Kelligrew drives results by bringing the right people together

April 03, 2019 | GET MORE : Ethics

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The U.S. Bank executive focuses on building teams at work and in the community.

Jim Kelligrew believes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, whether it’s a commercial loan project or a community fundraising event.

Kelligrew, vice chairman, co-head of Corporate & Commercial Banking and member of the bank’s Managing Committee, has spent his 30-year banking career building relationships and businesses. His belief in the multiplier effect – when a change or stimulus can have an accelerating role in improving the outcome – has shaped his banking career, as well as his work in the community. 

Based in Charlotte, Kelligrew oversees U.S. Bank’s Commercial (middle-market) Banking, Commercial Real Estate, Fixed Income and Capital Markets (FICM), Specialized Finance and a segment of Risk Management. He has grown market share in several areas since joining the bank in 2009, including building the FICM team into a business with top 10 market share in several product areas, according to Thomson Reuters.

“One of the things I’ve learned in building businesses is how important it is to have a true commitment from senior management,” Kelligrew said. “The greatest example of that is U.S. Bank itself. We have a rock-solid platform and a corporate culture that leads to success. We need that commitment, trust and partnership.”

While he takes great pride in his team’s successes, Kelligrew’s enthusiasm is palpable when he talks about a charity event he created with other bankers in Charlotte. Founded in 2012, Banking on Our Community has raised more than $1.8 million for local charities since its inception.

He got the idea for the fundraiser when he saw that the large banking community in Charlotte was increasingly fractured after the financial crisis. “It was a real opportunity to get bankers back together and out in the community,” he said. “The thought was, ‘Let’s all join hands and make 2 + 2 = 6.’ It’s that multiplier effect and it’s tremendously rewarding.”

U.S. Bank is an anchor sponsor of the event that includes 16 bank participants. This year’s event in early March raised $400,000 for seven Charlotte nonprofits: Autism Charlotte, Boy Scouts of America, Hopeway, HoopTee Charities, The John Crosland School, Opera Xpress and Veterans Bridge Home.

“It’s fun when you can have that kind of impact on charitable organizations,” Kelligrew said. “It’s particularly rewarding when you can do it as a bank like U.S. Bank, which is such a leader in the community.”

Another point of pride for Kelligrew is his work with the bank’s Business Resource Groups. “I would say I’ve been very blessed to get to act as board chair for the Business Resource Groups,” he said. “We have strived to keep diversity and inclusion front and center with the bank’s Managing Committee by expanding our involvement in BRG events – so we are leading by example. The people I’ve worked with have been tremendous. It’s very fulfilling to see our great strides in this area.”

He points to a stint in London early in his career as a life-changing experience that continues to shape his views on diversity and collaboration.

“The diversity in London is amazing. People from all over the world live there so I was dealing with different cultures and different ways to make decisions,” he said. 

An avid sports enthusiast, Kelligrew (Crazy Coach K) also enjoys coaching youth soccer and basketball teams and cheering on his beloved Boston Red Sox and alma mater University of Michigan. (Next year could be their year, he says of Wolverines football.)

He is married to Libby, a retired district court judge, and has three children: daughter Isabel, 20; son Jay, 18; and daughter Stryker, 8.

“We love to travel,” he said. “A few years ago, we planned a two-week trip to Europe that included our extended family, including nieces and nephews. I had so much fun organizing it and getting the family together. We had a wonderful time.”

As Kelligrew looks ahead, he sees great things on the horizon for the bank and its leadership role in Charlotte.

“We are among the highest rated banks in the world … we are unparalleled compared with our peers,” he said. “We believe in community. We have tremendous momentum and we’re growing market share in all areas, but we’re still barely scratching the surface. We have tremendous opportunity to grow.”

Written by Heather Draper of U.S. Bank.