PwC Raise The Bar With Sochi 2014 Partnership

28.02.2014

In 2008, SportAccord Convention Gold Partner, PwC, began carrying out formal consulting projects for the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee before signing an Agreement of Partnership in 2011. We caught up with Robert Gruman, Sports Mega-Events Centre of Excellence Leader at PwC, to discuss PwC’s partnership with the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

1.    What are PwC’s involvement in the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games? 

At PwC, we are extremely proud to have been entrusted by the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee to help plan, prepare and stage the Games. 

PwC Russia has served as a Partner and the Official Professional Services Provider of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee. In our role, we have consulted the Organising Committee on a broad array of topics, including strategic and operational planning, human resources, taxation, supply chain management, financial planning and budgeting, risk management and more. We've helped Sochi 2014 to pioneer a new approach to preparing for the Games, implementing a project-oriented organisation to help deliver an innovative, world-class event. 

In addition to carrying out over 200 projects leading up to the Games (over 200,000 hours of consulting), we also had 35 PwC employees embedded in the Organising Committee to help with Games-time operations in the Main Operations Centre and in the Finance, Accounting, Work Force and Taxation functions. 

Finally, PwC Russia carried out an extensive partnership activation programme in addition to delivering consulting services. This entailed bringing over 300 guests to the Olympics and implanting over 50 employees as corporate volunteers to the Games. 

2.       How does your involvement differ between the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games? 

At PwC Russia we do not distinguish our partnership with the Olympics from that with the Paralympics – it is one programme. The services we provide to OCOG the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee are aimed at bringing value to the planning, preparation and execution of both events. 
 
3.       What factors amounted to your success in winning the bid to help deliver the Games? 

PwC has a strong history of providing services to the organisers of sports mega-events. In addition, we have a very strong practice locally and have been bringing value to many of the top companies, organisations and government entities in Russia for 25 years. In putting together our bid to the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, we were sure to leverage this knowledge and experience. We believe it was the combination of global experience and deep local expertise that led to our having been selected. 

Additionally, I think we demonstrated early on a sincere and committed desire to be not just a service provider, but a true partner. I think that Dmitry Chernyshenko and his team recognised that early on. 

4.       Tell us how you have developed your relationship with the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee. 

We approached the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee soon after they went from being a bid committee to an actual organising committee in 2007. We helped identify their early needs as an organisation and saw that we could bring a lot of value to them in several areas, such as budgeting, organisational design, labour market analysis of the host region of the Games and helping them to put in place a Programme Management Office for Games planning up to 2014 and beyond. 

PwC Russia began carrying out formal consulting projects for the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee in late 2008. We engaged in a competitive tender process to become the official professional services provider to the Committee and were selected. 

We signed our Agreement of Partnership in 2011. 

5.       How have you added value to go beyond the Organising Committee’s expectations? 

Throughout our relationship with Sochi 2014 we have sought to bring added value to the Organising Committee by taking on a holistic approach to the partnership. Rather than simply delivering separate projects, we have tried to integrate a larger Sochi 2014 partnership story into the life of the firm as a whole. One example of this is in the area of HR consulting. 

PwC helped set the human resources agenda for the Games by delivering a number of key HR consulting projects: a labour market analysis of the Krasnodar region where Sochi is located, Games-time workforce planning, a leadership and management skills development programme for Sochi 2014 venue managers, and the development of a hiring strategy for people with disabilities. 

Identifying the need for a larger conversation around HR issues in order for the Games to be a success, PwC went beyond service delivery and also established the Sochi 2014 Partners HR Club. This regular meeting hosted by PwC brought together human resources professionals from the Organising Committee and partner companies to discuss Games-related workforce challenges and share information and best practices.  

6.       How have you helped to raise awareness of Sochi 2014 and the Olympic and Paralympic movement? 

PwC has presented on the theme of sports mega-events planning and socioeconomic impact at several high-level business community and sports industry events. PwC served as moderator of sport-related panel sessions at the Sochi Investment Forum, the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, and the Global Sports Industry Congress held in Russia House in Hyde Park during London 2012. 

During the course of our partnership, we have invested considerable time and effort in furthering Olympic Education in Russia. Since 2011, over 35 of our people have undergone Olympic Tutor Training from the Education Department of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee and delivered over 100 Olympic Lessons at schools, universities and other organisations across Russia. 

In May 2012, PwC became the first Sochi 2014 partner to sign an agreement of cooperation with the Russian International Olympic University (RIOU) in Sochi. Since then we have carried out a number of seminars and knowledge sharing sessions in collaboration with the University. 

To help raise awareness of the Paralympic movement and the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee’s Accessibility Map project, PwC hosted a “Paralympic Town Hall” for staff and Sochi 2014 partner company representatives in November 2012. Marking 500 Days to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, the event featured presentations by leading Russian Paralympians Olesya Vladykina, Sergey Shilov and Ivan Goncharev, as well as legendary US Paralympian Chris Waddell. 

In conjunction with the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, PwC held a Russia-wide business case competition for students on the theme of Sochi 2014 legacy. The grand prize winners received a trip to Sochi to attend the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup, a Sochi 2014 test event sponsored by PwC. 

In recognition of the important role of coaches in the community, PwC Russia carried out the My First Coach Award in 2013, a social project to recognise and reward coaches across Russia who donate their time to improving life for young athletes and athletes with disabilities. Legendary hockey player and coach Vladislav Tretiak served as ambassador of this programme. Russian National Cross-Country Ski Sprint Team Coach Yuri Kaminsky also became an ambassador and delivered a master class on coaching for employees at PwC’s annual Career Week in 2013. During the Olympic Games in Sochi, we held a series of PwC Olympic Park Lunches for our employees, clients and contacts, with special guest speakers such as Mr Tretiak and Mr Kaminsky, as well as Mr. Denis Tikhomirov, Head Coach of the Russian National Snowboard Team, and Professor Lev Belousov, Rector of the Russian International Olympic University. 

7.       What was your highlight from the 2014 Winter Olympics? 

As a Canadian, my personal highlight was watching both our women's and men's hockey teams win the gold medal! 

From a professional standpoint, the highlight was the general acknowledgment that the Sochi 2014 Games were extremely successful and well run from an operational standpoint. We are proud to have contributed to that success.

Related video

Robert Gruman explains how PwC has benefited from, and added value to, SportAccord Convention. Watch here.