Journal Entry

Leader of China offices thrives off mentorship, collaboration

Steve Xu transitioned out of banking, seeking reformation in education

Steve Xu, like so many others at Higher Ground Education, has an amazingly unique story. Based out of Hong Kong, Steve was a banker at UBS, where he found himself intricately involved in covering the education sector. 

Over a period of years, he worked on a number of different transactions relating to education. Having the opportunity to visit school sites, he was struck by the overall lack of quality. 

He started to think more concretely about entering the field of education himself, identifying a real need to introduce Mandarin immersion as a market differentiator. 

Exploring a number of different opportunities, Steve crossed paths with Ray Girn, CEO of Higher Ground Education, and the two of them quickly struck up a friendship. 

Steve now runs the China division of Higher Ground, where he has assembled a remarkable team to launch the Guidepost Montessori brand. Starting in Shanghai, the team has ambitious plans to expand, modernizing and mainstreaming Montessori on the mainland, starting in the Fall of 2019.

Spending time with Steve and his team in Shanghai was an eye opening experience. Not only is Steve a fearless and courageous leader, he’s also an exceptionally gifted follower. In effect, he has created a boots-on-the-ground startup culture, with the overarching support of the central Higher Ground team.

Working closely with his collaborative team, Steve has established a mentorship style program, where he empowers his team members to develop their independence within the context of the larger organization. 

Steve’s philosophy of leadership is like his belief in the Montessori approach to learning: While everyone may be working independently, at their own pace, there’s also an underlying social dynamic that is always at play, constantly informing the work in rich and productive ways. 

Mentorship isn’t a one-off exercise for Steve. It’s a perpetual process by which those he mentors learn how to mentor others, going on to exhibit the traits and qualities that were graciously imparted to them. This practice is everywhere self-evident in the China office, fully on display in Steve’s tenacious approach and style. We can’t wait to see how this team grows and expands Montessori in China.

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