Interview with Marina Tranchitella GM of Stadium Operations at Beira-Rio Stadium for Sport Club Internacional
In this latest interview, we hear in-depth insights from Marina Tranchitella, General Manager of Stadium Operations at the 50,000-seat Beira-Rio Stadium for Sport Club Internacional.
Marina Tranchitella, although still young, has spent the last ten years involved with sports events across the globe. Her results-oriented leadership and ability to manage work and communication flow with large teams led her to the management of major events such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, Rio 2016 Games, Youth Olympic Games, Brazil National Football Championship and CONMEBOL Libertadores Cup 2019. Nowadays, she’s the General Operations Manager responsible for the delivery of integrated operations for all matches at Beira Rio Stadium by Internacional Sport Club, part of the Brazil Football Confederation’s First Division.
Marina’s technical management allows her to effectively map a facility’s environment, recognising and evaluating imminent risks, and efficiently managing the impact on different areas; all of which key skills for working on complex events. Event planning for her is a constant challenge, because you need to align the interests and manage the expectations of different stakeholders during all event phases.
In addition to having experience in the field, Marina has also invested time in (theoretical) academic studies and research, including the completion of a Masters in Sport Management at Porto University. She also managed the training program for security for the public forces for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and was recently responsible, as project manager, for developing the book entitled “FORTIUS: SAFE OLYMPIC GAMES AMIDST THE CHAOS”, which delves into the intricacies of how complex it is to establish a functional framework to deliver secure major events. Beside this, Marina has a PMP certificate and has completed a number of courses about risk in stadiums, provided by intelligence agencies and sport ministries.
If you plan to work on events of great magnitude, Marina advises incorporating the mindset that “In theory, theory and practice are the same; in practice, they aren’t!”
Marina, as General Manager of Stadium Operations at the 50,000-seat Beira-Rio Stadium for Sport Club Internacional, what are your main responsibilities?
In general, the most important mission is to ensure the best environment, that is safe and secure for all clients, including the athletes, spectators, workforce, VIPs, Delegations, Press, Broadcast Teams, etc.
Specifically, this means I must: Guide assistance to the emergency services in response to any incident, maintaining public order and control in the event of disorder or evacuation and ensuring appropriate action is taken, all reports are properly completed, and appropriate parties are notified in a timely manner, preventing life risks and damage to the fabric of the stadium, premises and facilities. Ensure the appropriate integration with the stakeholders to create consistent working practices across the group and achieve efficiencies in resource utilisation and budgets. Coordinate all aspects of executing the match day operations, including updating estimates and responding to client requests, while maintaining a satisfactory level of service. Assign work tasks to each supervisor and applicable line-level staff and direct work throughout the event, while maintaining a forward-thinking approach to resolve concerns. Conduct on-the-job training of standard operating procedures, which may include orientation of working on a post, review of orders, routine and specific responsibilities and how to respond to emergency situations or specific client and/or fan needs. And finally. Revise the operations road map after each event or match.
What are the key challenges you face in your role and how do you overcome them, especially when it comes to delivering on your objectives and working with key stakeholders?
My number one challenge, undoubtably, is to ensure the teams comprehend that one change in your area most likely impacts other stakeholders. Based on this challenge, for a volatile environment, I develop two kinds of strategy when an area needs a new procedure implementing:
The first one is a short-term strategy that can be quickly applied: I teach the key question – Who else needs to know?
The second one is a long-term strategy based on developing Business Intelligence to deliver a match day operation. This strategy passes through data collection, organisation and analysis, action and monitoring. In this way, you ensure everyone understands their roles (matrix of responsibilities) and can determine a clear communication flow and incident reporting.
After you have established the steps described above, you can insert exercises of operational readiness in order to stress the system and reduce the unknown environment. This methodology can minimise communication noise and increases the chances of delivering a successful event.
What would you say is the most important aspect when it comes to effective event security planning?
The most important lesson I learned for effective event security planning is that the delivery of an event should be based on “single source of true”, a unique and integrated planning and operation in cooperative workflow, this is what will ensure the success of the event.
In this way, it is possible to apply a set of processes that aim to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time through a chain of control and command.
When we say ‘security planning’, we almost always want this to mean safety and security. To clarify, safety and security are complementary, but different contents. Succinctly, safety is related to compliance with health, architecture, fire fighters regulations and work laws, whereas security is take care of requirements about personal issues, access control, crowd management, and the personal security of the athletes and very important persons (VIP), as well as police issues.
Meanwhile, the most effective action to guarantee a safe and secure environment is to create a mindset of: If you see something, say something! All eyes are safety and security eyes. And if the flow is working well, this information can be received into the flow of the chain of control and command, and an appropriate treatment can be delivered.
An excellent point at Beira-Rio Stadium, with its 50,000-capacity, is that is has eight access gates in the lower sector, two in the upper sector and fourteen towers that allow the stadium to be completely evacuated in just eight minutes.
You were Security Manager for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. How did this role (and previous roles/experiences) inform what you do at Beira-Rio Stadium?
All of my major professional background, from being Hospitality Manager at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and Security Manager at both the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and then at Buenos Aires 2018 at the Youth Olympic Games, in combination with my personal background as a spectator at events ranging from Super Bowl 50 to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ and the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, have allowed me to experience events from different perspectives, which has helped me to recognise more clearly what are the “must haves” and what are the “nice to have” when it comes to the delivery of an event.
I have developed a mindset that in this environment it’s necessary to plan the operations in an integrated way. All this experience has supported me to make faster and more efficient decision-making, in other words, to deliver a better performance.
Specifically in regards to my security background, I have learned that if an event is in a moment of celebration and entertainment, then we must provide a safe and secure environment with the least possible risk. To make a metaphor, I would risk saying that operational management could be the head of operations, but security and safety are the legs, and without them it is impossible to move forward on an event.
How are you employing technology at the stadium to ensure a safe and secure environment?
Before exploring the technology environment, I would like to emphasise that technology without human knowledge is not enough to solve operational issues.
At Beira-Rio Stadium, we have an Operational Command Centre (OCC) and during match day operations, we have fixed positions occupied with representatives from:
- Security: Public Forces
- Private Security Forces
- Healthy and Safety
- Technology (control access)
- Media Operations
- Cleaning and Waste
- Stadium Operations
Technology comes to the fore in an environment like the delivery of football match operations. Some examples of how we utilise technology at Beira-Rio Stadium include:
Pre-game, we have software capable of predicting, with 97% accuracy, the audience at matches in Beira-Rio. Based on information from 150 games since 2014, researchers have designed a program to predict the number of people in the stadium. The software takes into account 50 variables, such as the weather forecast, the result of previous matches, the day of the month and the week, as well as the relevance of the opponent and the competition. Even the estimated number of members who check in but don’t show up is provided by the system.
Inside the OCC, we have the control room, with more than 390 cameras in a CCTV (closed-circuit television) that can shoot both external public areas inside and outside the stadium. It is used to monitor any areas where there is potential for security problems and we can save the images for a period after each match day, that could help solve some futures questions. As an example of reach of these cameras, we can mention when we managed to locate in the match by the COMEBOL Libertadores of America, during the match against the Palestinian club, an Israel flag folded in the lap of a fan, who probably was intended at some point to make a religion/political demonstration, which is prohibited in the regulation of competitions and was promptly mitigated by the security team.
The fan card access system is another technology that’s allowed us to monitor all information about fans and for the Barra Brava (supporter clubs) we have the technology of digital access control, mitigating possible changes in fan’s cards.
Other excellent technology we have in use is real-time access flow control. This system allows us to analyse the flow per gate per minute and the possibility of potential conflicts at some given gates by accumulation of people and guarantee a level of service planned. Almost always, before kick-off, I stay with one eye trained on the CCTV images and the other on the access control information. In this way, I can cross reference the information and thereby ensure faster and more efficient decision-making.
If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be and why?
If you plan to work on events of great magnitude, my advice is to incorporate the mindset that “Problems happen…what makes a committee successful isn’t the lack of crises, it is quickly and high level responding to them based on good process.”
To be prepared to diagnose the scenario and respond promptly is an arduous task and must be trained with operational readiness exercises, simulating the most varied scenarios, reducing the territory of uncertainty because in theory, theory and practice are the same; in practice, they aren’t.
Beira-Rio Stadium: Key Stats
Memberships (called Colorados): 120,000
Club Foundation: April 4, 1909
Beira-Rio Stadium underwent a major modernisation process ahead of its hosting of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ matches. Construction work on the project, called ‘Giant Forever’, began in March 2012 and lasted approximately two years. During this period, the colorado house was adapted to FIFA’s international football requirements and standards, making it more comfortable and safe.
Images, courtesy: SC Internacional
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