For a while you have been working as Category Manager at Shimano and Pearl Izumi, how did you get there?
I had worked for Canyon for about two years and felt that I wanted to work with more long-term customer relations with the opportunity to invest more time and energy at each customer contact. Being able to live and work internationally was also something I missed from the university year I studied in the Netherlands and Germany. Canyon had no open positions in large-scale sales, so I started looking for other interesting employers and positions. It turned out that Shimano was looking for a Category Manager in charge of bicycle shoes, so I submitted an application. My college education, experience from the bicycle industry and background as a race cyclist were convincingly enough to be called for an interview. Then there was enough personality and product knowledge that convinced them that I was the right person for the job.
What do you have for tasks?
I work with distributor sales of Shimano’s and Pearl Izumi bicycle shoes and related production planning. In addition to this, much time is spent giving the development teams in Japan and the US constant product feedback, which also makes cooperation with our distributors very important. On the shoefront I am responsible for Northern and Western Europe, Russia, the Middle East and South Africa. Together with my colleague covering Southern and Eastern Europe, I work on guidelines and wishes that will represent as large a share of our markets as possible. My role means that I constantly visit and work with people from a variety of countries and cultures. It sets high demands, but also makes the job extremely stimulating.
The office is located in Freiburg, Germany, a big shift to move from Sweden?
I have previously lived in Germany, so I knew basically what to expect before moving here. The German bureaucracy can be surprisingly ineffective many times, but fortunately I have received a lot of help from my employer with that bit.
But good area for cycling?
Yes, for those who like to ride both cycling and running, very good training opportunities are offered in the area, so good that a lot of World Tour and MTB professionals are here.
I know you’re a nerd, do you get an overdose to work at work now?
Haha, you could believe it, but it really does not feel so. I really love what I’m working with and I have the privilege of working with like-minded colleagues.
What is most exciting with the job?
It is clear that we have so much influence in the development of new models. If we can motivate, we can drive the development of brand new models, but it requires close collaboration with distributors and constant market visits. I love traveling and working with people, so it suits me very well!
You have no product news to tell me about?
We have a lot of new and a lot of groundbreaking news under development for 2015 and 2016, but at the moment I can not disclose any details.
Among the news of the year, I would highlight three models that I think much more about. The Shimano XC90 is a new MTB shoe that is currently used widely by many cyclocrossers in the World Cup. In addition to the low weight and the delicious design, it fits as well on the feet as the best country road shoes on the market. Pearl Izumi MTB Series X-Project and Country Road Shoe P.R.O. Leader II distinguishes itself with other characteristics. X-Project 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 offer very high turning stiffness on the bike, but the outer sole’s design provides extra flexibility at the toes and heel, making them very comfortable to walk in. P.R.O. Leader II has a completely unique BOA lacing where the BOA wheel is in the middle of the shoe, which contributes to very good comfort even when tightened.