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Advisory Board

Connected Places Catapult

Elena Williams

Head of Global Programmes

Elena is currently the Head of Global Programmes at the UK’s Connected Places Catapult, leading business development in international markets. 

Elena is an expert in global trade, economic resilience and development, whose superpower is in connecting with people and bringing people together to achieve shared ambitions. She passionate about people, places, and the power of connection. 

Elena has had a wonderful career in which I’ve developed extensive experience of working globally including, as the head of financial and professional services in the Department for International Trade, and as a diplomat responsible for the UK’s trade relationship with South and Southern Africa – leading DIT/FCDO trade teams in the region from Angola to Mauritius, during which time she advocated for and established the UK’s first trade team in Zimbabwe, to support the country’s agricultural export focus. 

Elena is the founder of HMG’s UK-Africa Investment Summit and has served on the boards and executive committees of bilateral business chambers.  Elena is currently the Vice-Chair of Justice Desk Africa, a Cape-Town based children’s and human rights charity. Prior to leaving HMG, after nearly 20 years across five Whitehall departments, Elena was responsible for setting HMG’s global supply chain resilience policies and strategy in response to the global pandemic and led cross-Whitehall work to develop the UK’s first critical minerals strategy. 

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