"My advice to the current MSA students is to study Russian"
Among the internationally diverse intakes on RIOU’s Master of Sport Administration course there have been a few nominees of international and national sports organisations. Those organisations sent students to RIOU with the hope that upon graduation they would return to their countries with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage the world’s largest sporting events. One of such graduates is Oh Hyoungkeun from the Republic of Korea – the host country of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Oh was part of RIOU’s MSA inaugural cohort. Those students had the unique opportunity of undertaking an Observation Programme at the Olympic venues right during the Sochi 2014 Games. Now Oh Hyoungkeun is applying this rich experience to his current job as a member of the PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee.
- To begin with, could you tell us about your life in sport before you joined RIOU?
I used to be on the Korean Taekwondo national team and was a Summer Universiade Games' gold medalist. After retiring from Taekwondo competition, I was trained and sponsored by the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) to become a global sport leader. KOC provided me with a sponsorship to study English abroad for one year, which allowed me to improve my English ability. I also worked at and took part in various sports events as an assistant and volunteer of sport events.
- And then you went to Sochi to study at the world’s only Olympic University. To what extent were your expectations met?
I am really satisfied with the MSA programme. I found that the MSA programme at RIOU provided me with good training toward achieving my ambition, including the inventiveness and uniqueness of its coursework, which consists of lectures from highly renowned professors and experts in the sports field, seminars and consultations.
-After you completed your studies in Sochi and returned home, how has your career developed?
I searched for the positions in mega sport event organization. First, I worked at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee and was responsible for managing doping control officers during the event. Following that, I started working for the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. I believe that thanks to the knowledge I gained from RIOU, I was able to get those positions.
- You have been appointed a PyeongChang 2018 manager. Could you tell us about this job and the scope of your responsibilities?
I am in charge of planning, operating and managing the figure skating event for the Olympic Games, including the workforce plan, duties relating to the cooperation with the IOC, IF and NF. Up till now I have had the International Skating Union (ISU) site inspection and am planning for a training program for the figure skating workforce.
- What areas of management, and other fields that you studied at RIOU, do you find most relevant to your current workplace? What part of the coursework has proved to be especially useful?
I was able to gain overall knowledge and skills in the sport industry from the MSA program. Especially the courses on Governance have helped me understand the structure of the organization I have worked at and its decision making procedures.
-During the Observation Programme at the Sochi 2014 Games you and other MSA students had a chance to see the operations behind various Olympic venues. How would you assess the quality of those placements in terms of your current work?
Now I work at the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games as a Figure Skating manager. I gained practical skills and knowledge about the Olympic Games' operations from the internship at the 2014 Sochi Organizing Committee. The knowledge and experience gained from the programme have helped my duties in my current position.
-Do you keep in touch with your fellow MSA graduates?
I keep in touch with some friends from RIOU through SNS. We share information on current sport issues as well as job information. We are missing the time living in Sochi.
-Based on your own experience at RIOU, what wishes would you give to the current MSA students?
Even though I studied and lived in Russia for about a year, which could be a good chance to improve my Russian language ability, I did not study Russian. I could say only some sentences such as ‘ты очень красивая.' So I suggest that the current MSA students study Russian and put effort to improve the ability.