Published: 07 December 2018

Spotlight on Professor Jeremy Hall

Professor Jeremy Hall has been appointed Surrey Business School’s Director of the new Centre for Social Innovation Management and Chaired Professor of Social Innovation.

Jeremy is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, a highly impactful technology and innovation management journal. Prior to joining Surrey Business School, he was the Director of the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR), University of Nottingham. He also held a Professorship at the Beedie School of Business and a Lectureship at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex (UK). 

Jeremy’s research and teaching interests include the social impacts of innovation & entrepreneurship, sustainable supply chains, social inclusion, strategies for sustainable development innovation and responsible management, where he has collaborated with a range of natural and social scientists. A major stream of his research is focused on innovation and entrepreneurship for social inclusion in Brazil.  Jeremy’s work has been published in Business Strategy and the Environment, California Management Review, Ecological Economics, Energy Policy, Entrepreneurship: Theory & Practice, International Journal of Production Research, Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of Cleaner Production, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Operations Management, MIT Sloan Management Review, Research Policy and Technovation, among others.

We sat down with Professor Jeremy Hall to ask him a few questions about who and what has inspired him throughout his career so far.


  • Who is your business hero and why?

I’ve got many business heroes, but the first name that comes to mind is Gordon Moore. He was a business leader, engineer and co-founder of Fairchild (one of the first companies to use integrated circuits) and Intel Corporation. He is also responsible for creating the term Moores’ law, i.e., the possibility that transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years, which has since been used as an analogy for how technology can reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Norman Borlaug is another one, dubbed the first pioneer of the Green Revolution. Using agricultural technologies to increase the food supply across the world, he was able to lead global humanitarian initiatives that may have prevented a billion deaths from starvation.  For this, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.  

I would also include Alan Turing in my list. Although perhaps not directly involved in business, he stands tall on the piazza outside my office window here on campus, and every day I am reminded of this local guy who has made an incredible impact across the world. Known as the inventor of the modern computer and the father of AI, he had a profound influence many innovation pioneers, such as Steve Jobs.    

I also admire the new generation of philanthropists, such as Bill and Melinda Gates and the interesting work they are doing through their foundation. I was particularly impressed with a recent interview by the Guardian, where Mr. Gates addresses some of the major issues facing Africa (see more here). Although perhaps more controversial, I am also intrigued by the initiatives promoted by George Soros and his Open Society Foundations, in part because we both draw on common intellectual roots (Karl Popper).  

I would say all of these people have done incredible things, are often responsible for powerful technological innovations resulting in economic and societal transformation through a selfless drive for the greater good of humanity.

Finally, I would like to say my father Ron Hall has by far been the most influential figure in my life and career. Working with my father from about 12 to my mid twenties in his various companies taught me the importance of hard work and discipline.  This included a dairy farm, a factory producing offshore fishing equipment, and a high tech, heavy duty CAD-CAM and CNC manufacturing facility for the offshore oil & gas and aerospace industries. More than anything, it showed me the real-world challenges that can come with operating businesses, something that is often not taught in the classroom, so for me these experiences were priceless.  

  • What inspired you to pursue a career around entrepreneurship innovation and sustainability?

Coming from an entrepreneurial family, entrepreneurship was instilled in me from an early age, it was in my system. As time progressed, I noticed that sustainability would likely create enormous disruption in how businesses would operate in the future.  This would create considerable problems for businesses that failed to address sustainability, as well as enormous opportunities for those that were willing to embrace it through innovation.  More recently I’ve become intrigued by the unanticipated outcomes that could emerge from innovation, particularly when good intentions result in unanticipated detrimental outcomes, what my colleagues and I call ‘Borlaug’s paradox’. As mentioned above, Norman Borlaug’s mission to reduce world hunger may have saved billions, but an unanticipated outcome is that it contributed towards population growth, which is now a major global problem (and a concern addressed by Bill Gates in the above link). This area of unanticipated outcomes has sparked my most recent research, and I’m very excited about continuing this work here at Surrey Business School.

  • What’s the best piece of business advice you would give to someone starting out in your industry?

To quote my wife (Dr. Stelvia Matos), it helps to be smart, but you have to work hard and be well organized. I will also add that you need to be open minded and alert to opportunities that others may not see, perhaps because they are too myopic. It also helps to have a thick skin!   


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