Kelly O. Kay


Kelly O. Kay is a partner in Heidrick & Struggles’ San Francisco office and manages the global  Software Practice. He conducts enterprise software searches worldwide for a wide range of technology companies and has extensive experience with private equity-backed growth companies, late-stage private, and a range of public companies from $100M to $100B.


Kelly specializes in senior go-to-market leadership roles including board, CEO, COO, president, CRO, WW sales, customer success, sales operations, vertical leaders, segment leaders, pre-sales, channel sales, sales strategy, business development, as well as regional leaders for EMEA, APJ, and LATAM. He co-founded the Marketing, Sales & Strategy Officers Practice while leading many global account relationships in the broad technology sector.

Before joining Heidrick & Struggles, Kelly was a managing partner with a leading boutique retained executive search firm in Silicon Valley, where he conducted board, CEO, and senior-level searches for a range of companies in the technology sector. Prior to executive search, Kelly was a partner at the Center for Corporate Innovation (CCI), a nationwide CEO development, strategy, and networking organization sponsored by McKinsey & Co, focused on the technology and healthcare & pharmaceutical sectors.

Earlier, Kelly was chief marketing officer and co-founder of a nationwide management consulting firm. Before that, he was general manager and VP for a large public manufacturing company, held various management roles at Gemini Management Consulting, and spent six years in enterprise sales with IBM Corporation.

Kelly has been interviewed by major publications including Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and SiriusXM. He is an industry conference speaker on executive talent trends and a reviewer of the "Wealth Creator’s Playbook: A Guide to Maximizing Your Return on Life and Money," by John Christianson.

Kelly is a sought-after talent advisor, public speaker, and author of widely popular articles including “Leave Smart Land Well,” which explores resignation best practices. He’s written a framework for managing the resignation process and two follow-up resignation related articles partnering with McKinsey & Co., and published in Harvard Business Review (HBR) using data from a national survey of 6,000+ CHROs and senior executives across all industries.


The University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, MBA

The University of San Francisco, Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing

Philanthropy and Service

Kelly serves and has served on the advisory boards of, Vyntelligence, BioLucid (acquired by Sharecare), Bunchball (acquired by Parallax Capital Partners), and Symphony (formerly known as Perzo and acquired by Goldman Sachs).