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Assessment Case Study Pearson Product Development Restructure and Development



There was a business requirement within Pearson to conduct a series of in-depth talent assessments of current employees for the purpose of restructure and development. Zircon worked in collaboration with Heidrick & Struggles to design and deliver a bespoke assessment centre to reflect the requirements and values of Pearson.



Pearson is the world’s leading education company, providing curriculum materials, multimedia learning tools and testing programmes to help educate a range of ages worldwide. The organisation recognises the need to reflect modern times, and is therefore advancing into the digital world to ensure they continue to provide a top-class international service.



Zircon and Heidrick & Struggles worked with Pearson to develop a two phase assessment process. Phase 1 assessed the senior leaders of Pearson Product Development using interviews to identify current challenges and changes occurring across the organisation. This enabled Heidrick & Struggles and Zircon to design a robust and accurate assessment process based upon the future requirements of Pearson, ensuring a future focus rather than simply looking at what was currently needed. This robust assessment process was then adapted and applied in Phase 2 to assess a further 69 employees of Pearson within the UK and US, with every stage being delivered in close contact with the Pearson project leads to ensure expectations were being met.


The in-depth assessment included a number of different exercises, including a business case study and presentation, a blended high potential interview, and a validation interview using the Wave personality questionnaire. Following the assessments, Zircon calibrated the results and produced in-depth development reports to support individual feedback sessions for all candidates. This was to ensure that the evidence collected in the assessments could be used constructively to support future development. Zircon then supported Pearson through a robust decision making process, considering evidence from the assessments, as well as from the candidate’s previous experience, to select individuals with the highest potential, who demonstrated ‘best fit’ for the future of Pearson Product Development.



In order to make this process a success, the project team continuously worked in consultation with Paul Marsden and Hannah Foster design and tailor all materials, conducting weekly catch-up calls to ensure delivery according to Pearson’s requirements. At all times we recognised the sensitive nature of the assessments and the importance of good project management, providing clear communication to reassure both the client and candidates focusing upon making it a positive experience for all involved. Additionally, Zircon made sure office support was available to coordinate the project from setting-up psychometrics to proofing development reports, ensuring all work was delivered to a high standard.



‘The project team worked extremely hard to meet all our requirements for this project. They ensured to provide a flexible and adaptable service to meet our every need as the project evolved, maintaining constant communication from beginning to end. The meticulous delivery significantly contributed to the success of the project, with Zircon providing a project director, project manager, and project coordinator throughout to ensure nothing ‘slipped through the net’. Paul Marsden, Pearson Change Director.

‘Thank you to Heidrick & Struggles for introducing us to Zircon and for making this very challenging project possible. We gave the team tough deadlines, strong requirements and high standards to achieve. The team were professional and responsive and provided a credible, reliable and well-organised service, which undoubtedly complemented their detail focus and broad experience within talent assessment and management. As a result, the Zircon team developed a bespoke, in-depth assessment design which clearly aligned with the future needs of Pearson, enabling the selection of high potentials to drive the development and restructure of our business.’ Hannah Foster, People Director, Pearson Global English.


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