Keila is a Senior Consultant in 4global specializing in the planning and delivery of global major sporting events, C3, and operational readiness. Recently she was part of the Programme Management Team in the first Government to Government agreement between the United Kingdom and Peru for the delivery of the Panamerican and Parapan American Games, and she is currently leading on a number of projects across the Americas.
How have you adapted to remote working?
The last few years I have been involved in projects that have been quite high stress and high risk, with very tight and aggressive programme and delivery deadlines. At some point along the way I think I may have gotten a wee bit addicted to the adrenaline high, which is to say, the adaptation to complete isolation (I had just moved to a new country for a project) and remote working has been gradual, and not as smooth as I would like to admit!
Because major sporting events are often times funded partially or completely by public funds, we are very dependant and sensitive to the changes and decisions that are taken at a governmental level, and as such, we have had to adapt to our clients’ new realities.
Some of them have really slowed down the support they need from us as they wait for their local governments to make difficult decisions about their respective events, and others have increased their demand and have come to rely on our Programme Management experience to quickly react to delivering projects during the global pandemic.
On a personal level I find that I have had to really work on forgiving myself for the periods of perceived inactivity or mental blocks. After being at top speed for so long I am slowly starting to relearn how to be still and allow myself to be restful. This is all of course a very elaborate way of saying that I have become quite fond of naps.
What does a typical day look like for you right now?
The key word in my daily routine at the moment is flexibility. As our client needs are at the moment quite dynamic, I find that my priorities for the day/week can easily shift from one where I am working long hours straight through to meet a deadline, or to days where I am able to relax and spend some time on personal projects.
My day usually begins with a quick check in with our Americas based team to follow up on any outstanding items and priorities for the day, and then with our clients for any follow up they may need. I’ve also started to participate in some of the daily and weekly calls held by our UK based team, which has really been refreshing and a surprising silver lining as I’ve started to learn and get involved in different workstreams within 4global and to know some of the wider team a bit more closely.
I love to cook, so I’ve been spending time making vegetarian gourmet meals and then panicking at the realization that I’ve once again made way too much for one and that I’ve run out of Tupperware containers to freeze it all. It’s a vicious cycle, really.
I’ve tried to maintain some sort of physical activity level during this time, but that as well has had to be adapted as my pre-covid preferred form of exercise was Cuban salsa dancing. I have gone through various forms of online classes including, but not limited to, kick boxing, yoga, Zumba, and a VERY short lived HIIT class. I’ve found I’m not very good at any of them, so please do send your recommendations for my consideration.
I spend some time daily on a couple of courses I have enrolled in online, one on Innovation Management so that I am ready to tackle the new world after C-19, and another one on Political Existentialism because why is life?
Finally, any time I had left during the day I will usually try to spend on facetime with my family and friends who are all over the globe. Current record stands at 11 countries and 5 time zones. There were sleep sacrifices made for this call.
What has been your biggest learning moment of the C-19 era?
Without a doubt one of the standout key messages for me has been creativity and innovation.
I am astounded daily by the level of wit, humour, resilience, and creative energy that is emerging amid this time of uncertainty, and it is propelling me to want to keep evolving as a person as well as a professional. Our industry will not be the same after this, and the paradigms that we have become experts in will have to be broken, redesigned, or forgotten altogether. I am eager to see how we can take this as a new starting point for the planning and delivery of major events, how I can support our clients as they navigate through these unchartered waters, and how we can help shape the new world of major sporting events based on our past lessons learned and creative innovation. I am also taking this on as a personal challenge to keep up with the trends as we move further and further into a digital age, and if that means I need to learn what the TikTok is, then so be it. #growth
The other key message has been how truly interconnected we all are; as economies, as countries, as business, and as individuals. A key principle I always try to instil in any organizing committee I work with is the importance of integrated planning. How no one area is able to plan in silo, and that the success or failure of one area is the collective success or failure of the entire event. C-19 has really highlighted this for me on a global scale; we are really only as safe and as healthy and as well as our neighbour is, so let’s be kind to one another.
What long-term impact do you think C-19 will have on the industry?
One of the famous lines in operational planning has historically been “the opening ceremony date is unmoveable”, however, for the first time in modern history, Tokyo 2020 has now rendered that statement false. As the international sporting world comes to terms with the consequences of this it also sets precedent for other organizing committees to follow suit and, as of yet, the effects of this are still unknown. What is certain, however, is that our industry will have to be redesigned to adapt to a reality that may include strict social distancing regulations, crowd control measures, and increased medical protocols. This will have an impact on everything from client participation as National Olympic and Paralympic Committees decide what events to send their athletes to, to budget and resource allocations as well as planning principles that, up until now, have followed a pretty cohesive global standard. We need to work together as an industry to find a way to ensure that we are able to maintain the positive and transformative legacy of sport through these major events, whilst at the same time ensuring they are still safe, feasible, and sustainable for the host countries and cities.
The one thing I am 100% looking forward to in the post C-19 sports planning world however, is the fact that no one will be able to question any of my games wide simulation or venue operational readiness scenarios as the C-19 world has now shown us that nothing is too over the top dramatic, and anything actually is possible! Vindication at last…..