Just the job (for a woman) - BikeBiz

Just the job (for a woman)

Is a job in the bike industry the right career for my son?
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We – that is, Hayley, Kieran and myself – bust our guts to entertain you with sparkling prose, and we daily go out on a limb to deliver hot exclusives that everybody, but everybody, reads on BikeBiz.com mere seconds after we post them. The reality is no doubt different. I bet the real mover and shaker in BikeBiz’s new London office is, in fact, Richie, our gorgeous long-haired ads manager. (He may have had all his hair chopped off by now; I wouldn’t know, I work remotely from BikeBiz Tower, which is a lot like Trump Tower, but with even more gold.)

It’s Richie’s part of the site most people turn to first – because it’s Richie that posts the job ads. (He even Tweets them out there, and if you want to be first to know of the latest vacancies I’d recommend you follow him.) There can be seventy of these job-ads each month, and the sits-vac section of the website gets an enormous amount of traffic.

Trade in the doldrums? You wouldn’t think that from looking at the BikeBiz jobs board. It’s clearly the first port of call for many people, with the editorial teams’ sparkling prose a distant second. (We cycling scribes forgive you.) There are juicy vacancies for shop rats, marketing managers and managing director positions and more.

There’s either an awful lot of churn out there – with people leaving jobs and immediately going to others – or the trade is buzzing. There just never seems to be a shortage of new positions.

Whether those positions are incredibly well-paid is a subject for another column but the simple fact is there are a lot of new jobs knocking about. I’m always tickled by the amount of jobs some people have done in the same industry, but with different companies. The bike industry has a planet-sized gravitational pull, and once you’re in the biz you can never escape, you just move to another company. Most people don’t want to escape, of course, it’s a great industry (but see above for the less than stellar cash compensation).

I’m minded to think about all this because my nineteen-year-old son was almost caught by the industry’s gravitational pull. He’s now left for a six-month stay in Canada as a ski instructor, but if he tires of that – it’s a tough career, ski resorts only have snow for half of the year – he may get back into the bike biz. He was working for a supplier and a bike shop at the same time – Storck UK and Vieri Velo of Gateshead and Newcastle respectively – and he was well qualified. He eats, breathes and sleeps bikes. (In fact, when the Canadian snow melts he may stay in the resort to become an MTB instructor.)

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Should he decide that’s his calling I won’t discourage Josh from getting a job in the industry. Clearly, the bike industry has been good to me, and I know plenty of well-paid bike industry execs who started at the very bottom and have worked their way to the top. Of course, Josh has a key qualification: he’s a bloke. The industry’s gravitational pull doesn’t seem to work on women. There are many reasons for this, but it’s not always for the want of trying. I’ve heard from many bike shops down the years who say they lose many of their prospective job applicants when women discover the “retail job” in question is a bike-shop position.

The industry needs to do an awful lot more to attract women, and because I’m a bloke perhaps I’m not the best person to advise on how this will be best brought about. Hayley: I don’t want to pile too much pressure on you, but might you consider working on a number of articles on how best to get more women into the bike biz? There are some wickedly talented women in this industry of ours – I’ll name-check just one, Islabikes’ Isla Rowntree, who, let’s be frank, has done a fair few jobs in the biz – and we must redouble our efforts to make sure we attract, and keep, even more women.

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