Risk and Reward. When David Takes on Goliath

I’ve just returned from my first Spanish holiday for quite some time. But rather than sensibly laying on a beach and topping up my tan, I’ve been indulging one of my passions. High-speed motorcycle track riding. Yes – that’s me in the photo above!

The Circuito de Almeria in southern Spain is 4,000 meters long, with 13 bends and – as their website helpfully points out – an onsite hospital! (A fact I can unfortunately testify to!)

The track is used for testing and practising for MotoGP, DTM, Le Mans, WTCC and Super-Bikes.  In fact, Tito Rabat, former Moto2 world champion and current MotoGP rider, lives down the road and is usually on track when we’re there.

On track days, they open up to enthusiastic amateurs like me to fulfil their need for speed. The thrill of hitting 180mph down the back straight and taking fast corners at around 100mph, with knees scraping the tarmac certainly get the adrenaline pumping.

But having had a pretty nasty fall on the circuit last year, when I ran out of talent at turn 6, combined with my more recent responsibilities as a parent, I’ve become quite aware of my limitations! Which is why I stand in awe of the professional racers who compete in events such as the Isle of Man TT each year.

It’s not an event for the fainthearted. Since 1907, more than 250 people have lost their lives navigating 37.7 miles of public highways at speeds of nearly 200 mph. It’s been called “the most dangerous race on the planet” and “38 miles of terror”.

My previous expressions of interest in participating myself were quickly vetoed by my wife. So, I’ve decided to take a vicarious pleasure by sponsoring privateer racer, Mike Russell from Club55 Racing, in this year’s race.


Mike Russell from Club55 Racing

Mike is on active duty with the RAF, so it’s quite remarkable that he also wins professional motorcycle races, including being a double Manx Grand Prix winner 2009/2013, and in his earlier career, the Moto GP support class winner in 2009.

For anyone who doesn’t know the Isle of Man TT, we strongly recommend watching the documentary, TT3D, Closer to the Edge. It’s rare that a sport of this magnitude and coverage remains predominantly semi-professional, meaning most, if not all these racers have day jobs. Even more so for Mike, who is competing on the “privateer” class (fully self-funded).

We have a lot of empathy for Mike here at Stratum. He and his talented but tight-knit team are competing in a tough race against some well-established names. That demands an approach that challenges the established ways of doing things. It’s about finding the most efficient route without even the possibility of cutting corners. And it needs a philosophy that balances risk and reward responsibly.

That resonates with us, as a boutique firm that has successfully disrupted the established mining executive search and recruitment sector with innovations such as proactive candidate management, online assessments as the norm, and our guarantee-backed TalentAssay™ platform. There have been risks and a few spills on the way, but as we begin to see definite signs of recovery in the industry it’s full speed ahead.

I’ll be joining Mike Russell at the Isle of Man TT to cheer him on and we’ll provide updates here and on our social media feeds. I’m sure you’ll join with me in wishing him the best of luck.

Will Coetzer, Managing Partner, Stratum International

 Will Coetzer and his beloved Hondas (above and below)