Q and A with Katie Lane
Travelling to exotic locations with an international rally motorsport team may sound like a life of glamour, but Otago alumna Katie Lane says it’s not only the drivers that need focus and “grit” to stay ahead of the competition.
Katie, who gained a Bachelor of Science (Human Nutrition) and a Food Science Diploma for Graduates at Otago is now media manager for partner and World Rally Championship (WRC) Hyundai team driver Hayden Paddon.
In a 2013 article you talked about working as a media manager for Hayden; describe your current role in the rally team.
It’s quite varied and mainly it focuses around marketing and PR and promoting Hayden’s ‘brand’ through social media, the website, merchandising and organising supporters’ rally tours to WRC events. I’m also involved with sponsors – organising schedules and events, as well as ensuring a good relationship is maintained.
I also liaise with media in New Zealand. I produce videos, doing the filming and editing, which is additional content for social media.
On events, I film and send back interviews of Hayden and ‘atmosphere’ material to television news media. I also ensure everything is sorted to keep sponsors, fans and shareholders up-to-date via social media, newsletters, emails and the website.
Finally, I plan and organise Hayden’s nutrition on events with the team.
How has social media changed rallying?
Social media allows people to follow from anywhere in the world and stay in touch with the action, almost as it happens. Rallying is largely followed on social media now; it is a very important tool for us.
Describe what you enjoy about your current life – how many countries have you visited recently?
The travel is definitely a bonus, we often get the opportunity to experience new places and cultures. In 2016 I worked in Mexico and Argentina, as well as seven countries in Europe. But I mostly enjoy the times now when I can get back to NZ – I miss the way of life there.
What’s the hardest thing about life in a competitive rally team?
We are definitely very lucky to be doing what we do. However, it’s not all glamor, we spend a lot of time in airports and in hotels; mostly, we really do live out of a suitcase. There are 14 rallies in the calendar taking you around the world, as well as travel between these sometimes, so it can get very busy. I wouldn’t change it though, I think I would struggle now if I had to stay in one place. However, the hardest part is being so far from family and friends.
What knowledge gained at Otago do you use most now?
I apply my nutrition knowledge in everyday life, but also utilise this with Hayden in preparing his nutrition pre-event, during events and outside of competition. I’m currently furthering my study in Sports Nutrition.
What did you enjoy about studying at Otago?
I have fond memories of flatting and enjoyed the independence of being a student. I appreciated the freedom to explore different subjects and there are a huge variety of science disciplines to choose from – this gave me the opportunity to find subjects I really enjoyed.
Otago is a good place to study because…?
I think Otago has a special student culture and a great place to go for social life also. Otago has a fantastic reputation, that’s probably one of the main reasons I went there was for their reputable health science degrees. Dunedin is also a great place to live – it has beautiful surroundings and is hugely accommodating to students.
Any favourite subjects?
Obviously favourites were Food Science and Nutrition, however I also enjoyed dabbling in Psychology and Anthropology. After Otago, I did further study in social anthropology.
What would you say to a younger person about getting the most out of studying at Otago?
Make the most of opportunities, work hard and focus on what is important. Explore subjects you enjoy- I went to Otago set on a subject but ended up changing my major two or three times. Also, immerse yourself in the Otago student community and utilise the resources available.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
I prefer to have a work-life balance, but this isn’t your typical nine-to-five job. There isn’t a huge amount of downtime because we are often travelling or something else is happening. When there is a break I make the most of having time to myself.
Where to now – professionally and personally?
I want to continue the journey with Hayden as he becomes World Rally Champion. Also, I want to keep working on my current study in sports nutrition, and applying this in the field. We have a three-year contract with our current rally team, so my plans after 2018 depend on a number of factors. In this sport situations can change very fast.