2012 Olympic Games: Kelly Skinner Helps Make Olympics Possible

2012 Olympic Games:

In his role as Team Leader, Sport Performance, the United States Olympic Committee’s Kelly Skinner has the Olympic host city in his sight from the get-go. Before you watch the Opening Ceremonies this Friday, read about Kelly’s Olympic passion. Then remember, this man helped make possible what you see over the next couple weeks.

Sam's Dream Blog: What does your job involve?

Kelly Skinner: The simple way to look at what I do is to think about an account manager, where I work for one entity but strive to provide excellent service to a variety of other entities.  My job provides me with the incredible opportunity to work for the US Olympic Committee in assisting many of the National Governing Bodies (NGBs).  In fact, I work directly with Swimming, Track and Field, Equestrian, Shooting, and Weightlifting on the Summer Olympic side of our house, and with Biathlon, Bobsled/Skeleton, Ice Hockey, Ski and Snowboard, Speedskating, Figure Skating, Curling and Luge on the Winter Olympic side.  I also get to work with amazing Paralympic Sports and Pan American sports.  Essentially, we are trying to sustain competitive excellence on the international level.  We do this through investing in high performance plans/initiatives, as submitted by the NGBs, investing in direct athlete support programs to help the athletes, and working closely with the NGBs on a variety of items from how they select their Olympic/Paralympic and Pan American Games teams to developing organizational and governance effectiveness, and everything in between.  As one of our slogans says, 'It isn’t every four years, it is every day.'

SDB: How do your responsibilities differ in an Olympic year? 

Kelly Skinner: For me things don’t change too much in an Olympic Year.  The biggest change is around the conversations with the NGBs and the checking and re-checking to make sure that the plans are in place to maximize success in a Games environment.  The USOC has an organizational goal to win the overall and gold medal count at every Olympic Games, and to do that, there has to be a tremendous attention to detail and planning. I have been fortunate that I have been assigned to work in the Athlete Village for the last several Games, so my role during the Olympic window transforms from almost pure administration (day to day) to pure logistics and service in an effort to minimize distractions and maximize performance.

SDB: When did you first start preparing for London 2012? 

Kelly Skinner: We started to prepare for London as soon as they were announced as a host city (the announcement was in 2005).  Our planning process is very extensive - from site visits to learn the most effective way to move between the Olympic Village and venues, to making arrangements for our own high performance training center in London, to determining the other logistics we need to have a handle on in order to be successful.  Probably the number one thing that we do is create solid relationships with the local organizing committee and other people in a host country who will help us.  We can’t be overseas all of the time, so we need people who are out there and willing to help us with our plans.

SDB: How have your previous positions with the USOC prepared you for your current role?

Kelly Skinner: I am a believer that everything I have ever done has prepared me for what I am doing now and whatever it is that I will do next.  The things that I have learned along the way - through trial and error, success and failure - have provided me with the tools in my tool box to be effective in life.  Along the way, the most important lesson I believe I have learned is around creating relationships.

In my view, everything begins with a quality relationship.  Things get done, or don’t get done, based on how well you can work with others and engage people.  If people believe in you and want to help you, amazing things quickly happen.

So what my previous experience has taught me is to treat people fairly and build quality relationships.  If you can do those two things, which seem to be simple but are actually complex, you will be prepared.  The other thing that I have learned is that the sooner you accept that you aren’t entitled to anything and that it isn’t all about you, the sooner you can be successful.

SDB: What do you enjoy most about your job? 

Kelly Skinner: The people.  The people I work with, the athletes and coaches I get to meet and the opportunity that a career in sport creates.  I am truly living my passion, and it is exciting to be able to say that.  The other thing that I enjoy is that I get to work in an international competitive business, and every two years we get the opportunity to line our best up against their best and let it ride.  It is exciting and incredibly nerve-wracking at the same time.

Keep up to date with the 2012 Olympic Games on the official Team USA Web site