Dave Kelly is a public sector technology thought leader and data strategist based in Dexter, Michigan. Dave currently serves as Vice President of Public Sector Solutions & Strategy at Information Builders, a U.S.-based software company founded in 1975. In this role, Dave provides strategic vision for use-case driven solutions to public sector technology problems. Dave works closely with Information Builders VP of Public Sector Innovation & Technology, Deepinder Uppal to employ creative methods for converting data into actionable intelligence; offering comprehensive solutions to federal, state & local governments, higher education, and Department of Defense agencies. 

Retired Captain Dave Kelly Michigan Surprisinglyfree Headshot

After graduating from Macomb Community College and serving in the United States Marine Corps, Dave joined the Michigan State Police; starting at the bottom of the organization as an emergency dispatcher, then enlisting as a trooper and ultimately working his way up the ranks to retire, after 26 years of faithful service to the citizens of the State of Michigan, as a Captain and the Director of Technology. In this final position, Dave was the catalyst for several nationally-recognized technology innovations. 

Outside of the tech world, Dave Kelly is a writer. He served 8 years as Editor in Chief of the Michigan Trooper Magazine and avidly blogs about stock trading, markets, and emerging technology. Additionally, he has published numerous short fiction stories, involving complex character relationships, that can be found on Amazon.com. 

When Dave isn’t developing innovative tech solutions or writing, he can often be found at the poker table navigating his way through large tournament fields, or reading and incessantly learning about his diverse fields of interest. Get to know Dave Kelly by checking out his interview with SurprisinglyFree!

What’s the most important thing we should know about you?

Dave Kelly: I’m attracted to complex problems. I’ve always found joy in helping others find creative solutions to long-standing technical, process, and corporate culture puzzles. 

Name the most impactful lesson you learned from failure.

Dave Kelly: Failure is a great teacher, perhaps the greatest… because it gives us the opportunity to reflect, not on theory but on practice. Without failure, we have no real-world lessons to point us toward success the next time we try. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Dave Kelly: 30 years of public service. I served my country in the United States Marine Corps and then served the citizens of the State of Michigan for 26 years as an enlisted member of the Michigan State Police, where I retired as their Director of Technology. 

What did you waste the most time on when you were first starting your career?

Dave Kelly: Thinking too much about the next opportunity and not realizing that next opportunities are born from the challenges you are facing today. Focus on the mission at hand, expend all of your energy on it, and opportunities will come. 

Name a tool you use for work that you can’t live without.

Dave Kelly: My AirPods, I’ve literally forgotten how to put the phone to my ear. 

What is your favorite hobby and why?

Dave Kelly: Without a doubt it’s poker. The poker table provides continuous opportunities to leverage and improve my strategic thinking, decision making, risk management, and complex problem-solving skills. It’s also a great test of patience and mental endurance. 

What excited you the most about your industry right now?

Dave Kelly: The public sector is in the early innings of leveraging data and cloud computing to gain insights, improve operations, and achieve efficiency. There are so many opportunities to provide improved service to our citizens. 

What concerns you most about your industry right now?

Dave Kelly: Cultural change moves much slower than advancements in technology. In order to gain quality insights from data, employ predictive analytics techniques and leverage machine learning or artificial intelligence, organizations need to be more focused on data quality. Quality output requires quality data. This cultural change needs to catch up to achieve real impactful results. 

What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken?

Dave Kelly: I enlisted in the Marine Corps at a young age, worked as an undercover officer, traded stocks, and I play poker in my spare time, so risk has always been a part of my life. The key to mitigating risk is Incorporating a risk management strategy into your process; go-don’t-go rules that allow/disallow taking on the risk and govern the risk when it’s on. 

Name one small habit that positively impacts your productivity.

Dave Kelly: Prioritize the things that are most likely to help you and your team achieve your strategic objectives. Most everything else is noise, learn to tune it out. 

What tips do you have for getting a seat at the table?

Dave Kelly: Be curious, think laterally, don’t be afraid to ask why, find a solution before bringing a problem forward, help others without expecting anything in return; these are the things that build the strong professional networks necessary to get you where you want to go. 

What book has made the biggest impact on your life?

Dave Kelly: I’ve always loved reading, so I have so many. Here are a diverse few:

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Prisig 

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison 

What I learned losing a Million Dollars by Jim Paul & Brendan Moynihan 

The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga

The Psychology of Poker by Alan N. Schoonmaker 

Do you value intelligence or common sense more? Why?

Dave Kelly: They are not mutually exclusive. The best teams have a blend of both as do most of my favorite people. 

What would you consider to be the perfect day?

Dave Kelly: Every day that I wake up with my health and mental acuity intact! 

Dave Kelly
Job Title
Vice President of Public Sector Solutions & Strategy
Information Builders