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PeopleAdmin: Revolutionizing the Higher Education Mission


PeopleAdmin aims to solve the problems that are plaguing HigherEd. Following its acquisition by PowerSchool, the company has grown its product from a back-office HR solution, to a comprehensive HigherEd SaaS platform that provides fully customizable solutions for all areas of campus, from hire-to-retire talent acquisition and management, enabling faculty to be more effective in teaching, research, and service, and supporting student outcomes.

PeopleAdmin: Getting Off the Ground

The PeopleAdmin team realized that higher education institutions were operating with many silos. Due to software that didn’t connect, administrative staff had to re-enter data on multiple systems in order to get work done, causing unnecessary administrative burden, and increasing the margin for error. The Marketplace of Connectors was created in response, to help institutions build seamless flows of information among systems.

HigherEd institutions are often lacking the ability to make data-driven decisions: over 50% of colleges and universities do not have a data analytics or insights tool to support strategic decision-making. PeopleAdmin leads the industry in analytics, arming institutions with the information they need to make smarter, faster decisions. Interactive, visual dashboards provide real-time visibility to help navigate issues like EEO compliance, balanced hiring, budget planning, diversity initiatives, faculty and staff retention, and more.

Interview Excerpt: Rishi Rana talks about the challenges associated with higher education institutions and how PeopleAdmin aims at solving that.

What are the challenges that People Admin as an organization faces? 

Higher education institutions in North America are facing decreasing funding and falling student enrollment. Many institutions rely on federal and state grants, which have continued to decrease, causing tuition to rise. Rising tuition and rising student debt have led to a twenty-year decline in student enrollment, meaning that many institutions lack the budget to digitize and automate. In addition to budget constraints, higher education is traditionally slower to change, with complex decision-making processes that make technology adoption a long process. 

Another challenge is the lack of interoperability between different software providers employed by institutions, and also within the home-grown solutions employed by many institutions. These disparate solutions and platforms mean that these colleges and universities lack the data insights to make quick strategic decisions, slowing down their administrative process. 

Digitization is a bridge we are climbing, and we are working to overcome funding gaps and interoperability struggles. We want to help HigherEd institutions bridge the gaps and reduce their costs.

On what ideals are your work culture and business ethics based?

We are a data and metrics-based organization, and we take pride in our mission to support faculty and students and power the education ecosystem. Within that mission, we have defined company-wide core values of passion, accountability, curiosity, and teamwork. Thanks to our values and clearly defined KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), we work as a unified team and are always rowing in the same direction. 

What do you think is the most unique aspect of your business?

Our business is unique because we are solving problems in HigherEd that no one has solved before. There is not a single other software out there that addresses the connection between faculty activity and student outcomes, or that provides the entire end-to-end, hire-to-retire view without silos for higher education institutions. We are creating connectors that take us down a road no one else has traveled and finding answers to problems that no one has attempted to tackle yet. 

Business leaders have always emphasized the habit of reading for success, on the record. Is there a book that you draw inspiration from?

I absolutely think reading is vital for success; I try to read at least one book a month. Recently I have been drawing inspiration from “The Alchemist,” by Paul Coelho, “Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” by Patrick Lencioni, and “Platform Revolution,” by Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van 

Alstyne, and Sangeet Paul Choudary.

Where do you see your company a few years from now?

We have solved some difficult problems in the North American higher education market, and we have a clear path to continue enhancing our platform holistically and to share our knowledge and solutions internationally. 

How has your journey been so far?

The journey of this business has been fraught with change. This change has helped to create a better culture from a people perspective, has brought clear accountability and ownership, and has allowed everyone to feel empowered to make the right decisions for the customers. Every obstacle we have faced has taught us a lesson and shown us how to grow and move forward. We have the first faculty platform to be hosted on Amazon Web Services and are the only one hosted on a true SAAS platform. It has been challenging to forge this path but it has only made our software more robust and secure, and we are proud of creating a platform that protects and provides the best services to our customers. 

About the leader:

Rishi Rana, General Manager (CEO) of the HigherEd business in the edtech sector for PowerSchool Group LLC

Rishi has over 22 years of executive and leadership experience with a proven track record in leading businesses while developing complex, critical software solutions, products, and platforms across various domains. Previously, Rishi was COO of AGDATA LP. He oversaw the transformation of several product and service lines into a single platform providing data-enabled insight and analytics for the agriculture industry.

Rishi also held several leadership roles at Microsoft for over a decade where he led product, services, and strategy across a variety of functions and markets globally. Rishi is an avid speaker at events and recipient of several awards in management excellence, strategy, communication, and mentoring. He recently won the “CEO with HR Orientation” Award from Asia Pacific HRM Congress. He holds a BS in Computer Science & Math and an MBA from Texas A&M University.


We have continued to be operationally excellent by ensuring that we are pursuing our vision and mission and that we have clear goals and KPIs that we follow through on year over year.