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‘We British are natural born pessimists. After some initial euphoria on winning the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games in 2005, the “British Disease” kicked in and we reverted to type. “Waste of money”, “it will be late”, “it will be rubbish like the Millennium Dome” etc. When construction contracts were being tendered some contractors refused to bid, citing too much risk, too high profile and other such platitudes our notoriously risk-averse industry is inclined to trot out when they see an opportunity they don’t understand.

The bid win presented me with an opportunity I did not understand, so I packed in my job and grasped it with both hands. I was honoured to chair the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 from 2006-13, a unique, ground-breaking assurance body to oversee the promise to deliver “The most sustainable Games ever”. During this time I was stitched up by some politicians and NGOs (and one of my own commissioners), abused and physically threatened by a small majority of the public and bullied by some sponsors and their lawyers. I don’t regret a minute of it because over time I was able to build support and trust on all sides…’

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Shaun McCarthy OBE is speaking at “On Your Marks, Set, Build…” the Constructing Excellence Annual Conference on 23rd November 2016. Book your tickets here.

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