SIIA is celebrating Women’s History Month by profiling innovative women thought leaders in the AI, ed tech and the privacy space. We’re proud to profile Ashley Andersen Zantop, Chief Operating Officer at Cambium Learning Group. Ashley also serves on the SIIA’s government affairs council. She has served on SIIA’s board of directors, ed tech executive committee and co-chaired the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She has worked in education, technology and media for more than 25 years and is the co-founder and former co-president of the Fairfield University MFA Alumni Association. What is your current role? I serve as Chief Operating Officer at Cambium Learning Group, leading and serving curriculum, supplemental instruction, professional development and assessment portfolio businesses, business enablement operations, M&A and integrations. What’s your favorite part of the role? People. People are “the whole ball game” and are by far my favorite part of any role. I love helping people find and develop confidence in their unique strengths, assets and superpowers so they can create meaningful impact. Is there anything you would go back and do differently? How long is this profile? So many things…I find at least one thing I’d go back and do differently each day. That’s the nature of trying, retrospection, learning, growing and starting the cycle over again. Spend a few minutes each day identifying one or two things you could do differently. It’s not only healthy, but essential for effective leadership in a dynamic environment. You can’t lead if you don’t try. This is true whether you’re leading teams of people or leading in subject matter expertise, or both. You can’t make meaningful impact if you don’t try, and when you try you are bound to make some mistakes. Sometimes, that means failing or achieving less or something entirely different than you set out to achieve. Be ready and willing to learn from those experiences so you can use what you learn to build success. What is something unique about your work style? I have a few guiding principles I strive to hold myself accountable to: We bring our own assets to any situation; empathy is the key to better execution; and kindness is a strength, not a weakness. How/why did you get interested in technology? I began my career in education. First, as an elementary school classroom teacher and collegiate coach. When I was in high school and college, I volunteered and then worked in PreK and early childhood education. I come from a family of educators and entrepreneurs; they inspired my interest in education, technology, media and the power of business to combine all three into something special. Because of that inspiration, I’ve devoted my career to closing the opportunity gap and creating great outcomes in education through the power of social enterprise and innovation. What are your top predictions for ed tech in 2022?
- Continued teacher burnout and shortages;
- Wider opportunity gap;
- Greater need to accelerate academic outcomes;
- Greater need for balanced academic measurement and progress monitoring;
- Greater imperative for wellness supports for students and educators;
- Continued adoption of effective EdTech solutions.
- Ask someone you admire or respect to be your mentor. Invest the time to mentor others—both mentors and mentees learn from one another.
- All types of continuing education have energized my thinking and sparked my creativity.
- Volunteering and participation. It’s so easy to say “I don’t have time” to volunteer, and it is important to invest your time intentionally. Volunteering should be part of an intentional strategy for investing your time: Some of the strongest professional relationships in my career have been fostered by volunteering and connecting with other leaders and contributors who care about similar issues and causes.