I had a fascinating conversation last week with Michael Keithley, CIO at United Talent Agency, a global organization based in Beverly Hills, California. Established in 1991, United Talent represents artists and other professionals across the entertainment industry.

Michael is a nominee for the HMG Strategy 2023 Global Leadership Institute Mid-Cap CIO of the Year Award, and he brings a truly unique perspective to the HMG Professional Network. In our recent conversation, I asked Michael to describe his path to success.

“When I look at my job, I see two key roles. The first is hiring and retaining great talent. If think my ‘superpower’ over the years has been attracting and cultivating A+ players for our team. I’m always recruiting and looking for exceptional talent, even when I don’t have open positions.”

I admire how Michael is always in recruitment mode. That’s a brilliant strategy, especially because it often takes years to identify and hire the best candidates for critical jobs. Michael says that his second critical role is change management.

“I recognize that that people don't like change, even when change is demonstrably better than whatever the existing solution is,” Michael says. “So, I need to really embrace this aspect of human nature. And then my job is to help people open up to change. I’ve become the chief storyteller on how technology can change the desired outcome in ways that people will embrace it.”

I’m genuinely impressed by Michael’s description of himself as “chief storyteller.” From my perspective, Michael truly understands why modern leaders need to be exceptional communicators. “As you move up the pyramid, it becomes more and more important,” he says.

Michael also appreciates the power of branding, which enables the firm to attract top talent and to manage change smoothly and effectively in continually evolving markets. “Historically, we began as a talent agency representing actors, writers, directors, musicians and performers,” he explains. “Over time, we’ve evolved into a global media company.” Today, United Talent Agency‘s ​clients include some of the most acclaimed figures in film, television, news, music, sports, theater, fine art, books, video games, podcasts, and other social and digital content. “​UTA is where screenplays find buyers, groundbreaking films find financing, new TV series are launched, new companies born,” according to the company’s website.

“Management here really understands the value of technology, and that's one of the reasons they brought me in,” Michael says. “You need to have a growth mindset. You have to be excited about constantly learning and growing. I think that's absolutely critical. I'm a voracious reader. I read books, blogs, magazines, newspapers, whatever it is. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts. I attend industry conferences and CIO events like HMG Strategy Executive Leadership Summits.”

Michael also makes a point of keeping up with new technologies by meeting regularly with startups and venture capital firms. “Once a month or so I travel to Silicon Valley.  and I find out what they're doing. The intersection of Silicon Valley and Hollywood is kind of my brand. Startups are building the future and venture capital invests in the future. And so that's where I find out what's coming next.”

I’m delighted that Michael found time to share his valuable insights and experience with the HMG Strategy Professional Network. Here at HMG Strategy, we’re already preparing for a great new year and we eagerly look forward to another 12 months of incredible summits, conferences and executive-level meetings. We have a tremendous schedule in place and we urge you to visit the HMG Strategy website to learn more. Our next event is the 2023 Silicon Valley Global Innovation Summit on Feb. 28, 2023. Register today for this unique and exciting high-value executive summit focused on resilient leadership and driving fearless reinvention to deliver a secure digital strategy in a connected global marketplace.