Last summer, a group of 17 Lourdes University Master of Business Administration (MBA) students got a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit London and get a behind the scenes look at the business of planning the 2012 summer Olympics. The trip was part of the MBA curriculum, which requires students to complete an international immersion experience.
"Lourdes' MBA program was the only one in the region to offer this type of opportunity for its students. This particular trip was an extraordinary experience for anyone interested in the business dimensions of a major international event like the Olympics," shares Dean Ludwig, PhD, Dean of the College of Business & Leadership.
The trip began with a private tour of the Olympic Village and the surrounding area conducted by Joan Hoad, Chair of the London 2012 Blue Badge Guides Committee. Students learned about the rejuvenation of the previously depressed East Stratford area that took place during the past 7 years and the construction of the Olympic Village venues.
In conjunction with the exploration of the Olympic Village, students met with the owner of a multi-generational family business that was displaced by and later took advantage of the construction of the Olympic Village. Lance Foreman, Managing Director of Foreman Fish Island, is an entrepreneur whose land and operation were seized for the construction of the Olympic Stadium. He shared his story of painfully but successfully "fighting city hall" for a new site, only a few hundred yards from the Olympic Stadium – closer than any commercial business has ever been to an Olympic venue.
Students were also introduced to the complexity of Olympic planning by Jackie Brock-Doyle, Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG). Jackie explained the use of the logos, communication plans, and transportation coordination involved with planning the Olympic Games.
Jeremy Fern, Head of City Affairs and Economic Development for the City of London, also met with students and explained the city's responsibilities and plans, including the details behind security, police protection and transport across all the venues and neighborhoods.
Additionally, the group met with several marketing and advertising firms with major responsibilities related to the Olympics. McCann Erikson is the advertising agency that coordinated some 40,000 design briefs related to the marketing, communications, promotion, broadcast media, and social media for the 2012 Olympic Games. Agency representative Sam Lewis explained the process of adapting Olympic advertising and marketing for different countries and cultures as well as how the logos and mascots were developed for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Wasserman Media Group's Senior Manager Katie Bynum shared information about their representation of a variety of Olympic athletes and corporate sponsors. She introduced students to the business side of being an athlete, including contract negotiation, sponsorship contracts and the other business needs of top athletes.
Simon Palethorpe, Managing Director for ATG Ticketing discussed the impact on bookings and related tourist activities generated by the Olympic events and walked students through the database and software system capabilities and their interaction with the local and international Olympic organizations.
Terah Jude describes the experience as ". . . an incredible opportunity to engage the business dimensions of an event that you normally associate only with sport. It was a great way to integrate the theory and content from our coursework during the MBA program."
Erin McPartland also shared her thoughts on the experience in the following blog post: "...the best lessons are those learned through experience and this London trip was an experience of a lifetime. Throughout the semester we discussed the future of international business and how it will play a role in our MBA careers, but the truest lesson learned was seeing it in practice."