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Lourdes students visit London, learn from Olympic officials

MBA Immersion allows Lourdes students to get behind the scenes look at business of Olympics


Lourdes students visited a City of London office and viewed a giant model of the city.

This month, 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 Olympic games. Seventeen students took part in the trip which is part of Lourdes’ MBA curriculum. The program requires students to complete an international immersion experience.

“Lourdes’ MBA program is 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 Olympics is an international event with a 10 billion dollar budget that involves tight time frames, intense planning, incredible logistics, and multi-layered marketing. It has ripple effects for business throughout the host economy, and well beyond that. All the speakers we visited emphasized London’s strategies of sustainability and legacy before, during and after the Olympics for the neighborhoods and the facilities.”

Sandy Harris with one of the Olympic Mascots in London

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 seven years, the construction of the Olympic Village venues and an adjacent Westfield Shopping Mall (now the largest in Europe), and the intense security requirements involved.  Additionally, they learned about the partnerships and collaborations between government, international and local Olympic committees.

In conjunction with the exploration of the Olympic Village, students  met with the owner of a multi-generation family business that was at first  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. For generations, Foreman’s firm has produced a world-renown line of smoked Scottish salmon. He shared his story of painfully but successfully “fighting city hall” for a nearby site for his business that could be acquired at a reasonable price. Today, Foreman Fish Island is only a few hundred yards from the Olympic Stadium–closer than any commercial business has ever been to an Olympic venue.  Foreman is taking advantage of his new view by serving as a hub for corporate hospitality during the games.

Students were 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). Doyle served as Communications Director for the Sydney Olympics and was retained by the London Olympic Committee shortly after they won the bid for the 2012 Games (in 2005). She explained the use of the logos, the plans for communications, and the coordination of information about transportation.  She described efforts to involve the whole of Great Britain to make them feel that the games belonged to them, not just London.  She introduced the development of the mission statement for London 2012 and the plans for “dressing the city” with the Olympic rings and communications which was not legally allowed until after the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (which was also being staged during the immersion).

The Lourdes MBA students also met with Jeremy Fern, Head of City Affairs and Economic Development for the City of London, who explained the city’s responsibilities and plans, including the details behind security, police protection and transport across all the venues, many of which are in the neighborhoods of the city and on the outskirts. Additionally, he emphasized the goal to make London 2012 the most sustainable Olympics in history, using existing facilities such as Wimbledon for tennis and the River Thames and The Serpentine for rowing events.

Erin McParland and Terah Jude at The Orbit near the Olympic Aquatic Center in London.

The students also had an opportunity to meet with a variety of 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 business’ representation of a variety of Olympic athletes and corporate sponsors. She introduced students to the business side of being an athlete, including contract negotiation with owners, sponsorship contracts with advertisers and the other special business needs of top athletes.  Simon Palethorpe, Managing Director for ATG Ticketing discussed the impact on bookings and  related tourist activities caused by the Olympic events and walked students through the database and software system capabilities and their interaction with the local and international Olympic organizations.

At the debriefing session back in Toledo, one of the MBA students, Terah Jude, described 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.”

Applications are currently being accepted for Lourdes’ fall 2012 MBA cohort. “We are exploring Korea as the 2013 international immersion experience,” notes Dr. Ludwig. “Korea offers our students the opportunity to learn more about an exciting and rapidly evolving Asian market.” To learn more about Lourdes’ MBA program, visit

Rooted in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, Lourdes University offers baccalaureate degrees in more than 30 academic majors as well as graduate degrees in business, education, liberal arts, nursing, organizational leadership and theology. Community outreach programs include the Appold Planetarium, the Life Lab, Lifelong Learning and Theater Vision. A member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Lourdes students can also compete in baseball and men’s and women’s basketball, golf and volleyball. Named a “Best in the Midwest” college by the Princeton Review, Lourdes University is a nationally accredited, veteran and transfer-friendly institution offering a variety of student scholarships. Discover Lourdes online at www.lourdes.eduor by phone at 419-885-3211.

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