A conversation with Kevin Stickney, Founder of Calypso Communications
Everyone has a story to tell, and here at NHBSR we jump at the chance to get to know our members through a different lens while they tell us their tales.
What we found most intriguing about Kevin Stickney’s story were the experiences and events that inspired him to start Calypso Communications. If you look at his profile on the Calypso website, you’ll see he’s earned a 99.9 percent rating on his “mastery of the written word,” along with a 90 for “leaving rogue coffee cups around the office.” During this conversation we focused on the words, and we hope this feature meets his standards.
At NHBSR, we are lucky to have Kevin as a new board member, where he serves on the governance committee. We are also extremely fortunate to have Calypso as NHBSR’s social media sponsor—helping us engage audiences in conversation about corporate social responsibility and sustainability, upcoming NHBSR events, and the great things our members are doing here in New Hampshire. (We’d like to make a special callout to Calypso’s Devan Meserve, who has been an amazing help in keeping NHBSR’s social media life vibrant.)
We sat down with Kevin recently to learn more about his work, where he finds inspiration, and his connection to NHBSR. Growing up, Kevin loved the written word and was an avid writer and reader. In juxtaposition was his fascination with mechanical engineering, technology, and understanding how things work. He majored in English literature at Union College. After school, he joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to a village in Korea where he taught English. Given the rural location, there was time to explore other endeavors beyond the classroom. As luck would have it, Kevin discovered a farmers cooperative building irrigation systems nearby, and he was welcomed to get involved and support their efforts, allowing him to pursue his love of engineering.
After his return to the U.S. in 1980, Kevin joined environmental pioneer Wheelabrator-Frye Inc., where he eventually became VP of public affairs. He spent 16 years there and loved the challenge of translating complex projects and environmental science into understandable language for a wide range of audiences. In this job, he had a hard time finding outside agencies that understood the technologies and issues he worked with. This challenge is what prompted him to start thinking about starting a strategic communications firm poised to serve complicated industries.
When the moment was right, that’s exactly what Kevin did. Since founding Calypso (with business partner Paul Young) in 2000, Kevin has seen a rapid shift in how companies communicate technology, especially those shrouded in intricate issues that make the communication process multifaceted, yet critical. He’s also seen an increased need for accuracy, speed, and proper channel alignment. Largely based on his interests, Calypso has gravitated toward working with clients in the energy, environment, and technology arenas, but now has a strong reputation in healthcare and private equity as well.
Calypso has purposely stayed small and focused. The company has been a member of NHBSR since 2013. When asked what attracted Calypso to a NHBSR membership, Kevin said the fact that many major NH companies have memberships signaled to him the importance of the organization and motivated him to get involved. He believes that sustainability is an integral part of Calypso’s day-to-day work in striving to help businesses remain sustainable and viable for the long-term. His team enjoys working to keep businesses healthy, which helps encourage smart and talented people to stay in the state. Kevin believes businesses and organizations need to create environments where employees feel supported and enjoy contributing.
Certainly, what we found in talking with Kevin is that Calypso is a small, but mighty firm, committed to their clients as well as to their team members. One of the benefits of being small is that they work very collaboratively, so they can each offer insight and ideas to bolster other individual or team projects. We also know that they are a team that has fun together.
Calypso had a big year in 2015 with a couple of noteworthy events. Early in the year, Houssam Aboukhater joined the team as Kevin’s business partner and managing director. Kevin and Houssam have known each other for a long time, stemming back to Wheelabrator days, so this is a reunion of sorts. Houssam brings extensive business management and operations experience to Calypso. He has held executive positions in the manufacturing and private equity industries, and most recently was managing director of a European holding company that owned and operated numerous major hotels. His broad experience in hospitality, as well as with international business development, will serve to expand Calypso’s partnerships in many industries.
The second exciting event, which coincides with Calypso’s 15th anniversary last June, is the office’s move from Bow Street to Ladd Street (still in the heart of downtown Portsmouth). The team has embraced the new space and loves being part of the vibrant downtown community.
Calypso works with all industries, but the team most enjoys working with companies that are creative, progressive, and that value employees and want to grow. For anyone interested in learning more about Calypso Communications, Kevin welcomes a conversation. You can reach him at 603-431-0816 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you’ll have a chance to meet Kevin and some of his team at the Spring Conference, where Calypso is the presenting sponsor, or at another upcoming event.