Next in Line, but Don’t Say Nepotism

Burgeoning BE 100s leader talks tools for success



Imagine being an integral part of an advertising company legacy that includes millions in billings and clients such as the Bermuda Dept. of Tourism, FedEx, and Wal-Mart – all before the age of 25.

Not only is this reality for Kelli Coleman, 24, but it’s a legacy she plans to continue contributing to. As vice president of business development at GlobalHue, a B.E. 100s industry leader in multicultural advertising and marketing founded by her father, Donald A. Coleman, Kelli works on the GlobalHue New Business team, manages the Coleman Entrepreneurial Scholarship Program, and serves on the finance and innovation committees.
talked with the Spelman College alumna about the entrepreneurial bug, why her name and “nepotism” don’t belong in the same sentence, and how other young executives can plot a plan for rising to the top. Some might say that your success can be attributed to nepotism. How do you respond to that?

Kelli Coleman:
Nepotism—no. Attraction to the entrepreneurial spirit I witnessed by my father’s hard work and creativity – yes. I am the only family member who works for the company. I attribute my success to my parents depositing the seeds of entrepreneurship and creativity into me at an early age, enabling me to succeed at all levels.

When I first arrived at GlobalHue, I spent one to two months in each department of the agency, while participating in a rigorous business management leadership program. That experience allowed me to learn the anatomy of the business, the inner workings of each department and the clients we serve. No day is the same; it’s the impromptu situations, client interactions and new business pitches that add to my hands on experience.

Prior to my current role, I served as the manager of the chairman’s office; in this capacity I learned the internal workings of the entire agency. All these experiences allowed me learn the business inside and out.

What are some tips that you’d have for a young graduate who is just starting at their first post-college job?

Be proactive! Speak up and take initiative as it relates to projects. Think beyond the matter at hand; this will allow you to strengthen your problem-solving skills. That is essential– it demonstrates your value. Identify a mentor to help you grow.

What are three keys to success that you have incorporated in your career?

Be a team player. At the core of being a leader is being a team player, having that camaraderie and respect amongst your team members is imperative to your success, personally and professionally.

Solve problems. Make sure you prepare yourself by reading and taking notes. Wrap your mind around the project and develop questions enabling you to better understand it. This will allow you to foreshadow any issues that may arise, ultimately resolving the issue before it becomes a problem. This has allowed me to be instrumental in growing our clients business and the profits of GlobalHue.

Go hard or go home! By pushing yourself, you grow. You never know what you are capable of until you do it, taking that extra step increases your knowledge, value to the company and the ROI [return on investment] for the clients you serve and also the company you work for.

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7 Responses to Next in Line, but Don’t Say Nepotism

  1. Rykiel says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes!! Yet the best of you is that you never confuse success with greatness. The more you got, the more you gave! You are an outstanding service leader as well. I am in love with the person you are

    Bless All over you Friend!

  2. Dario says:

    This is a fantastic response: “Nepotism—no. Attraction to the entrepreneurial spirit I witnessed by my father’s hard work and creativity – yes.”

    A true entrepreneur, like her father, makes decisions on merit and Kelli seems to be busting her ass. Well done.


  3. Nia says:

    Your drive and ability to take the necessary steps to intimately learn GH’s businesses, and become instrumental in crafting their growth, is the mark of great leadership and a testament to your success.

    When the time comes GH will be left in good hands.

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  5. Jakob says:

    She deserved it. But you cant ignore that this opportunity wouldnt be available to her if it werent the family business – no way would a normal kid right out of colllege get hired for that position, that’s just the reality. So her family connection played a big role (the most important rolee actually) – there’s no denying that. But acknowledging that doesnt mean she’s not qualified, cuz clearly she is. To me the best thing about this story is it lends credence to that idea that young people can still kick ass in high responsibilty positions and that experience is a little overrated.

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