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Who we are
and why we exist

BecomingX was set up with one purpose. To create a world where everyone can realise their potential.

Despite being eternal optimists, we are worried. We are worried that many people believe that ‘success’ is about how much money you make, the car you drive or how many likes you get on social media. We are worried that ‘talent’ is seen as some mythical genetic force possessed by the few, rather than the product of determination, hard work and experience. We are worried that our education systems are not adequately preparing young people for the future. Most of all, we are worried that most people do not realise what they are really capable of achieving.

So we've set out to change that. By combining our deep understanding of high performance with the stories and insights from the world's most inspiring and iconic people, we aim to help people understand what it takes to succeed, to raise their aspirations and to build the skills and confidence to realise their potential.

Founders

Paul Gurney - Founder & CEO

Paul is a former senior Director at Accenture Strategy where he spent 15 years focused on helping some of the largest companies in the world with sustainability and social impact. He is a passionate adventurer and has completed two of the toughest races in the world, racing 600km to the Magnetic North Pole and the infamous 270km Marathon des Sables through the Sahara. He has helped raise over $3m for charities focused on building skills and capacity.

Bear Grylls - Founder

Bear Grylls is known worldwide as one of the most recognised faces of survival and adventure. He is a former British Special Forces soldier and one of the youngest climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He has starred in multiple TV series, including Man Vs. Wild which had an estimated TV audience of 1.2 billion viewers. He has won two BAFTAs and written over 90 books which have sold over 20 million copies. He is an Honorary Colonel to the Royal Marines Commandos and the first ever Chief Ambassador to the World Scout Organisation.

Advisory board

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Lord Dr Michael Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE

Chancellor of Regents University

Lord Hastings is an internationally recognised expert in leadership and education, and an influential black leader in Britain. He is the Chancellor of Regents University London, Professor of Leadership at the Stephen R. Covey Institute and the former Global Head of Citizenship for KPMG. Formerly a teacher, Lord Hastings was the BBC’s Head of Public Affairs and its first Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and is now a Governor of the Vodafone/Safaricom MPESA Academy in Nairobi, Kenya. 
 
Lord Hastings was awarded a CBE for his services to crime reduction in 2003 and a peerage to the House of Lords in 2005. He received an honorary Doctorate in 2014 and was the first recipient of the Covey Leadership Award in 2019.

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Priya Lakhani OBE

Founder and CEO of CENTURY Tech

Priya Lakhani OBE is the Founder and CEO of Century Tech, artificial intelligence education technology company. CENTURY is the global leader in AI-powered learning tools for schools and families, working in dozens of countries across the world. She was formerly a member of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills’ Entrepreneurs’ Forum and supports various educational organisations and charities. She is the author of ‘Inadequate’, a damning assessment of the education system and how it is failing teachers and students.

Priya was awarded Business Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009. In 2014, Priya received an OBE for services to business, community and voluntary services and in 2016 she was given The Mayor of London Fund’s Special Recognition Award. She was appointed to the UK government’s AI Council in 2019 and is a regular commentator on global news for the BBC. In 2020, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Coventry University’s engineering faculty and appointed Honorary Vice President of the Council of British International Schools.

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Andria Zafirakou MBE

Winner of the Global Teacher Prize

Andria Zafirakou is an Art and Textiles teacher at Alperton Community School in Brent. She was recognised as ‘the world’s best teacher’ after winning the coveted ‘Global Teacher Prize’ in 2018.

She manages staff professional development as Associate Deputy Headteacher, building trust and understanding between students and staff and earning Alperton the Institute of Education’s Professional Development Platinum Mark. She is the founder of ‘Artists in Residence’, an education charity she set up after donating her $1m prize money. She is also Culture Leader for The World Economic Forum and a member of their Global Future Leaders Council.

Andria has been recognised in the top 10 of The Evening Standard's 1000 Londoners List and was awarded an MBE in 2019 for her services to education.

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Mark Beaumont

World record holding cyclist and business advisor

Mark Beaumont is an athlete, broadcaster and author. He holds the world record for cycling around the world in just 78 days and has broken a total of 6 world records for cycling and endurance sport.

He is an expert in high performance and has achieved numerous world firsts. His documentaries and books have taken audiences to over 100 countries. Outside of sport and broadcasting, Mark is an investment fund manager and business strategist and works with various companies and charities as an ambassador.

Mark has received three honorary Doctorates and was awarded the British Empire Medal in 2018.

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Dr Susan James Relly

Director of SKOPE, Oxford University Department of Education

Dr Susan James Relly is a leading academic focused on vocational education, further education and work-based learning.

She is the Director of Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE) research centre at the University of Oxford where is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Education, and a Governing Body Fellow at Green Templeton College.

She has a B.Ed from her native country Australia and a M.Sc in Comparative and International Education and a D.Phil in Education from the University of Oxford. She has taught in secondary schools and serves as the Associate Head (Education) of the Social Sciences Division at the University of Oxford.

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Suki Sandhu OBE

Founder and CEO of Audeliss and INvolve

Suki Sandhu is a globally recognised expert on talent, inclusion and diversity in business and society. He founded Audeliss, an executive search firm that aims to elevate minority groups into senior executive and board appointments and INvolve, a global inclusion consulting firm.

He is a Stonewall Ambassador, a Patron for The Albert Kennedy Trust and serves on the board of OutRight Action International based in New York. He was recognised as one of the top 50 most influential figures within the LGBT+ community by The Guardian.

Suki was awarded an OBE in the 2019 New Year’s Honours for Services to Diversity in Business and was also named as the Most Inspiring Recruitment Leader by the UK recruitment industry’s premier awards.

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Larissa Kennedy

President of the National Union of Students

Larissa Kennedy is an award-winning social activist and President of the National Union of Students (NUS), having been elected to represent the UK's seven million students.

Alongside studying her degree in Politics, International Studies and Hispanic Studies at Warwick University, Larissa assumed various leadership roles within Warwick Students' Union, Warwick’s Anti-Racism and Anti-Sexism Societies, and founded the Warwick Decolonise Project. Campaigning within the youth and student movements, Larissa was elected to the Board of the British Youth Council in 2017 and NUS' National Executive Council in 2019.

Larissa has been featured on the 'Future 100' list of the most influential women at UK universities, and recognised as 'Black Student of the Year' in 2018 and highly commended for 'Black Student Officer of the Year' in 2019.

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Jim Hawkins

Chancellor of Whittle School & Studios, former Head Master of Harrow School

Jim Hawkins is the Chancellor of Whittle School & Studios where he oversees the education design, leadership and campus operations for this new global school that draws upon the best of the world’s educational practice and content.

After studying Mathematics at Oxford University, Jim taught at Radley College, was Head of Mathematics at Forest School, Deputy Head of Chigwell School, and Head Master of Norwich School. In 2011, he became Head Master of Harrow School, a well-known boarding school with over 400 years of history, before moving to Whittle in 2018.

Jim has also held several state and independent school governorships, as well as the position of Vice-President (Europe) of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition.

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Ally Chapman

Headteacher of Baines School

Ally Chapman is the Headteacher of Baines School – a secondary school in a deprived area of the UK where she was brought in to lead a turnaround programme.

She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has previously served as the Vice-Principal of The Queen Katherine School MulI Academy Trust. Ally worked for six years in various leadership roles at the University of Cumbria, with the most recent being Director of School Engagement. She also led the development of a cross-phase Teaching School Alliance in South Cumbria.

She was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award for outstanding contribution to teaching and learning in Physical Education in 2010.

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David Thomlinson

Chair UK Youth

David Thomlinson is the Chair of UK Youth and the former Country Managing Director of Accenture UK and Ireland.

He also served as Accenture’s Chief Geographic Strategy and Operations Officer and was on the Global Management Board before retiring in 2014. David is also Chairman of Moixa Energy and the International Chairman of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

David is committed to increasing the equality of opportunity for young people. He is a long-term supporter of Teach First and sits on the UK board of Teach for All.

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Meg Zeenat Wamithi

CEO of My Mind Matters Too and MindMapper UK

Meg Zeenat Wamithi is an award-winning mental health campaigner and consultant and recognised as one of the most inspiring black students in the UK.

She is currently studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at King’s College London. Inspired by her own experiences with mental illness, Meg founded My Mind Matters Too, an innovation hub that connects young people with resources, services and content to improve their mental health.

Meg has worked as a consultant for companies such as KPMG and One Young World and is a recipient of the Diana Award.

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Matt Chapman

Chairman of Chapman CG

Matthew Chapman is a globally recognised expert in Human resources (HR) and the Founder and Chairman of ChapmanCG, the world’s leading HR search firm.

He has a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Business Law from the University of New South Wales, Australia, and is Co-Creator of Thrive HR Exchange, a global community platform for people leaders and HR professionals to connect. He is also Co-Founder of Risk Management Intelligence, an Asia Pacific background checking firm, and an HR advisor for Cocoon Capital in Singapore. Matt is also a wellness, self-improvement and fitness enthusiast.

Matthew mentors Chief HR leaders — many of whom were appointed by ChapmanCG and are now the HR leaders in the world’s largest companies.

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Emily Tseng

Strategy and EdTech professional

Emily Tseng is an experienced strategy and digital professional with a background working with large corporates and early stage EdTech start-ups. She provides mentoring on strategy, concept and product proposition development, and has previously led a team to create and launch an online resource for innovation in literacy.

She has a degree in Economics and Biomedical Science from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from London Business School. Emily worked as a Strategy and Digital Experience Director at NatWest Group and launched NatWest Group’s first return to work “Comeback” programme, enabling senior professionals to return to work following career breaks.

"Life rewards the dreamers, the go-getters and the resilient. BecomingX helps people to understand what it really takes to succeed and gives them the confidence to get out there and go for it. Every single day."

Bear Grylls, BecomingX co-founder

Sustainability

We knew that to achieve our goal, and to change the narrative of ‘success’, we needed to be different. We had to be an organisation with conscience. With humanity. With purpose. We want to help everyone, not just those that can afford education, which requires a different way of thinking from purely commercial businesses. We needed to be truly sustainable and self-reliant, never leaving something so important down to charitable donations or the whims of sponsors. We’re proud to call ourselves a B Corporation – a company certified to meet the highest standards of social and environmental impact through our films, our education programmes and our charity the BecomingX Foundation. We are the highest scoring education B Corporation in the UK and the second highest in the world.

Our biggest impact will always be through our films, education services and our Foundation, but we also recognise our role as environmental stewards. We have committed to being 'Carbon positive' and removing 100% more carbon from the atmosphere than we emit ourselves through our operations. It's small in the grand scheme, but as we have learned from our research, it's the cumulative impact of many small things that results in truly world-class performance. We want to be part of the solution and we hope our example will encourage other organisations to join us.

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