C-Suite Meet with Jacki Kelley, Chief Operating Officer, Bloomberg Media - She Runs It
Event Recaps

C-Suite Meet with Jacki Kelley, Chief Operating Officer, Bloomberg Media

By She Runs It

Moderated by: Amy Wilkins Chief Revenue Officer, Smithsonian Media at Smithsonian Enterprises

May 16, 2017


Before jumping into the conversation, Amy asked the audience a set of questions (which I think would be a good practice moving forward) By Show of Hands so we know who’s in the room:

  • Who in the audience is on the media (vendor), agency or client side?
  • Where are you in your career? Less than 7 years, 7-15, 15+.

Amy then gave a quick background in Jacki’s career and asked Jacki to specifically speak to her experience at USA Today where she spent 18 years.  Jacki shared that in those 18 years, she had 9 different jobs, worked in 2 different divisions and worked both domestic and internationally. Always felt that as long as she was learning and adding value she’s stayed with the company she’s at. She leaves when she feels like that’s no longer the case.

In fact, that’s the reason she left Gannett for Yahoo! She wanted to learn digital AND she wanted to learn from leaders in the space. She specifically wanted to work for Wenda Millard who was key in developing the space. In her time at Yahoo! Not only did she learn digital but she was part of the transformative era of combining digital display with search. Once she felt she had added her value, she once again followed Wenda to Martha Stewart. After 18-months at Martha Stewart, where she had famously said “agencies are a barrier to our progress” she was challenged by an agency exec to be a part of the solution instead of just another critical voice….and she took that challenge. She spent 7 years at IPG/UM before moving to Bloomberg.


When Amy asked “where does the instinct to move come from?” Jacki’s response is that she always asks herself where she can add value/continue to make the company she’s at better. She looks at her career (with the exception of one experience early on) as a series of decisions to Run To something…not “Run Away’ from it. She’s also a strong believer that you are interviewing an organization just as much as they are interviewing you. Some of the key questions she asks are:

Give me an example of someone you believed in and how you helped them develop?

If they can’t give examples off of the top of their head, then you probably want to consider than in your decision-making.

Give me examples of people who thrived here and why? Give me three people who used to work her so I can talk to them about their experience.


Amy then asked, when it comes to ‘Picking People’ i.e. her reference to Wenda Millard, what does she think of the roles of Sponsors vs. Mentors vs. Coaches. Jacki said a Sponsor is someone that advocates for you within the company and/or the industry. They understand, your strengths, where/how you have/can contribute and they help elevate you. A mentor, rather is someone who can help guide/give advice but may not be as strong as an advocate.


Jacki’s core belief that everyone has good intent. That she chooses to believe that everyone wakes up every day and comes to work wanting to do the best job they can and that her job, and the job of her leaders, is to remove obstacles so they CAN do their best work. She is there to serve her team and believe that the speed of the leader becomes the speed of the gang.
She also believes that leaders need to understand people’s desires, goals, etc.  In fact she hired Lisa McCarthy from Fast Forward to help women on her team with understanding this for themselves. Lisa performed an exercise where everyone had to write a letter to themselves.  The content of the letter is what they accomplished over the last year – personally, professionally, etc. – and then asked them all to share it. More specifically, she asked each individual how they felt after reading this for themselves. It’s hard to do but puts longer term goals in perspective to help you build a road map to accomplishing them.


While all panels always talk about the idea of balance, Amy asked for Jacki’s take on this. Jacki said that any given day may feel totally imbalanced, but in the long term, you need to be mindful of making time for the things that are important/matter to you and are fulfilling.


Less Self Doubt: We all have the voice inside our heads that says we’re not good enough, not doing enough. To this day she’s constantly pushing herself to do more/be better but works to not make it about doubting herself.
Smell the Roses More: Life is not a to do list.
Be More Patient:


Prioritize Family Sooner: For her she waited and she was always someone who wanted lots of children. She has one daughter and because she knew her family had more room in their hearts and their home for love/kids, they are now foster parents.
Get integration into your Life Sooner: Prioritize better the personal and professional.


People want to work for people they like. Mike Hughes – ex-COO at The Martin Agency said “Find Work you Love with People you Love.” That’s a tall order and one we should all strive for.
Career Path is a Jungle Gym. She would always rather pick a job she’s interested in vs. a promotion.
Awkward is Good: She went from UM and managing a big team to being an individual contributor at Yahoo! Or rather someone with no team and no decision-making power. But her head hurt at night from all that she was learning. While there were awkward moments where people were talking to her ask if she knew what they were talking about (and that was awkward) she got really good as asking questions/using statements like “tell me more” to learn.
Nora McGinnith (?): Industry Coach. Biggest difference between men and women and advice she would give all women – be more confident! We as a whole lack confidence and we need to support each other in being more confident. We need to push ourselves to be uncomfortable in that way and when we are push 3x more past that level of discomfort.


Written by: Priscilla Valls,VP, National Vertical Sales at Pandora