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Faculty Focus: Nicolas King

USB-ED is fortunate to have access to more than 300 part-time faculty, consultants, business leaders and industry experts who facilitate on our programmes.

Today we would like to introduce you to Nicholas King.

What is the toughest leadership challenge businesses face today?

The social licence to operate (SLO). Any business today must be able to show it is first and foremost necessary, relevant and contributes positively to wider society’s longer-term goals, for example the SDG’s. Profit is a luxury after that, other than what is necessary to get and keep the business afloat i.e. profit is not the objective but the means to the end. Dedicated, transparent and verifiable efforts to maximise resource efficiency, minimise/eliminate waste and pollution, optimise employee benefits (and wider social contributions) and restore ecological degradation are all part of the ‘bottom-line’. Very broadly for example I would argue that the sugar and tobacco industries cannot meet these requirements, and that they utilise precious resources such as land, water and energy, generate wastes and pollutants, and severely compromise human health, all in the name of profit. Imagine the societal benefits if we could grow food crops and/or restore ecosystem integrity and biodiversity on the land under these crops?  The business of business is not business, but social benefit – and the SLO will increasingly demand this.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from a student to date?

Never assume that what you intend to be interpreted and understood from your presentation/lecture/activity content is what will be gleaned – check and check again how key messages are being received and interpreted.

Who inspires you and why?

Environmental and social justice activists, most especially so-called Indigenous people who daily put their lives in danger, and indeed often sacrifice their lives to protect the natural resources which sustain humanity and all life on Earth, and which they consider sacred as a result – as we all should.

What attracted you to work with USB-ED?

The opportunity to raise awareness of these 21st century leadership challenges, to share new, innovative, values-based  approaches, and ‘futures thinking’ to those who are or will be business and thus societal leaders.

Do you have a mantra or slogan that you live by?

“The only thing which refutes science is better science”

What career advice would you give yourself looking back to when you started out?

Seek greater complexity, lateral thinking, connectivity and systems thinking in everything; we are unfortunately taught in silos, and the world does not work in silos.

Tell us about a book you have recently read?

Naomi Klein: On Fire: the burning case for a Green New Deal. 2019. Over the past two decades, Naomi Klein has been exposing the devastating exploitation of people and the planet as sacrifices on the altar of corporate greed, and demanding restorative justice. This book compiles over a decade of her most impassioned writings from the frontlines of our war on nature and society, and melds it with new material on how we are now on the cusp of the biggest gamble in human history – and whether we will pull it off. A fantastic read and motivational call to action for anyone and everyone who cares more about others than themselves.

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