The 2022 Utah ATD Learning Insights Conference Keynote Speakers



Jim Hightower, SVP, Global Payments

Jim brings over 30 years of Operations experience.  Over the last 20 years he has held Senior level roles and currently serves as Senior Vice President of International Operations for Global Payments.  

Jim has an unyielding passion for Customer Experience and employs many unique processes in his organizations to achieve this.  He has been a part of four JD Power award certifications including the first ever for Customer Service in the Payment Processing industry.  Additionally, he has overseen transformational success leading to improved Customer Satisfaction and expense savings in all of his Operational leadership roles.

Jim completed his undergraduate work at the University of Central Florida and his graduate studies at The Florida Institute of Technology.  He holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and a Master's Degree in Management.

Originally from Orlando, Florida, Jim now lives in the Salt Lake City area with his wife Toni.  They have two adult children as well.  Jim enjoys golf and loves to read as much as possible.  Only fiction as he feels he gets enough non-fiction every day.



Katheryn Brekken, Sr Research Analyst, Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4CP)

Katheryn Brekken, Ph.D., is a senior research analyst with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and also serves as a lecturer with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Public Policy & Leadership.
Prior to joining i4cp, she served as an assistant professor of research with the MGM Resorts Public Policy Institute at UNLV, where she worked closely with government and corporate leaders to develop and evaluate education and training programs and served as a policy advisor for the Nevada System of Higher Education Office of the Chancellor during the most recent state legislative session.
She has over fifteen years of experience in public affairs, developing and evaluating policies and programs and testified before legislative bodies on matters of higher education and workforce policy.

She is published in various academic journals including Politics & Policy, Community College Journal of Research & Practice, and State and Local Government Review. She received her undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and her master’s in Public Administration and her Ph.D. in Public Affairs with a focus on Public Policy both from UNLV.



Raghu Krishnaiah, COO, University of Phoenix

Raghu Krishnaiah is an innovative leader experienced at turning transformative products and business concepts into successful global companies. His career as a seasoned change agent and strategist spans more than 20 years of progressive P&L management, strategy, sales and marketing, product, operations, technology, human resources, and data-analytics responsibilities.

Krishnaiah currently serves as the chief operating officer at University of Phoenix, where he is instrumental in the transformation of the University and responsible for all operating strategy and results. Before joining University of Phoenix, Krishnaiah held the role of chief operating officer at Western Governors University, where he led significant growth in student learning outcomes.  

Prior to Western Governors University, Krishnaiah worked as senior vice president at Kaplan Higher Education Group, and has served in a number of leadership roles throughout his career, overseeing large operational infrastructures at complex global organizations. 

Krishnaiah earned both a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as a Master of Business Administration from The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania.

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