2017 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards winners


2017 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards winners

K. Melissa Kennedy – 48 Innovate

Title: Founder, chief innovation officer

Age: 39

Company description: Transforms enterprise employees into “intrapreneurs”

Birthplace: Raleigh

Family members: Dad, RJ; mom, Gail; brother, Todd

Education: B.A., journalism and mass communication, UNC-Chapel Hill; MBA, N.C. State University

What accomplishments are you most proud of? Having the courage to quit my six-figure job to start a company; giving away 250 tomato plants grown from seed every year to share the joy of gardening; writing “The Innovation Revolution: Discover the Genius Hiding in Plain Sight;”creating a method for big business that drove $1 billion in revenue for my clients 48 hours at a time and through the talent they already have; creating and participating in the first study abroad program for the N.C. State MBA program (in Vienna, Austria); co-leading the effort to raise $3.1 billion for North Carolina public universities and community colleges – my first job out of college and first and only political campaign.

What community causes or charities have you been involved in during the past year? I host a monthly innovation and design thinking meetup with 670 members in less than 6 months to connect local innovative thinkers and doers to share and transform; serve as marketing and partnership volunteer for the J.C. Raulston Arboretum; volunteer for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina; host a weekly meditation session in Raleigh and volunteer for the Durham Shambala Center; served as judge for all Open Access pitch competition; volunteered for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County.

What is the greatest obstacle you have overcome in your career? Fear of the unknown – in today’s world, change is accelerating and the only response it to embrace this new normal and let go of the fear of the unknown. It has allowed my to thrive in disruption and reinvent myself over and over.

Nothing makes me madder than … people who skip a place in line.

What is your favorite Triangle restaurant? Gocciolina in Durham.

Who would make the guest list for your dream business lunch? Amy Schumer, Warren Buffett, Brene Brown, Tim Ferriss, Dalai Lama and Tina Fey.

What is your secret talent? I’m an improv cook. No recipes required. Give me any ingredients and I can whip something up – edible and often delicious.

The following information is replicated from the 2017 Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list of named leaders. Find all other recipients information and other details at the original published article.