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Continuing a legacy: St. Pete firm acquires Key Associates

Veronica Brezina

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The McGuckin Group’s Women On Their Way (WOTW) is a peer-learning leadership development program. All images provided.

Longtime executive Mary Key, who founded Key Associates, a leadership development organization that offers forums and executive coaching to businesswomen, is handing over the reins to The McGuckin Group. 

St. Petersburg-based talent design innovation firm The McGuckin Group, founded by Audrey McGuckin, announced Wednesday (Aug. 10) that it has acquired the Tampa-based Key Associates and the Key Women’s Leadership Forum. 

Mary Key of Key Associates.  

“The company is a woman-owned business that’s ventured into the space of mentoring women, and we see a great opportunity to build our presence in Tampa Bay, and expand out to other parts of the country,” said Mary Key, President and founder of Key Associates Inc., who has worked with a number of Fortune 500 companies and Inc. 500 winners. 

Key will still have a role in the company’s future and forums. 

“Women aren’t accepted in the same way men are in leadership roles, they are culturally seen differently, and we carved out this niche of a trusted group of advisors who give women who lead the tools to grow and learn together – they don’t have to do it alone,” Key said, who has also authored several leadership guidance books. “The legacy I want to leave is establishing that oasis for women in leadership.” 

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but, Key said, “it was a win for all of us.” 

Key and McGuckin, an immigrant from Scotland who settled in Tampa Bay in 1997, first became acquainted five years ago and continued to cross paths. It wasn’t until a Tech Data women’s conference that the pair discovered how their ambitions aligned and over a six- to nine-month period, they discussed how an acquisition could further their shared mission. 

“It’s been a very natural process. My first and greatest hope is that the synergies will be recognized. One similarity is this concept of peer learning in communities. We have a product we call the navigator that’s designed to help women internally navigate their journey and we hope we can take advantage of that,” McGuckin said. “I’m really honored to be able to take what Mary’s developed and enhance it and further deliver it.” 

The McGuckin Group has worked with large firms including Amazon, and software and IT firms Red Hat, Tech Data and Intel.

Combined, the two organizations have 500 to 700 members. 

Additionally, as part of the acquisition, the Key Associates Women’s Leadership Forum team and the Key Associates staff, has joined The McGuckin Group as part of the Women On Their Way peer-learning leadership development program that launched in 2021. Key will serve as a leading advisor to Women On Their Way, working closely with McGuckin. The two will work to transition the two communities into one streamlined organization. 

Audrey McGuckin of The McGuckin Group.  

As part of WOTW, Key Associates members now have access to McGuckin’s systems approach to leadership development, as well as powerful tools like The Leadership Alliance talent development suite and Predictive Index talent optimization tools, according to a news release. 

“We are in the process of working with Mary in connecting with existing members and exploring with them what is working well and what could change,” McGuckin said. “I’m excited about being in an environment where women can have that safety knowing they have deep conversations and get those ‘aha’ moments.” 

The two companies will join together for the first time publicly at the Key Associates’ annual Key Women’s Leadership Forum Summit at the Tampa JCC Aug. 25.

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    Margaret Kubilins

    August 12, 2022at11:18 am

    Congratulations on taking this step into transformative path for many.

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