Declan Kelly resigns as CEO of Teneo after drunken misconduct claims

30 June 2021 2 min. read
More news on

Declan Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Teneo, a New York-headquartered management consultancy, has resigned after claims of drunken misconduct at a charity event.

The Financial Times late last week reported that Kelly inappropriately touched several women while inebriated at Global Citizen’s Vax Live concert in California on May 2. The anti-poverty group, which Kelly worked with for years, removed him from its board the following day after receiving complaints.

Teneo said Tuesday that Paul Keary, co-founder and chief operating officer, will replace Kelly as CEO effective immediately.

Doug Band, the third co-founder of Teneo, left the company in December 2020 to focus on teaching, investing in startups, and developing his family office, according to the Financial Times.

Teneo, whose specialties include PR and communications advisory, will be struggling to put out this reputational fire in the coming weeks and months. The Financial Times report contends that the departure of two founders in quick succession “throws into question the future of Teneo.”

Declan Kelly, CEO, Teneo

General Motors on Monday announced it had cancelled a new $250,000-per-month contract it entered into with Teneo in the last two months, according to The Detroit Free Press. The announcement could hint at a potential client exodus.

Founded in 2011, Teneo provides services in strategic communications, financial and risk advisory, restructuring, digital transformation, talent advisory, development and mentoring, and ESG advisory. The firm has grown rapidly in the last decade to employ more than 1,250 people in over 30 offices across the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia-Pacific.

Kelly founded the company after serving as US special economic envoy to Northern Ireland between 2009 and 2011. Before that, he served as one of Hillary Clinton’s top advisors during her presidential campaign in 2008.

Band was also a close confidant of the Clinton family, having served as Bill Clinton’s chief advisor from 2002 to 2011.

In a resignation statement on Teneo’s website, Kelly commented: “On May 2nd I made an inadvertent, public and embarrassing mistake for which I took full responsibility and apologized to those directly affected, as well as my colleagues and clients. A campaign against the reputation of our firm has followed and may even continue in the coming days. However, regardless of the veracity of any such matters I do not want them to be an ongoing distraction to the running of our company.”

Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners in 2019 paid $350 million to take a majority stake in the firm, valuing it at approximately $700 million.

Teneo recently completed a $279-million acquisition of Deloitte UK’s restructuring unit. The firm also earlier this year made a minority investment in WestExec Advisors, a DC-based political risk consultancy.