

In 2016 Nik Gowing co-authored (with Chris Langdon) interim findings of the “Thinking the Unthinkable” study. The work is currently scaling up because of global executive anxieties about the new pressures on leaderships. It is based on hundreds of top level confidential interviews and conversations with corporate and public service leaders, plus hundreds more conversations with the new generation of millennials. Findings so far reveal candidly why so many leaders face new difficulties identifying what looms in the disruptions of the “new normal” that have emerged since 2014. New vulnerabilities are confirmed. The findings are scary.

"I just wanted to say what a pleasure it was working with you on the Climate Innovation Forum. Your energy and ability to engage the room was exceptional. We have had so many compliments about the Forum’s positivity – and this was largely driven on the day by yourself. "
June 2019

“Let me offer you a TREMENDOUS THANK YOU. You are a remarkable colleague and collaborator and I love watching you in action.

NATO was blown away, NATO governments especially the Brits were awestruck, and the consortium and our partners couldn’t be happier. You helped us deliver on the vision of making NATO engaging if not sexy.  We’ve done several debriefs and you two are always a highlight. 

Indeed, we’ve forged a great partnership with GMF and MSC and we work very well together. We so appreciate each other and value the work they do"

Atlantic Council 2019

Thinking the Unthinkable 

"Britain out of the EU? President Trump? To express incredulity is not a political judgement. Until a few weeks ago what many viewed as outlandish "unthinkables" were not even being considered or investigated as part of corporate or political risk assessments. Now they have to be"
World Today, Chatham House 1st June 2016

Written by Nik Gowing and Chris Langdon - Thinking The Unthinkable is a rolling, ongoing, dynamic investigation into why leaders appear more unable or unwilling than ever to anticipate the biggest issues of our time. 

Since 2014 these have included the new assertiveness of President Putin’s Russia, the rise of so-called ‘Islamic state’ the sudden oil price crash, growing cyber-vulnerability, and the exponential growth in mass migration and people movements.

In a powerful and engaging speech Nik`s presentation is essential viewing for everyone leading in challenging times

  • Why are current leadership behaviours and culture apparently not fit for purpose?
  • What are the causes of so many failures in policy and strategic forecasting?
  • Are they human frailties? Or are they  systemic failures to embrace smartly new realities? 

“I very much recommend the Thinking The Unthinkable report to you.-Lord George Robertson, NATO Secretary General, 1999-2004

"I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation and discussion. It was a rare gift of broad perspective, deep knowledge and critical thinking, and offered several points for further questioning and thought. I only regret it was not a couple of hours longer, followed by a deeper discussion. This would have been a real pleasure.......It is a precious opportunity to hear this broad perspective and questioning."

"Thank you again for our fantastic session. You’ve somehow manged to take the recent cacophony of extreme global events, and distil them down into a narrative that people can relate, act and apply to the their corporate environment.

I overheard one participant, discussing over drinks, say something along the lines of “I’ve been in falling asleep in management meetings all week and then I came here tonight and WHAM! Now I’m finally thinking”
IMD Business School, Lausanne, November 2017

"You scored very high with an overall score out of 10 of 8.44, which is great.  Delegate feedback was very positive, a snapshot is below for your information:

  • Very informative, very topical, need to rethink my role
  • Engaging & interesting.  Very good presenter.  Quite a confronting subject to start the day
  • Might have been better if you had not pulled him short
  • Opened my eyes as to the extent of disruption impacting the world
  • Excellent information, entertaining and hopeful
  • Good thought provoker to start day with
  • Loved the external macro view and his perspective/insights
  • Insight, thought provoking, makes people think now about what needs to change
  • Set the scene for the day
  • Challenged the status quo – what will influence the environment we operate in – confronting

 October 2017 - Melbourne - Big Ideas Summit

"Thank you so much for your inspired presentation and discussion. Its pretty difficult to exceed expectations when the expectations are as high as mine were for your presentation, but somehow you managed to do just that. You truly opened people`s eyes and gave us a challenging way to think about our roles....thank you for setting the stage and providiing the context for our discussions with a truly great opening. I look forwars to future collaborations". 
6th April 2017 in the Conrad Hotel, New York City

"Thank you for your outstanding keynote presentation yesterday. It was a terrific way to kick off the Forum and helped the entire group recalibrate their expectations for the day and indeed for the profession!" 
CEO Airmic - November 2016

"I wanted to send my heartfelt thanks for being with us for the plenary at our recent conference in New York. You were a great hit at the conference, and the clarity of the vision you articulated inspired the crowd...and I am sure is now providing a source of inspiration as people consider the uncertain direction promised by election results.....Donald Trump`s election has been such a great proof of concept for "Thinking the Unthinkable," and yet at the same time, I am deeply grateful that you are causing people to think differently about managing through our "interesting" times". 
"Be Bold" Conference, New York City Nov 2016

"Can I please offer you both my warmest thanks for collaborating with us on Friday. You did a marvellous job and the audience came with you in leaps and bounds… Your material and the way you share it – is gripping! It provided a wonderful opportunity for Tomorrow’s Company and I think created the sense of excitement and possibility of something new, that we had been hoping for."
CEO Tomorrow`s Company 

Conference Host and Facilitator

Nik is a highly sought-after chair, moderator and keynote speaker at international conferences. He has an international portfolio of commitments that draws on his extensive experience over almost three decades in diplomacy, defence and international security.

Testimonials 

Our discussions before the conference were crucial in shaping the format and the dynamics of the event. Your moderating during the conference was brilliant. Once again you created an energetic and stimulating atmosphere. Thank you very much"
European Business Leaders Conference - June 2018

"I would like to extend our utmost appreciataion for your brilliant moderation at the MEET event. We have recieved great feedback from our members who thoroughly enjoyed the interactive session and the directions you lead it. The event was very insightful, and the audience very much appreciated the opportunity to join the discussions about the investment industry."
Swedish Chamber of Commerce - June 2018 

"Thank you for your proffesional support, moderating the panel session - particularly at relatively short notice. Our feedback is highly positive (as expected) - specificially that you quickly took command of the brief, understood and intrepreted what we had in mind, interacted well with the panellists and put them at ease, and successfully guided the discussion - striking the right balance between challenging questions and conversation steer to ensure that each panelist had the opportunity to contribute. Overall, the discussion appeared well structured and flowed naturally" 
Major Global Corporate - December 2017 

"We have recieved positive feedback from our guests, who were highly impressed with your session as well as the other plenaries. The Eurasia Group was especially pleased that you praised their report on stage...i do look forward to speaking with you again".
Temasek Foundation, Singapore - September 2017

"I very much enjoyed working with you in the role of Moderator of the main session. I very much appreciate your invaluable expertise, that helped us to make the session much more interesting and "hot"".
June 2017 - Kazakhstan

"...thanks in great part due to you, we had a great and successful Davos! I want to express my deepest gratitude for your over-the-top professionalism and genuine talent at not just moderating our sessions but actually making them!....The reviews and comments from our guests were over the top" -
Major Corporate Event, Davos 2017

"The sessions you moderated were one of the most well-received sessions of this year. Especially there were many people who mentioned about your session with Ambassador Sherman that is was worth attending" 
World Knowledge Forum, Seoul, Korea - October 2016

"Thank you for your efforts, the session was very meaningful; participants roundly praised it. Thank you for your leadership of the session....full of inspiration" 
Director-General for International Affairs, Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology, Tokyo Oct 2016 

“Working with Nik brought the Global Green Growth Summit up to a level where it all looked effortless. The background preparation and time that he dedicated to the Summit many months in advance laid the groundwork for a truly excellent event. His attention to detail on both the logistical side and also his focus on content meant that when inevitable minor issues arose on the day, they remained minor as everything else ran like clockwork. The key challenge of the day was a 5 hour morning stretch with no breaks. Thanks to all the preparation, Nik breezed through this, keeping both the audience and speakers engaged and alert with many moments of valuable interaction which simply would not have happened in anyone else’s hand. It is always a pleasure to work with someone who is at the top of their game, as Nik is, I hope to get the opportunity to work with him again in the future.” 
GGGI Summit - Sept 2016

Thanks for having done those two sessions which really worked well in our view. That format works and you are just too darn good at this!" 
A major global investment firm - March 2016

"Your moderating our breakfast not only met my expectations but honestly far exceeded them...as I knew from having seen you in Geneva, you would energize the sleepy attendees, keep conversation going and in your unique way bridge all the comments said and weave them into a larger and more definitive conversation. ... all went amazingly well and I am grateful to you! "
Nik chaired a breakfast session at Davos, January 2016

"Thank you for your efforts, the session was very meaningful; participants roundly praised it. Thank you for your leadership of the session....full of inspiration" 
Director-General for International Affairs, Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology, Tokyo Oct 2016 

"I would like to thank you for doing such a superb job of moderating the EIF Phase Two Pleadging Conference on 14 December in Nairobi....Your role and valuable contributions ensured that the event ran smoothly and resulted in a successful outcome." 
Ratnakar Adhikari, World Trade Organisation - December 2015

It was a very good session. As always thank you so much Nik for your professionalism. It is thanks to you that we could make it a success despite the difficult circumstances."
World Economic Forum Strategy Day in Delhi - November 2015

 

 

 

 

Known to millions around the world through his distinguished career as a main anchor on BBC World News, Nik is the co-author of the acclaimed book "Thinking the Unthinkable", which looks at why current leadership is struggling with the disruptions of Unthinkable events. An eye-opening keynote speaker, Nik is also a highly-sought-after conference host and moderator

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