Tech Trailblazer: Emily Cohen, PowerSchool

Emily Cohen, PowerSchool

Meet Tech Trailblazer and outdoor survivalist Emily Cohen from PowerSchool.

Chicago native Emily Cohen and her husband moved to the Greater Roanoke Area from New Hampshire about 13 years ago. Emily is the Director of Sales Success for PowerSchool – a company providing K-12 education technology solutions that aid schools and districts with instruction management, assessment, analytics, and reporting (to only name a few). We asked Emily some questions to get to know her better.

What do you love most about your work? 

I love that my work is challenging. My role aligns with my strengths and opportunities to grow and develop new skills.  The impact of what we do is so substantial – with the majority of K-12 school districts in North America using PowerSchool solutions.

What surprised you the most about PowerSchool (work culture, software capabilities, etc.)? 

I joined PowerSchool through an acquisition. I would not have sought out such a large business or work at a center of excellence before PowerSchool. There is a rally cry that we build our objectives around, and this year it’s “Together We Grow.” It’s a wonderful representation of how we work. 

Who is your top tech trendsetter and why? 

Bobbi Kurshan! She is my aunt through marriage and was a long-time Roanoke resident. Bobbi’s a Virginia Tech graduate and former faculty member. She’s been working to build innovative ed tech products and investing in ed tech start-ups since the early ‘90s. Recently, she has been doing advising at the University of Pennsylvania and has a book coming out this winter titled InnovateHERS – Why Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurial Women Rise to the Top.  

Bobbi has been an inspiration and mentor to me over the last 15 years, and my greatest influencer over making the transition to start working in ed tech nearly a decade ago in 2012. 

If you could develop software or technology that solves a problem in society, what would it be and why? 

That’s an impossible question to answer, as technology can be the answer to so many things! As a former teacher, I learned that the software tools that PowerSchool has developed are game changing. By simplifying the process and providing meaningful data through integrations, teachers are able to spend more time and energy focusing on the task at hand, which is educating the next generation. 

Tell us something about yourself people may be surprised to learn. 

I developed many of my leadership and public speaking skills as an outdoor education instructor and trainer in college. I taught classes for college credits in rock climbing, backpacking, kayak rolling, outdoor survival, and more. I also led backcountry canoeing and hiking trips during breaks and on weekends. Our motto was “Learn to Teach. Teach to Learn.” This probably also helps explain how I developed such an “informal” approach to my leadership. 

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