We built CDO School for design leaders like you.

We know first-hand how hard it is to create real change, especially when you're going it alone. Tailored for in-house design managers, directors, and executives, our program offers a fresh, innovative approach to leadership.

Our commitment to you

At some point in my career, it’s likely that I’ve had the same responsibilities you have today.

For over twenty years, I freelanced as a digital maker, designed and developed products in-house at Apple and Comcast, built and led brand-new teams at Electronic Arts (twice) and Nestlé, and transitioned over to Corporate Strategy as an executive at USAA.

Then, in 2019, I needed something else.

So, I left the corporate world and decided to redesign my professional life so that it met my needs, too. Without really knowing what I was doing, I started working for myself. I began creating products and services again.

I wrote Business Thinking for Designers. I began teaching design leaders everything I knew under my parent company, Second Wave Dive. I ran popular, 8-week intensive cohort courses called "Design Meets Business," "Strategy Business Thinking for Designers," and "Design Org Strategy."

Then, in late-2022, the world around design began to shift. While my cohorts were going very well in terms of meeting my and my students' expectations, we all began running out of energy. And, I couldn't morally continue to charge a premium fee for access to helpful materials if students didn't have the energy to fully participate.

So, I made another shift.

Now, I run CDO School, teaching designers how to confidently transition and thrive into the senior levels of their careers. CDO School is a management school specifically for designers that fits in your pocket.

  1. When you lead Design, Design is the product
  2. The CDO School Leadership Playbook
  3. Four Fits to make Design crucial at your company
  4. Measuring Design is an act of bravery
  5. 5 things Design VPs are paid to do differently than a Director or Manager

More importantly, we focus on helping you find your own path as a design leader. And, our methodology is what helps you stand apart.

If you're looking to grow your skillset, we have 13 courses and counting, 100's of quick tips, 30+ "plays"—plus deeper coaching and learning for when you face more complex leadership challenges. It's all inside CDO School.

  1. Design Org Strategy
  2. Clear, Concise Storytelling for Designers
  3. Predicting Business Impact for Designers
  4. Prioritizing at Scale

I'll help you transition through each stage of your design leadership journey from senior to CDO. Inside, you'll get actionable tips to prepare, grow, and exceed in your career as a design leader.

Beyond resources, there are four values we're committed to:

To provide you with the knowledge you deserve

As a design leader, you need to know what works and what doesn’t. You need the confidence to know your decisions are good ones. At CDO School, we are committed to providing you with top-tier coaching, mentorship, and training so you excel at the leadership level.

Simply put, your success is our success.

To help you realize your potential

You may not realize it, but you hold tremendous untapped power. You are the heart of transforming how business and design get done.

We will teach you how to harness your design leadership power and use it cross-functionally and within your team.

To stay loyal to our values and your needs

We are committed to providing a sustainable and supportive environment for design leaders.

As an independent company without venture capital or external funding, we prioritize our values and your needs. We promise integrity and honesty in all our offerings, ensuring you only receive what truly benefits you.

To embrace continuous learning

Since launching our parent company, Second Wave Dive, in April 2019, our programs have evolved to meet the needs of our community. By actively listening to feedback from thousands of leaders worldwide, we’ve enriched our design courses with each iteration. We are committed to fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth.


Meet the CDO School founder and CEO

Ryan Rumsey (he/him)

Ryan has a passion for professional development, and he uses his experiences from Apple, Electronic Arts, USAA, Nestlé, and Comcast as guidance. He is the CEO of Second Wave Dive and also the author of Business Thinking for Designers. For coaching or speaking inquiries, visit www.ryanrumsey.com.

CDO School Leaders-in-Residence

Holly Cole

Holly Cole

CEO, ResearchOps Community

Jason Mesut

Jason Mesut

Principal, Resonant Design and Innovation

Brandy Porter

Brandy Porter

Head of Design, WW

Lucas Coehlo

Lucas Coehlo

Chief Experience Officer, Roam

Amy Sheppard

Amy Sheppard

Product Design Lead, Bunnings

Tim Yeo

Tim Yeo

Founder, The Quiet Achiever

Ariba Jahan

Ariba Jahan

VP, Experience Strategy & Innovation, Ad Council