After a 36 year career with the Royal Canadian Navy, Kelly Williams (Commodore Retired) served for a decade (2012 – 2022) as the Senior Director Strategy and Government Relations at General Dynamics Mission Systems - Canada. In this role, Kelly was responsible for strategy development, planning and implementation as well as developing, managing and sustaining relationships with key stakeholders across government. Kelly also provided executive oversight for corporate communications and outreach.
Kelly brought to these roles extensive operational experience gained from over 36 years of service with the Royal Canadian Navy, over 15 years of sea time - including two extended Persian Gulf deployments. Additionally, Kelly has also served internationally with the U.S. Navy and as the Canadian Defence Advisor to the Canadian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom.
Kelly’s operational expertise is complemented by significant experience at the National Defence Headquarters Ottawa focused on strategy, policy and capability development. He has served as the Director of Maritime Strategy where he was responsible for future Maritime force development as well as the formulation of the Maritime Security elements of Canada's National Security Policy. In December 2004, Kelly was seconded to Chief of the Defence Staff as a key architect in the development of Canada’s new Defence policy statement. In January 2005, he was appointed as the Deputy Team Leader to the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Transformation Action Team (Capabilities). In July 2006, he was appointed as the Director General Strategy where he was a principal contributor to the development of the core elements of the Canada First Defence Strategy and upon selection and promotion as a Naval Flag Officer in 2007, was appointed as the Assistant Chief of the Maritime Staff. In April 2009 he was selected as the military lead to the Department of National Defence / Canadian Forces Strategic Review, the most complete and comprehensive analysis of defence priorities and spending ever undertaken.
Kelly is a graduate of the Canadian Forces Staff School, the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College in Toronto. He has also completed a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Royal Roads University in Victoria where his classmates selected him for the Nortel Networks Leadership Award, as the individual who emerged as the “natural leader of the class who contributed the most to the learning of others". He was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Military Merit in 2007 for his work in support of CF transformation and strategy development. He was awarded the Canadian Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for outstanding leadership while deployed the Persian Gulf for Operation APOLLO - Canada's contribution to the international campaign against terrorism. Kelly was also awarded the United States Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) in recognition for his work with the U.S. Navy.