I take my paternity leave very seriously.
I was quite clear that for me to be dragged away from my new son even for just a couple of hours, it would require an event with at least one Cabinet Minister, a minimum of an Olympic gold medallist and a man responsible for delivering all the communications services for London 2012.
And so it came to pass that I left the magical bubble of home and a newborn to spend two hours in the company of Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond, German gold-medal winning fencer Britta Heidemann, Gary Symes, Service Director BT London 2012 Programme – as well as CEOs and CIOs of 20 German companies.
It was the latest in a series of events BT are organising around the globe to maximise the value of their work on the Olympics – and the second one in German.
Sponsoring the Olympics isn’t just about financial support, it’s about showcasing products, services and showing the world (and, more importantly your customers and potential customers) what you are capable of.
And there are few more impressive opportunities to do that than an event like the Olympics – more than 25 world championships running concurrently, the equivalent of staging three simultaneous football World Cups and all taking place in front of more than 15,000 journalists and over 100 Heads of State – not to mention the eyes of billions.
The Olympics as a whole is a chance to show the world what we in the UK are capable of in terms of infrastructure, culture, construction, transport and marketing among other disciplines.
But for BT, as the Official Communications Services Provider for the Olympics and Paralympics, there is a specific opportunity to show their technical work.
First it was introductions from our Ambassador – who had just returned from a Leadership Conference at which Lord Coe had enthused all our Ambassadors and High Commisioners around the world – and then Secretary of State Philip Hammond – a former businessmen himself who had run facilities in the old East Germany who was now only too happy to beat the drum for British business.
Then the floor was given to Gary Symes, who along with 800 of his team, will put together the infrastructure that will deliver every official photograph, every sports report, and every visit to the London 2012 Games website, along with millions of calls, emails, and text messages.
This gargantuan effort will include providing:
• 80,000 connections across 94 different locations
• 400 wireless access points
• 16,500 telephone lines and 14,000 mobile phone SIM cards
• 10,000 cable TV outlets
It worked out, Gary told us, a staggering 7,860 megabytes per second across our network. These are no milkmaid calculations, as the Germans would say, these are real numbers, long in the planning, that will really be delivered and will demonstrate the full range of BT’s technical capabilities.
By doing so, BT will set new standards for communications, something not lost on their global customers who have been invited to similar events around the world to hear this story.
In the same way the Games venues will provide a lasting legacy in the UK, BT’s work on the Olympics – and that of so many other British firms – is seeking to build a commercial legacy that will enhance our global reputation and drive growth at home.
When I returned to my family that evening, I put the boy on my knee and told him how proud I was of British industry, how I had seen that night us truly taking advantage of the Olympics from a commercial point of view (and how impressed BT’s customers were), but also how it was good to see the Government estate coming together for the good of British business.
Although I fear he may not have fully understood all of my messages, nor did he seem to mind that I had left him and his mother alone for a couple of hours.