Atlantic Diving Supply Veteran Highlight: Graham Kessler

A Career of Innovation Dedicated to Supporting the DoD

ADS, Inc.’s Director of Product Development and Integration Graham Kessler has dedicated his entire career to supporting the Department of Defense. Attending the University of Illinois on a Navy ROTC scholarship set him on the path to success as a leader in the Navy as well as in the defense community.

While at the University of Illinois, Graham pursued his passion for both engineering and music: majoring in Engineering, he studied acoustics and continued to play jazz music. After graduating in 1994, Graham began his career as a Naval Intelligence officer. He attended the Naval Intelligence Officer Basic Course at Dam Neck in Virginia Beach, VA and upon completion was the first intelligence officer assigned to the U.S. Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS), joining a unit based in England.

Upon returning to the United States, he was assigned to VF-213, an F-14 Squadron based in Virginia Beach, VA. Graham served as an airstrike planner and supervised a team of imagery analysts. While with the squadron, he deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation DESERT FOX, where the primary mission was to strike military targets in Iraq that contributed to its ability to produce, store, maintain and deliver weapons of mass destruction. Upon completion of his deployment, Graham returned home to the United States, resigning his commission from the Navy as a Lieutenant in 1999.

After his time in service, Graham went to work as a defense contractor, supporting the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) writing future concepts about what the future of warfare and the DoD could look like. It was there that he honed his skills in long-term strategy development and decision making, creating high-level conceptual constructs on a grand scale. After his time supporting USJFCOM, Graham led and managed strategic business development efforts at DC-based R&D company Logos Technologies to expedite the introduction of disruptive surveillance and reconnaissance products and technologies into DoD and the Intelligence Community. He learned more about contracting, procurement and strategic business development while working to incorporate new technologies into solutions to meet the needs of today’s warfighters.

Graham joined ADS in 2016 with the task of conceptualizing, building, integrating, and scaling an innovation organization focused on the provision of critical operational equipment to Warfighters and US Federal Agencies. At ADS, he has been a leader in connecting the tactical needs of customers and operators with the ideal companies and innovators to bring the right technologies to bear to address unmet operational requirements. He understands the needs of the modern warfighter and has an in-depth knowledge of current and future technologies, which allows for the crafting of innovative and relevant solutions, often utilizing currently deployed technologies in new ways.

Today, the innovation group leverages ADS’ extensive customer reach to understand and prioritize key capability and operational gaps that hinder the ability of our forces to achieve their mission. Graham has built an extensive network of external technology partners, including defense industry and innovation organizations, consumer-facing startups, Universities, VC firms, and National Labs. He has been successful in leading product/technology maturation and delivery in the fields of UAS, RF technology, advanced materials, ISR, power and energy, optics augmentation, cyber security, brain health, trauma medicine, heated/functional garments, VR training, chem-bio decontamination, explosive ordnance disposal, diving, and field feeding. The innovation team delivers essential solutions and drives adoption of these capabilities through ADS’ established core sales teams and procurement expertise.

Graham’s career began as a Naval officer and has centered in and around the DoD ever since. His time working with innovative technologies both in the Navy and as a defense contractor makes Graham uniquely qualified to lead ADS’ innovation group in finding superior solutions for our military, while the lessons in mentoring and leadership he learned as a young officer have shaped his own leadership style to this day. Empowering and motivating his team is paramount; the Navy taught him that his team’s success equates to personal success. Graham strongly believes in maintaining responsibility as a leader while delegating decision-making authority to lower levels in order to empower his team to be successful. He is grateful for the people he met through his service and the leaders that helped him in his own success and that inspired such a fulfilling career serving those that serve.

At ADS, we are proud to employ outstanding veterans like Graham – leaders who bring the very best to our company and our valued customers. Thank you for your service, Graham!

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