Kelly admires a mural on a buildingTell us about your career path.

I started my career at Level 3 communications in Broomfield, Colorado. I began as a marketing intern, doing anything I could to prove myself (if you ever need advice on cleaning out and organizing a marketing closet, definitely reach out). Within four years, I was a product manager for virtual private networks. At that time, I left and got my MBA at the University of Oxford. While there, I was fortunate enough to meet one of the leading repeat entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and moved to the Bay Area to be one of the first hires at a telecommunications startup. From there, I moved into a garage with four engineers to build an autonomous flying robot. In 2016, I cofounded Grit Ventures, an early stage venture fund that specializes in robotics.

What advice would you give to current or future computer science students?

It may seem that your life right now is decided by the courses you take, the GPA you receive and your first internship. But life takes twists and turns you would never expect. When you meet someone successful, it seems that their career path was one obvious stepping stone after the next, but the reality is that the most successful people you know fell into opportunities that excited them. They drew as much as the could from the experience and when they were ready to move on, used it to propel them forward. There is always the most simple path from A to B, and it always looks the best on paper. But in reality, the most interesting and successful people you will meet along the way never have a cookie-cutter resume — they worked hard and moved up quickly because they were excited by what they were doing and that drove them to achieve their highest potential.

Kelly and a friend with CU Buffs stickers on their faces during their time at CU

Kelly (left) and a friend during their time at CU.

Are there any “words to live by,” credo, or top values that you follow?

My experiences in startups have taught me that in the fast-moving and amorphous world of early stage companies, selling product and raising capital is a tremendous amount of pressure. This leads many companies to hide things from customers, investors or even outright deceive. I've seen firsthand how this can ruin companies that would have been tremendously successful had they not done so. For me, my business credo is: "Don't lie. Not because you are a good person — but because it is bad for business".

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining?

The most exciting moments in my life have always been starting or helping start new companies. There is nothing more thrilling (and terrifying) then stepping off the ledge. It is not a career path for the risk adverse. But for me, there is nothing more gratifying than building a company from scratch — after that, everything else just seems tedious.