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Martin Allen Morales, CEO of the Institute of Imagination

Martin Allen Morales, CEO of the Institute of Imagination, on transforming our education system

The CEO of the Institute of Imagination, Martin Allen Morales, joins us to discuss creativity and imagination.

Imagination is a critical life skill and in this episode we explore how to unlock imagination in our children, encourage teachers to embrace this topic, and inform policy-makers so we transform an education system that often stifles imagination.

The Institute of Imagination is a pioneering education charity, working with parents, teachers, youth and community leaders, and academics, designing and delivering creative workshops across the arts, sciences and digital technologies (STEAM) for children aged 5-11 years old.

About Martin Allen Morales

Martin was born in Peru to an Indigenous mother and an English father. He grew up surrounded by love and great food alongside the violence from the guerrilla group The Shining Path and the vast economic, class and social inequality that Peru experienced in the 1980s. As a result he and his family were forced to migrate to England when he was 11.

Today, he is the Chief Executive of the Institute of Imagination (iOi). The iOi are a leading education charity in the field of creativity and focus on working with marginalised and disadvantaged children. Their work aims to close the inequality gap and to create systemic change by re-positioning creativity and imagination at the heart of education and learning.

Martin started his working life cleaning offices and working in factories, then waiting tables at a local restaurant in Leicester until he began djing and promoting World Music concerts at University in Leeds. For the next 15 years, alongside his executive career, at weekends he dj-ed in some of the best music world festivals in more than 40 countries.

As an executive, he worked with Tumi Music in Cuba and Peru on the marketing of albums by artists that appeared in the Buena Vista Social Club. He followed that by producing over 100 compilations at music company Union Square Music working with the catalogues of music artists around the world including Miriam Makeba, Tito Puente, Kirsty MacColl, John Coltrane and Lee Scratch Perry. He was then offered the chance to develop music talent at EMI Music and worked with Joss Stone and signed Oi Va Voi and KT Tunstall helping develop their careers as A&R and Label Manager.

Following a move to Apple, he helped develop and launch iTunes Europe from a start-up and ran the iTunes’ Pan European business. Starting with a team of 5, he and his team working Steve Jobs, scaled iTunes into 16 countries and into a half a billion euros business in 3 years. He was then hired to head up Disney Music’s EMEA regional arm. There he launched, managed and grew the franchises of High School Music and Hannah Montana from their original US content, to 27 countries into millions of homes and launched the careers of Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez.

As an entrepreneur he founded and built the sustainable food and restaurant company Ceviche and Andina, which led the foundation of the Peruvian food movement in the UK. From a passion for the culture of his native Peru, the business grew into a 6 site operation, an art gallery, a record label and an ingredients company. He wrote 2 award-winning and best selling books called Ceviche and Andina which went on to sell over 300k copies and were translated into 14 languages. His work in sustainability continued and he launched circular economy consultancy 2N.Management.

Martin has always listened to his calling which has followed a creative, entrepreneurial, cultural and educational line aimed at having the greatest positive social and environmental impact he can on the lives of others.

As a result of his connection with Mother Nature through his indigenous roots and the regenerative farming of his grandparents, the violence and inequality he experienced in Lima growing up in the 1970s, the racism and social injustice he experienced first hand in 1980s England, the moments of mental health challenges he has overcome and the amalgamated inequalities and socio-political injustice he has witnesses in his life, Martin has worked campaigning and supporting the environment, the rights for children's education, mental health and human rights.

As a result, for over 20 years he has been working with charities, social enterprises, social leadership programmes as a Trustee or Non Exec Director or advisor including children’s education charity Amantani, social leadership programmes organisation Ashoka, alongside Recovery Focus, The British Council, Impact Hub, Zinc, Resurgo, School For Social Entrepreneurs and Seedcamp. Today he sits on the Boards of Big Issue Invest, Future-Fit Foundation, Como No! and Global Media’s Make Some Noise.


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