Welcome to Share your success, a monthly series of interviews featuring successful people within the Experian family. I wanted to take a closer look at those who are thriving in our company to keep a pulse on everything happening in the data quality space from the people who know best: the professionals who live and breathe all things data management day in and day out. I recently sat down with VP of Finance and Operations, Garrett Kelleher, to understand how he got to where he is today.
1. Who is Garrett Kelleher? Give us some background.
Well, I grew up in the suburbs of New York City in Rockland County, NY. After high school, I attended Holy Cross (Go Crusaders!) in Worcester and wound up settling in Boston with some friends after graduation. I worked for 5 years in public accounting but wanted to pivot from accounting to Financial Planning and Analysis. (I recognize that some may call that a subtle distinction.) In order to do that, I decided to go back to school full time and get my MBA from Notre Dame (Go Irish!). After two years of living in lovely South Bend, IN, I moved back to Boston and lived in the North End for nine years. I got married to my wife, Christina, in June of 2016 and as some of you may know, we had our first child, Liam on September 8th, 2017. I am very happy to say that so far, he is a very good sleeper!
2. How did you end up here at Experian?
One of our previous recruiters reached out to me via LinkedIn about a Finance Manager position working for the Director of Finance at the time. I replied saying I wasn’t interested and was happy where I was. I thought about it further over that weekend and decided it was foolish not at least to have a conversation about the role. As a result, I reached back out to Marcus that Monday to say I had reconsidered. I wasn’t expecting him to respond, to be honest, but he did, and the rest is history!
3. Being that you are such an asset to Experian's data quality business, how did you get to where you are in the company today?
I find this a bit of a difficult question to answer, to be honest, but I’d like to think it has to do with a lot of hard work combined with proactivity, curiosity, and self-examination. I’ve significantly benefited from working for good and smart people, and I’ve learned quite a bit from the great people who have worked for me as well. Lastly, with most people, a bit of good timing and luck always provides a tailwind.
4. Define what leadership means to you?
I like how Nelson Mandela spoke about leadership. He referred to it as “leading from behind,” which on the surface sounds counterintuitive. Here is his quote on the topic, “He stays behind the flock, letting the nimblest go out ahead, after that the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” Personally, I recognize that the “Rah Rah” style of leadership isn’t my strength, but there are many ways to lead. While the allegory might be a bit much, Mandela’s philosophy is an approach that resonates with me. Additionally, this style allows others to find and develop their leadership skills as well.
5. What advice do you have for people who are pursuing advancement, and ultimately wish to move into a role as a VP like you?
Whatever role you are pursuing, firstly, it’s vital to perform well on your current responsibilities, but secondly, I think it’s important to be a well-rounded member of the business. By that, I mean learning about disciplines other than your own and being able to apply aspects of that to your role. Successfully combining both of those will position any employee well.
6. What is your favorite thing about working at Experian?
There are two actually. One is the culture. I enjoy both the social culture (although significantly less able to take advantage of it these days), as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of the business. Also, I enjoy working at Experian because it has, and continues to afford me so many great opportunities for personal and professional growth.
7. What do you think is the most interesting thing about data management?
To me, the most interesting part is the variety of use cases and business challenges that our customers present to us. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our customers are using our products generally to all solve similar problems, but that is not the case.
8. What do you think makes our data quality better than everyone else’s?
Probably the fact that we have a key product that can handle many of your data management needs, while also being a charm bracelet and a streaming music service. It’s quite impressive when you think about it. (This is a joke about Experian Pandora, for those who don't know)
Thanks for taking a quick peek into the professional lives of Experian’s most successful people. I hope you have taken something away from this interview and wish you the best of luck—no matter where you are on your path to success.
Want to learn more about life at Experian?