With less than a year to go until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) is pleased to welcome Mike Sharrock, chief executive of the British Paralympics Association, to this year’s esteemed panel of BBA judges. Sharrock boasts a 30-year career with BP and led the firm’s partnership with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, where he was left with a passion for the Paralympics that led him to his current position. He was appointed chief executive of the British Paralympic Association in January, and ACUMEN had the chance to learn more about what moved him to champion those with disabilities and to participate in the BBA.
Why did you agree to judge?
I have had the pleasure of visiting Tokyo several times over the past year and have been very impressed by the professionalism of the BCCJ, so was naturally delighted and honoured to be asked to be one of the judges of the British Business Awards. I’m also very happy to be able to attend the awards event, which I’ve heard is an opportunity not to be missed!
How will you assess excellence and innovation?
I’m looking forward to seeing the nominations and assessing what makes each stand out from the others. Excellence can come in many forms, and it’s what makes each nomination distinctive that I will be looking for, together with evidence of new or different approaches being applied.
What experience will you draw from?
I’m lucky to be able to draw from more than 30 years’ experience with BP, where I worked across the firm in a number of international roles. These included seven years living and working in Asia, with secondments to Shanghai, Jakarta and Saigon. My roles spanned oil and gas operations, manufacturing, retail and international oil trading.
Why is the British Business Awards important?
I’m sure that life for businesspeople in Japan is as busy as it is everywhere, and so I think it’s important, every now and then, to be able to take time to stand back to reflect on all the great work being done and to celebrate excellence. The British Business Awards is an opportunity to showcase the best of the best and to inspire others to go out and do the same.
What opportunities do the Paralympics present?
I truly believe that the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will be as big an event for Japan as the London 2012 Games were for the UK. With less than one year to go, awareness levels in Japan are at least as high as they were at the same time in the UK, if not higher. From the very beginning, the Tokyo Organising Committee has put the Paralympics at the heart of their planning, and I sense a real commitment to make sure that the opportunity is exploited to the full. In the summer of 2020, the Japanese public will have the chance to witness the incredible sporting performances of the world’s Paralympic athletes. Their perception of Paralympic sport will be transformed, and preconceptions of disability and ability will be challenged. That’s the real opportunity of the Paralympics coming to Tokyo next year.
How did the Paralympics drive change in London?
Many people came to see the Paralympics in London because they hadn’t been able to secure an Olympic ticket, or they simply wanted to experience the Olympic Park. However, what they saw was elite sport at the highest level. The Paralympic athletes ensured that the focus was all about ability rather than disability. That’s what provided the impetus for change.
What change do you hope to see?
I hope that the thousands of Japanese people who fill the stadiums—and the millions who watch the Paralympics on television next summer—will be inspired by what they see and that their views on disability will be transformed forever. My first experience of a Paralympic Games was at Beijing 2008, and I can remember the feeling of being challenged and, at the same time, being completely overwhelmed by the inspiration of the incredible sporting performances that I witnessed. I still feel that inspiration today and feel very privileged to be leading one of the world’s top national Paralympic committees.
What business opportunities do the Paralympic Games bring?
Hosting a Paralympic Games brings huge business opportunities—direct and indirect. Whether that’s in constructing the venues, providing services or as one of the official partners of the Games, the opportunities are significant. I was fortunate to lead BP’s Tier 1 partnership with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and have firsthand experience of how the Games can stimulate new ways of working, as well as to allow new and exciting business relationships to be formed.
Why is changing attitudes important to business success?
Put very simply, those firms that embrace diversity in all its forms—including disability—perform better over time than those that don’t. Logically that has to make sense. Firms that genuinely try to be inclusive are more likely to engage their employees more fully and understand their customers better.