10/02/2013 10:09 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Behind the Scenes of Running an Embassy (VIDEO)

U.S. embassies around the world remain open during the federal government shutdown, but what does it take to run an embassy? How do you create a playbook for performing basic administrative functions around the world? How do you establish common procedures when every host country has its own rules? Kerry O'Connor, the State Department's innovation catalyst, answers these questions on this week's episode of "Conversations with Nicholas Kralev."

O'Connor, who also runs the department's internal Sounding Board focusing on the "how" of foreign policy, talks about the challenges of running an embassy, improving deeply rooted but inefficient policies, and changing a culture traditionally resistant to change. She discusses innovation jams and other ways to find more efficient processes.

Having joined the Foreign Service on Sept. 10, 2001, O'Connor served in Ghana and Morocco before converting to the Civil Service. She provides a behind-the-scenes look at embassy life, including issues like diplomatic immunities and mental health.

Watch the full episode


Ep14: West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen
Ep13: Voice of America Director David Ensor
Ep12: U.S. Global Sanctions Coordinator Daniel Fried
Ep11: Sports Diplomacy with Michelle Kwan
Ep10: Spying and Diplomacy with John Negroponte
Ep9: Media and Diplomacy with P.J. Crowley