£118m, 200 countries and 10,000 sporting individuals – all in a day’s work for Tom Warwick CA

Sugar loaf mountain and Rio beach
By Alex Burden, Student Blog

29 September 2016

Does planning a global event eagerly watched by the entire world seem like a daunting task? It’s exactly the challenge that Tom Warwick CA recently tackled as Program and Planning Manager for the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro.

As a key member of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Tom used his training to mastermind the athletes’ village, catering for 200 countries and 10,000 individuals. 

"Just as athletes hoping for a gold medal need to prepare even the tiniest of details, establish contingencies for changes encountered in the build-up to the Games, and most of all train hard, my role is to do the same for the Olympic Village team,” explained Tom.

Tom qualified through ICAS with EY in 2009 and was preparing to travel to Chicago for an auditing role on secondment when he received a phone call from a friend in the sports industry; an Olympian opportunity was at his door.

As it turned out, the CA qualification was a pre-requisite for the Financial Planning Analyst role available with the 2012 London Olympics’ Organising Committee, and Tom made the journey to the big smoke to start his exciting task of facilitating the biggest event in the world.

“The CA qualification is more than a couple of letters on a CV,” Tom said. “Achieving the qualification requires not only an understanding of a particular subject, but also how to apply this in practice.  

“One thing I do know is that every day I travel past some of the most famous beaches in the World to make decisions that will have an impact on the experience of some of the most famous Athletes in the World when they compete in the biggest sporting event in the World. Not bad for a CA!”

“This is one of the biggest differences I have noticed throughout my career. A lot of people are good planners; a lot of people are good operators, but it is not very often you find someone who is good at both. The CA qualification allowed me to develop and apply this skill.

“[It] does not just mean that I am currently able to manage a budget of R$ 500,000,000 - I am also responsible for managing the operations on-site during the Games, managing effective communication between the 5000-strong workforce tasked with delivering services to the Athletes, as well as managing the recruitment, training, and scheduling of paid employees, volunteers and contractors working in the Olympic Village team.”

He has noticed many benefits from his membership, but notably the global reach of the institute. “ICAS have been quick to recognise that we are living in an ever-increasingly global world,” he said. “Granted, ICAS are yet to have an event in Rio de Janeiro (surely not an opportunity to turn down!), but the Institute is there to support its members, whether in the UK or abroad.”

Advice for current CA Students and those thinking of a career change

It will take a long time to escape the stereotype that accountants are boring. I remember a newspaper article being passed around the room when I was studying for my CA qualification when I first joined EY, that had the headline, ‘Accountants Can Be Sexy’.

“Although we had a good laugh at the time, and although I wouldn’t now go as far as to agree with the headline, I believe there is a middle ground.

“One thing I do know is that every day I travel past some of the most famous beaches in the World to make decisions that will have an impact on the experience of some of the most famous Athletes in the World when they compete in the biggest sporting event in the World. Not bad for a CA!”

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