Jill Rodgers Shares Her Olympic Volunteer Experience

Jill and Team Sao Tome e Principe athlete, LaureanoJill Rodgers, Area Marketing Director for Rentokil, found herself at the heart of the biggest sports event on the globe  when she volunteered to help at Olympics. Jill was thrilled when she discovered she would be based at the Athletes Village acting as a NOC assistant to the African country Sao Tome e Principe.

Jill looks after Marketing activities for the UK, Ireland and the Baltics and speaks French and German. She has worked with Rentokil for eight months and was previously a Category Manager for Rentokil Initial. She shares her experience of the Olympics with deBugged.

Recently you volunteered to help out at the Olympics – How far in advance did you have to apply?

Two years ago, which demonstrates the amount of planning that’s gone into every aspect of the Olympics.

Was the selection process tough? How many people applied for the role and was it clear which roles were available?

Tough in that 250,000 applied, of which just over 100,000 were interviewed for 70,000 Gamesmaker roles.  I completed an online application form back in Autumn 2010 and was invited to an interview in May 2011. On 18th October 2011 I received the great news that I’d been successful in my application and was being offered the role of an NOC Assistant.  I didn’t apply for a particular role – the application form and interview were designed to draw out my skills and interests and the Volunteer Team then matched successful applicants to the appropriate role.

When did you find out you had been selected to be a NOC assistant to Sao Tome e Principe?

I didn’t find out until three-quarters of the way through my training. Because of the variety of my role, I underwent extensive training consisting of six modules as well as two days of driver training. It was only during module 5 (31st May) that I found out I’d been assigned to Sao Tome e Principe. Language skills were key to my role, so I knew I was going to be assigned to a French or German speaking country.

What did that role entail?

I was basically doing everything to make sure my team’s stay was as comfortable as possible and remove any hassles or concerns, so the athletes could focus on the competition. There was no typical day for may role, as every day was different.  But I was doing things like:
– supporting the team by finding out information, answering questions, anticipating needs, problem solving and making sure they had all relevant documentation and forms completed.
– making sure their uniforms were compliant.
– getting the team to the Olympic Stadium doors at the right time for the Opening and Closing ceremonies.
– leading the team out for their Welcome Ceremony in the Athletes’ Village.
– arranging medical appointments and then translating what the doctors / dental surgeon were saying, as my team did not speak any English.
– driving the team to the training venues, Heathrow Airport, Hospitality House in Central London and taking them sightseeing around London.

How did Sao Tome e Principe fare in the Olympics?

They had two athletes participating in the games – one in the mens 100 metres and one in the ladies 100m hurdles. It was the first Olympic Games for both athletes and they did really well – the male athlete got a new PB and the female athlete did a Season’s Best (SB). So they’ve gone home very happy indeed, particularly as Sao Tome e Principe have very limited resources and the Olympics has given them a fantastic opportunity to compete at the highest level.

It must have been an incredible experience being based in the Olympic village – did you get to meet any of the medallists?

It was an amazing experience and certainly something I’ll never forget. It was a privilege to work in the Athletes’ Village and it literally was a case of wherever I went, I was bumping into athletes. As a runner, I was over the moon that I got to see a lot of the top Kenyan runners, as well as Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Warren Weir, Jessica Ennis, Christine Ohuruogu, Chris Brown, Felix Sanchez….  any many many more. But to be honest, the best bit for me was getting to know some of the other African athletes based in the same block of apartments as my team, and hearing how their training was going and how they got on in their events.

What was the highlight of the Olympics for you?

I have two. Firstly I was privileged to be invited by my team’s Chef de Mission (head of the team) to join them in the Olympic Stadium when their female athlete was competing.  We were right beside the track, the atmosphere was electric and their athlete got a Season’s Best.

And the other highlight is that I was assigned to a team that was a real pleasure to work for. They were so grateful for our support. And for most of them it was their first time in London, so I was able to take them sightseeing and show them a new city, give them a new experience by taking them on the London Underground  And since meeting them I now know a lot more about Sao Tome e Principe.

Now it’s back to work! Are you working on any innovative projects?

Yes, straight back into things, I’m afraid! There’s two particularly exciting projects we’re working on right now. One is AviGo, which we launched a few months ago and is proving to be very successful.  AviGo is a non-toxic gel that is used to stop birds from landing and roosting on exposed building ledges and other structures.  It’s made from a natural food grade material, contains chilli oils and is safe to use on any structure.  And as it’s a gel, it doesn’t require any drilling, so results in no damage to the treated areas.  So this has been an exciting enhancement to our range of bird deterrent solutions.

We’ve also been having a number of wins with our innovative HeatPod.  2012 has been an exciting year with sporting events and the Jubilee celebrations bringing increased tourism to the UK, and London in particular.

An increase in visitors provides a great opportunity for many businesses, but at the same time can also bring with it an increased risk of pest infestation. Rentokil’s HeatPod has been designed with such situations in mind – portable, quick and effective, our HeatPod is a heat delivery system for treating customers’ insect-infested items in-situ and in the shortest time possible.  The HeatPod is particularly effective against bedbugs, fleas, cockroaches and textile pests.

Given the success we’ve had with new products this year, we’ve got another innovation planned for later this year, so watch this space!

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