o you believe in miracles?
Some say that's what it will take for the Olympic movement to recover from the scandal surrounding the awarding of the 2002 Winter Games to Salt Lake City. Or maybe all that's needed, as the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) seems to think, is Mitt Romney - the SLOC reportedly took just one day to review 42 other applications before announcing last February it had chosen Romney to be its new head.
"Never in a million years had the job occurred to me," says the energetic and upbeat Romney. "But after the committee approached me, I began to feel I might have the right set of experiences." One such item on Romney's résumé was his successful turnaround of the Boston-based consulting firm Bain & Company. Romney joined Bain in 1977, then left in 1984 to become CEO of its venture capital spin-off, Bain Capital, before returning temporarily to right the foundering parent as CEO in the early 1990s. "Both Bain and the SLOC were dispirited organizations suffering from leadership crises," Romney observes. "Both had financial problems and needed new clients. And both were negatively affected by overly secretive work environments."
A second experience he cites fits with the public side of his SLOC work. "It's not unlike the clamor of a political campaign," notes Romney, who ran unsuccessfully for Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy's seat in 1994 and whose father, George, was a Presidential candidate and three-time Michigan governor. "With the Winter Games, some eighty countries and all their officials, press, and citizens feel they have a personal stake in what you're doing," he explains. "You have to be available and forthcoming."
In this spirit of full disclosure, Romney and the SLOC's new board have opened all their meetings to the public. "We also confer regularly with local groups in an effort to involve the community to an unprecedented degree," he notes. As for the International Olympic Committee, Romney believes that it now understands it must reform itself, too.
Romney remains confident that the Olympics' ideals are still held in high public - and corporate - esteem. He notes that the SLOC is on track to secure its target amount of nearly $1.4 billion in private funding. Romney is courting new corporate sponsors, particularly high-tech companies, to join those big-ticket backers of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics who have returned for 2002. "Those firms signed up again because of the unmatched brand impact and revenue growth they gain from their association with the Games," he says.
Romney is currently on leave as CEO of Bain Capital, the firm that has funded winners such as Staples and Domino's Pizza. No stranger to Utah (he has a second home there and is a graduate of Brigham Young University), Romney is clearly relishing this latest challenge. "There's fun mixed in with all the hard work," he laughs. "I get to do talk radio, go bobsledding, and hang out with Kristi Yamaguchi. But the most fun will be when the Games begin."
by Garry Emmons
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|Charles W. Cassell||Alfred A. Checchi||Robert F. Diromualdo||Kenneth A. Goldman||Peter G. Harf||Nancy J. Karch||Antoinette J. Rapone||W. Mitt Romney|