Hannah Wilson is the UK brand manager for Crankbrothers and Fizik. She has been working with Crankbrothers for what feels like forever and naturally, embodies everything the brand represents. She can often be found at events around the UK (and further afield). If she's not busy with work she can usually be found out riding her bike.
In 2021, Hannah completed an Everesting challenge on her electric mountain bike in the Forest of Dean. She started the day at 2am (and riding at 4am) and didn't get home until 9:30pm. It took about 17 hours and ten batteries. She did 233km and 8869ft of climbing and descending and over 70 laps of Countdown into Launchpad.
Read on to find out more about Hannah, including her transition from the police to the bike industry and how her love for cycling started.
In your own words, who are you and what do you do?
I'm Hannah, I've been riding bikes since the late 1990s, starting out in XC, moving onto DH and now I love nothing more than riding for fun, mostly on e-bikes. I've raced in the past but now long endurance crazy challenges are more my thing (when I have time).
What is your job?
A brand management role is pretty varied. The simplest way to describe it is to form a link between the brand and the UK market, working as a project manager helping to co-ordinate sales, marketing and stock management.
How did you get into what you do?
I had a big career change to get to where I am now. Back in 2005 while waiting for a start date to join the Police, I was deputy manager at a Specialized Concept store. I loved the role and combining my passion and my job but I was sure that policing was my career path.
I was a response officer for three and a half years and it was a fantastic learning opportunity, but, I missed working with bikes so had a look for a way to move back. I applied for and got a job with Halfords as a parts and accessories buyer and that was the start of my current career.
How long have you been working in the bike industry?
Excluding my time pre-police I've been working in the industry for almost 12 years, two and a half at Halfords and the rest at Extra UK.
How have things changed since you started?
My role within the company has evolved and continues to evolve constantly. We've introduced a lot of new products and, as a result, my way of approaching my job changed.
I'm now looking much further ahead and medium to long term brand planning and development is of utmost importance. Obviously, the last few years have been challenging in a variety of ways but it's vital to not lose focus of longer-term goals.
Is there anything you wish you could change about your role/job?
I love my job and working with the brands. I'd love more time to ride my bike, but I'm not sure where that time would come from.
What does your average week look like?
Kind of depends on the season and what's happening, I have a varied role and, if you just look at what social media portrays you'd think I spend most of my time at events and visiting my brands in wonderful places. There are elements of this which are wonderful but the reality is the majority of my time is spent in the office on the computer or in meetings with colleagues and customers.
I'm a pretty sociable person and love spending time with people, but I'm analytical and I do enjoy delving into the numbers too so as long as there's a balance of the two I'm happy.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to do your job/what you do?
Passion and interest in the sport are important but the skills and assets you can bring to a business from a more commercial perspective are more so. Don't think of it as a job, more of a career, how can you develop and grow into the job you eventually want?
I worked for 18 months as a Brand Specialist before starting my brand manager role. I had the commercial awareness to do the job I do now and the analytical ability. However, being on the road for 18 months gave me a great understanding of the industry, our customers and consumers and made me a much better brand manager than I would have been without that experience.
What do you like most about what you do?
I love the variety. I'm most excited though when we launch a new product. Seeing something come through the development process through to launch into the market and being a key part of making this happen is exhilarating.
If you weren’t doing this, you would be?
No idea. Maybe I would have stayed in the police or maybe if I'd followed a different path after university I'd be involved in sustainable energy or water resource management.
What have been some of the highlights of your career?
Seeing the development of the brands I've worked with over the years and the relationships I've built during that time. The most fun part was working as Global Sports Marketing Manager with Crankbrothers, travelling to World Cups and working closely with riders and teams.
The industry is in a bit of a tough situation in terms of the cost of living. Do you see it recovering any time soon and, if so, what will brands need to do to stay relevant and afloat?
It's been tough combining Brexit, cost of living and COVID-19. However, the best approach from my perspective was to not panic. Think about a medium- to long-term plan and make sure we come through the challenging time in a sustainable way. This may not work for everyone as it depends on so many factors but working closely with brands and customers is essential. We're all going through this together.
What do you dislike most about the cycling industry?
I'm not sure I dislike it but I'd love to work with more women and see more women applying for jobs when we advertise.
How do you keep things balanced when your hobby becomes your job?
Haha, good question! I must admit for a couple of years I fell a little out of love with riding. Mostly because I had so little time to ride every time I did it was just hard and unenjoyable. I got an e-bike which took away the first ride back pain and actually meant I started riding way more.
I also got a personal trainer who builds a program for me around my work schedule so there's no real excuse not to do it. This means I actually enjoy riding now whenever I get to do it.
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