Executive Leadership Team
Chief Executive Officer
Jeff Tarr is Chief Executive Officer of Skillsoft and brings a successful track record of building tech-enabled services companies into trusted industry leaders.
Over the last two decades, he has transformed three publicly traded, tech-enabled information companies into industry leaders. He previously served as Chief Executive Officer and a director of DigitalGlobe, the world leader in satellite imagery and geospatial intelligence, from 2011 until the sale of the company to MDA (now Maxar Technologies) in 2017. Prior to DigitalGlobe, Jeff was President and Chief Operating Officer of IHS (now IHS Markit) and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the publicly traded business information company, Hoover’s, Inc. (now a division of D&B). He began his career with Bain & Company.
Jeff currently serves on the boards of EchoStar and DSST Public Schools, one of the leading open enrollment school systems in the United States. He is also a member of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business Advisory Council and was previously Chairman of the school’s Management Board. Jeff served on the board of The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB) until the sale of the company to Gartner in 2017. He also served as co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Council on the Future of Space Technologies and co-Chair of the Annual Meeting of New Champions in Dalian China. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Jeff holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs.
Chief Marketing Officer
As Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle leads a global marketing organization, focused on transforming today’s workforce for tomorrow’s economy. Since joining the company, she has been responsible for Skillsoft’s global marketing strategy, which includes generating awareness, driving preference, and building affinity for Skillsoft. Additionally – and perhaps most importantly – Michelle serves as the company's brand evangelist, helping to build a vibrant community of passionate learners.
With more than 25 years of marketing, branding, and strategy experience, Michelle has made it her personal mission to support the advancement of women in business. Prior to Skillsoft, she served as Chief Marketing Officer of IBM Watson, where she was instrumental in developing the first “Women Leaders in AI” program, which honors women who put AI to work across industries and around the globe. She also served as the global head of marketing for The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helping 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 a range of topics, including the war for talent, digital transformation, and marketing in a post-pandemic world. She covers these topics and more as the host of Skillsoft's podcast, The Edge, now in its second season. She has authored countless papers covering a range of business and marketing topics, was at the center of Skillsoft’s leadership role in DEI through free “Leadercamps,” and has taught two Percipio courses on the Pink Pandemic and Public Speaking.
Michelle is also a founding member of CMO Huddles, a group dedicated to bringing together and empowering highly effective B2B CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Michelle holds a Master’s degree from Simmons University and sits on the pro side of the Oxford comma debate.
Gary W. Ferrera
Chief Financial Officer
As Chief Financial Officer, Gary is responsible for helping to drive sustained organic and acquired growth in a rapidly growing and highly fragmented industry. He brings nearly 30 years of global financial leadership, including over 15 years as a CFO. Gary has significant global experience having lived on three continents.
With an established track record of success in driving profitable growth and value creation, Gary has built and led finance teams across multiple industries, taken two companies public, and completed and integrated numerous acquisitions. Most recently, he served as CFO of Cardtronics from 2017 until its recent acquisition by NCR Corporation.
Prior to Cardtronics, Gary served as CFO at DigitalGlobe; Intrawest Resorts; Great Wolf Resorts; National CineMedia; and iesy/Unity Media. Earlier in his career, he developed M&A and capital markets expertise as an investment banker at Citigroup and Bear Stearns in both London and New York City. He also previously served as an international tax consultant with Arthur Andersen.
Prior to his commercial career, Gary served in U.S. Army Special Operations and Intelligence. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, magna cum laude, from Bentley University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Chief Legal Officer
As Skillsoft’s Chief Legal Officer, Sarah spearheads worldwide legal matters for the Skillsoft group of companies. She joined Skillsoft in 2021, bringing more than 25 years of experience practicing corporate law.
Sarah most recently served as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for National CineMedia. She previously served as Deputy General Counsel for CH2M Hill Companies, Ltd. While at CH2M, she led a team that was responsible for global legal corporate enterprise matters including mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures, securities compliance, treasury and finance activities, real estate, and board and subsidiary governance.
Sarah began her career at Hogan & Hartson, LLP in the Business and Finance Group and became a partner in 2004. During her time at the firm, she focused on mergers and acquisitions, strategic joint ventures and corporate finance, among other corporate matters, for a broad array of clients.
Sarah holds a Juris Doctorate from Stanford Law School and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Chief People Officer
As Chief People Officer, Kristi is responsible for accelerating our efforts to attract, retain and develop the best talent in the industry and advance our culture of leadership and learning.
Most recently, Kristi served as a Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Dell Technologies, where she led the Talent and Culture organization. She previously led Dell’s global Human Resources team, supporting the Services & Digital organizations, Marketing organization, Chief Customer Office and Virtustream. Prior to that, Kristi led the Organization Design, Change Management, and Culture workstreams for the Dell and EMC Corporation merger.
Earlier in her career, Kristi served as Chief Human Resources Officer of VCE, a high-growth, category-creator converged networking company, and served as Vice President, Human Resources Operations at EMC, where she led multiple M&A integrations and was responsible for providing thought leadership in compensation and benefit design, talent and retention strategies, and workforce planning programs.
Kristi serves on the Board of Trustees for Boston’s Museum of Science as Chair of the Compensation Committee and Co-Chair of the DEI task force. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Business Administration from Babson College.
Chief Accounting Officer
Ryan is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 20 years of professional experience, including more than 10 years leading global accounting and finance organizations for publicly traded companies, where he led efforts to improve processes, streamline operations and install organizational discipline.
Ryan previously served as Skillsoft’s Senior Vice President of Finance, where he led global accounting, tax and treasury functions. Prior to that, he was VP of Finance, Chief Accounting Officer and Treasurer of Avid Technology, Inc. He began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
Ryan holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management.
Chief Content Officer
Since becoming Chief Content Officer in 2018, Mark has been responsible for leading all aspects of Skillsoft’s content catalogue, including strategic direction, roadmap and development.
Mark previously served SVP of Skillsoft Books, successfully launching the company’s book summary product, increasing the audiobook collection by more than 60% and creating the largest collection of audiobooks in the corporate learning market. Prior to Skillsoft Books, Mark led Skillsoft’s strategic business development, where he worked on cross-functional projects and services teams to deliver integrated learning experiences with key clients.
Mark became Skillsoft’s VP, Content Production after the company acquired Element K in 2011. His career with Element K spanned 15 years, where he was responsible for product strategy, content development and operational execution.
Mark holds an MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology and Bachelors of Science in Finance and Economics from State University of New York, College at Brockport.
Apratim Purakayastha (AP)
Chief Technology Officer
As Skillsoft’s Chief Technology Officer, AP is responsible for engineering, product management, cloud operations and IT across all products in the Skillsoft group of companies, a role he has held since 2016.
AP has extensive experience supporting rapidly growing technology companies, including as General Manager and SVP of SaaS at SevOne, where he was responsible for the on-demand / SaaS business segment. He previously served as Group President at ACI Worldwide and as Director of Software at IBM.
AP holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Duke University, Masters of Science in Computer Science from Washington State University and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Jadavpur University in India.
Chief Revenue Officer
A global technology executive with extensive strategy and growth experience, Eric joined Skillsoft as Chief Revenue Officer in 2021.
He previously served as Chief of Staff for the President of Global Sales, Services and Customer Engagement at SAP, where he supported global go-to-market strategy and operations. Prior to that, he was Chief Revenue Officer at Qualtrics and Chief Innovation Officer for SAP America.
Earlier in his career, Eric held positions of increasing seniority at SAP, Ciber, Virtustream and Blackboard.
Eric is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at Boston University School of Law and founder of the Eric & Neil Stine-Markman Scholarship, the first permanent endowment to dedicate scholarship funds to the LGBTQ+ community. He also plays active board and fundraising roles for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Yale Pediatrics and Northwestern University.
Eric holds a Juris Doctorate from the Boston University School of Law and Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and History from Northwestern University.
Chief Corporate Strategy and Development Officer and President, SumTotal
Rich joined Skillsoft as Chief Corporate Strategy and Development Officer and President, SumTotal in 2021. He brings extensive strategic, financial, operational and merger and acquisition experience.
Rich is an advisor to Churchill Capital and a member of the Board of Directors at ServiceSource, where he previously served as Chief Financial Officer. He also founded The Bison Group, a private partnership that collaborates with private equity firms investing in the information services industry. Prior to that, he held executive leadership positions of increasing responsibility at IHS (now IHS Markit), including Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Strategy Officer, among others. In those roles, he built the corporate strategy and development function and led the completion of more than 60 strategic acquisitions.
Rich holds an MBA from the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Colorado, magna cum laude.