Lt CMDR Kelly Haywood on Leadership

Lt CMDR Kelly Haywood is the 2021 recipient of the ACT Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership. We had a chat with her to find out about her leadership life, her biggest inspirations, and what she is currently advocating for.

Tell us about your leadership life to date?

I joined the Navy 24 years ago and have the absolute pleasure of leading teams at sea, ashore, in war zones and at home in Australia. My most recent leadership role (and probably the most rewarding) was as the Navy Women Strategic Advisor. Outside of Navy, I am also the founder and manage a mental health initiative called ‘Choose to Live; Love your Life’.

What is your proudest moment as a leader?

Most definitely the significant changes we have been able to make in recent years in the Navy Women space. We have established several initiatives that have directly impacted the retention of our women in Navy. These include the Navy Women Mentoring Program, the development of a Navy Handbook on Pregnancy and Support to Navy Parents and revised policy on Breastfeeding in the Workplace. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing others succeed and the opportunities we have provided to our women such as speaking courses and external developmental opportunities have enabled this.

Who are some of your inspirations as a leader?

Jacinda Ardern, Michelle Obama and so many amazing humans leading the way in our ADF.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Back yourself, be kind to yourself, ask for help when you need it.

How do you give back to women in your field?

Everything we do in the Navy Women space is about giving back to those coming after us and making sure our people feel valued, supported and respected. We give back by ensuring our people are recognised, empowered and have the courage and confidence to do all they set out to achieve in their careers.

What are you advocating for now?

I want to continue to give back and make change where change needs to be made. I would love to continue to build on the amazing work already happening and make sure our people have every opportunity to succeed.

What does receiving the ACT Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership mean to you?

The award means everything. I am so incredibly passionate about the Navy, the ADF and our people. I want to be able to show what can be achieved whatever path or career you choose and the difference you can make when you find your purpose. My purpose is helping others.

Lt CMDR Haywood will accept her award in Canberra at the Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium. Find out about the event here.