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Supply Chain Management and the Olympics

By: Lauren Shinske

Ever wonder how the Olympics come together? The worldwide event, held every two years, takes a lot of preparation in order to ensure everything runs smoothly. The man behind it all for Team USA is Doug Ingram. Ingram is the Senior Director of International Games for the United States Olympic Committee. He is in charge of shipping and freight movements to and from the games. Essentially, Ingram is responsible for moving equipment around the world.

Ingram began his career in sports 23 years ago as a swimming coach. From there, he joined the swimming staff for Team USA from 1984 to 1988. After that, an opportunity came up to work for the United States Olympic Committee and he has been with them ever since.

One of the challenges Ingram faces when planning supply chain for the games is that customs, culture, and business practices differ for each country. Ingram said, “We have to be flexible in how we move our stuff to ensure we adhere to all the rules and regulations but not get so caught up in it all that we fall behind.” In order to conquer some of these challenges, Ingram works on planning the shipping and freight movement’s months in advance. First, Ingram meets with someone who is involved with shipment and freight movement in the host country. Once the two groups are comfortable, they sign a contract to work with together for the Olympic games. Then, Ingram will work with the host country shipment and freight company to run a few test shipments, as the games get closer. The sports teams will also head to the host country at this time to perform test events. Running this allows everyone to get an idea of what to expect for the actual games and work out any kinks. After that, the two groups will develop a timeline so everyone has an idea of when they need to have their shipments prepared.

Planning for the Olympic games happens years in advance. Ingram and his team are already done planning for the 2018 games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. They are still in the process of planning the 2020 games in Tokyo, Japan but are almost done. They have also already begun to plan the 2022 game in Beijing, China. Having all three of the upcoming games in Asia makes it easier to travel to each of the host countries according to Ingram.

Students who are interested in working for the United States Olympic Committee in supply chain management Ingram has some suggestions. First, students should get a degree in supply chain management. He also suggested students learn journalist functionalities, have a broad spectrum of knowledge of supply chain management, know a second language, and have general cultural awareness. He also encouraged students to apply for an internship at the United States Olympic Committee as it is a great way to break into the business.

 


Eli Broad College of Business

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