Brian Kennedy, Oasys Innovations Chief Executive, and Xavier Becker, Project Director for the Consortium.
Says Xavier Becker, Project Director for the Consortium: “GL events is an international company that consults, develops concepts, performs event and brand management and supplies and delivers the entire range of services (infrastructure services and technical services) for major events. We have successfully completed six Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup in France 1998, Germany 2006, Japan and South Korea 2002, several IRB Rugby World Cups, ICC Cricket World Cups and three Commonwealth Games.”
Becker says that the company is a provider of talent and know-how for all the content of any major event, including Overlay master plans for temporary infrastructure and equipment, project management as well as planning and design, rentals and installations, integrated logistics and procurement. “Much of our global success lies in the planning and mobilisation of our teams from one country to the next wherever we have secured a contract. Our team for the South African Consortium consists of around 80 staff members from both GL events and Oasys Innovations, but once we start with the installation work, there will be several hundred casual workers and up to 3000 staff in total at peak times. These teams include specialists such as architects, designers and technology experts including information technology, project managers, site managers, logisticians and other specialists. However, the purpose of major global events is to empower communities with work opportunities and economic prosperity and we found Oasys Innovations to be the perfect partner for Africa.”
Oasys Innovations Chief Executive Brian Kennedy is upbeat about developments around the Consortium: “We have been active in the international market for several years, including the building of South African pavilions and engaged in discussions with GL events to further strengthen our offering locally. The announcement that the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa TM was to be hosted on African soil served as a catalyst to find an experienced partner as we knew from the onset that an event of this magnitude cannot be done by an outside supplier alone.”
Becker says that in any form of cooperation there are always teething problems, but as both companies are experienced in the supply of infrastructure, issues such as workflow processes and project management are resolved in team formation. “Sometimes the languages that are spoken by the overseas team members are not in perfect harmony with our English counterparts, but then we make a plan with body language. At least all employees sing from the same song book when it comes to quality, inventory and deadlines. Furthermore, the fact that this is our first joint project in Africa and that we all work from the Oasys premises is exciting. My general impression is that South Africans are fit for the task and as hard working individuals they will do well in overseas markets.”
Becker, who has worked on many major events around the world, gives a high rating to South African facilities. “During the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa™ we worked at four stadiums and the stadiums for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ compare to the best in the world. Once we get to ‘kick-off' the cluster of all the stadiums will represent the finest in the world, and together with our Overlay and infrastructure we are sure to witness an extravaganza of note. I have visited several other venues that are used for exhibitions and commercial events locally and it comes as no surprise that there are so many international events hosted locally and the capacity of the organisers to deliver professional work is commendable. This is truly a country well beyond basic transformation.”
GL events and Oasys Innovations as separate entities have won several awards for performance excellence abroad and locally. Becker and Kennedy beam with delight about their first international accolade: “At the end of 2009 our Consortium won a coveted gold award in the category for ‘Major Sport Events' for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa™. This achievement underscores our ability to work together - in this business you only have one chance to make things happen and we now have all the synergies in place for joint global performance.”
Becker says that the task of Project Director is hugely challenging: “You have one window of time and there is no room for errors. To be involved in major events around the world calls for absolute flexibility and mobility from one country to the next should not be considered a deterrent. And you need to have an inborn passion for the business as your chances to survive in the long haul would otherwise be pretty slim In fact, it is a challenge as every project has new dimensions and every country has its unique offerings, not only in terms of available infrastructure but also the people and the cultures. My advice to local companies in the exhibition and event industry is to first become best practice in your regional competence. Before venturing into foreign markets conduct proper homework on business conditions in the destination country. The adage of ‘nothing ventured nothing gained' can be a costly exercise financially and in terms of damage to corporate identity.”
By comparison to other host countries for major events Becker is positive that the mood will become more festive the closer we get to 11 June. “You do not change the mood from the one day to the next. Government, business and the general public will soon unite into a collective and colourful passion and the moment the first visitors arrive there will be pandemonium in the positive sense,” says Becker who is already planning his next major events in India, New Zealand and England.
Kennedy concludes: “Any attempt to tackle a project that can be classified as a major international event in isolation, especially a world cup that draws attention around the world, is a recipe for failure. Since the start of the formation of the Consortium, Oasys Innovations staff has been exposed to so many aspects of a major event that the lessons learnt will stand us in good stead with any of our customers locally or those who wish to enter the world stage.”