News release

Middle Market Transformative CEO Features Cengage's Michael Hansen

Oct 31, 2018
Oct 31, 2018
0 min. read

Andreia DeVries, National Public Relations Manager,, 212.520.1266
for media use only 

RSM US LLP (“RSM”) – the nation’s leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market – and The CEO Forum Group are pleased to announce the fifth episode of “The Middle Market Transformative CEO,” featuring guest Michael Hansen, CEO of global education and technology company Cengage. The episode, which aired over 25 nationally-syndicated AM radio stations on Sun., Oct. 28, is now also available as a podcast.

Co-hosts Robert Reiss, founder and CEO of The CEO Forum Group, and RSM Chief Economist Joe Brusuelas, speak with Hansen about Cengage’s financial turnaround, the importance of technological advancements in the education industry, and why the company implemented a subscription business model for course materials, an alternative to the traditional textbook approach.

“We tested the subscription model before we went out with it and we found an overwhelming response,” explained Hansen. “Students who told us that textbooks were too expensive will now come in and say ‘this is such a compelling value proposition, I am going to go for it.’”

Some of the key topics discussed during this episode of “The Middle Market Transformative CEO” are: transforming a business model to help a company reach stability and profitability; forecasting some of the different ways technology can play a role in the education space in the future; leveraging consumer data, while maintaining privacy, to help evolve scholastic content; and preparing the workforce of the future and how the customization of learning materials can accommodate the process.

“For the first time, we really have data that makes the learning process transparent and that actually shows you how an individual learns and how different individuals learn,” said Hansen, while explaining why the key underpinning of the future of innovation is leveraging data. “And what you can use this for, first and foremost in our case, is to continue to evolve and adapt the content.”

 “If I need to explain a concept to one person, it might be in a different way than how I need explain it to someone else for them to understand it right away,” continued Hansen. “I can now do that, but I need the underlying data that shows me how much time you spent on the task, and what aspects you got and which ones didn’t you get. There’s this wealth of data that we’re mining for product development, obviously being hugely respectful of the privacy of the student.”

Regarding his leadership philosophy while creating a new business model, Hansen explained: “As the CEO, focus relentlessly on culture. Strategy is important and it’s important to get it right, but if you focus on culture, you can actually replicate. We can launch a new model like this in record time.”

For more insights from this month’s Middle Market Transformative CEO, listen to the full episode.


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