Meet Me – Our US Senior Vice President of Sales, Keith Kirkland
From falling into factoring to leading Growth Lending’s expansion efforts, learn all about our first US employee and his career story so far
As Growth Lending’s first US employee, Keith has brought a fountain of local knowledge and expertise to our expansion efforts. He shares all about what enticed him to join, what he loves about his role and gives an insight into his early career ambitions and dreams outside of work.
What do you do at Growth Lending?
I am the Senior Vice President of Sales for the US market and the first member of the new US team.
This means I am able to focus on two of my favourite things: building relationships with referral partners to find and close deals and be part of the market expansion efforts as I introduce Growth Lending’s unknown but exciting brand to the United States.
What attracted you to working at Growth Lending?
Initially I was attracted by the product offering as I quickly realised the features of Growth Lending’s selective invoice finance product are not widely available in the US, which presents an excellent opportunity to help SMEs and partner with other lenders outside of the normal competitive lending environment.
Secondly, the prospect of being the first on the ground in the US to lead the expansion and add to Growth Lending’s already impressive global footprint was a big draw.
And last but by no means least, the people and culture – Growth Lending has an amazing team and I found I had a great desire to be a part of it.
How did you get into this field?
It’s a funny story because my 30-year lending career started out as mostly a fluke. I interviewed at Trust Company Bank in Atlanta where the human resources representative searched for open positions and offered me an entry-level role in the bank’s large factoring division.
Having never heard of factoring, I asked her to explain it: “I don’t really know, but it has something to do with carpet.” Clearly I was just a young guy needing a job as my response was: “I’ll take it!”
I began my career as a collector, eventually moving into credit and learning about lending from the ground up. Within a few years, I transitioned into business development and have been actively finding and funding businesses ever since.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a lawyer. During my senior year of college, I worked part-time for a small law firm. It was not a very good experience and I made the decision to cancel my plans for law school.
Shortly thereafter, I was a college graduate whose lifelong plan had suddenly changed, which highly impacted my willingness to accept the entry-level position that “had something to do with carpet.” With no offence to my lawyer friends, I believe my career in sales has been infinitely more fun!
If you could have any job in the world, what would you choose and why?
Outside of my current role, I think I would choose to be a university professor. Over the past 15 years I have had the opportunity to lecture in a college classroom on multiple occasions, typically on business, finance and sales topics. Unexpectedly, I thoroughly enjoy doing this and love sharing knowledge with college students.
What’s on your bucket list?
It’s a long list, but at the top right now is to travel to the upper reaches of the world to see the Northern Lights.
Given £100 million to spend or invest, what’s the first thing you would do?
I would set aside a healthy amount for the day my wife and I retire, as well as for our two (almost adult) daughters.
Having accomplished that, I would design my own house and have it built exactly the way I want, which has always been a dream of mine. I would also like to travel the world with my three Kirkland ladies – after years of being a business traveller it would be great to set out on adventures all together.