Director of International Operations

Matt Sears

Bio

Matt Sears

Mr. Sears brings to Higher Ground Education more than 10 years of experience in the education sector across Asia, having worked in industries including training, test preparation, and admissions. At HGE, Matt focuses on international operations and expansion.

Before joining the team, he served as Regional Director – Asia for Seeds Training, where he worked with schools, corporations, and nonprofits to develop and manage education programs for students, teachers, and parents. These programs focused on building leadership capacity, social and emotional development, and communication skills. Mr. Sears was also an educational consultant to The Nature Conservancy, one of the world’s largest environmental organizations, for whom he created a full range of environmental educational programming and outreach in Hong Kong. Prior to launching Seeds Training’s Asia business entity, he ran the Hong Kong business for The Edge Learning Center, a startup private educational services provider.

Raised in Tokyo and Hong Kong, Mr. Sears holds a BA in History and East Asian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and earned his MA in Asia-Pacific Studies from the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. He is the co-founder and co-chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee and the chair of the Hong Kong International School Alumni Association.

My Story

Learn more about Matt.

  • Tell us about yourself.

    Born in the UK to Canadian parents, I was fortunate to be raised across cultures, spending time in London, Toronto, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. I fell in love with Hong Kong, which I've called home for the past 23 years, and returned after university and graduate school in North America.

    Although I always loved school and was interested in education as a practice, I never expected to end up working in the field. But after a stint in executive search, I joined an educational services startup more than 10 years ago and have never looked back.

    I've been working with Higher Ground since May, in international operations, which means I'm ensuring that the model we've built domestically -- to fuel growth, expansion, quality, and efficiency -- can scale internationally and adapt to different markets.

  • What inspires you about education?

    I always think of a quote attributed to Archimedes, something like, "Give me a lever and a place to stand, and I will move the earth." For me, education is that place to stand, with the most leverage to drive the most impact. Everything depends on education. Delivering that impact in a scalable fashion to the most students around the globe requires innovation in schools, which is why I see in HGE such an incredible opportunity.

  • How did you discover Montessori?

    I've heard about Montessori at least for as long as I've worked in the education field, but honestly didn't know much at all until I was introduced to Higher Ground and began reading up and finding more and more alignment with my evolving "educational philosophy."

  • What have you learned from your time working at Higher Ground thus far?

    I have spent so much time in education, but until Higher Ground, it was always from the outside looking in -- schools who were trying to provide services to sell the parents. But if you're looking to have a bigger impact in education, then "school" needs to be changed, and I believe that working with Higher Ground at a large scale like we are to drive that change is the only the way to go.

    There's so many opportunities everywhere. It's just trying to build in some discipline into our approach in starting new schools. We have finite resources, people, and time, so we have to prioritize and learn when to say no but also when to be confident in our decisions to say yes.

    I’m just so excited about putting together a team to work alongside on international expansion and figure out together the right skillsets we need to align what we’re doing in the U.S. with our international markets. I think it’s important for people in China or Vienna, for example, to trust that what they are doing is as core to our central mission to whatever they’re doing at Foothill Ranch around the corner.

  • What do you enjoy most about working with your teammates?

    I really enjoy the reverence of ideas and of intellectual debate. Being surrounded by smart, capable people with great ideas is all the better when the culture has a bias toward sharing those ideas, circulating essays, and soliciting thoughtful feedback.

    I think it can be really difficult to find a job in education. What’s the Venn diagram overlap between educationally impactful and financially sustainable? Sure, it’s easy to find things within one circle or the other or to compromise on the one, but when the two come together — and with a group of people who are as serious about making business run smoothly as they are about ensuring an excellent experience for the child — it’s really inspiring, and I have found that here.

  • What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?

    I love cooking. It's really the only hobby I've picked up as an adult, and I'm glad I've stuck with it and continue to try to learn new techniques and get better. I also really enjoy spending time in nature and hiking with my wife in Hong Kong most weekends when it's not too hot.

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