Jeff Kelisky

Previous CEO, Seedrs and EVP Global Marketplace Division, Republic

Jeff was, until recently, the CEO of Seedrs and EVP of the Global Marketplace Division at Republic, the largest private investment platform in the world.  He joined Republic through their acquisition of Seedrs, where he scaled that business 8x, funding over 2000 deals and $2 billion through the platform, before leading the sale and subsequent integration with Republic.

He was previously CEO of Picsolve, a Fidelity investment of a global $75m image capture business in the leisure/entertainment space serving over 80 million visitors and where he delivered a successful turnaround of a failing business followed by authoring and delivering a digital transformation which shaped the industry. 

Prior to this, he was General Manager of Microsoft’s Bing Local Search and Mapping worldwide, a $150m+ business. He came to Microsoft following the successful sale of Multimap, Europe’s #1 provider of online mapping services, which he led as CEO from start-up to transaction.

Prior to this, he worked as a strategy consultant with Kearney and an engineer and sales leader with IBM. He has an MBA from London Business School, and is a non-executive director of a French cinema business. He grew up in New York, and now lives in London, England with his wife and two children.

1. What values are most important to you as a leader? 

Trust (or Integrity) is easily the most important value to me. Without it, your foundations are exposed and weak; and your team’s ability to collaborate, fail, learn, and deliver – and enjoy doing so – is severely impaired.

Two other, sometimes opposing values that are important for me to co-exist in a culture are Compassion and Toughness (or Grit). It’s far easier to make tough decisions or deliver tough messages or take on tough challenges without having to factor in the impact of those on others. But that’s lazy. People who are unafraid to tackle difficult decisions, conversations, or actions, but do so with compassion, make for a far more resilient and enjoyable customer first culture — a culture which bridges the oft maligned work/life divide into a more harmonious and fulfilling one.

2. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

One of my early big inspirations, professionally, was Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM. For decades, IBM was one of the largest and most respected companies in the world, however when he took office, it was in a tailspin. The popular opinion at the time, particularly on Wall Street, was to break up the behemoth into independent businesses. Lou took the harder path seeing that the industry needed an integrator to bring together the products and services that customers wanted, and that IBM uniquely had under one roof. Turning around a complex multi-proposition global firm that had lost its way was the harder path in every sense, but he took it and, in his tenure, gave IBM back it’s mojo, growing its market value from $29 billion to $168 billion.  

3. Best piece of advice you have been given?

When you’re selling something, the best answer you can get is “YES”. The second best answer you can get is “NO”. The most common answer you get is “MAYBE”. But you can’t do anything with a “maybe”. If you don’t get a “yes”, then go for the “no”, and only then will you find the true objection.

4. What would you tell your younger self?

It’s not personal.

Being passionate about something makes it easy to take knocks personally. It rarely is. And even if it is, it’s not useful to take it that way. Everyone has their own “stuff” going on. Better to be grateful, understanding, helpful even, and keep moving forward.

5. What has been your most important or profound lesson as a leader?

The force multiplier that is created when you build a strong and genuinely trustful leadership team. The stronger the team’s bond, alignment, and mutual support, the stronger the culture, the strategy, the execution, and speed of movement. And the more resilient the business is to external shocks. Oh … and it’s a joy multiplier too!