Nik Gowing: Biography highlights

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.

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Full biography of Nik Gowing

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.

Nik Gowing’s background

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.

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.



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Available for:

After Dinner Engagement
Moderating and Emcee

Watch Nik in action

1/4 videos
Horasis Global Meeting - Inspiring our Future
Horasis Global Meeting - Inspiring our Future
Brussels Forum 2018: Nik Gowing interviews Frank Friedman
Brussels Forum 2018: Nik Gowing interviews Frank Friedman
Nik Gowing
Nik Gowing
Nik Gowing
Nik Gowing
ADC Forum

“…the feedback has been superlative….there are few persons with your skills and professionalism in this area and no-one to my knowledge who approaches the task with such diligence and enthusiasm. If there was such a title as “inspirational facilitator” you would wear it well”

Swedish Chamber of Commerce

“I would like to extend our utmost appreciation for your brilliant moderation at the MEET event. We have received 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.”

The International Monetary Fund

“I would like to reiterate the IMF’s appreciation for your absolutely critical contribution to what we feel was a very successful conference. I know that President Kikwete and the Tanzanians feel the same way…In terms of the conference, your session, in my view, was the turning point. You injected edge and energy into the proceedings…Your session was the fault line event.”

London Event

“Thank you so much for the excellent job you did chairing our Russia Debate last night. You were absolutely on top of everything and brought a terrific expertise, knowledge and wit to the proceedings. The speakers were clearly all very happy with how it went and the audience could not have been more engaged”

GGI Summit

“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.”


“The content was excellent & the speakers were interesting. But best of all was the format. Nik chaired it expertly – each contribution was short & punchy, he marshalled the questions well & pushed the speakers to answer.”

Temasek Foundation, Singapore

“We have received 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.”

Big Ideas Summit, Melbourne

“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”
European Business Leaders Conference

“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”

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

“What is [also] noteworthy was the appreciation of my staff in working with such an experienced and challenging professional…You succeeded skillfully to steer the day and to create a different, interesting and entertaining event with a captive audience…[you drove]a provocative series of debate[s] in a marathon session which would have been impossible without your captainship.”

Investor AB

Nik was a lead moderator at our biennial Network Conference for 240 global Chairs and CEOs in our Wallenberg group of companies. His excellent moderation contributed to ensuring the closed event was a huge success. Our post-event survey concluded it was the ‘most appreciated conference since 2005’. Nik received largely the top rating of ‘Very Good’ from participants. We appreciated especially his pre-conference commitment plus his contribution of ideas, insights and preparation for key issues and interviews. We look forward very much to working with him again.

Fauna & Flora International

A sincere thank you to the team at Thinking The Unthinkable for encouraging us to seize the moment and lay the foundations for the next chapter of FFI’s history. Our collaboration brought a sense of pace and urgency, encouraging us to embrace opportunities and rise to the challenges ahead. There has never been a more important time to think the unthinkable.

Mark Rose

Nik's speaking topics

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