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Moving Into the C Suite with Benevity CEO Kelly Schmitt

Photo-Kelly Schmitt
Kelly Schmitt

Episode Summary

Kelly Schmitt successfully guided the CSR platform for charitable donation management, Benevity, throughout her tenure as Chief Financial Officer, and later President. Today, the Canadian company is a billion-dollar organization with more than 650 employees, two million users, and $7 billion in processed donations to 300,000 global charities, and Kelly has transitioned to the role of CEO. In this episode, Kelly shares her story of assuming the coveted C Suite at Benevity, how she overcame self-doubt, and the true meaning of a growth mindset in business.

Episode Notes

People and culture trump all
Kelly shared that while working as Benevity’s CFO and President, the company’s founder approached her about taking over the position of CEO. Initially, she balked at the suggestion, assuming that the role of CEO should be reserved for the best salesperson, thought leader or visionary in the room. However, she quickly realized that being a great CEO goes beyond a solid resumé — it’s about aligning well with the company’s people and culture, and embodying the organization’s overall values.

Embrace change
To Kelly, a growth mindset means embracing the idea of constant and never-ending improvement. She believes that to continue being a leader in the market, companies need to constantly be evolving, innovating, and disrupting. This requires a high level of self-reflection but also a willingness to grow, stay humble, and accept feedback. Kelly notes that a growth mindset is really about looking at things through a long-term lens instead of focusing solely on short-term gains.

Diverse teams are more successful
From the outset, Benevity’s founder made it a priority to build a diverse team, not by setting specific targets, but by building a culture of inclusive behaviours and solid values. The company’s team is now 51% women and 30% BIPOC, which Kelly says has directly translated into a higher performing business. Kelly referenced some of the built-in behaviours that help Benevity maintain this inclusive culture, such as a progressive parental leave program and gender pay equity initiatives.

CIBC Innovation Banking is a trusted financial partner to entrepreneurs and investors. Get in touch with our team at cibc.com/innovationbanking.

Show Contributors: 

Kelly Schmitt


Michael Hainsworth


CIBC Innovation Banking