National Security & Resilience Conference

Phil Sherwood

Phil Sherwood
Head of Volunteer/Workforce
Olympic Games

Phil led the volunteer programme at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – the internationally acclaimed ‘Games Makers’. Prior to taking on a challenge of this scale and complexity under intense political, media and public scrutiny, he was a senior officer in the British Army.

Since the end of the London Games, Phil has used his unique 25 years of experience to advise the senior leadership of organisations on strategic design, operational implementation, leadership and meaningful workforce engagement, in order to maximise the potential in their people. He works on the principle that customer service or satisfaction will never be optimised without a well-trained, engaged and empowered workforce that is supported by the senior leadership; all areas of a business working to a one-team ethos.

At London 2012 he was responsible for the recruitment and training of the 70,000 volunteers that formed the workforce across 80 functional areas and in over 800 different roles, for all competition and non-competition venues; he was also responsible for the values-based training of the 200,000 games-time workforce. Almost 100,000 face-to-face interviews were conducted before the delivery of 1.5 million training hours to ensure the highest quality of service in Games’ history. The volunteers provided 8 million hours of support to create the conditions for athletes to perform at their peak and spectators to have the time of their lives.

To take on the role of Head of Volunteering and Workforce Training at London 2012, Phil left the British Army in 2009 having achieved the rank of colonel. He had gained considerable experience working at the strategic policy level and commanding on operations. He has been at the forefront of developing and implementing UK national defence policy in Whitehall, he developed the Army’s first ever operational performance management programme and has been responsible for the design of future force structures to meet emerging threats in at a time of global instability and change. At Special Forces headquarters he oversaw the restructuring of the SAS and SBS, and as a member of Defence’s Strategic Lessons programme he reported to the Secretary of State on the lessons identified from operations that would shape British international policy. He commanded one of the first regiments deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2006.

As commander of a Regiment of 1,000 soldiers in Germany he implemented the return to basic values and standards in an organisation shackled by culture at a time when the Army was facing significant public criticism and associated reputational risk. In his final government post he was the Army’s adviser on people issues, with specific responsibility for ensuring senior leaders were able to communicate strategic objectives to every level.