Simon O'Connell

Chief Executive Officer, Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV)

With over 25 years’ experience working for social change in a wide array of different countries and contexts, Simon O’Connell is an experienced and entrepreneurial leader. Passionate about promoting equitable access to opportunity and catalysing positive, inclusive and lasting change, Simon’s main areas of expertise are in setting strategy, leading teams and fostering partnerships.

Since late 2020 Simon has been the Chief Executive Officer of the global development partner, SNV, leading a team of over 1,600 people and ongoing programmes in approximately 25 countries. With overall responsibility for SNV, Simon oversees a global portfolio focused on the Agri-Food, Energy and Water sectors and systems interventions that contribute to sustainable, transformational change.

Prior to SNV, Simon worked for over 12 years with the global organisation Mercy Corps, in Country, Regional and Executive Director capacities, with a particular emphasis on fostering partnerships across development organisations, governments and the private sector, and a substantial focus on fragile and volatile environments, where Simon has spent considerable periods of his life.

Earlier in his career Simon lived in rural, very remote parts of Africa, where he’s worked on complex, large scale humanitarian interventions as well as a range of participatory community development initiatives. Having lived and worked for almost two-decades in Africa, Simon has in-depth knowledge of the political, humanitarian and social context in large parts of the continent, along with several other highly fragile geographies in the Middle East and Asia.

Having had the opportunities to live, work and learn from so many extraordinary people in varied contexts across multiple countries for years has enabled Simon to be an increasingly effective and authentic advocate for sustainable development interventions amongst key global influencers from a wide array of sectors globally. A regular speaker, opinion piece writer and influencer for social change, Simon has served as an advisory board and council member to several World Economic Forum and World Bank initiatives. He also currently serves as the Co-President of the Practitioners’ Network for European Development Cooperation.

Simon attended the London School of Economics and Political Science (Sociology, BSc), Imperial College London (Rural and Social Development, PGCerts. and Development Management, PGDip.) and Lancaster University (Diplomacy and International Relations, MA). He lives in The Netherlands with his wife and two children.



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