The executive director of the Office of the Chief of Naval Personnel for the U.S. Navy, Patrick O'Connell previously acted as interim director of program and strategy at HS2 (High Speed Rail 2, Ltd.), the United Kingdom's $85 billion high speed rail program. Throughout his career spanning work with the U.S. Navy, HS2, and other groups, Patrick O'Connell has enjoyed traveling around the world, including visiting the Icehotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden.
Established in 1989, the Icehotel lies north of the Arctic Circle and encourages participation from artists across the globe. A work of art recreated each year, the Icehotel showcases the efforts of a diverse range of creative individuals chosen for their innovative ideas rather than their experience working with ice. Approximately 40 artists come each year at the end of November to create the artistic exhibition, which lasts only a few months.
The structure of the Icehotel itself comes from enormous blocks of ice taken from the Torne River during the previous winter and a mixture of ice and snow known as “snice.” Following construction of the arch-shaped rooms, the artists arrive and begin transforming the structure into a work of art according to their design sketches.
Having guided High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd. as the interim director of program and strategy, Patrick O’Connell was engaged in the foundational planning involved in an $85 billion high-speed rail network that will connect much of the United Kingdom. Leveraging the operational planning experience he gained with HS2, Patrick O’Connell presently serves as the executive director of the Office of the Chief of Naval Personnel.
As reported in Military.com, the Navy has plans to expand its fleet to 326 ships while taking on 21,000 additional sailors by 2023. In tandem with this, a key focus, announced by the Chief of Naval Operations at an online all-hands meeting, is to give commanding officers expanded powers in recognizing top talent. This reflects officers’ ability to accurately assess those personnel whom they interact with on a day-to-day basis.
In addition, petty officers willing to take on "hard jobs in hard locations” will have expanded opportunities for promotion within the re-envisioned Navy. Regardless of the duration spent in a grade, taking on challenging responsibilities will offer immediate promotion. For example, a chief advances to senior chief, and senior chief advances to master chief. Such positions set out within the pilot Advancement to Vacancy program span strategic locations such as Hawaii and Japan as well as the continental United States.
Patrick O’Connell, a former program and strategy director of London’s High Speed Rail 2 Ltd. (HS2) rail program, has a wealth of experience leading, managing, and executing major programs for the public and private sectors. Throughout his career, Patrick O’Connell has been responsible for a number of major and transformational programs like HS2 in London and Washington D.C., mostly in the sectors of health, IT, space, defense, and aviation. A well-respected faculty member of the University of Oxford, Mr. O’Connell established the masters of science in major programme management at the university in 2008.
The part-time MSc in major programme management was developed to meet the need of senior executives seeking to build their project management skills while maintaining full-time employment. While enrolled, students apply best practices and the latest research to effectively execute highly complex, large-scale projects. The program is challenging and selective, with a total of 82 students admitted annually.
The 24-month program is divided into eight 4-day modules that are taught at the Saïd Business School for 18 months. Students spend the final six months drafting, presenting, and defending a dissertation. After completing the program, graduates have access to the 16,000 member-strong Oxford Business Alumni Network.
Patrick O'Connell serves as the U.S. Navy’s chief of naval personnel and draws on past leadership experience as interim program and strategy director with High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd. In this position, he set in place an ambitious high speed rail project that is set to be completed in 2033. With nearly two decades of experience living abroad, Patrick O'Connell has made his home in countries such as Japan, France, and Spain, and he seeks out authentic cultural experiences wherever he is.
One of Spain’s most unique traditions is La Tomatina, which is held annually in the village of Bunol in eastern Spain each August and includes “tomato battles.” The roots of this festival are said to extend to 1945, when a food fight broke out involving gigantes y cabezudos (giant-headed parade figures) and young revelers. The next year the animosity repeated itself in another massive tomato confrontation, which law enforcement officers ultimately gave up trying to quell, and it soon after became a signature regional event.
With “fun” the operative word, La Tomatina now centers on a massive tomato fight that brings in 22,000 visitors each year, and requires tickets reserved in advance. With strict rules in place that all tomatoes must be crushed before being thrown to avoid injury, some revelers go so far as to wear a snorkel mask to protect their face as some 150,000 kilograms of tomatoes are flung.
The chief of naval personnel for the United States Navy, Patrick O’Connell has more than three decades of public and private senior executive experience.