McGraw-Hill Education has reached into the world of data analytics to tap its new president and CEO, a move that underscores the global K-12 provider’s shifting mission and the new demands that are transforming the school market.
Nana Banerjee, named to the post last week, does not come from the school business world, but rather from Verisk Analytics, a data provider focused on the insurance, energy, and financial service sectors.
Banerjee has served as group president at Verisk Analytics, a company that says it employs about 7,500 people around the world and uses advanced technologies to collect and analyze billions of records. It focuses on predictive analytics and helping its customers make decisions in areas such as underwriting, claims, catastrophe, weather risk, and economic forecasting.
He was previously the CEO at Argus (which was acquired by Verisk), and served as head of Citibank’s credit card business in the United Kingdom earlier in his career, according to McGraw-Hill Education.
McGraw-Hill Education said Banerjee was not available for an interview. But in a statement, the company—for years known as a publisher, but which now describes itself as a learning sciences provider—said his hiring fits squarely with its needs.
“McGraw-Hill Education is actively adapting and transforming itself by introducing new learning solutions built on technologies of scale, new forms of data, and advanced analytics and AI,” said Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman, in a statement to Marketplace K-12.
“Nana’s background in technology-enabled solutions, big-data platforms, and advanced analytics, along with a proven track record of innovation, growth, and profitability serve as the perfect complement” to the company’s work, she said.
In a statement, Banerjee said he was proud to become part of an “iconic brand” in education and use technology to improve what it offers teachers and students.
“I am looking forward to teaming up with our colleagues and fulfilling the promise of our vision to unlock the full potential of each learner with enhanced access and better quality learning solutions, enabled with scaled technology and advanced analytics.”
Rise of Data, Growing Anxiety
Banerjee’s hiring comes at time when the use of data is stirring excitement and unease in the nation’s schools.
Many ed-tech companies and K-12 officials see the potential to transform learning by using data on individual students’ academic strengths, weaknesses, and interests to customize or “personalize” learning to their needs. Yet others believe schools and companies are moving too quickly, given the lack of research on those practices and what they see as potential harms.
In particular, they worry about data privacy, as well as schools relying on tech-based algorithms to make choices about students’ learning—choices that they see teachers and parents having a vital role in shaping.
The decision to hire Banerjee was made by Apollo Global Management and by McGraw-Hill Education’s board, the company said. Apollo acquired McGraw-Hill Education six years ago.
Company officials said they do not believe Banerjee’s lack of experience in the education business will be a hindrance. His technical background and leadership skills are “highly complementary and additive” to McGraw-Hill Education’s mission, the company said in an e-mail.
Banerjee has a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the State University of New York, and a master’s of science degree in the same subject from the Indian Institutes of Technology, in Delhi. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from St. Stephen’s College, in Delhi.
He will succeed Lloyd G. “Buzz” Waterhouse, who had served as interim president and CEO in October of 2017. Waterhouse was named interim CEO after the resignation of previous CEO David Levin, who had led the company for three years as it sought to recast itself from a print publisher to a digital-learning provider.