Rick Kelley has spent nearly two decades running sales organizations at iconic internet brands, but one of his proudest achievements isn’t related to sales targets or profit margins. “Two women on my team nominated me for everywoman’s Male Agent of Change Award
. I didn’t win, but I was chosen as a finalist. When I think about my proudest moments at Facebook, that’s at the top of the list. To know my team felt I’ve had an impact on their careers, that I make a difference for them—that’s much more important to me than revenue numbers,” Rick fondly recalls.
“Nobody will remember the millions of dollars in sales goals. They’ll remember the opportunity I gave them and how I treated them every day. That’s what drives me.”
Rick joined the Facebook company in 2009 when the global team had less than 1,000 people. In his current role as Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions for Gaming, he leads an organization that works with game developers to bring their games to people who use Facebook Products through marketing and advertising. Talking with Rick about his time at Facebook, it’s immediately clear he’s a people-first leader.
In his own words: “I run a sales organization, so numbers are important. But team development and leadership, and more broadly team satisfaction, mean just as much to me. I always aim to be someone who leads with empathy, who listens, who creates a collaborative environment. As leaders, we’re developing people for the next step in their career. Whether that’s on my team or on another team, I want to make sure I’m providing each person with opportunities to learn and grow. Nobody will remember the millions of dollars in sales goals. They’ll remember the opportunity I gave them and how I treated them every day. That’s what drives me.”
A champion for women in gaming
Rick’s focus on diversity and inclusion is unwavering when it comes to building teams: “It’s important to me that we build inclusive teams, so new people who join Facebook immediately feel comfortable.” Given the geographic nature of Rick’s team—with pods in Tel Aviv, S?o Paulo, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, Dublin, Singapore, and more. Rick’s team is incredibly diverse — representing over 50 different nationalities. However, when it comes gaming to gender balance, the number of women who pursue careers in gaming is much lower.
“Only 23 percent of professionals in the gaming industry self-identify as women. I think about this and what we can do to change this dynamic. A few years ago, we put forward an initiative focused on women in gaming called She Talks Games
. It highlights women and their experiences across the industry. We invite women from Facebook and other companies to share their stories—how they started in gaming, biases or other challenges they’ve faced, and the strong allies they made along the way. The goal is to inspire positive change,” Rick explains.
“This started out as an external project, to encourage more women to apply for positions within gaming. Since then, it’s become the foundation for how we build our teams and talk with clients about how they build their teams. This year we’ve reached equal parity on the Gaming team and currently half of the leaders on my team are women. This makes me incredibly proud.”
A relentless focus on building inclusive and diverse teams
Rick has this same mindset when it comes to the people interviewing to work at Facebook as well as new developers who want to partner with the company. “It’s very important to me to be surrounded by people with diverse views and backgrounds,” Rick says. “When we have an open position, I want to make sure we have a diverse pool of talent, even if that means putting in extra work to make it happen. I also want to make sure that internally the people who are part of the interviewing process reflect the diverse makeup of our team.”
He adds: “When it comes to our clients, sometimes new developers think more about how to build a team quickly to scale. I’ll ask them how they think about diversity, and if they say it’s too hard to build a diverse team, I know I can’t bet on them. I’ve had some difficult conversations with clients to encourage them to take the extra time to find the right team members, so they are better set up for long term success.”
Being the ally he wants his sons to be when they grow up
Once people join Facebook, they’re encouraged to get involved with Facebook’s Resource Groups, internal networks of people who share similar values of supporting and encouraging diversity. According to Rick, “It’s important to provide a space where we can bring together people with similar backgrounds and beliefs, so they can build deeper connections across the company.”
Rick has made it a priority to get to know more people and learn about their backgrounds through his involvement in Facebook’s Resource Groups. He recently attended a trans symposium as an opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing the trans community. His approach: “I sit in the back, I listen, and I learn.” He became the executive sponsor of the Latin@ Facebook Resource Group in Dublin even though he’s not Latino because he deeply believes it’s important for executives to support all teams.
“When I host an event, I might ask someone from the Pride@ Facebook Resource Group to join me or to host the event. As a leader, these are the things that are incredibly important to me. My hope is that it encourages others to get involved and be an ally,” Rick added.
When asked what keeps him motivated and focused day-to-day, after a brief moment of reflection, Rick shared a few thoughts: “My team works hard. I’m inspired to work as hard as they do. I want to make sure they recognize I’m with them. We’re in this together.”
“I’m also motivated by providing for my family. My wife and I have two young boys, and I want to be someone they look up to. Their dad works in gaming at Facebook and Instagram, which they think is really cool, and they're also really proud of me. To me, that’s all that matters,” Rick says, with a sparkle in his eye that’s as undeniable as his passion for always putting people first.