1. How did you get involved with WTS Edmonton?
I fell into the Edmonton Triathlon in 2011. I was managing the ski and snowboard school at Snow Valley, and decided that I would take the summer off from any kind of work. Sheila O'Kelly was speaking at the Canadian Club of Edmonton, and I joined the triathlon delegation at their table to visit. I was asked if I could refer any of my Instructors as potential summer staff for the event, but since I was nearly 4 weeks into my commitment not to work, I was looking for something to do. I suggested that I might be interested; I put together my resume and stopped in to the office (when Antrim Construction was donating space for the office) for what I thought was a job interview. It turned out to be my first day of work.
2. What is your role with WTS Edmonton?
I did a few summers in very vague, administrative rolls that included nearly all aspects of the event, but often touching on operational ideas. The schedule for the Grand Final in 2014 didn't fit with my schedule at the ski hill, so I stepped away from the administration and got involved as a volunteer for the venue build. After a couple of years as a labourer, I started working as the Operations Consultant for the event. Now I plan and implement the venue set up, support, and tear down for the events.
3. What does your role involve?
Everything that isn't someone else's job...
I've got a pretty good blend of thinking and working. As people bring ideas for the appearance of the event, I try to come up with a layout that works. Then I'll source the structures and equipment that will make it function. As the layout comes together, I try to decide in what order to build things - considering how each task relates to others (signs can't be installed until there's a fence to put them on, it's nice not to have fence in the way of building tents or dropping toilets, once carpet is down, vehicles are forbidden...) Even the weather factors into the plan. If tasks get done too early, there's more risk of storm damage. Some jobs can't be done in the rain (most jobs are no fun in the rain, but some are impossible), so waiting too long can prevent things from happening. Once the plan is roughed out, we schedule the suppliers and contractors, recruit and train a team to do the build, and do the build. I move from the office to the park, and make small adjustments to the schedule and the plan to keep the build happening efficiently and hopefully ahead of schedule! Real life amends the plan. In the last few days of set up and during the events, I wander around answering questions and being an advisor for the Operations team. When they need context for a decision or advice to solve problems, I can generally offer insight.
Then, we tear it all down.
4. What is your favourite part of the job?
The blend of thinking really hard and inventing solutions to new problems, and being outside in the park while working physically is very important to me. To be happy and engaged, I need to be working on some kind of puzzle (but, for some reason, not jigsaw puzzles - I never learned to enjoy those), and planning an event provides lots of opportunity to solve puzzles. Most of the puzzle is mental, and worked out very early, but over a couple of weeks the venue comes together in a very tangible way that feels pretty satisfying.
5. Do you participate in triathlon events?
I drown, so really, triathlon isn't for me. My running is generally limited to running to an emergency that I need to solve. I like cycling, though.
6. What is your sport of choice?
I'm a very enthusiastic skier. Lately, I'm starting to think that responsible adults should be able to swim, so I'm thinking about swimming lessons in the foreseeable future.
7. What tips can you offer to athletes on “maximizing their experience” at WTS Edmonton?
Maybe, instead of running down the finish lane, stop and really enjoy that blue carpet. In fact, slow down and admire all of the planning that went into the event: figuring out how to lay out Transition so heats work out and you can find your bikes is some kind of magic. Stop and thank some of the volunteers for making your race a success. (See my answer a couple of questions above: I'm not a competitive athlete, so take my advice at your own risk.)
8. What are you looking forward to in 2018 and beyond?
I'm looking forward to a couple of years without huge operational changes. By doing a year or two without redesigning the venue, we can focus on the 2020 Grand Final and the amazing venue we've imagined for that.
9. Tell us a little something about yourself:
Isn't that what I just did? I wear a 7 1/4 hat, but not very often, because I don't really like wearing hats.