Investor Spotlight: Sekou Kaalund
This week’s featured spotlight is Sekou Kaalund: a successful business executive, family man, philanthropist, and Enplug investor!
Sekou is a Managing Director at J.P. Morgan in New York City where he oversees some of the largest clients in the Corporate and Investment Banking division. Sekou completed a Masters in Public Policy at Duke University as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a Bachelor’s in both Classics and Spanish from Hampden-Sydney College as a Merit Scholar. We sat down with Sekou to discuss his background, public service passion, and aspirations for Enplug. Meet Sekou!
Enplug: What led you into tech investing?
Sekou: Portfolio management and an interest in game-changing ideas led me into tech investing. While the importance of portfolio management and having diversified investments (such as traditional, alternative, and tech) is an easily understood rationale, tech investing uniquely fuels my fascination around innovation and disruptive technologies.
Enplug: Why does Enplug stand out to you?
Sekou: Enplug is addressing a great market opportunity where there was no company dominating the space. I believe Enplug is transforming something that people see every day – digital displays – and creating tremendous value for corporations by leveraging technology that enables them to more effectively tap into enormous consumer potential.
Enplug: Why do you think you’ve been successful?
Sekou: Throughout my career, I have embraced a simple philosophy: I seek to develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships. My ambition is to be long-term focused by building trust and leveraging substance over time, versus building short-term episodic relationships that are superficial (or focused on just a quick business win). As a result, I have developed a wide network of mentors, supporters, and friends that have been instrumental to my personal and professional success.
Enplug: What are you involved with outside of work?
Sekou: Whether it was reading in schools or teaching high school students about banking and finance, I have made service a part of my professional and personal goals. I have been active on several boards including New York City Parks Foundation, Duke University School of Public Policy, the Public Policy and International Affairs Program, and the Council of Urban Professionals. I am also a member of the Executive Leadership Council, Milken Young Leader’s Circle, and Aspen Institute Society of Fellows.
Enplug: What kind of leader are you?
Sekou: I strive to lead by identifying goals, creating a shared vision, understanding obstacles to any challenges, and motivating those around me to achieve success. At the same time, I find significant value in engaging and incorporating the best ideas of a group. As a result, I seek to actively engage those around me and ensure I capture the best ideas and foster creative thinking.
Enplug: What led you to a career in banking?
Sekou: I am an accidental banker. At age 5, I decided that I wanted to be a US Senator. Throughout college, I was steadfast in pursuing a career in public service. However, after I won a business competition in graduate school, I realized that the private sector and banking would provide me with skills and relationships that would enable me to be a more effective public servant. While my banking path was accidental, it gave me a clear perspective on how finance can transform societies by funding ideas and technological innovation, and building critical infrastructure in communities.
Enplug: You are active with Council of Urban Professionals. What motivates you to mentor the younger generations?
Sekou: From my early passion for public service, I realized that my life would not be defined solely by the material possessions I accumulated, but instead by the impact I had on others and whether my contributions were a catalyst for good in the world. I have focused on creating an impact through coaching and mentorship, and sharing my life and career lessons with others to help them achieve success.
Enplug: If you could have Enplug power displays anywhere, where would it be?
Sekou: I love seeing Enplug used everywhere from corporate offices to stadiums. My wish is to see Enplug displayed on smaller screens in Uber cars, taxis and on airplanes. I envision Enplug’s technology being widely utilized in everyday scenarios outside of specific venues.
Enplug: Per request, this will be dubbed ‘Sekou Initiative’ when implemented!
Enplug: What does your morning routine look like?
Sekou: My morning routine is actually quite hectic, as I try to balance accomplishing several items that are core to my life: spiritual, family, and health. I aim to exercise, spend time with my wife and kids, and do some personal reflection and prayer. Exercise helps my mental acuity; time with my family increases my happiness; and prayer and reflection centers me.
Enplug: Last question – what advice would you give to your younger self?
Sekou: As indicated above, building relationships has been a cornerstone of my career. I wish I could have explored the links between banking, finance, and policy earlier in my career. While I did study abroad in college, I would have spent more time outside of the US to better understand the next wave of transformational global business opportunities.
Enplug: You’ve certainly accomplished a lot and given a lot to the community. We’re very fortunate to call you an investor!
Enplug digital signage software was co-founded by CEO Nanxi Liu and CTO Tina Denuit-Wojcik in 2012 to enable organizations to use customized real-time streaming content to create engaging external and internal communications.