The RISE Podcast: Sharath Jeevan OBE on the Need to Put People, Mindsets, and Motivation at the Centre of Education Systems

Sharath Jeevan speaks to Yue-Yi Hwa on focusing on the people in education systems, changing ministers' mindsets, creating space for teachers, and why education systems are “wicked hard”.


Image of Sharath Jeevan

Sharath Jeevan

Intrinsic Labs

Image of Yue-Yi Hwa

Yue-Yi Hwa

RISE Directorate

Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

In this episode, Sharath Jeevan OBE, Founder and CEO of STiR Education and Executive Chairman of Intrinsic Labs, speaks to Yue-Yi Hwa, RISE Research Fellow at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government. They discuss why we need to go upside-down to focus on the people in education systems; how to change ministers’ mindsets; how to create space for teachers to innovate at the classroom level; and why education systems are “wicked hard”—that is, full of problems that are ill-defined and hard to solve.

STiR Education and Intrinsic Labs are both part of RISE’s Community of Practice, a group of practitioners and implementers who work on the frontlines of education in countries around the world, and come together to share lessons to improve learning outcomes for all children.

Guest biographies

Sharath Jeevan

Sharath is one of the world's leading experts on re-igniting our inner drive (intrinsic motivation). His groundbreaking book "Intrinsic" has received glowing endorsements ranging from leading smart-thinking writers like Dan Heath and Nir Eyal, to business and education leaders to the former Prime Minister of Greece. Sharath was awarded an OBE in the 2022 Queen's New Year's Honours for founding and leading STiR Education, arguably the world's largest intrinsic motivation initiative. STIR re-ignited the motivation of 200,000 teachers, 35,000 schools and 7 million children in emerging countries. Sharath is the Executive Chairman of Intrinsic Labs, which supports organisations and leaders all around the world to solve deep motivational challenges, from governments to leading universities and high-profile corporations, from L'Oreal to the London School of Economics. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, The Telegraph. Financial Times. NPR, CNN, CNBC, The Hindustan Times and The Times of India. An accomplished speaker, Sharath has delivered talks and workshops to share the ideas from "Intrinsic" with influential audiences including the World Health Organisation (WHO), Cambridge University, Daimler, Amazon and the World Economic Forum. Sharath holds degrees from Cambridge University, Oxford University and INSEAD. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for his contributions to the field and was invited to serve on the high-level steering group of the Education Commission, the pre-eminent global think tank founded by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Visit intrinsic-labs.com to find out more about Sharath and his work.

Yue-Yi Hwa

Yue-Yi Hwa is a Research Fellow for the RISE Programme at the Blavatnik School of Government, focusing on teachers and management. 

She received her PhD in education from the University of Cambridge. Her PhD thesis looked at the relationship between teacher accountability policy and socio-cultural context across countries, using secondary survey data on education and culture alongside interviews with teachers in Finland and Singapore. Previously, Yue-Yi taught secondary school English for two years through Teach For Malaysia, and was a Research Fellow for the Penang Institute in Kuala Lumpur. She has also conducted research for the World Bank’s MENA education team. She holds a master’s degree in comparative government from the University of Oxford. 


RISE is funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Programme is implemented through a partnership between Oxford Policy Management and the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. The Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford supports the production of the RISE Podcast.

Producers: Joseph Bullough and Katie Cooper

Audio Editing: James Morris

RISE blog posts and podcasts reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation or our funders.