Nik Gowing is Founder and Co-Director of Thinking the Unthinkable – an independent project helping leaders understand the threats and opportunities in the new era of radical uncertainty and disruption. The COVID-19 pandemic has confirmed all the project’s alerts to leaders since 2014.
In 2016 Nik co-authored (with TtU Co-Director Chris Langdon) the book “Thinking the Unthinkable”. Their work is based on hundreds of top level confidential interviews and conversations with corporate and public service leaders, plus hundreds more conversations with a new generation of aspiring leaders.
Thinking the Unthinkable reveals candidly why so many leaders face new difficulties identifying what looms in the disruptions of the “new normal” which started emerging in 2014 then exploded in 2020 with COVID-19 and the deepening climate emergency.
Nik Gowing was a main 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 was a board member for the Hay Literature Festival (2005-2018). He is currently on the festival’s foundation board.
“Skyful of Lies and Black Swans”, Nik's peer-reviewed study at Oxford University, identified the inevitable threat to leaders from what has now been labelled 'fake news'. The ground-breaking work highlighted the vulnerability, fragility and brittleness of institutional power in the new all-pervasive public information space. It built on research he initiated at Harvard University.
In 2014 Nik was appointed a Visiting Professor at Kings College, London in the School of Social Science and Public Policy. From 2016-18 he was 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 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.
"Your contribution was outstanding and was a large part of what made it so successful. I cannot thank you enough for taking on the challenge and for turning it into such a success"
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