RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Kelly Rowell served on the leadership team for the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) for four years, including serving more than a year as the organization’s interim CEO, as the organization pivoted its entrepreneur-support work and conference events and programs to a virtual environment due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Now, Rowell is the newly appointed president and CEO with the interim title removed.

“I’m prepared and excited to continue leading the team and our entrepreneurial ecosystem into the future,” Rowell told WRAL TechWire in an interview last week. “Transparency, honesty, and accountability are my hallmark traits as a leader,” she noted, adding that she is an ENFP according to the Myers-Briggs assessment.

[“A Campaigner (ENFP) is someone with the Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Prospecting personality traits. These people tend to embrace big ideas and actions that reflect their sense of hope and goodwill toward others. Their vibrant energy can flow in many directions.,” says the website 16personalities.]

Rowell brings experience, and familiarity into the role, and sees herself as a “change agent,” which she said she believes that type of role is “the right thing for CED at this time.”

So, what’s next for Rowell, for CED, and for the entrepreneurial ecosystems across North Carolina?  Here’s a transcript of WRAL TechWire’s interview, lightly edited for clarity.

Council for Entrepreneurial Development names interim exec as CEO

  • What challenges has CED faced, since the beginning of 2020, and what new opportunities did this time period provide?

Rowell: CED spends the majority of its time providing high-touch, consultative support for growing companies.  The disruption in how that support was delivered was our biggest challenge, but we weren’t alone in that boat.  Many companies were forced to reevaluate service delivery and what that looked like in a remote environment. Although challenging at times, this exercise provided clarity for our team on how we can make an impact. We will use this data to inform how we continue to contribute to the ecosystem moving forward.

  • How will your role change, and how will CED’s role change, moving forward?

Rowell: Our ecosystem is thriving. High growth companies continue to connect to and access the capital they need to scale their operations.  CED serves as a primary resource to make those connections and provides a valuable service to investors locally and globally.

When CED was established in 1984, there wasn’t much of an ecosystem… let alone a convening organization that helped to launch high growth companies and connect them to capital, mentors, peers and serial entrepreneurs.

Now we have a thriving ecosystem, with dozens and dozens of organizations in the area all providing various services, programs and contributing to the momentum.  CED’s job is to see a few steps ahead, to know where the puck is going, and to organize the resources of our networks to solve the next set of challenges.

Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s interim CEO says it’s ‘full speed ahead’ into a virtual world

  • What’s your vision for CED and for the entrepreneurial ecosystems across the state?

Rowell: The most successful ecosystems across the world are led by founders.  I believe that CED can be the catalyst for enabling the collective impact founders can have in serving the ecosystem that supported their endeavors.  CED plans to build on those proof points to create a space where entrepreneurs can and want to start, build, and expand their businesses in our region.

I believe the best work is done when a team is empowered to contribute to the decision-making process, and all ideas or solutions are welcomed.  I have an entrepreneurial spirit that has allowed me to challenge the status quo invoking change, adaptation, and evolution for the greater good.

People who know me know that I am a high energy person.  I am excited about the future of our region.  I am excited to build a new vision for our organization. And I look forward to collaborating with others who are on the same page and want to work together to make it happen.

We are embarking on a strategic planning process that will lead CED into the future.  I plan to invite the community in to inform how CED best serves high growth start-ups moving forward.

  • How will the entrance of established companies who’ve chosen to set up facilities in the Triangle and in North Carolina, change the entrepreneurial ecosystems?

Rowell: As we start to welcome more high-profile, innovative companies to the Triangle that have a history of investing in the communities they operate in, I hope they lead by example and inspire others to do the same.  Their presence will not shift our focus but rather inform how collaboration can stimulate the overall growth of our region.

  • Will CED resume in-person events?

Rowell: We are planning on some in-person gatherings starting in late June. While our offices are centralized at the RTP Frontier, we have always enjoyed working with our community partners at American Underground, Biolabs and Raleigh Founded, etc. to provide office hours, or co-hosting events, etc.  I hope we can see more of that in the near future.