Back in 2010, when my mid-life crisis was kicking in I was looking for a change in career I applied for a job as Olympic Programme Manager with British Cycling, based up at the velodrome in Manchester. OK, so I hadn’t worked out how I was going to get there from Bridgnorth everyday but that seemed like a secondary consideration for a chance at a job like that and, anyway, what was the chance of actually getting it?
Much to my delight, I was shortlisted (6 of us from 300…Ooooo get me) and I was interviewed by Dave Brailsford, the Performance Director, Ian Drake, the CEO of British Cycling and Steve Peters, the influential psychiatrist and author. These three luminaries form the core of British Cycling's senior management team, have been largely responsible for directing it to such massive success and are, it’s fair to say, a challenging interview panel.
We sat in a square. Drake in front of me, Brailsford on the right and Peters on the left. It felt like the attack of the raptors in Jurassic Park. The questions moved from one side of the room to the other pretty rapidly. It was an exhausting process but I like that kind of thing to be honest. Brailsford was hugely engaging and really easy to talk to, Drake played everything with a straight bat and I couldn’t tell whether he liked me or not. Peter’s was terrifying – I felt like he could see directly in to my soul and, if it was necessary, would happily perform surgery on me without anaesthetic.
As it turned out, they wanted a budget controller and project manager (I can do that) they didn’t want a strategist (I’m better at that) and they certainly didn’t want a ‘fan’ (bugger). I didn’t get the job and you don’t get any points for 2nd place here, but I really enjoyed the experience.
I thought about the ‘fan’ thing later on. They were right. If Chris Boardman had said something like ‘we need these carbon handlebars, they’re £20k per set, give me the money please’ I was less likely to question the cost and the rationale behind the purchase and more likely to say.
1. Bloody hell, it’s Chris Boardman, can you sign my Gan jersey please?
2. What other colours do the bars come in?
3. Is one set of bars enough?
4. Can I come with you to get them?
See, another wise decision by the people behind the success of British Cycling and Team Sky.
Rich Smith is the author of ReCycled – a funny book about cycling that you should buy through Amazon without further delay.