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Building a base of knowledge

Paddy O’Neill, senior director equipment planning



During his nearly 13-year career at Norfolk Southern, Paddy O’Neill, senior director equipment planning, has teamed with many departments to complete special projects. This exposure across the organization has given him a broad understanding of the rail industry.

O’Neill joined the company in 2001 after earning a mechanical engineering degree from Notre Dame and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. In his first position as manager program management in strategic planning, O’Neill was involved in negotiations that led to creation of the Meridian Speedway corridor, a joint venture between NS and Kansas City Southern.

In 2005, O’Neill took a job in operations planning and support, where he helped coordinate the beginning phases of the Pan Am Southern corridor, a joint venture project that extended NS’ reach into the New England market.

“My experiences in project management gave me exposure to many departments across the organization,” said O’Neill. “I developed a better understanding of each group and made a lot of great contacts.”

 While in operations, O’Neill was selected to participate in NS’ Darden Business School program to strengthen his knowledge in finance and business management. He also was trained to be a presenter for an operations culture workshop, an early version of culture change that came before behavior-based performance training. This experience was a big boost in terms of personal and professional development, he said.

“It was necessary for me to fully absorb and understand the material in order to then present it to others effectively,” O’Neill said. “Facilitating culture change prompted me to take a step back and reassess my own workplace demeanor.”

O’Neill assumed his current role in the Network and Service Management Department in 2010. In his position, he works with other railroads at the industry level on railcar supply issues and works closely with NS’ car distribution groups, among other duties.

Beyond the work, O’Neill said it is important to try to meet and interact with co-workers on a more personal level. He has been involved with the Thoroughbred Volunteers and continues to build relationships with contacts he made through NS’ mentoring program.

“It’s important to take part in company opportunities to network and develop,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to meet many of my fellow colleagues and learn firsthand the NS work ethic.”