When I was invited to talk at the APM Benefits and Value and Governance SIG Conference on the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Park, I jumped at the opportunity. This is the project that defined the future trajectory of my career and one I am immensely proud to have been involved in.
Back in 2007, my master's thesis topic was on the sustainability standards of the Athletes Village. It helped me land my dream job working in the sustainability team during design and construction of the Olympic Park at only 23 years old. From there, I went onto play a role coordinating the sustainability learning legacy research papers and authoring many of them. At that time, I started working for Useful Projects (a sustainability consultancy that is part of the Useful Simple Trust) alongside Dan Epstein (former Head of Sustainable Development and Regeneration for the Olympic Delivery Authority), Ed McCann (who was Project Director for the Velodrome — highly regarded as being the most sustainable venue on the Park) and Judith Sykes (who developed the water strategy for the Olympic Park).
Together with these amazing colleagues, I went on to deliver the Host to Host project on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which was all about transferring lessons learnt from the 2012 Olympic Park to Rio 2016 and setting them up for success. I will be digging out some of the original content from our slide decks and discussing if the key points we were making then, are still relevant now. A powerful vision, leadership and culture, the right governance structures, strong project management processes, the right team — the list goes on.
I then had the brilliant (but also very challenging experience) of developing the sustainability strategy for the Rio 2016 Olympic Park, working closely with AECOM who were the master planners. I was back and forth to Brazil for two years — trying to develop appropriate objectives, targets and strategies that were relevant to the local context (so very different to here in the UK) and helping them understand what it really takes to deliver it in practice. We tried our best. Fundamentally they weren’t ready for it.
Fast forward through about eight years of supporting major clients here in the UK develop ambitious sustainability strategies and deliver them in practice, I’ve built up quite a good log-book of what it takes to deliver successful long-term environmental and social outcomes.
Added to this, last year, I was a highly engaged observer/reader/attendee of events associated with the 10 years since the 2012 Olympics milestone. Did it deliver on its legacy ambitions? What are the lessons learnt and top tips for other major projects? These are questions I’ll be exploring during my presentation.
I’m really looking forward to sharing my insights and hearing from all the other speakers. See you there!
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