December 1st, 2023

“Who would see me as a CEO candidate?” 

The inner critic is something we’re all familiar with. For Stephanie Crowe, this voice of doubt grew loud while contemplating a career transition to CEO. As an accomplished Chief Learning Officer (CLO) in the high-tech and professional services industry, Stephanie has always been driven by her unwavering passion for learning—not just as a tool for personal growth but as a means to transform businesses and organizations. In the CLO role, she connected with many leaders, bridging the gap between learning and business strategies, and nurturing the people factors within organizations. She says, “I always care more about the people driving the business than the business itself; business is a method of execution, a way to deliver value to people, it should be as efficient and profitable as possible to make more impact for the people you serve.” While her role as a CLO allowed her to influence the audience within her organization, she aspired to have a broader reach: to touch millions of users in a way that would unlimit her impact.

Initially, Stephanie thought the next logical step would be becoming a CHRO. She completed the education, made a succession plan, shadowed her leader, and even took a turn as VP of HR. She followed the conventional next steps she thought were required to advance. She hit a turning point when she finally realized: she didn’t need to follow the path of how others have done it. She recalls thinking, “Why couldn’t I just be the leader? When I couldn’t effectively answer that question, it made such sense to me to lead a learning services or learning technology company.” Once she was able to clarify that target and communicate it to her network, she got a phone call from a board member within two days asking her to consider putting her hat in the ring for their open CEO role.

At the time, Stephanie had recently joined Athena Alliance and was in the beginning stages of developing her Branded Career Portfolio, working with an Athena executive coach, and attending Athena board prep sessions to gain a strategic business perspective. She knew her prior experience in managing P&L within other organizations would prove invaluable and would serve as a crucial point amongst others in her pitch to the board. However, she still had self-doubt. She recalls telling her coach, “I’m trying to get to the point where I see myself as a CEO after being a CLO” and the response was “I think you absolutely sound like a CEO.” She credits the Athena faculty and community for helping shape her self-perception and providing her with the validation and support she needed to transition to and embrace the role of CEO. She says, “I am part of Athena Alliance because I am a C-level global executive. It helps you with your self-view and knowing who your peers are and looking at them and saying wow that’s an amazing woman – and I am her peer.”

At the helm of, a company with a rich history in the learning management and online learning interaction space, Stephanie sees immense potential in nurturing drip-based micro-learning enhanced by AI. Since stepping into the CEO role, she’s recognized the untapped opportunity to use habit-building strategies to drive behavioral change in areas where traditional learning methods have fallen short. Looking ahead, she is excited by the prospects of generative AI in helping individuals build and sustain positive habits and behaviors. Her company’s focus on human performance and behavior modification would allow them to make a substantial impact on challenging global issues. She says, “We’re looking into health services, leadership and management, and safe driving for teens. Areas where habituation is critical, but where we, as a society, haven’t cracked the code on how to solve the problem. It helps us come to new markets and to make a much bigger impact.”

Recently, Stephanie expanded her reach even further by publishing her book 10X Leader: How Great Leaders Multiply Outcomes through Transformational Learning. The book is a culmination of experiences, stories, and insights gained from the most transformational learning interventions she’s witnessed in her career. The seeds for the book had been germinating for years—writing articles, jotting thoughts down—but she finally sat down to bring all the pieces together in the last 12-18 months. On the title 10X Leader, she says “The leaders who get it, who understand that people are the ones that make transformational impacts and who understand how to help people move from where they are to where they need to be and help them grow are the ones that make the 10x impact—if not more.”



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