From the Leeds School to the London 2012 Olympic Games

The opening ceremony of the Olympics—with the parade of nations and athletes and the lighting of the Olympic flame—reminds Jordan Valutas, 2007 alumna of the University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business, why she works so hard as client services manager at CoSport, a leading provider of consumer hospitality packages and individual event tickets to the Olympic Games. 

The 2012 Olympic Games in London will be the fourth she has worked on-site and the fifth she has supported. She has been living in London since last fall to complete the on-site preparations. 
“The first question everyone asks me after they find out what I do is, ‘how do I get tickets?’” she says. 
The authorized ticket reseller, or ATR, for residents of Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and the United States is CoSport. Each country has an ATR, which is allotted a certain number of tickets for events. Tickets to the Olympics are in high demand and sell out quickly. 
CoSport provides a variety of packages, from hotel accommodations and tickets to packages that include transportation, food and beverage, hospitality, and gifting. Valutas works with a wide range of clients, from sponsors and official supporters/suppliers, to National Olympic Committee sponsors, to families and individuals. 
Her host city preparations include sighting venues; setting up operational plans; researching the city; and assisting with the hiring, training, and outfitting of approximately 600 local staff. The local staff participates in an academy where they learn about the Olympics, hospitality services, and the host city. They attend the academy one day each month for seven months before the Games. During the process, they gain valuable educational training that enables them to meet the high standards required to create exceptional guest experiences. 
The Olympics pushes everyone to be at their best through fair play, education, and sport, a fact that motivates Valutas to make the experience seamless for guests. During the Olympics she works every day, including weekends, to meet the needs of her guests and clients, and she will not take any vacation for six months prior to 
an Olympics year to ensure all the work is completed successfully. 
Valutas' long history with the Olympics started while she attended the Leeds School, where she was an intern over the summer months with Jet Set Sports, the sister company to CoSport, for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Due to the start of classes, she did not attend the Games that year, but when she received a call from the company a year later to ask her to work the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games, she set about figuring out how to make it happen. 
“My father told me he would pay for four years of college and then I was on my own, so I had to figure out how to make it work,” she says. 
She learned she could take the semester off from the Leeds School, but she needed to figure out how to stay on track with her education. Valutas found an intensive study abroad program in London after the Games where she was able take courses, transfer the credits, and stay on track to graduate in four years. 
The Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games gave her the opportunity to learn all phases of the business, including sales, operations, planning, and on-site customer service. 
“The Winter Games are quite small and intimate and helped prepare me for the Beijing Summer Games,” she says. 
At the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Jet Set Sports and CoSport hosted 80,000 guests. Valutas helped guests understand that traveling to China for a week would mean a different language, different foods, different customs, and even smaller hotel beds—but still helped make the entire experience smooth and enjoyable. 
“We want our team to interact with the guests and have fun, while still delivering professional hospitality and service,” she says. “We schedule every day for each client down to the minute. You have to be organized and detail oriented but always have a smile on your face.” 
CoSport had 97 different package offerings at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, and Valutas worked with corporate clients within the Olympic movement to make their guest experiences memorable. She says her classes at Leeds prepared her for the transition from college to career.
“The class selection was interesting, engaging, practical, and comprehensive, yet provided opportunities to study courses in my field. The interaction with guest lecturers in the real world and assignments with the community were beneficial. I use skills I learned in class every day.”
Growing up as a reserved young girl, Valutas’ study abroad experiences helped her grow and gain the confidence she now enjoys, and she recommends it for all students. In addition to her study in London, Valutas also had the opportunity to go on Semester at Sea. 
“Every country kept getting better with something I never saw before, something I never ate before. It was almost an adrenaline rush to learn about the next culture I was going to experience,” she says. “There is a huge difference between traveling on a vacation trip versus living, studying, and working abroad.” 
This piece originally appeared in the Spring 2012 edition of Portfolio, a publication of the CU-Boulder Leeds School of Business.