The dawn of a New Year means that, once again, here – based on nothing more than experience and prejudice – are the lists of the ‘Top Ten’ most influential people in the corporate e-learning sector, in the World, Europe and the UK.


And – increasing each year since these lists’ inception in 2010 – the debate among the judges as to who genuinely warrants a place on these ‘top tables’ of the great and good in e-learning has been keen. This increasing keenness perhaps indicates that not only is the corporate e-learning world’s profile growing generally but also that its leaders’ public personalities are becoming more widely recognised.


Please bear in mind that these lists are compiled on the basis of a person’s perceived current influence on the e-learning industry – as a practitioner, commentator, facilitator and/or thought leader. You probably won’t agree with all – or even any – of the judges’ decisions but at least you’ll know something about what other people think about the personalities who lead the corporate e-learning world.


World List

1. Elliott Masie. Head of The MASIE Center, a Saratoga Springs, New York, think-tank focused on how organisations can support learning and knowledge within the workforce. (Position last year: 1)

2.    Jay Cross. A writer, commentator and speaker who was a surprise omission in previous years and, thus, is a surprise inclusion in this year’s list. He was the first to coin the term ‘e-learning’ many years ago and continues to promote informal learning. (New entry for 2012)

3.    Fabrizio Cardinali. CEO of eXact Learning Solutions’ North America and Australia operations, Senior Vice President of the company’s Global Business Development and Chair of the European Learning Industry Group (ELIG). (Position last year: 3)

4.    Cathy Moore. Recently voted third in the world’s top ten most influential bloggers about e-learning. According to at least one of the judges of this list, she is ‘changing the way we approach instructional design’. (New entry for 2012)

5.    Roger Schank. One of the influential early contributors to artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology in the 1970s and 1980s, he is president and CEO of Socratic Arts. (Position last year: 5)

6.    Tom Kuhlmann. A blogger and host of The Rapid E-Learning Blog (the user community for Articulate) who has developed many hours of e-learning and managed e-learning projects. Having done it himself, he’s now teaching others how to do it too. (New entry for 2012)

7.    Anne Forster (Forster and Gibson), one of Australia’s foremost independent e-learning consultants. (Position last year: 6)

8.    Massood Zarrabian. CEO of Boston, MA, based LCMS providers OutStart. He has been bucking the trend (of tracking and reporting) to stress the LCMS/ LMS’s role in knowledge sharing and transfer at the point of need. (Position last year: 7)

9.    Muyiwa Bamgbose, the CEO of Nigeria’s Educational Advancement Center (EAC), which works with The University of Ibadan, one of Nigeria’s leading universities, to deliver learning materials to students via their mobile phones. (Position last year: 10)

10.  Lisa Gualtieri. Academic and conference speaker. Formerly an editor of the ‘eLearn’ website and now editor-in-chief of the new ‘Future Learning’ magazine, being published in Holland for a worldwide audience. (New entry for 2012)

‘Bubbling under’

Others who just missed out on making this year’s list included:

  • Abdullah Al Mogheerah, Manager for Planning & PMO at Saudi Arabia’s National Center for eLearning (NCEL). (Position last year: 4).
  • Sanjaya Sharma. Head of Tata Interactive Systems, an e-learning content producer which is part of the Tata Group of Companies. (Position last year: eight)
  • Reuben Kyama, of Kenya and Brenda Zulu, of Zambia – who are among the contributing editors to the eLearning Africa conference.
  • Catherine Upton, CEO of the US-based ‘Elearning! Magazine’.
  • Charles Jennings, the former CLO of Thomson Reuters who is now a conference speaker and thought leader.
  • Harold Jarche, the Canada-based ‘thought catalyst’, writer and blogger.
  • Clark Quinn, learning technology consultant, writer and blogger based in California.

Europe List

1.    Fabrizio Cardinali. Chair of the European Learning Industry Group (ELIG) and Senior Vice President of eXact Learning Solutions’ Global Business Development. (Position last year: 2)

2.    Richard Straub. The Secretary General of the European Learning Industry Group (ELIG), overseeing ELIG’s role as advisor to the EU on all things to do with e-learning. (Position last year: 1)

3.    Thea Payome. Editor of the Germany-based CheckPoint eLearning ezine and website ( (Position last year: 3)

4.    Dr Ladislava (‘Vlad’ka’) Knihova. A key champion, user and publisher of e-learning applications within the corporate and academic sectors in the Czech Republic. (Position last year: 4)

5.    Christophe Ferrandou, the Paris-based founder and CEO of goFLUENT, an award-winning producer of business English training. (Position last year: eight)

6.    Jane Hart. Recently voted top in the world’s top ten most influential bloggers about e-learning. She is the founder and CEO of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies. (New entry for 2012)

7.    Armin Hopp. Founder and President of digital publishing AG/ Speexx and a member of ELIG. (New entry for 2012)

8.    Carin Martell. Business development manager at the LCMS and digital repository producer, eXact learning solutions. (Position last year: 7)

9.    Helge Scherlund, the Denmark-based writer and blogger on e-learning topics. (New entry for 2012 but was ‘bubbling under’ in 2011)

10.  Elmar Hussmann. ELIG’s Deputy Secretary General. (New entry for 2012)

‘Bubbling under’

Others who just missed out on making this year’s list included:

  • Piers Lea. A member of ELIG and CEO of LINE Communications. (position last year: 6)
  • Steve Rayson, of Kineo – a UK-based company which continues to expand its interests.
  • Dirk Burkamp. ELIG member and head of learning technology at PwC Germany.

UK List

1.    Donald H Taylor. The power behind the success of the Learning Technologies conference and Chairman of the Institute of Learning and Performance. (Position last year: 1)

2.    Jane Hart. Founder and CEO of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies. (Position last year: 3)

3.    Laura Overton. Managing Director of Towards Maturity, a not-for-profit community interest company that provides research and online resources to help organisations deliver effective learning interventions at work. (Position last year: 4)

4.    Steve Rayson, of Kineo, who is making the UK’s most innovative production company into a worldwide player. (Position last year: 5)

5.    Julie Wedgwood. A Towards Maturity advisor and an e-learning developer described, by some, as “the people’s favourite when you want to know ‘how-to-do-it’.” (New entry for 2012)

6.    Clive Shepherd. Still as shrewd a commentator on the e-learning scene as any. (Position last year: 7)

7.    Piers Lea. A member of ELIG and CEO of LINE Communications. (Position last year: 2)

8.    Martin Baker. Managing Director of LMMatters and the founder and Managing Director of the Charity Learning Consortium (CLC). (position last year: 10 equal)

9.    Ben Betts. Managing Director of HT2 who is gaining an international reputation – and has introduced a highly original product in Curatr. (New entry for 2012)

10.  Donald Clark. A long-established speaker and commentator on e-learning. (Position last year: 6)

‘Bubbling under’

Others who just missed out on making this year’s list included:

  • Clive Snell. The publisher of E-Learning Age magazine and the man behind the increasingly popular E-Learning Awards. (Position last year: eight)
  • Gillian Broadhead. Director of Learning and Development at Learning Light. (Position last year: 10 equal)
  • John O’Connor, the founder of Ceres Management, who specialises in measuring the impact of people development initiatives.
  • Nick Shackleton-Jones. Currently group head of e-learning at BP who, as a writer and speaker, makes genuinely thoughtful and original contributions.
  • Charles Jennings, conference speaker and thought leader.
  • Elizabeth Eyre, editor of Training Journal (
  • Rob Hubbard, the new chair of the eLearning Network (eLN)
  • Steve Wheeler, author of ‘The Digital Classroom’, speaker, avid Tweeter and blogger.

Of the 28 names on the three lists (19 men and nine women), only two names appear on more than one list: Fabrizio Cardinali and Jane Hart.

The USA continues to have the largest representation on the ‘World’ list; while Germany (with four representatives) is the only country with more than one representative in the ‘Europe’ list. Again, only one British name – this time Jane Hart’s rather than Piers Lea’s – appears on the Europe list.

Two of the three people who topped the lists this year – Elliott Masie and Donald H Taylor – have retained their positions since the first list was published, in 2010. In the Europe list, for the first time, Richard Straub gives way to his ELIG colleague, Fabrizio Cardinali.

The biggest rise in positioning comes from Jay Cross, who is both long established and well-known in the learning technologies industry but is a new entry at number two in the World list. Others whose ‘star’ has risen this year are: Cathy Moore, Tom Kuhlmann, Muyiwa Bamgbose and Lisa Gualtieri (World list); Fabrizio Cardinali, Christophe Ferrandou, Jane Hart, Armin Hopp, Helge Scherlund and Elmar Hussmann (Europe list), and Jane Hart, Laura Overton, Steve Rayson, Julie Wedgwood, Clive Shepherd, Martin Baker and Ben Betts (UK list).