09/26/2012 08:53 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Teacher Who Inspired Me: Mrs. Martin

Each day a leading business figure looks back at their student days, and explains why it's vital to find a place in school for the 61 million children in the world who currently must go without.

Mrs. Martin was my history teacher at Malvern Hall School in Solihull in the West Midlands, UK, who taught me from the age of 13 until my O Levels. She was what I would call a real inspiration because the way she taught history was to think about the subject as not the "what," but the "why."

That style of teaching opens up debate and a certain way of thinking about the world which is valuable; the ability to think through problems and perspectives is critical to leadership. It served me well on a personal level as I went on to benefit from that great method of Oxford teaching, the tutorial system, where you are challenged to think through and defend your position.

More generally too, I think that while all kids should of course have access to education which teaches them to read and to write, I also believe that what creates opportunity is that ability to think critically about a subject.

The ability to understand a range of perspectives is in many ways the route to success in my industry -- the alternative investments industry. And furthermore, being able to see somebody else's perspective, to see other points of view, is in fact the foundation of a successful democracy and a successful country, and for me therein you have the value of education.

So the cultivation of debate and the awareness of other perspectives is the basis of not only personal success, but also the basis of success within business, and indeed the basis of successful democracy. That sort of debate is something that teachers can bring to somebody's personal development, and it is something that Mrs Martin brought to me.

2012-09-24-GBCEd.jpgThis story is part of a series by the Global Business Coalition for Education. GBC-Ed is bringing together the world's business leaders in pursuit of the UN's second Millennium Development Goal, universal primary education. Find out more by following GBC-Ed on Twitter at @gbceducation. Reading Dominc Barton's installment here.