Michael Keithley is Chief Information Officer for Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the world’s leading entertainment and sports agency, with offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, Nashville, and Beijing, among other locations globally. In this role, Keithley is responsible for all facets of Information Technology (IT) at the agency, including strategy, applications, infrastructure, support, and execution, along with advising CAA’s agents and clients on digital and technology-related issues. In addition to his IT responsibilities, Keithley collaborates on technology strategies across all areas of the agency, including Business Development, Corporate Consulting, Social Media, Digital Media and Entertainment Marketing business units, among others.
Throughout Keithley’s 23 years at CAA, he has been instrumental in mentoring and cultivating young IT talent, along with working with multiple organizations to address education-related issues, and focusing on STEM’s role in education. He works closely with the CAA Foundation to support improved education techniques through public and private partnerships at the national and local levels. Keithley continually serves as a liaison between Silicon Valley’s technology community and the Hollywood creative community.
Keithley received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his work with the Los Angeles Unified School District; and serves on the Board of Directors of the Fulfillment Fund, Communities In Schools, and Communities In Schools of Los Angeles.
Prior to joining Creative Artists Agency, Keithley held several technology and management positions at Northrop Grumman Corporation and Motorola Inc. Keithley is a graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems.
Leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) represents many of the most successful and innovative professionals working in film, television, music, video games, theatre, and digital content, and provides a range of strategic marketing and consulting services to corporate clients. CAA is also a leader in sports, representing more than 1,000 of the world’s top athletes in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, and golf, and works in the areas of broadcast rights, corporate marketing initiatives, licensing, and sports properties for sales and sponsorship opportunities.
Science, Technology, Engineering, (Arts), and Math (STE(A)M) are part of CAA’s work in public education. CAA uses its indirect influence on pop culture, to partner with various organizations and inspire students to become, and stay, interested in STE(A)M; to position these disciplines as “cool” to study; and to foster employee engagement with students in various activities, including museum and career field trips, science fairs and competitions, speaking engagements, and global campaigns that improve in-class and out-of-class educational tools.
Women/Girls and Diversity:
The entertainment industry is very competitive and CAA is focused on remaining at the forefront by attracting the best people from the widest pool, which includes females and minorities. Throughout our uniquely collaborative culture, we are committed to doing what we say in ways that are highly visible, including active partnerships with organizations that focus on young females in STEM; participating in diversity events and efforts; providing funding for these efforts; and aligning our STEM programs with our IT department’s strategic initiatives.
CAA is devoted to STE(A)M, and more importantly exposing students to STE(A)M, through engaging and innovative experiences. CAA created “STE(A)M Day” at several of its offices nationwide, hosting clients such as Radiolab, and YouTube star Joe Penna (MysteryGuitarMan), as well as organizations such as Raspberry Pi, GlassLab and CUBE, for a fun-filled day of experiential learning with public high school students. CAA sent out littleBits circuitry libraries to fifty schools globally as its annual 2013 holiday gift, among other company-wide initiatives.
Our Information Technology (IT) department has been committed to making a personal investment in females and minorities by providing an inclusive environment where we are able to make significant contributions, along with mentoring the next generation of leaders in technology and innovation, enabling them to be successful in STEM professions.
As a department we employ a comprehensive and actionable list that is an integral part of our IT department’s vision and strategy to assist and encourage underrepresented female high school students to explore and eventually pursue careers in the fields of technology. CAA employees organize, and participate in, monthly support groups and work groups in the STEM pipeline, covering various topics, such as editing software for video footage and learning to code, for public high school students.
The traditional methods of hiring were not producing the desired results we were looking for, my Chief of Staff set out to use non-traditional methods to attract females and diverse candidates to our IT positions, these included establishing an internship program, and partnerships with organizations that are dedicated to growing females, such as Women in Technology International and Grace Hopper, among others.
Additionally, our hiring approach centers on the intentional and specific language used throughout our STEM related IT job descriptions, ensuring that they contain gender equality descriptions so as not to deter qualified female candidates. In addition to the wording of these job descriptions, another strategy that we employ is to identify a qualified pool of female candidates to be interviewed before the final candidate is chosen.
We encourage mentoring by our IT leaders in the workplace, providing hands-on career guidance in the world of technology to our female and minority IT colleagues, within an environment where colleagues understand career advancement paths throughout the company. Growth is the quintessential recipe for success, and we encourage all of our colleagues to, not only excel within their core competencies, but to also improve their leadership capabilities. The more female and diverse leaders, and mentors, in our IT department and throughout our company, the faster we will attract these same employees who are pursuing work environments that inherently foster growth.
Involving all members of our IT department in our STEM strategy is vital for true change to occur. Employees are encouraged to participate in activities around STEM, some of which are hosted at our office locations and others that are at offsite events.
We understand that we cannot achieve this change by ourselves; therefore, external partnerships are a significant piece of our strategy. For example, our IT department worked closely with the technical aspects of a joint venture between CAA and Intel, that resulted in the CAA/Intel Media Lab, now closed, but was located at CAA’s headquarters, designed to be a place to learn, play, and explore the new digital technologies as they apply to the media and entertainment industry.
CAA has also supported and worked with over fifty STEM organizations through its payroll deduction program, funding field trips to exciting locations including the Jet Propulsion Lab, ASTC Properties, STEAM Summer Camps, and SpaceX.
To date, the CAA IT department has been successful in hosting six workshops annually for 100-plus students per workshop, allowing students to interface, learn, and develop mentoring relationships with actual professionals.
The workshops engage students in critical thinking and expose them to new options for career exploration in the STEM fields, along with demonstrating how each discipline correlates with one another through project-based programming. To date, the program has directly served over 5,500 students.