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Bain, George

President and Vice-Chancellor, The Queen’s University of Belfast.

Sir George Bain studied economic and political science in his native Canada before moving on to industrial relations at the University of Oxford. His career was spent at Nuffield College, Oxford; the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology; the University of Warwick, where he chaired the School of Industrial and Business Studies, and the London Business School where he was principal between 1989 and 1997.

He was a member of the industrial democracy inquiry chaired by Lord Bullock in 1976-7, and was chairman of the Low Pay Commission between 1997 and 2002 and the Work and Parents’ Taskforce in 2001.

Sir George learned the definition of a good leader when he was a young midshipman in the Navy – someone who can delegate and motivate. George Bain has been President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast since January 1998. A Canadian, he has an international reputation in the field of industrial relations. He has been a mediator and arbitrator in numerous disputes in a wide range of companies and industries and has consulted for many organizations in both the private and public sectors. He was a member of the Committee of Inquiry into Industrial Democracy chaired by Lord Bullock in 1976-7, of the Senior Salaries Review Body during 1993-6, and was Chairman of the Low Pay Commission during 1997-2002, the Work and Parents Taskforce in 2001, and the Independent Review of the Fire Service in 2002. He has received a number of prizes and honors, including nine honorary doctorates.

He was knighted by the Queen in 2001.

Sir George, who chaired the 2002 independent review of the fire service, is a former principal of the London Business School, and former president and vice-chancellor of Queen’s University in Belfast. He first chaired the Low Pay Commission, which advises on the minimum wage, between 1997 and 2002, and returns now in times of the credit crunch and recession.

He will tell lecture-goers that leadership is inextricably linked to change, and it is the ability to cope with change that will get institutions and individuals moving in a new direction, especially in the current financial climate. Previewing his lecture, Sir George said: “One of the key things that you must do to lead successful and sustainable change is to create a sense of urgency.  A pre-requisite for change is some pressure – often a threat from outside the institution – that convinces its members that change is necessary.