• April 27, 2020
HCMx Radio 146: Unified Leadership, a Culture of Learning and Growth Mindset

Guest: Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek Chief Marketing Officer, Skillsoft and Denis Doolan Chief, Organizational Excellence, Special Olympics

Michelle Boockoff-BajdekChief Marketing Officer, Skillsoft

As Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek (BB) leads a global marketing organization focused on helping companies unlock the hidden value inside their greatest asset – their people. In her role, Michelle is responsible for the company’s marketing strategy to drive growth, generate awareness, and drive demand for Skillsoft solutions among learners, customers, and partners. She oversees all key functions, including customer marketing, corporate communications, demand generation, marketing operations and business development. Most importantly, she serves as the company’s brand evangelist, helping to build a vibrant community of passionate learners. Prior to Skillsoft, Michelle held several executive roles in the high tech sector, most notably as the CMO of IBM Watson, where she was responsible for marketing the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) products and solutions. Michelle also served as the global head of marketing for The Weather Company, an IBM Business, where she helped companies understand how to anticipate, plan for and ultimately make better decisions – with greater confidence – in the face of weather. Michelle is a prolific speaker on the topics of emerging technology and marketing trends, and a passionate advocate of the advancement of women in business. Michelle holds a Master’s in Communications Management from Simmons College and sits on the pro-side of the Oxford comma debate.

Denis DoolanChief, Organizational Excellence, Special Olympics

Denis Doolan oversees strategic planning, project management, operational excellence and leadership development, including the Special Olympics Leadership Academy, the Athlete Leadership program and Unified Leadership, Special Olympics’ pioneering approach to achieving inclusive leadership practices. Doolan has served in a variety of roles within Special Olympics, including:

  • Program Support for Special Olympics Ireland
  • Interim Regional President and Managing Director for Special Olympics Europe Eurasia
  • Co-chair of Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary celebrations in Chicago, including Special Olympics’ first-ever World Cup, Global Day of Inclusion at Soldier Field, installation of permanent monument the Eternal Flame of Hope, and the 50th Anniversary concert

He became affiliated with Special Olympics as the Director of Venues for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland, the first Special Olympics World Summer Games outside of the United States. Doolan received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Dublin City University and a Master’s in Public Relations from the University of Stirling. He also has an Advanced Diploma in Training and Development from the Institute of Commercial Management at Dublin Business School and a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is a Special Olympics family member and volunteer, and his other interests include reading, politics, travel, and sport.


Skillsoft is a global leader in corporate learning, delivering beautiful technology and engaging content that drives business impact for modern enterprises. Skillsoft comprises three award-winning systems that support learning, performance and success: Skillsoft learning content, the Percipio intelligent learning experience platform and the SumTotal suite for Talent Development.

Special Olympics

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Click to sign up for SkillSoft – SumTotal’s Perspectives 2020 virtual conference May 13, 2020

Topics and questions include:

  • What is unified leadership?
  • Servant, situational, charismatic and authentic leadership models
  • Assets of people with intellectual disabilities
  • What are their workplace obstacles
  • What we can learn from them
  • How a growth mindset plays into developing a culture of learning
  • How employing all kinds of people adds strength to an organization
  • Different learning styles
  • Bias training
  • How the Special Olympics brings out the best in everyone
  • And more!

If you have questions about our discussion today and would like access to our Women In Leadership Network that provides organizational leaders access to our research library on women in leadership and diversity and inclusion topics. please contact me at WIL@brandonhall.com or visit www.brandonhall.com

Rachel Cooke

Chief Operating Officer Rachel Cooke Rachel is responsible for business operations including overseeing client services, research events and project management. Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Rachel was the Chief Operating Officer Co-founder of AC Growth. Rachel has over 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, business development, and sales performance management. Prior to AC Growth, she held several senior management roles and was on the leadership team at Bersin & Associates, a pioneer analyst firm in e-learning and now industry leading HR and talent Research Company. In her Senior Director role, Rachel developed the strategy and led the commercial execution of the solution provider vertical, and grew the vertical into the company’s largest market segment. In her role as Director of Sales, Rachel developed and led a team of senior account executives focused on acquiring global strategic accounts. Rachel was solely responsible for developing key business relationships with over ninety companies including industry icons, such as: Adidas, Hewlett-Packard, Toyota, Oracle, Starbucks, Avnet, Boeing, Kaiser Permanente, Safeway Inc., Wells Fargo, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Clorox and Affiliated Computer Services. Rachel began her career in the banking, media and hospitality industries. In these industries, Rachel held several key senior management and executive sales positions. Rachel received a BA in social science and interdisciplinary studies with honors from Florida Atlantic University. Rachel continued her postgraduate education by completing a series of executive management education courses from American Management Association.

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