‘If Senior Leadership Listens to District Technology Leaders…’

‘In my conversations with senior leadership in companies, I find that often they are unaware of the true needs and problems districts/schools have on a daily basis…If senior leadership listens to these district technology leaders, it builds a solid relationship and often leads to product improvement and/or business development.

FUTURE FOCUSED | Marlo Gaddis

EdTech Digest CEO Victor Rivero has assembled the top education leaders in the country to provide insightful, strategic advice and recommendations to companies so they are powerfully positioned to sell into today’s competitive K-12 markets.

Marlo Gaddis was recently selected to serve on EdTech Digest’s Future Future Focus Forums (F3) Advisory Board. Educators have been chosen to serve on the prestigious EdTech Digest Future Focus Forums (F3) Advisory Board based on talents, strengths and experiences.

Marlo is the retired Chief Technology Officer for the Wake County Public School System. She served three other North Carolina Districts of various sizes in the past as 21st Century Learning Coordinator, Lead Teacher for Technology (K-5) and Media (K-12); Lead Teacher for Math, Science, Social Studies and Technology (K-5); district and school Technology Facilitator; and Kindergarten and First Grade teacher. Marlo serves on K12 Education Advisory Boards for the RTM K-12 Congress, Lenovo and Framework. She is on the Board of Directors for CoSN (Consortium of School Networking) and serves on the Executive Board as Secretary. She is a founding member and board member of the North Carolina CoSN (Consortium of School Networking) chapter and a CoSN CETL (Certified Educational Technology Leader). She is currently serving as the administrative consultant for NCTIES (North Carolina Technology in Education Society).

After being invited/selected based on your talents, strengths and experiences, what prompted you to want to really go for it and be a part of F3, and particularly F3—with its product-marketing focus?

“Even in my role as CTO, my job, as well as my teams job, was teaching and learning. We support the learning environment. The learning environment is heavily digital which means I am focused on providing best-in-class learning resources for students and teachers. It is my belief that working with F3 will allow me and others to provide a better, more thorough understanding of the K-12 learning environment to solution providers. By doing that, we can affect change and increase support for students and teachers everywhere.”

‘…working with F3 will allow me and others to provide a better, more thorough understanding of the K-12 learning environment to solution providers.’

In the course of your work and activities for Wake and now elsewhere, what to you is the importance of staying up-to-date on products and innovations for learning and education? 

“It is not my job to chase the flashy, shiny, new products but instead understand the market and provide a more critical eye to solutions available. Districts, schools, and teachers should adopt new products based on needing a solution to a problem. As an educational technology leader, it is crucial to be connected and aware of new opportunities so that when we have a problem, we are knowledgeable of the options to solve those problems.”

Why is it important for senior leadership in companies (founders, product leads, marketing leads) to not only really have a strong sense of what school district technology leaders like yourself are going through and needing, but to connect with them and their realities in the most effective way possible? 

In my conversations with senior leadership in companies, I find that often they are unaware of the true needs and problems districts/schools have on a daily basis. District technology leaders are not only architects in the work they do for their district, but more often they play the role of firefighter. If senior leadership listens to these district technology leaders, it builds a solid relationship and often leads to product improvement and/or business development.”

As we look ahead to the future of learning, and considering what F3 can deliver to company leaders, what advice do you have for those leaders to help make them more effective in reaching their goals? Why are these forums so vital to the future? Anything else you want to add or emphasize? 

Be humble. Listen to understand. Create a space for learning and improvement. That is the only way companies will get their return on investment. Do not come prepared for affirmation.”

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Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest and Executive Producer of EdTech Digest’s Future Focus Forums (F3 events). Write to: victor@edtechdigest.com

Michael M. Flood is F3 Corporate Advisor. If you are a founder, product lead, or marketing lead and would like to learn more, reach out to Michael at mflood@alpinefrog.net

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