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Jan Matthews - Motivational Speaker
Motivational Women Speakers
It was not just Olympians going for 2012 gold. The Head of the catering knew the eyes of the world would be on her too.
It has been a marathon task for Jan Matthews whose team are responsible for feeding thousands of athletes, officials, media , workforce and heads of state at the Olympic sites in Britain and keeping a watchful eye on outside caterers feeding over 9 million spectators.
Jan will be telling audiences about the immense responsibilities she has had behind the scenes and the complicated bidding process which led to the largest and most complex peacetime catering, cleaning and waste operation in the world.
Having developed the London 2012 Food Vision for the London 2012 Olympic Games, Jan Mathews led the procurement and negotiation in excess of £70million of contracts and brought a number of sponsors and suppliers to the programme. She worked closely with Strategic Sponsors of the IOC such as Proctor and Gamble, Coca-Cola, and McDonalds to ensure that both the organising committees and the sponsor’s objectives were achieved within budget.
With the media spotlight frequently on the strict sponsorship criteria in the last three years, it has not been easy. The vision was to have a “tastier, healthier greener games” enhancing the experience of all those attending. The size and scale was immense. They are looking after:
• 17500 athletes in three Olympic villages and competition venues
• 4500 technical officials
• 22000 press and broadcasters
• 5000 Olympic Family including World Heads of State
• 9 million spectators
• 200,000 workforce,
• Thousands of sponsors guests and corporate hospitality!
It is not just what is happening during the Olympic Games which is important to Jan and her team. It is the legacy of healthy eating and corporate involvement within sport and schools which had equal importance.
Jan will highlight the lessons learned in her talks and the continuing process once the sporting spotlight has shifted. Inevitably the media focus will be different and Jan will strive to maintain the impetus she built up.
Jan has a story about:
- How to deliver exceptional Customer Service
- The journey from Vision to delivery
- The London 2012 experience
- The inside story on the largest and most complex catering operation in the world
- London 2012 myths, legends and legacy
- Developing high performing teams
- Living the brand
- Influencing skills
Jan Matthew’s early career includes being the youngest General Manager for Moat House and being awarded Forte "General Manager" of the Year
Moving to the BBC's Wood Norton Hall as General Manager Jan and her team won many awards at this highly acclaimed Conference facility, where she turned the fortunes of the Venue around
Jan moved her family to Germany where she was Head of Operations for NAAFI (Navy, Army, AirForce Institute) the organisation which provides British Forces with Retail, Catering, Leisure and cleaning Services. She led the largest change to barrack catering in the British Armed Forces for over 20 years in Germany, a project worth over €940 million over 5 years; this has been recognised as the most successful introduction of a project of its type by the military.
Returning to the UK Jan joined Elior where she was Managing Director for Education and Business and Industry in the South.
Jan has previous held Board positions, co chaired the Food Advisory Group, and sits on the Food Legacy Board.
She lives in Worcestershire in rural England with her husband Peter and 15 year old Rugby playing son Daniel.
"We recently had Jan Matthews speak at our annual Savoy Lecture, Arena’s most prestigious event of the year. Jan spoke to an audience of over 350 senior hospitality professionals with the utmost passion and enthusiasm about the catering aspect of the Olympics. Her empathetic approach engaged the audience immediately and they continued to listen to her every word for the next 40 minutes. Her natural ability to inject humour into her speech whilst at the same time delivering some very serious points, was second to none. I would certainly recommend Jan as a speaker at any event – no matter who the audience was."
An interview with Jan Matthews
What was the single most onerous obstacle that you had to overcome as Head of Catering of 2012?
Nothing really, the whole role has been totally unique. One of the reasons I was chosen to do the job was because of my background, I am used to dealing with stakeholders and negotiating contracts. However I would say the most onerous task was washing and drying my shirt at 2 ‘clock each morning when I got home, ready for the next day! I was only allocated two shirts!
Who or what was your motivation to achieve?
That’s simple – I was approached to do the job and I said ‘no thanks.’ I was enjoying what I did. However when I went down to London to meet the Chief Executive at No. 1 Churchill Place I became incredibly motivated, I wanted to see if I could do this, for me. It was incredible to be part of something that was so uplifting; I had no problem at all getting up in the morning to do the job.
What did you learn from this project?
I learnt how to compromise. I moved into ‘solution mode.’ I had to find solutions quickly, much more than in the corporate world. I learnt that you can achieve more as team than anyone can as an individual, that the individual is one part of the bigger team, and that it is only as good as the weakest link - team work is hugely important. I also learnt that you can achieve anything you set out to do if you stick to that vision. We had such good feedback following the Olympics, Jacques Rogge (President of the International Olympic Committee) said it was the best food ever at any Olympics!
If you could go back two months ago would you change anything?
I would tweak a few things, if people say that they would not change a thing, they are not looking hard enough. There always ways to make things better. Feeding a workforce of 1.5 million meals - I would have made it more flexible. In the Paralympics we are making those tweaks. I kept a diary as we moved through, so that things got better every day.
What was it like being at the opening ceremony
It was amazing! I saw quite a bit of it at the technical rehearsals – these had gone for a number of months. We had to prepare 10,000 meals on a Saturday morning for the people taking part in the rehearsals. When it came to the opening ceremony itself I was more concerned about the toilets being clean, the bins being empty and the queues being right.
It was funny I saw the Queen arrive in the peach dress and then went to see the Ceremony and watched the, now famous, video of Daniel Craig – I noticed straight away that she was wearing the same dress! Our opening ceremony was very clever, everyone was concerned how we could possibly follow Bejing, it was nothing like Bejing!
I feel the opening ceremony set the tone for the games; I noticed how happy everyone was during the weeks that followed.
How did you feel about the doubters (who have now had to eat their words)
I told a friend I had accepted the position and her immediate reaction was ‘you’re mad – you’re always going to get the blame when things go wrong.’ You’re always going to get doubters. However I tasted every item on the menu so I knew I could stand behind the decisions I had made.
I spoke to a taxi driver last week and he told me how the Olympics had been no good for business, he was 25% down on earnings, however he told me how he had been glued to it all and how it had been fantastic.
What makes a good manager or leader?
Someone who combines empathy with focus and resilience. Also it’s important to trust your team and to pick the right people. And it goes without saying, to be a good communicator. I believe it’s important to provide your team with the vision to believe that their contribution is important and that everyone plays a part. All throughout the games I was leading, I was there to help people through their problems whilst they carried out their individual roles.
Why is it important for businesses and organisations to motivate staff?
The vast majority of people don’t come into work to do a bad job. I can tell someone when they’ve done a good job but it comes from within, they have this within themselves if they are given leadership and the right stimulus.
Why do you think it is important to book an external speaker?
I think that a speaker brings a different dimension to what you’re doing. Apparently you need to tell someone something seven times for them to remember it. Hearing a different voice and different tones helps to get the message across. It’s like with a child, they often won’t hear what a parent tells them; however they will listen to the same message from an Aunty or friend! We had one speaker, Ben Hunt Davis who talked about ‘Will it make the boat go faster’, we used this message in all that we did. A speaker can bring different thoughts into your head, if they talk with passion then the message stays with a person. If they can take 3 or 4 nuggets of information then it’s worthwhile.
What was the most popular meal choice for the Olympians?
In the Olympic village the favourite choice was chicken or steak and pasta – they required the protein and carbs for fuel. Our job was to make it tasty! For the general public, fish and chips were the most popular choice by far.
What is your best memory of your role within the Olympics?
My best memory was walking along the common domain one evening at around 10:30 at night and the stadium and basketball was still in use and lit up. We had a double height restaurant with a balcony terrace overlooking the live site, and there were people sitting there laughing, friends together sharing a joke. This was the atmosphere we wanted, it epitomised everything we wanted to do. It was exactly as I wanted it to be. Even though, obviously I will always remember watching Jessica Ennis, Mo and Usain getting gold!
As this was the ‘green’ Olympics, what part of this green campaign are you most proud of
We put forward a food vision; we had benchmarking standards for this. We had fair-trade tea, coffee, oranges, bananas and sugar. We had freedom food chicken, organic milk, MCS sustainable fish, Red tractor meat. We were relentless in these choices. I smiled to myself when I heard two burley builders walking along and one was explaining to the other what red tractor meat was, this is the legacy.
With regard to waste, we are working towards 70% recyclable and compostable waste. We find that kids are far more aware of recycling.
What does the future hold for you?
I’m going to consult for Sochi 2014, the winter games to be held in Russia. I’m also working with the IOC in Rio in preparation for 2016. I believe If we can do it here for the 2012 Olympics, we can take the same formula and do it anywhere. I intend to stay in major events and want to share my experiences in the speaking world.
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