Human Resources

The CMO Files: Kelly Seelig, Skyport Systems

Kelly Seelig

Organisation:  Skyport Systems

Job title:  CMO

Location: Mountain View, CA, USA


  1. Where were you born and raised? 
    I was born in Springfield, MA, but grew up in a small Connecticut town called Canton.  I’m still a small town girl at heart, although I can’t imagine living anywhere but Silicon Valley these days.     
  2. What was your first job?  
    Not counting my high school grocery clerk days, I began my professional career at an advertising agency.  I still tell young people that there is no better training ground for a successful marketing career. You learn the importance of identifying with your customers and have the unique opportunity to work beside great creative talent to understand the power of targeted messaging, true copywriting, and elite design. 
  3. What was the first product you got really excited about? 
    I know I’m dating myself, but it was my first yellow Sony Walkman Sport.  It sounds silly, but I remember that the idea of having portable technology intrigued me, unleashing a whole new dimension to what might be possible. It definitely seeded my interest in the tech world, and I still love innovation today.
  4. Who has been the biggest influence on your career? 
    There have been so many amazing mentors throughout my career—it would be hard to pick just one. I’ve been very lucky, and the truth is, most of the greatest influencers in my life had very little to do with marketing. It was more about being brave and tenacious enough to be authentic to myself when some of the qualities I naturally possess, such as collaboration, compassion, and kindness, were not the typical qualities that would expedite one’s climb up the proverbial corporate ladder.
  5. What has been your greatest achievement?
    I’ve had some exceptional career moments such as the initial company launch of Bloomenergy and the BlueJeans immersion experience at the Sundance Film Festival—all things that were bigger than what any small company should be able to do, and yet through some extraordinary teamwork and a simple belief that we could, we did. 
  6. What has been your biggest mistake?
    Let’s call it a growth opportunity, not a mistake as it ultimately led me here.  In 2008, I had my long-awaited, highly coveted SVP title, yet I found myself lost.  As a woman, I was struggling to find a way to stay connected to who I really was, and play to this male-driven definition of success that frankly escaped me. My brand of leadership looked so vastly different, and I increasingly believed there was no way to bridge the divide. I decided that the only way back to myself was stepping out of the corporate game altogether. Even though I still very much loved my career, I spent a year trying to redefine what inspired me.
    What I ultimately realized is that all I had to do was be courageous enough to step into what leadership looked like for me, and stand in that truth. I gave up worrying about titles and playing like the boys and just tried to forge my own path—not just leading as a woman, but a new brand of leadership. As I grew more confident in myself, I began to believe there was room for that in the world. Today, I am desperately grateful that I found my way back, and I happily consider it an honour and obligation to do all I can to help forge that path for others.
  7. What is your greatest strength
    I’m deeply committed to helping people bring to life the things in them that make them shine.   
  8. What is your biggest weakness?
    This one is a weakness and a strength.  I always see the absolute best in people. I’m a trusting soul by nature, and sometimes that can leave you open to great disappointment. That said, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
  9. What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?  
    Customer experienceWhile today’s marketing tools are amazing, and I’m completely enamoured with all of the data intelligence I now have, I also fear that the need to quantify everything has veered us away from creating a heartfelt, human-to-human customer experience.  That is the cornerstone of truly extraordinary brands.
  10. Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
    They are the same right now … “Done is better than perfect.”   While I understand that it is a necessity at times, the perfectionist in me chokes on the words every time I say them.
  11. What makes you stressed?
    The speed at which we work today doesn’t always allow for the level of quality work product or messaging that I think customers deserve. That stresses me out a lot.
  12. What do you do to relax?
    I started mediating a few years ago, and I find that typically grounds me and provides a peaceful contentment to handle whatever comes my way.
  13. What is your favourite song? 
    I’m more of a “top 25” favourite songs. Too many good ones.
  14. Which book taught you most?
    One of my favourite leadership books is an older book called Leadership Wisdom from the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, by Robin Sharma. I always go back to it if I ever feel that I’m getting carried away with myself.   
  15. Do you have a team or sport that you follow? 
    I used to be a big tennis fan, but not much anymore.
  16. Which country would you like to work in? 
    Honestly, while I love to travel, I’m very content working in the heart of Silicon Valley. The community here possesses this contagious spirit of innovation, and you get to be a part of exciting technologies that are literally changing the world.
  17. Which company do you think has the best marketing?  
    I’m a forever Apple loyalist, but these days, I am continually impressed with Starbucks and the way they elegantly evolve and amplify their brand while making me feel continually comfortable as a customer.  Truly impressive. 
  18. What do you love most about your job?  
    I love working with young people and watching them learn, grow, and evolve. There is nothing more fulfilling than watching as they become brave enough to bring their true gifts and passion to the world. 
  19. What is your favourite book?
    I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I am a secret Dr. Seuss fan. I believe that some of life’s great lessons are hidden in his books. Ever read Yertle the Turtle?
  20. What keeps you awake at night?  
    Right now it is the number of amazingly talented women—my friends and collegues—who are stepping away from technology as they tire of fighting the status quo. I truly belive that greatness lies in diversity, and I’m hopeful that we can expand our vision of what true success really looks like to include all in that equation.


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