Terry Wright


For the average parent, getting one kid to hockey and the other to soccer on a Saturday is a logistical challenge. Terry Wright could handle that in his sleep. He’s the man charged with figuring out how to get 30,000 people from the airport to Whistler and how they’re going to eat, sleep and get around for 16 days during the 2010 Olympics. Wright has the intense look of a man obsessed with accuracy and detail, and that’s only fitting for the former accountant who is now the Vancouver Olympics Organizing Committee’s executive VP responsible for service operations and ceremonies. In addition to making sure the athletes, reporters and games officials are adequately housed, fed and transported, Wright is responsible for all the temporary structures associated with the games: the seating, the flags, the trailers and tents, the porta-potties – or, as he explains, “anything that comes in and then leaves afterwards.” With nearly three years until game time, the pace at Wright’s office has not yet reached fever pitch. He oversees a team of about 15, which in turn oversees a working group of another 15. By February 2010, he will oversee a total of 50,000 workers. Still, Wright’s days are hardly laid-back. Today, for example, he began sorting through email at 5 a.m., then, after a gym break, was at the office preparing for the afternoon’s meetings. Those included ironing out service agreements with participating municipalities, explaining to federal department heads how VANOC intends to integrate its planning with the federal government’s, a review of construction plans for all the temporary facilities, a review of transportation and logistics plans and a regular update with all his team members. “That’s not all the meetings I have today,” Wright adds, “just a number of them.” Wright, a native of Gander, Newfoundland, began his career as a chartered accountant with what’s now PricewaterhouseCoopers. He moved to Vancouver in 1979 and got into event planning in 1983, when a job with Expo 86 morphed from finance to operations. Since then he has organized the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria and the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg. His work for the 2010 Games began in 1997, when he authored the first feasibility study on the potential to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler. He was a VP with the bid team before taking on his current role with VANOC. Wright’s daily schedule is further complicated by his commute to VANOC’s Vancouver offices from Victoria, where he lives with his wife and three kids, the eldest of whom is 17. Although he credits his wife with the lion’s share of the daily parenting chores, Wright admits that he tends to butt in when it comes to scheduling. “I was born to be an organizer, so I like to have things laid out as to what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do them,” he concedes. In a career that has progressed from a provincial exposition to the world games, Wright has no aspirations beyond 2010. “British Columbians look back at Expo with fondness as a very successful undertaking… and to bookend my career with the Winter Olympics, which is one of my favourite events, in my adopted hometown is pretty special.”