We Live By Six Core Values
Managing Director and CEO
Fearless leader and data enthusiast
Zach Clayton is the Founder & CEO of Three Ships Media. He leads the strategic direction of the team and advises certain clients on digital media strategy. Zach is deeply engaged in developing the quantitative metrics utilized to assess client performance.
Zach also serves as Chairman of New Media Campaigns, a technology and online marketing company which he co-founded in 2006. As President of New Media Campaigns, Zach guided the company from inception through the launch of its proprietary software platform. Today, the company serves more than 400 clients across North Carolina and has released several software products, including a framework for the PHP software language and HiFi, an intuitive content management platform.
Previously, Zach consulted on early stage venture projects for McKinsey & Company, Harvard University, and Consert Inc.
Zach currently serves on the Board of Directors of Global Citizen Year, the Foundation Board at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the Board of Advisors for the Broughton Capital Foundation.
Zach has written for The Hotline, authored two books, published numerous articles on digital media, and appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News. He was named “Tarheel of the Week” by the Raleigh News & Observer for his political and community involvement.
Zach holds an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar, and a BA from UNC Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar and elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Bold solution architect and client advocate
Jeff Kilman is a Managing Director at Three Ships Media. Jeff is responsible for
Financial and organizational optimizer
Ben Redding is Managing Director of Three Ships Media. He leads Operations and also serves as CFO of the company. Ben’s chief responsibility is to ensure our Digital Operations team constantly innovates across all disciplines and consistently delivers on behalf of clients. Digital Operations encompasses Search, Digital Advertising, Conversion Optimization, Analytics, and Creative. Ben also leads recruiting and talent development and serves as the senior financial and administrative leader of the company.
Previously Ben worked with the SaaS email marketing firm iContact, helping the company triple revenues and double its staff over a three year period. Ben’s role as Vice-President of Finance & Corporate Development enabled him to prioritize financial expenditures, complete corporate development transactions, and manage legal efforts for the company.
Ben earlier worked in private equity and consulting roles, honing his passions for efficient operations, rigorous financial analyses, and strategic thinking. He also served as a Fellow with a venture capital firm during graduate school and loves learning about new technologies and trends.
Ben holds J.D., M.B.A., and B.S.B.A. degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is a licensed attorney in North Carolina.
Passionate researcher and product innovator
Aarti Sura is Chief Strategy Officer of Three Ships Media and Managing Director of The Emerging Media Research Council, our think tank. Aarti works closely with Fortune 500 companies and associations – from AT&T to Eli Lilly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – advising them on digital media best practices and trends, and in turn applying these learnings to each of our client engagements. She also manages the development of Navigator, Three Ships Media’s software platform for businesses with physical locations.
Previously Aarti worked in investment banking with McColl Partners, specializing in mergers and acquisitions. Aarti’s work spanned over 30 transactions across the United States as well as internationally, while her clients represented companies across diverse industries, such as healthcare, defense, IT, and consumer products.
Aarti also worked in brand management at General Mills, honing her passion for digital media and its impact on organizations and brands today. In addition, she served as a Director at New Profit, a venture philanthropy firm, where she lead the company’s efforts to codify best practices for organizations expanding their operations globally and provided strategic advice to portfolio organizations.
Aarti holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Our Advisory Board
Jan Davis is a board member and advisor of companies in software, analytics, direct and interactive marketing, and personal information, providing strategic direction, corporate oversight, CEO coaching and introductions to potential partners, customers, suppliers and investors.
She is an investor in Triangle Angel Partners and was recently elected to its Executive Committee. She presently serves on the board of directors of ShowingTime.com, where she chairs the Audit Committee, and on the boards of advisors for BiddRocket, Buzz Referrals, Gift Boogle, LiPi, Market Vue Partners, and Three Ships Media. These enterprises sell products and services to the retail, real estate, marketing services, and information industries as well as to consumers.
As CEO of ShopperTrak RCT Corporation, the global leader in pedestrian traffic counting, from 2004 to 2008, Davis led the company to profitability. Revenues doubled, and the number of managed counting devices increased by 136%. ShopperTrak also expanded its international footprint significantly, including the formation of a wholly-foreign owned subsidiary in China. Today, the company monitors counting devices in retail stores, malls and casinos in 65 countries.
Before joining ShopperTrak, Davis spent more than fifteen years in direct and interactive marketing, including eight years with TransUnion LLC, the international credit reporting giant. She led TransUnion’s online consumer division as president, overseeing the acquisition and integration of TrueLink, an early-stage company with products in the interactive, direct-to-consumer space. Previously, she oversaw TransUnion’s PerformanceData and Insurance divisions, providing marketing data to a broad range of direct marketing companies and marketing lists, scoring models and underwriting data to the property and casualty insurance industry.
From 1991 to 1996, Davis was a marketing consultant in Boston, MA and Warsaw, Poland, working with American, multi-national and Polish enterprises. During this period she served for two years as vice president/new ventures for Customer Development Corporation, a database marketing agency.
In the late 1980s, she cofounded SmartNames, a database marketing information, analysis and services company. In that role, she participated in raising $15 million in venture capital and acquiring four other companies.
Davis has served on the boards of directors of Truelink, RCT Analytics Ltd., ShopperTrak, the Illinois Technology Association, and the Chicago Finance Exchange and on the Alumni Council at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. She’s served on the advisory boards of RetelTechnologies (purchased by ShopperTrak), GeeYee and Ribstone. She holds BA and MBA degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and relocated from the Chicago area to Cary NC in 2010.
Founder and CEO of BestVendor
Jeff Giesea is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Three Ships Media and an investor in the company. Jeff helps guide the strategic direction of the company, supports the management team, and participates in corporate development activities. Early in the life of the company, he worked with Zach Clayton to shape the values and purpose of the business.
Jeff is a private investor and entrepreneur focused on supporting high-growth start-ups in the media and marketing services industries. In 2011, Jeff founded BestVendor, a company that helps startups and small businesses make faster, smarter purchasing decisions through social recommendations. As BestVendor’s CEO, he has guided the company from inception to beta launch. RRE Ventures, SoftBank, and Peter Thiel have invested in BestVendor. Previously, Jeff was Founder & CEO of FierceMarkets, a leading online B2B media and lead-generation company. Jeff founded the company and led it through its acquisition by Questex Media and the Audax Group in 2008.
Jeff holds an M.A. and B.A. from Stanford University.
W. Kent Geer is a highly experienced former Ernst & Young audit partner with an extensive track record in serving numerous public and private companies in a variety of industries.
His background includes extensive SEC reporting and compliance experience, extensive Audit Committee interaction and leadership, heavy transactional experience, and working closely on IPOs, other public and private financing transactions, and other projects with Senior Management, Boards of Directors and Audit Committees.
Mr. Geer spent his entire career of over 34 years in Ernst & Young’s audit practice. He served as lead audit partner for a large number of public and private companies in different industries including semiconductors, telecommunications, software (including software as a service), biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and other life sciences, distribution and various other product and services companies. He served a number of well-recognized, rapidly growing public companies in North Carolina including Cree Inc., Business Telecomm, SpectraSite, POZEN, Inc., Salix Pharmaceuticals , RF Micro Devices and Madison River Communications, among others.
Mr. Geer worked with clients on a large number of transactions (more than $3 billion in value) including IPOs, follow-on offerings, debt offerings, private placements and M&A transactions. He specialized in working with entrepreneurial companies including numerous venture-backed, private equity backed and mid and small cap public companies. Mr. Geer also served a number of companies with substantial international operations including significant operations in Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Africa.
In addition to sitting on the Three Ships Media board, Mr. Geer is a member of the Board of Directors of PowerSecure International Inc. (a NASDAQ-listed company) where he serves as Chairman of the Audit Committee.
Mr. Geer holds a BS in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Rye Barcott is a social entrepreneur and author. Currently he works in the Office of the Chairman and CEO at Duke Energy.
Previously, Rye worked with McColl Partners, a middle-market investment bank in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Amyris Biotechnologies, a Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, & Byers advanced biofuels company in Emeryville, CA. He also served five years as a Marine. While an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2001, Rye co-founded Carolina For Kibera in Kenya. Named a Time Magazine and Gates Foundation “Hero of Global Health,” Carolina For Kibera fights poverty and promotes ethnic and religious reconciliation through a unique model of participatory development.
While serving on active duty as a Marine in Iraq, Bosnia, and the Horn of Africa, he and his Kenyan co-founders, Salim Mohamed and Tabitha Festo, built an organization that today creates opportunities for thousands of talented young people born into abject poverty.
Rye serves on the Carolina For Kibera Board of Directors, the IDB Board of Directors, and the World Learning Board of Trustees. He is a TED University Speaker and TED Fellow. His first book, It Happened On The Way to War: A Marine’s Path to Peace, was released by Bloomsbury in March 2011.
Rye holds a MPA and MBA from Harvard University, where he was a Reynolds Social Entrepreneurship Fellow, George Leadership Fellow, and member of the Harvard endowment’s Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility. He holds a BA in Peace, War, and Defense from UNC-Chapel Hill.
As a graduate student at Harvard, our founder observed increasing convergence between marketing services, media, and technology. Companies could control their own media message through blogs and social media. Search engines and review sites were giving customers more power. And media consumption habits were changing more quickly than marketing budgets.
Three Ships Media partners with marketers and business people to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by this changing environment. Our name alludes to the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus and to our clients' need to navigate the new, still uncertain world of digital marketing.
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