STEER Education is a British EdTech company founded by Dr Simon Walker, an applied cognitive scientist whose major work has involved pioneering the description of steering cognition, and Dr Jo Walker, who left a 25-year OFSTED teaching and advisory career in the state sector to found the business, in 2010. Together they created a tool that enables schools to identify and support children with hidden social, emotional, and mental health risks.
Utilising the new science of cognitive biases, STEER invested 10 years in research to pioneer a technology, AS Tracking, to act as an in-school early warning system, detecting and responding to pupils’ hidden risks before they became visible. AS Tracking reduces the number of pupils who go on to develop critical risks. As such, STEER moves the point of detection and response back into schools, potentially relieving pressure from clinical health services by reducing the number of pupils being referred.
The data that STEER has collected since its creation is unparalleled and underpins a huge opportunity for the business and a significant moat against new market entrants. They were one of the only organisations in the UK to have pre-pandemic national mental health tracking data and have continued to track their students during lockdown and then, on their return to school. STEER Education is now advising the UK government on the impacts of the pandemic on adolescent mental health from their data pool of more than 70,000 students. The pandemic has only accelerated the need to transform education to provide students who are mentally resilient, socially agile, and emotionally resourceful for the workplace.
As they enter the next phase of their lifecycle and having engineered a product which will product lasting human impacts, STEER were looking for their first Chief Executive Officer. The ambition was to bring onboard a CEO that could help STEER scale rapidly in both the UK and internationally, leveraging their current success in the independent and state school sector, and become a market leader. As part of their journey, STEER were in need of a CEO at this critical junction to help further commercialise the technology, increase revenues, augment and deliver the go-to-market strategy, and investigate potential external funding options.
The purpose was to bring onboard a smart, commercially-minded team player able to build on the company’s success to date and lead STEER through a period of growth, to become the preeminent solution of its kind during this shift in education. The Chief Executive Officer needed to be a hugely ambitious growth specialist, with strong values alignment to the problem that STEER’s technology is addressing. The focus was around identifying candidates that bring a demonstrable track record of scaling businesses, possess strong leadership capabilities, have experience of serving in an externally facing role, and bringing a strong strategic mindset with a track record of building and developing go-to-market plans for young businesses.
After an extensive search, we placed Andrew Pearson into the role. Andrew is a dynamic and successful B2B SaaS and technology revenue driver and CEO, who has seen several successful growth journeys, from start-up to $200M+ revenues. He comes with a scientific and engineering background but at heart is a commercial leader, comfortable with developing strategy and leading growth in pioneering technology businesses.
Advisor to the Board
We partnered with Erevena as they clearly demonstrated a strong understanding of working with ambitious, growth-minded businesses. They understood the importance of this hire for Mollie and were gave us the confidence that they truly understood the market for talent at this level.
In the early stages of the search, we worked closely with the team to shape a comprehensive search strategy focusing on businesses with the same ethos as Mollie. Erevena ran a process that was thorough and detailed, and resulted in a highly concentrated group of candidates to focus on.
Shane was the stand-out candidate for this role, and one of the few executives who excelled against our tough search criteria. We are delighted to secure a transformational hire for Mollie and are grateful to Erevena for their key advice and guidance throughout the process.