September 18, 2023

Veteran’s Experience Helps Guide Arch’s Pandemic Response

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Diversity & Inclusion

For most of 2020, Pat Downes started his Mondays with the same meeting on his calendar: 9 a.m.: Group Pandemic Response.

It was a meeting of senior executives who looked at the COVID-19 pandemic from a variety of vantage points and offered sound guidance and recommendations to company leadership.

As Vice President, Real Estate and Business Resilience for Arch Capital Services, Pat helped guide the meetings and its participants. But it’s his experience as U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Downes that uniquely prepared him for the role.

Military-Grade COVID-19 Briefings

“When the pandemic started, Chris and Jen set a very disciplined structure with the pandemic response team to review the situation and advise on what actions we were going to take,” Pat said, referring to Arch’s Chief Operations Officer Chris Hovey and Chief Human Resources Officer Jennifer Centrone. “It’s the same thing you do with a battle update briefing, and that is something I was really accustomed to. It’s amazing just how similar it is to my experience briefing colonel so-and-so or my experience briefing general so-and-so.”

Pat came to Arch in 2018 after a 25-year career with the U.S. Army. It’s his first civilian job since his high school days bagging groceries at the Grand Union supermarket in his native New Jersey.

Pat said he was drawn to military service by the same things that made him enjoy team sports. “What I realized right away was the Army was a lot like an athletics team,” he said. “It was a team of people who were committed to the same goal and who worked hard together. That was the initial attraction and what made it a great experience for the entire time.”

He entered the U. S. Military Academy after high school and was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon his graduation. He spent eight years in infantry units, serving in a variety of roles as he worked his way to the rank of captain. His military service took him across the United States, including the rolling hills of Georgia, Hawaii’s sandy beaches, Kansas’ flat plains and the picturesque campus of the University of Virginia, where he earned his master’s degree and met his wife, Jenny.

Settling in North Carolina

His next role took him to the front of the classroom, when he returned to his alma mater West Point as an assistant professor in the Department of Systems Engineering for three years. Subsequent military assignments also included overseas deployments to Italy and Afghanistan and another stint teaching at West Point after he finished his doctoral degree in operations management.

But a few years ago — after more than two decades in the service and a career that had taken him and his family all over the world — the Downeses decided it was time to return to civilian life. They identified three potential locations to put down roots: Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

“We were looking for jobs, a place to live and a place for our four kids to go to school,” Pat said. “We had never been to Raleigh. It was one of the places that we wanted to go. We just lucked out that we were able to relocate here and we are very thankful.”

He accepted a job in Arch’s Raleigh office handling business resilience and process management. “What made it appealing was that it was something that was brand new, a new challenge. I thought it would be completely different from the Army.”

But some of the role’s responsibilities are very similar to his service days, such as his work with Arch’s pandemic response group. Pat likened it to his Army duties when he was tasked with understanding and implementing his commander’s intent, or a clear distillation of the mission and each person’s responsibilities to make sure the desired outcome was met.

It’s a skill he perfected while serving Uncle Sam. “You don’t leave things to chance,” he said.

“Veterans have experiences where you realize the value of planning and working through friction to help execute on those plans to accomplish your mission.”

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Pat Downes
Vice President, Real Estate and Business Resilience for Arch Capital Services

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