Carla O'Dell

Chairman of the Board

Considered one of the world’s leading experts in using knowledge to drive productivity and competitiveness, Chairman Dr. Carla O'Dell leads the Board of Directors in it governance and oversight responsibilities for APQC. Often dubbed "a practical visionary," she plays a strong role in APQC's game-changing research daily. She works to inspire the next generation of ideas, research, and people so that APQC remains true to it's mission: to research and embrace advances that make us more productive and enrich our work life. 

Over her 40-year career with APQC, Carla has launched many of APQC’s signature research areas and tools. In 1995, under her direction, APQC launched its first knowledge management (KM)  best practices consortium. Since then, APQC has worked with more than 500 organizations and produced the world’s largest body of actionable best practices in designing and implementing KM strategies, and measuring the impact of KM.  

APQC was the first nonprofit organization to be awarded the Global Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise (MAKE) Hall of Fame award in 2013, after being a global winner three times and a nine time winner for the North American award. Similarly, APQC was named to KMWorld’s list of 100 Companies that Matter in Knowledge Management five times, most recently in 2015.

A highly rated and entertaining conference speaker, her topics range from How to Identify and Transfer Best Practices, Lessons Learned to Retaining Valuable Knowledge to Using Social Media, Crowdsourcing and Four Knowledge Needs for Business to Knowledge Analytics, How to Leverage Scarce Expertise to Uncover Your Hidden Experts, Decoding the Cognitive Science Behind KM, Sharing Knowledge Using Social Media, and Experts Retiring? What to Do Now.

Carla is also an active author, contributor to APQC’s knowledge management blog, and frequent interviewee for national and industry press. Her popular Big Thinkers, Big Ideas interview series captures new insights on learning, knowledge, innovation, and leadership from some of the top business minds. She and APQC’s chairman, C. Jackson Grayson, co-authored the best-selling book, If Only We Knew What We Know: The Transfer of Internal Knowledge and Best Practice. She and APQC's Cindy Hubert have received rave reviews for their book, The New Edge in Knowledge: How Knowledge Management Is Changing the Way We Do Business.

She was the executive champion for the formation of APQC’s Open Standards Benchmarking® database, which standardized the processes and measurements that global organizations use to benchmark and improve performance. This data allows organizations to compare their own performance against peer groups and across their industries. More than 12,000 organizations worldwide have participated to date. 

Previously, Carla served as APQC’s CEO from 2012 to 2018, president from 1994-2012, and in leadership roles since joining in 1978.

She has a bachelor's degree from Stanford University, a master's degree from the University of Oregon, and a doctorate in organizational psychology from the University of Houston. 

An avid hiker, Carla has set a goal to hike all the U.S. National Parks. Like Jack Grayson, she has visited every continent—she even snuck into Antarctica with a broken foot. One of her jobs at APQC is to watch for trends that will matter to the organization and its members. She invites you to contact her if you see one we shouldn’t miss.