Both as a C-Suite executive and a non-profit board member, Dani Cushion has made quite the impact on the Atlanta technology community since moving here in 2015.
She served as Chief Marketing Officer of Cardlytics, the Atlanta-based purchase-based financial services company that went public back in 2018. She’s also an active board member of Women in Technology (WIT).
Now, Cushion is taking her acumen to the EdTech space. She was tapped to join ExecOnline as the startup’s first CMO.
ExecOnline is a New York-based online leadership development platform for enterprises. The team’s corporate learning programs and executive trainings have been used within organizations such as Whole Foods, the American Cancer Society, and Vonage.
We got a chance to hear from Cushion about how Atlanta has shaped her professional life and what she is most looking forward to in this next chapter. Here’s what she had to say:
Question: What drew you to the ExecOnline team?
Answer: I’ve always had the deep-seated belief that you can make a meaningful difference in the world by investing in others’ growth. When I met the team at ExecOnline, I was drawn to the opportunity to scale another high-growth tech company with sky-high prospects, and to have the chance to positively impact the businesses, and lives, of those we serve on a large scale.
The tailwinds for EdTech are strong, and the team at ExecOnline has been “doing online learning” for some of the world’s top companies for nine years – before it was really even a thing. I love joining companies that have a legitimate opportunity to make a massive impact before the rest of the world knows it, especially when you can still have a hand in making that vision a reality. I was also personally drawn to the founders’ vision that leadership development should evolve beyond a tap on the shoulder for a finite few, to something that could be more scalable through the use of technology. They recognized that arming companies to win by investing in their people would not only bring opportunities to leaders at all levels but importantly, to a more diverse group of future leaders than ever before.
Question: Do you plan on staying in Atlanta with this new role, and does ExecOnline have any presence in the city at all?
Answer: My family and I are very happily staying in Atlanta. Since moving here six years ago to join Cardlytics, we’ve come to call Atlanta home and love being part of the forward progress in the community. I am forever grateful to Lynne Laube, Scott Grimes, and the talented team at Cardlytics for the work we were able to do together, and for the introduction to a city that still holds so much promise.
With ExecOnline, the beauty of joining a team that brings online learning to others is that they already have a very progressive, innovative workplace with a solid infrastructure in place for virtual collaboration. Of course, Atlanta’s great airport will make the quick hops to NY (ExecOnline HQ) easy when travel finally opens up more broadly.
Though we don’t have a physical office presence in Atlanta, we do work with a number of big companies in the greater Metro Atlanta area to help them develop their leaders and to work with them as they use leadership development to further diversity and inclusion within their organizations. I believe this positive impact on the Atlanta community will continue to grow as our business does.
Since moving here, I’ve also been fortunate to serve on the Board of Directors for the non-profit organization Women in Technology (WIT), run by Penny Collins. When the inimitable Jacque Rushin introduced me to WIT five years ago, it was easy to see what a huge impact they make in the Southeast by empowering girls and women to excel in STEAM. I look forward to continuing to help them further that mission.
Question: What do you see as the biggest challenge for ExecOnline…and the EdTech space in general…as you look ahead to the rest of 2021?
Answer: ExecOnline changed the game for how companies could invest in their leaders by bringing elite-level learning opportunities online. Where we continue to place our focus, and the challenge for B2B EdTech in general, is two-fold:
(1) Staying ahead of what businesses – and their leaders – really need.
This means leading the way in what curriculum is most important for future leaders, staying on the cutting edge of technology innovations, and investing in “applied learning” experiences rather than one-way broadcasts. A true virtual learning experience should include much more than just downloading a video, watching it on your own, and moving on with your day.
Our approach to creating tailored curriculums challenges leaders to tackle real-world business problems. Not only does this keep them invested in finding measurable solutions for their company and teams, but it sets them on a path for future growth and success.
(2) Shifting the mindset on how to drive sustainable progress.
ExecOnline is committed to helping leaders understand the value of prioritizing internal investment in leadership development. Agile, future-ready leaders cannot always be “hired in” by an organization; in many cases, they’re waiting to be discovered and developed from within an organization.
Adopting this mindset drives long-term, sustainable change and ultimately, success.
Congrats on the new position and for representing Atlanta so well!