The executive director of the office of the chief of naval personnel in Washington, DC, Patrick O'Connell has been bridging gaps between the business world and the public sector for decades. Over the course of his career, Patrick O'Connell has received multiple commendations and honors, including the U.S. Armed Forces’ Legion of Merit.
Awarded at various levels to chief commanders, commanders, officers, colonels, and legionnaires, the Legion of Merit recognizes exceptionally meritorious conduct that goes above and beyond the satisfactory performance of duties. The U.S. Armed Forces issues this award to active U.S. service members as well as the service personnel of friendly foreign nations.
First proposed in 1937, the Legion of Merit received official confirmation from the United States Congress on July 20, 1942. Colonel Robert Townsend Heard based its distinctive design on the French Legion of Honor. The Legion of Merit consists of a white five-armed cross with ten gold-tipped points and a center that features 13 stars on a field of blue. The cross rests on a green laurel wreath.
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.
Patrick O'Connell, the current chief of personnel for the US Navy, formerly served as the interim program and strategy director for High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) in the United Kingdom. Aside from his professional success with HS2 and the US Navy, Patrick O’Connell draws personal satisfaction from traveling to far-flung corners of the world.
One of the many places Mr. O’Connell has visited is the Bandhavgarh region of India, which is home to a world-renowned tiger reserve of the same name. Bandhavgarh National Park boasts the highest density of tigers in India. As such, it is considered an essential stop on any tour of the region.
Other than tigers, Bandhavgarh National Park has more than 250 species of birds, 22 species of mammals, and 70 species of butterflies. Other mammals found in the park include leopards, Bengal foxes, striped hyenas, and wild boars.
Currently chief of naval personnel with the US Navy, Patrick O’Connell is a respected organizational administrator who previously served as UK interim program and strategy director at High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd. At HS2, he oversaw efforts toward establishing a high-speed rail system that will connect Leeds, Manchester, and London. Outside of work, Patrick O’Connell enjoys traveling all over the world and has visited places such as Zimbabwe, where he embarked on an elephant safari.
Zimbabwe maintains a coordinated National Elephant Management Plan that represents a bright spot in the fight against illegal poaching of elephants. With elephants in the country facing potential extinction in the 1980s, officials set a target population of 35,000 elephants, which has been thus far surpassed. In 2014, the population stood at 83,000 elephants.
At the core of Zimbabwe’s unique approach to conservation is the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources, or CAMPFIRE, which allows those living on communal lands to benefit from wildlife conservation by granting them rights to manage the wildlife there. Nevertheless, serious conservation issues still exist, as witnessed by the recent poisoning of 10 elephants by cyanide in the vicinity of Hwange National Park.
The former director of HS2, Patrick O’Connell is the chief of naval personnel with the United States Navy. An active member of his professional community, former HS2 director Patrick O’Connell belongs to Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS), the international honor society of business programs.
As part of its efforts to encourage academic achievement in business, BGS grants members access to numerous resources, including the Center for the Public Trust Ethical Leadership Certification Program. Made possible through a partnership between BGS and the Center for the Public Trust, the program is part of BGS’ attempt to assist members facing ethical dilemmas in the workplace. All collegiate members of BGS are eligible to enroll.
The program is offered online through six self-guided modules, which feature various Fortune 500 CEOs who discuss different topics relating to ethicality in the professional realm. Topics include ethical decision making, conflict management, and organization support. At the end of each module, students take a test to ensure they have learned the necessary information.
Upon completion of the course, students receive Ethical Leadership Certification, which gives them an advantage when applying to jobs.
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.