Keith Krach is a known visionary and transformational leader. He is most notably known as the former Co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of Ariba, CEO, and Chairman of DocuSign. In 2019, Krach was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate to serve as the Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment.
He is also a founder of the Global Mentor Network.
This is only fitting, as Krach attributes much of his success to the power of mentorship. Something his mother, Mama Krach, taught him about the advantages of learning from -- Other Peoples’ Experiences.
From his parents to his fraternity brothers to many other people he met along the way, advice and leadership from mentors enabled Keith to grow into a prolific transformational leader. As an undergrad at Purdue University, Keith won a GM scholarship that paid his way through both Purdue and Harvard Business School (HBS). After graduation, Krach went to work for the automaker and quickly rose to become, at the age of 26, the youngest vice president ever appointed at GM. Four years later, he took a big risk and left GM to join a software start-up in Silicon Valley. This move launched Krach’s tech career while it tested his values. He refers to this as the most challenging nine months of his life (harder than HBS.)
While Keith was CEO of Ariba, he met John Chambers, then CEO of Cisco Systems. He credits Chambers with sharing the “magic of Silicon Valley” with him -- the secret of paying it forward through mentorship. This has become a central driver of his life’s mission and legacy.
Transformational leadership has been the cornerstone of all of Krach’s successful ventures.
He has always worked from a playbook that lays out his team’s:
- Team rules
- Long-term goals
A common commitment to a noble mission and crystal clear understanding of the playbook are keys to success.
One of Krach’s principles is that everyone in the organization needs to know the diversity of thought is prized and everyone’s input matters. According to Krach, “No idea is a bad idea.” Sometimes even the crazier, the better because those ideas can spark another idea that manifests into a great change.
Krach has also become an enthusiastic risk-taker. “Jumping into water over your head” is critical because without pushing your boundaries and engaging in “scary fun” you’ll never grow to become the leader you can be.
With Krach, at the end of the day, it’s all about people.
“No matter what business you are in or what cause you are supporting, it always comes back to people. You are in the people business. That is the multiplier for everything. The ability to inspire, mobilize, and unify is absolutely key.”
Catch other great insights from Keith at the Global Mentor Network