From farmhand to COO: How Sean Leow's diverse experience propelled his rise at Kickstarter

Sean Leow is a leader in the tech industry and currently serves as the COO of Kickstarter. His career journey is a great example for those who are early in their careers and looking for inspiration and guidance on how to grow in their profession.

From farmhand to COO: How Sean Leow's diverse experience propelled his rise at Kickstarter
Photo by Ben Rosett / Unsplash

Sean Leow is a leader in the tech industry and currently serves as the COO of Kickstarter. His journey to the C-suite is an inspiration for anyone looking to grow in their career. From working on a wheat farm as a teenager to building and leading teams at Facebook and Kickstarter, Leow's career path is a great example of how hard work, dedication, and a willingness to take on new challenges can lead to success in a leadership role.

Leow's first job out of high school was working on his family's wheat farm in Wasco, Oregon. While it may seem unrelated to his current position, this experience instilled in him the values of hard work and dedication. From there, he went on to study in college and landed his first professional job as a Senior Associate at Alaris Consulting. During his time there, he advised clients on China market-entry strategy, including M&A activities, consumer branding, and competitive strategy assessment. This experience provided him with a solid foundation in business and consulting.

After a few years, Leow moved on to Facebook, where he took on a number of different roles. Starting out as Manager of Developer Operations, he quickly built a global team of 10 full-time employees and 9 contractors, covering all aspects of Facebook Platform's operations. The main product he worked on was Facebook Login. He was also part of the core team that launched Facebook Audience Network, where he was responsible for publisher onboarding, support, and fraud protection.

Leow's hard work and contributions didn't go unnoticed, and he was promoted to Strategic Product Partnerships, where he oversaw a variety of strategic partnerships with a focus on licensing for product integrations involving art and animation across Facebook. This work involved identifying and sourcing external partners, negotiating commercial terms, and ensuring smooth roll-out with product teams. The main products he worked on were Facebook stickers, Photos, Messenger and weather integrations across Facebook.

Alongside his work at Facebook, Leow co-founded Neocha, a social networking site dedicated to artists, musicians, and the emerging creative class in China. He served as CEO for the first 4 years and continues to serve as an advisor/board member. Neocha has grown to become an award-winning creative agency and online magazine with a mission to celebrate Chinese creativity.

In 2016, Leow joined Kickstarter as the Director of International, where he was the first member of the International team and scaled it into a global team responsible for Kickstarter's international community in 20+ countries across APAC, North America, and Europe. He led new country launches (Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong, Singapore), driving the highest area of growth and ROI for the company. He also recruited, hired, and managed employees, consultants, and agencies in local markets, managed localization of the website + mobile apps in Spanish, German, French, and Japanese, Coordinated with legal team to perform government relations work to assess risk and opportunity and identified and negotiated local partnerships to increase brand awareness and creator acquisition.

Leow's leadership skills were evident in his work at Kickstarter, and he was promoted to VP, Community Development, where he led a new product team focused on growing the Kickstarter backer community. He then led the product management function in an interim capacity as Head of Product Management while searching for a new leader. Along with managing Group and Senior level PMs, he helped hire / close 3 new PMs.

Finally, he was promoted to SVP (Strategy, Operations, Community Development) and led teams across product, community outreach, trust & safety, business operations, and community support. This role involved working closely with the senior leadership team to align strategy and drive growth across the company.

His accomplishments and dedication to the company led to being promoted to his current role of COO in 2021, where he takes on the responsibility for the company's overall operations and works closely with the CEO and the rest of the senior leadership team to drive the company's growth and success. Additionally, his exceptional work and expertise in the field made him a natural fit for an Interim CEO position, where he held this role for a period of six months.

Leow's career path is a testament to the fact that success in a leadership role is not solely based on formal education or specific job experience. Instead, it is the combination of hard work, dedication, and a willingness to take on new challenges that ultimately led to his success. He has proven that a diverse background and experience can lead to a fulfilling and successful career.

Leow's journey serves as a roadmap for anyone looking to advance in their career and highlights the importance of being open to new opportunities, willing to work hard, and constantly seeking to improve oneself. His experience at Facebook, Neocha and Kickstarter, which encompassed many different roles and responsibilities, provided him with a wide range of skills and experiences that have helped him excel in his current role as COO of Kickstarter.