Volvo CE's new president: biography
Pat Olney assumes the role of president and chief executive of Volvo Construction Equipment
On May 1st 2011, Patrick ‘Pat’ Olney assumed the position of President and Chief Executive of Volvo Construction Equipment, the second largest division of the $43bn Volvo Group. Born in the Canadian province of Ontario in 1968, Mr. Olney, 42, has worked in the construction equipment industry for nearly 18 years – 14 of those with Volvo.
Having completed an honours degree in Business Administration from the Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, Mr. Olney continued vocational studies and qualified as a chartered accountant. He subsequently spent five years working for global auditing firm Price Waterhouse, where he consulted on financial and solvency matters. During his time there he found himself drawn to manufacturing clients. “I grew up in a blue collar family and have always felt most comfortable where there are machines humming and metal bashing,” he is quoted as saying.
Champion Road Machinery
One of the companies Mr. Olney consulted for was Canadian company Champion Road Machinery, which he joined in 1994. Here he held a number of financial management positions prior to, and after, the company’s acquisition by Volvo in 1997. His abilities were soon recognized, with Mr. Olney eventually becoming Chief Financial Officer for the whole of Volvo Construction Equipment, based in the company’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
In 2004 he returned to Canada as President of the company’s motor grader business line, where he successfully transitioned from finance to general management. Mr. Olney’s responsibility expanded considerably following Volvo’s purchase in 2007 of Ingersoll Rand’s road development division, when he became the inaugural president of Volvo CE’s new Road Machinery business line. This brought with it additional responsibility for production facilities in the US, Germany, India and China, as well as over 2,000 employees. It also involved a further move for Mr. Olney, this time to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.
With the reorganization of Volvo Construction Equipment in late 2008, Mr. Olney assumed the role of Executive Vice President for the entire company’s industrial operations, based at the Brussels headquarters. His primary role was to ensure the efficient organization of the global industrial footprint for all machines and their related supply chains. This unified perspective to factories and production led to significant reductions in the fixed costs of operations globally, as well as reduced product costs. It also led to an improvement in both product quality and speed to market of the Company’s products. In addition, as part of the company’s executive management team, Mr. Olney was instrumental in putting Volvo Construction Equipment’s successful strategy – Fit for the Future – in place.
Mr. Olney replaces Olof Persson as President and Chief Executive of Volvo Construction Equipment, following Mr. Persson’s appointment as President for the wider Volvo Group. Commenting on his new role – the latest of many that he has held during his 14 years at the company, Mr. Olney said: “My job is to create an environment where we can all make good decisions and that the people of this organization feel appreciated, respected and acknowledged for the skills they bring. I’m here to guide and channel that capability.”
In his early days in the role Mr. Olney has sought to reassure the market that there will be no radical departure from the existing and successful Fit for the Future strategy promoted under his predecessor’s leadership team, of which he was a senior figure. “We are on the right path,” he said recently, “and I fully intend to help secure Volvo Construction Equipment’s future development by being among the most profitable companies in the industry.”