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Kate O'Keeffe

Senior Director
Customer and Partner Innovation

Kate O’Keeffe is Cisco’s Senior Director of Customer and Partner Innovation. She brings a wealth of experience in innovation and entrepreneurship to her role, driving new customer solutions within Cisco’s engineering organization.

Prior to her current role, Kate was founder and leader of Cisco CHILL, a co-innovation catalyst designed to drive disruptive innovation with and for Cisco customers. Her passion to solve bold problems that don’t yet have answers grew out of her long-term desire to find better, faster ways to approach big global issues such as environmental and population challenges. With CHILL, she developed a unique methodology that leapfrogged traditional innovation processes to spark broad industry change. During the three years of CHILL innovation, a full 70 percent of ideas progressed to further stages, resulting in two start-ups, seven patents, and more than 20 joint projects and internal growth initiatives. She continues to drive the CHILL co-innovation methodology in her current role.

Previously Kate was the global leader of the Services Innovation Excellence Center at Cisco, where she was responsible for driving sustainable innovation capability for Cisco Services. The practice is based on an Innovation Maturity Model, devised to provide a clear pathway for businesses to build sustainable, measureable innovation capability.

Prior to Cisco, Kate led innovation for an Australian-based corporation in the utilities sector.

As a native of Melbourne, Kate proved her entrepreneurial chops as a fashion designer by founding, building, and exiting a successful shoe business, Cinderella Bella.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and is the recipient of numerous industry awards and recognitions, including the HBR/McKinsey M-Prize: Innovating Innovation Challenge. Kate was also named one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business” and included in the Anita Borg Institute’s annual Women of Vision awards. Most recently, Kate was named one of the Upstart 50 2018 by the San Francisco Business Times and Silicon Valley Business Journal.

She is co-author of “Managing Multiparty Innovation,” which was published in the Harvard Business Review in November, 2016.

Kate O'Keeffe's Articles