Hacking away at hierarchies: Lessons from Houghton Mifflin

By Julie Donnelly, Contributing Writer

MaryCullinaneHow do you break down the walls between print and digital at a 180-year old publishing company best known for Curious George, textbooks, and J.R.R. Tolkien?

Mary Cullinane took on the role of Chief Content Officer at the 180-year old publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012, at a time of major shifts in both publishing and education. In the 19th century, Houghton Mifflin published Emerson, Thoreau and Hawthorne, but in the 21st century, the Boston company had changed hands several times and gone through a pre-packaged bankruptcy filing to shed about $3 billion in debt. Cullinane’s role is to create new K-12 education products across all platforms – both traditional textbooks and digital products for desktop computers, laptops, and tablets. She previously served as the worldwide director of innovation at Microsoft’s education division.

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