One of Canada’s most powerful women inspires at 8 Wing Trenton

Lieutenant-Commander Kelly Williamson
Lieutenant-Commander Kelly Williamson shares her story of success at 8 Wing Trenton on Jan. 18, 2017. Photo: Makala Chapman, The Contact

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By Makala Chapman, The Contact – 8 Wing/CFB Trenton

Named one of the Women’s Executive Network 100 Most Powerful Women for 2017, Lieutenant-Commander Kelly Williamson recently shared her story with a group of local business women at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario.

The senior public affairs officer with the 5th Canadian Division, responsible for military operations in Atlantic Canada, highlighted three core lessons to the business women she has learned over the years. Tying in her teachings with personal stories, LCdr Williamson said the first step was being able to realize one’s own failures and to seize it as a learning opportunity.

“It’s okay to fail,” she shared. “You can learn so much more from failure than you do from success. Failure is just a part of life.”

She explained that not letting other people’s perceptions define her was also an important lesson she had to learn early on. Lastly, in order to be successful, LCdr Williamson noted that asking for help was critical in her development as a leader.

“Role models are important,” she said, “but also find what you have to bring to the table, and make it work for you.” As for her own role models, she said she has always looked up to powerful women like former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Nora Tyson.

With more than 20 years of service in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), LCdr Williamson served as a Maritime Surface Warfare officer, an experience she credits for helping shape the person she has become.

As for why she switched to the public affairs trade in 2009, she said it was because she had always been passionate about the field of communication.

Reflecting on her overall time in the military, she noted that her experiences taught her how to balance the number of competing interests in her life. As for how she feels about being considered one of Canada’s top most powerful women, LCdr Williamson said it was an honour.

“There are so many women who blazed a trail before, and there are so many incredible women in the Canadian Armed Forces. Any one of them are deserving,” she said. “I am forever humbled and grateful for the recognition.”

Taking the time to listen in on LCdr Williamson’s speech was Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) Chantel Fraser, who is also the president of the Trenton and District Business and Professional Women’s Club.

LCol (Retd) Fraser noted that having a guest speaker who was able to share their experience with success, especially in male-dominated settings like the military, was a great message for everyone to hear.

“It’s critical for women, no matter what they’re doing, to see role models they can learn from,” she said. “It’s also important for everybody, regardless of background or gender, to see role models that remind them of themselves so they too can set goals.”

As for one final piece of advice, LCdr Williamson said teamwork was one of the most invaluable lessons anyone in a workplace environment could benefit from.

“We are all part of the same team and we have to work together,” she said. “Value diversity. You bring a different skill set and a different perspective to the table. That can only make the team stronger in the end.”

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  • Lieutenant-Commander Kelly Williamson
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