Meet the local woman inspiring major connections at the sporting event of the decade

Meet the local woman inspiring major connections at the sporting event of the decade

While Sam Kennedy's role as the director for strategy and innovation at Optus may constantly take her to the far corners of the world, she couldn't imagine calling anywhere but the Gold Coast home.

Kennedy is a self-confessed lover of the city from its business landscape to vibrant social culture.

So, when the Gold Coast was named host of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Kennedy knew both she and her company needed to be a part of the landmark event.

"Ever since the Games were announced as being held on the Gold Coast, I have had my eye on the prize of being involved," said Kennedy.

"I thought 'someone's got to provide all that underlying digital technology' and certainly sporting events are becoming more and more digital."

It began by meeting with Mark Peters, head of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC).

With Kennedy's guidance, Optus has worked to create a new high-speed infrastructure and managed services network for the Games to support more than 11,000 users across the Gold Coast, Cairns, Townsville and Brisbane.

The telco has built 13 new mobile phone towers, upgraded a further 102 towers and, prior to the Opening Ceremony, will have completed a total of 406 infrastructure projects throughout Queensland.

While there have been many major milestones for Kennedy over the past few years, she says the biggest one boils down to simply being involved.

Sam Kennedy in Singapore

"When we first started the process, we had to prove to GOLDOC that we were capable of such a huge task, and I had to prove internally that the opportunity was worthwhile," said Kennedy.

"For Optus it will be the best case study yet, because if we can successfully deliver the most digital games ever in the most beautiful place, it's a win-win for both the city and the company."

Besides the achievement of delivering one of the most technically challenging aspects of the Games, Kennedy is also putting her best foot forward as a baton bearer in the Queen's Baton Relay.

Kennedy recently travelled to Singapore with other State Government and City of Gold Coast representatives on a trade investment mission as part of the Queen's Baton Relay event.

"I got to hold the baton in Singapore and learn its story; it was just awesome to bring that connection from my home and also my company," she says.

Today Kennedy will bear the baton again in Warwick as it makes its home-stretch journey.

She looks forward to tackling the next challenges that will come during the Commonwealth Games, working with a team of 150 staff at the GOLDOC headquarters.

"We have brought the best of the best to work on the Games," she says.

"You've got to have people who are very capable and flexible, especially because we've designed a network that's different to any previous Games that have been held.

"The countdown is on, and I think the Opening Ceremony will definitely be the defining moment."

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