Mrs Wordsmith: Pierre Lagrange’s Big Idea That Might Change The World

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

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Really only one, that the privacy move by Apple and regulators killed small companies’ online customer acquisition business models, and that marketing would need a total reinvention, with Facebook targeting efficiency reduced by three! Yet, not sure we really gained privacy, so probably a big loss for all!

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Pierre Lagrange.

Pierre Lagrange is Executive Chairman of Huntsman and Mrs Wordsmith. Before acquiring Huntsman in 2014 and Mrs Wordsmith in 2021, Pierre co-founded GLG Partners, acquired by Man Group in 2010, and sat on the Man Group executive committee. Before founding GLG, Pierre worked at Goldman Sachs from 1990, where he managed global equity portfolios. He started his career in finance at JP Morgan, where from 1985 he worked in government bond sales and trading. Pierre holds an MA in Engineering from Solvay Business School in Brussels.

Pierre has regularly invested in movie productions, executive producer of Kickass and Hollywood blockbusters Kingsman: The Secret Service and the sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Father of four, Pierre lives with his husband Ebs Burnough between Monaco, London, Hampshire and New York.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Pierre: I am an engineer and as such always think I can create a process for everything. I watched friends during lockdown struggling with kids who do not study academics, but would go to extraordinary lengths to study how-to get to next steps in video games. So I thought what if the curriculum was the game, how much can we learn from playing?

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Straight out of college, I began my career at Exxon because they paid new graduates well. My first boss suffered a stroke shortly after I started and I was pushed into her role, where I was producing accounts for the earnings report the next month. I saw in one month what the next 5 years of my career would look like and did not like that look, so was lucky to move to JPMorgan instead without wasting much time!

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

Curiosity did not kill the cat! Curiosity is the mother of invention, progress, and joy as discovering new stuff is super exciting.

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

Game based learning can close the learning gap.

How do you think this will change the world?

Kids who can’t read by 5, or don’t have enough vocabulary by 10 don’t stand a chance to finish high school, so inequality starts with early age literacy. If you solve some of that problem early, you can have a very big impact.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

Not at all. There is no drawback to increased literacy either from an early age, or broadening to less favoured kids.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

Yes, it was watching people with kids younger than mine struggling with studying. Whereas kids would study games from their own will. It made me consider how we can allocate some of the game time to learning time in order to get kids ahead at school and foster a passion for academic life.

I also thought of my daughter. It is for her and her generation that my husband and I decided to work at Mrs Wordsmith to make education engaging and therefore productive!

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

We’re looking for partners to spread the gospel. The game-based learning products are amazing, yet people still think video games might be a waste of kids’ time! We need to change the perception of adults who have the strings of the purse.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.

Really only one, that the privacy move by Apple and regulators killed small companies’ online customer acquisition business models, and that marketing would need a total reinvention, with Facebook targeting efficiency reduced by three! Yet, not sure we really gained privacy, so probably a big loss for all!

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

The power of vulnerability to paraphrase Brene Brown. The other one is the power of playing devil’s advocate, which game studios call fail fast! Another side of agile development that saves time and lots of money! Then last but not least, asking questions, delegating, and making sure one has better, smarter people around them.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

Mrs Wordsmith has engaging products with proven efficacy that can solve many literacy issues plaguing our world, and can scale to reach millions of children. From pre-learning to reading, to tweens’ vocabulary and digital literacy.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: @mrswordsmithofficial

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Passionate about bringing emerging technologies to the market