London names organizing committee chief

LONDON – Paul Deighton, a Goldman Sachs financial expert, was appointed yesterday as chief executive officer of the 2012 London Olympics organizing committee. Deighton, a 49-year-old Londoner, was picked after a three-month international job search from 300 applications. «The London 2012 Games represents an unprecedented, an unrepeatable opportunity to combine so many of my professional experiences with my love for sport,» Deighton said. «Few projects or events have the scope or the impact on a city or its communities and citizens like the Olympic Games.» Deighton, who has been chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs’ European businesses, will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Olympic committee, or LOCOG. He’ll start the job in the spring at a salary yet to be determined. «We selected Paul because of his experience in leading large international organizations and projects and his track record of managing and growing large teams of people in complex and diverse environments,» LOCOG Chairman Sebastian Coe said. Keith Mills, who was chief executive of the bid committee, will be Coe’s deputy. London was awarded the Games in July, defeating Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow in a vote of the International Olympic Committee. Deighton’s hiring completes London’s top-level management structure for the Olympics. David Higgins and Jack Lemley were recently appointed to head the Olympic Delivery Agency, which is responsible for building the venues for the Games. «It seems to me that London at this stage is farther ahead and better prepared than any other country has been at a comparable stage,» Deighton said. «That gives me the confidence that we can pull this off.» The chief executive’s post has been a revolving door at recent Olympic organizing committees, but Deighton said he expects to go the distance. «I’m up for it,» he said. «Believe me, if you’d have been in my interviews, if it was possible to put me off by explaining to me any of the difficult parts of the job, these guys [Coe and Mills] did an excellent job in laying out what they may be,» he said. «But despite that, I’m afraid my enthusiasm to do it overrode everything.» Coe, a two-time Olympic 1,500-meter gold medalist, said Deighton shouldn’t be too concerned about job security. «We did cover this in previous conversations and I said, ‘You shouldn’t feel alone in that because normally the chairman goes with the CEO at the same time,’» he said with a smile. Deighton studied economics at Trinity College at Cambridge University and has been at Goldman Sachs for 22 years, including a two-year stint in New York. «This is the only job I would have considered leaving Goldman Sachs for,» he said. Deighton has never attended an Olympic Games, but said one of his first childhood memories was of listening to the radio account of British swimmer Robert McGregor’s second-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle at the 1964 Tokyo Games. «What’s interesting to me, and why I got so carried away with this project, is that those are not my Olympic memories, but just the memories I have at that age,» he said. Deighton said Mills would largely be responsible for raising the 2.2 billion euros needed to stage the Games, but will use his own business contacts to ensure the Games’ financial success. «My challenge is that we don’t get to 2012 and heave a huge sigh of relief and say: ‘Well, we just about made it. Did we get everything out of it that we could?’ I think we should dream a little bit about what this can do for the country,» Deighton said.