24 October 2022

How it works: the operations department

From July 8 to 17, 2023, the World Para Athletics Championships – PARIS’23 will be in full swing. To best organize this event, an organizing committee was set up in April 2022. But then, what are the different poles of this organization? What are its basic missions? During the whole month of October, we tell you everything! So come and discover the many facets that make up the Organizing Committee of the World Paralympic Athletics Championships (COMAP).

For this last week of service presentation, we met with Paco Vigreux, head of the operations department.

Hello Paco, to begin with, can you explain to us what is the role of the operations department within COMAP?

Paco Vigreux : “Our role consists in the management and supervision of the different services that make up the organizing committee, but also the development of the competition site and the training sites for the smooth running of the latter. The operations range from security to safety, including the reception of the various publics. It also concerns access controls, the public route, the facilities and all the structures that will be set up in the stadium. It also includes all the logistics before, during and after the event. This constitutes a multitude of tasks for the entire organization of these World Championships.”

How many people are in the department?

P.V : “For my part, I am in charge of all these operations. I am in team with Lena on all this part. And during the competition, we will be accompanied by additional people on the logistic part, for the security, the public route, etc.”

What are the missions of the department?

P.V : “The missions are multiple. First, we manage the budget by recording all expenses and revenues. For the income, it is the various funds of the partnerships coming from the marketing and the public subsidies that we approach with Lena. For the expenses, we centralize the different expenses of each pole and make sure that the budget is respected.

In addition, we ensure the links with the communities to carry out the requests for authorizations near the town hall, the region, and especially of the prefecture by motivating the various needs near these last ones. To give an example, on the use of the stadium, we made an implantation plan to define space by space, which are the uses, the various points of access of these last ones, to whom they profit and their destination (what one stores there in particular).

We also work with service providers to define their needs by conducting site visits, etc. We also elaborate the retroplanning to foresee how the different services will be organized during the event.”

How does the team work?

P.V : “It all depends on the different parties. For example, the security system has already been thought out, as there is a validation to be carried out with the prefecture of police and the mayor, so no time should be lost in case of need for readjustment.

There are also logistical issues that need to be studied two or three months before the event, such as, for example, thinking about the disposal of certain materials and their reception on site.

Basically, I would say that the key to our work is also to anticipate all the elements related to the event and to inform all the stakeholders who accompany us.”

What are the specificities or particularities of the service?

P.V : “The central element of this service is transversality. We have to work with all the departments, because everyone needs the operations department at some point. Camille, in communication, has to quickly define the location of the media, where to welcome them, etc. Mathilde, on the transportation side, will need us to make requests to the road department to reserve a certain number of spaces for parking vehicles. Yohan, in sports, will need several spaces for different meetings for officials…

We are a service that takes stock of everyone’s requests to anticipate needs as much as possible.”

What qualities and skills are required?

P.V : “Memory is an essential skill to assimilate the number and variety of information from all sources. One must be observant and very rigorous. Because, for example, when negotiating a road project, there are files from the prefecture that require very precise headings and you must not make any mistakes. Know-how is also essential in the context of the various exchanges and negotiations carried out, but also an ability to manage stress, because we are regularly called upon to manage unforeseen events, etc.”

THE worst flaw for working in this department?

P.V : “Lack of rigor. If you are not organized in everything you do, you will be in trouble. For example, if you write an application to the city hall and you get one day wrong, your event will fall apart.”

THE situation to avoid on the day of the event?

P.V : “There are so many (laughs). It could be a faulty security system with people coming in with prohibited items. There may be poor control of accreditation and you end up with the general public in the middle of the warm-up area. Have the media come down to the call room to see what the athletes are doing.

For our pole, it is really on safety that we must be irreproachable, in the management of the public, but also in the management of the infrastructures which will be set up.”