Those who know me may realize my career, though successful, is not what I’d hoped it would be. Actually, until recently, I still didn’t really know what I wanted to be when I grew up. That all changed over the course of the last few weeks and I find myself ready for my first career change. (This may come as a shock to my co-workers.) I found a dream job!
The change began innocently enough with a message on LinkedIn. “Hi Peter. After reviewing your LinkedIn profile and Blog, I’d like to talk to you about an opportunity we have that we feel you’d be perfect for”. Ho hum. Another private message from another recruiter. Except the note on reviewing my blog was different and I really sat up and took notice when I read the signature:
Fran Milar – Team Sky
Team Sky!? You mean the Team Sky? Powerhouse of World Tour cycling? A quick google and scan of the Team page revealed indeed, it was that Team Sky. Suddenly, they had my full, and undivided attention.
I responded to Fran almost immediately. “Oh goody, goody, goody! I can’t wait to talk to you”. At least that’s what my first response sounded like. Fortunately, I deleted it and started over again keeping a more adult, and somewhat disinterested tone. Things progressed from there at amazing speed including a whirlwind weekend trip to Manchester, England. (Thank goodness for up-to-date passports).
On the flight home from England, I had to pinch myself. Team Sky had flown both myself and my wife to Manchester and she had been impressed with Team Sky. When I initially told her of the opportunity, she humored me but didn’t seem to keen on the idea of relocating overseas. I thought I’d never pry her out of our house in Pennsylvania but when she found out most of our time would be spent on traveling and that Sky would be assisting in relocation costs she began to warm to the idea. By the time we landed back in Philadelphia, we were both excited and cautiously optimistic.
Within hours of my return from Manchester, my phone buzzed showing a UK number. I took a deep breath and answered. It was Fran with the offer of a lifetime. Without hesitating, I accepted.
The job itself sounds challenging but fun. Professional cycling teams are constantly on the lookout for new talent and search all corners of the world. Like major league baseball, cycling teams have minor league affiliations or development teams as they are known. While Team Sky has a large squad overall, they are looking to grow the team and cycling. My job as Assistant Program Research & Initiative Leader will take me to all parts of the world to establish local sponsorships and regional development teams.
After orientation, the job starts quickly. As part of this effort Team Sky is establishing a new team to seek out cycling talent in less obvious places around the world.
Our first project dubbed Project Төөрөгдөл will send us to the more remote parts of Mongolia where bicycles are a way of life. Team Sky (and other World Tour teams) feel there is a large pool of hidden talent ripe for the taking.
Team Sky hopes to locate young riders in the far reaches of Mongolia and recruit them before other teams. The plan is to have the members of Project Төөрөгдөл live among the rural Mongols, earn their trust, and find these riders. Fran and other leaders from Team Sky are moving aggressively on this and have already secured housing. She sent me a couple photos yesterday. It looks exciting!
The Mongolian assignment is only temporary, probably not lasting more that 4-5 years. At that point Team Sky is hoping that the situation in Syria will have calmed down. It seems Syria was a budding hot spot for cycling prior to the civil war. Team Sky believes the hardship and suffering learned during these terrible, war-torn years will create cyclists who are both physically and mentally strong.
The Syrian part of the project is only expected to last another 6 years. At that point, the best of the riders from Mongolia and Syria are expected to have been integrated to Team Sky and we would be permanently relocated to Western Europe where we would help these riders through their Grand Tours.
Lastly, due to my running experience, I will be working with Team Sky coaches and riders to improve their running program. Nobody knows better than Team Sky what a crucial part running can play in a Grand Tour.
We have to leave for Manchester and Mongolia soon. There is much to do. We are not taking most of our possessions with us, so there is a big yard sale to come including all hunting and fishing stuff and my Specialized bicycles. Team Sky is sponsored by Pinarello and they will be graciously providing me with a brand new bike. In fact, this will be my only means of transportation in Mongolia short of hitching a ride on a Mongolian Yak-drawn wagon.
Otherwise the package includes a generous salary of over a 250,000 tögrög a year (and 401K matching up to 1000 tögrög), free housing as mentioned, and unlimited medical visits with the local Shaman. All this and a free Gan of my choosing!
All that is left really is to inform my current employer. Or perhaps that would just be foolish . . .