About Kelly Watson

Kelly J. Watson is a Senior Partner with IBM Global Business Services since 2021.  She has more than 30 years of business, operations and P&L experience. She currently leads a team of over 5,000 professionals driving a range of financial, risk, operational and technology solutions to clients in the Life Sciences, Healthcare, Government and Higher Education industries.  She also serves as a Lead Account Partner on a Fortune 50 company and leads Market Development for the Public Sector for the Americas region.

Prior to her role at IBM, Kelly served as the Senior Advisor for Sector Development to the New Jersey Office of the Governor and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority where she led the State’s effort to attract, retain and grow the priority industry sectors.  She also led the State’s Life Sciences Innovation and Development team.  In 2019, Kelly retired from KPMG LLP after a long and successful career at the public accounting firm, where she held roles of increasing responsibility and leadership. 

From 2016 to 2019, she served as the Partner in Charge of KPMG’s U.S. and Americas Risk Consulting Practice, leading a team of more than 5,000 partners and professionals who provide the compliance, risk and technology insights organizations need to protect themselves and grow. Prior to this position, Kelly spent six years as the Office Managing Partner of the firm’s New Jersey business unit, which houses more than 1,100 people who serve the state’s largest companies and mid-market clients. Kelly has been a global lead partner and account executive on a number of Fortune 100 clients.   She also served a five-year term on the firm’s Board of Directors and led an entire governance refresh during her final year as the Lead Director, the first woman in the firm’s history to hold that position.

Kelly’s international experience includes more than three years in Czech Republic. During her time abroad, Kelly served on several global accounts and helped establish and develop the Central and Eastern European practice-training program.

A fierce advocate for developing leaders, Kelly is a frequent speaker on business and leadership issues, and she is also active in philanthropic activities.  Currently, Kelly serves as chairperson of the board of W.O.M.E.N. in America and as Dean of the C-Ahead Program for the Committee of 200 (C200). She chairs the New Jersey Women’s “Network-to-Network” organization. She is a Foreign Policy Association Fellow and is the chair for the Finance Council for St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church. She serves on the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and BioNJ.

Kelly’s leadership is routed in the power of purpose and ensuring that people feel valued and appreciated.   She has been widely recognized for her leadership. Notable recognitions include: The Generation W Inspired Leadership  recipient, Consulting Magazine’s Top 25 winner for Excellence in Leadership, Executive Women of New Jersey as an influential policymaker, Diversity Inc. Women Worth Watching, Garden State “Woman of the Year,” and NJBIZ’s one of the Best 50 Women in Business.

Kelly received a BS from Fordham University in public accounting and finance. She is a certified public accountant in New York and New Jersey, and a member of the New York and New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Kelly and her husband, Derek, reside in New Jersey and are the very proud parents of two almost-adult children, Victoria and William.