Two Minutes with Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
How long have you been Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)? What’s your best experience thus far?
I’ve been Secretary for more than two years now, but I have held a number of roles in state government over the last 21 years, including at DEP and our Public Utility Commission.
I’ve had a lot of amazing moments these past couple of years, but a highlight was going back to DeSales University, my alma mater, to speak at an energy conference. Speaking to an audience about energy and the environment at the place that started me on my path was just a moment where everything came full circle.
How has being a member of ECOS benefitted you?
ECOS is an incredibly collaborative and open organization. I’ve had the chance to implement Arizona’s R&D (rip-off and deploy) constantly. The organization’s focus on Lean and process improvement has given me a lot of examples and approaches to apply here in Pennsylvania.
What is the best management advice you’ve received?
When you are leading an organization, invert the org chart. My job as Secretary is to support the people throughout DEP. I work in service to them.
Tell us about your morning ritual.
Coffee and walking. I’m not much of a morning person so I need caffeine and exercise to start the day.
What was your childhood dream job?
Movie writer or director. I am a massive film buff.
What’s your favorite moment of your career so far?
A simple thank you from a boss. I worked hard on an issue and she came back and acknowledged it in the simplest way. It’s always stuck with me. And it’s something I try to remember in my day-to-day.
What leader do you most admire?
Every Secretary I’ve worked under at DEP. This is a demanding job and they each approached it with their own style and grace. I find myself pulling lessons from each of them every day.
What was your first real job?
Burger King in Northeast Philadelphia.
What can you not live without?
Improv comedy. I perform with a team once or twice a month in Harrisburg.
If Hollywood made a movie of your life, who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Sam Rockwell, an underrated actor who could play anything.