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Life on the red planet - part 1

September 8, 2016

Here's another little look back at my time in Italy, this time I'm stopping the clock in 2004 when I arrived back in Italy and headed to work at Ducati for the first time...

 

"I was more than a little nervous that first morning back in 2004, as I headed up to the main gate at Ducati for the first time. The nerves were probably caused, in part, by my dad. When I’d told him about the job I’m pretty sure that he'd thought I was joking at first. To explain, he is a BIG motorcycle fan – have I mentioned that as kids we were made to watch the races on TV from a ridiculously young age? Well then you can understand his shock when his eldest daughter, who had, up until that point, worked in further education, suddenly called to say she was going to work in arguably the coolest motorcycle factor in the world. I think it's fair to say that he was probably even more excited than I was! 

 

My nerves that day could also be put down to the fact that I didn’t have a clear idea of what exactly I’d be doing job-wise. All I really knew is that website maintenance, about which I knew absolutely zilch, was involved, and that the guy needed me for my Italian skills, which had, to be honest, become a little rusty after my time back in the UK…

 

I don’t remember the rest of day one very clearly but it obviously couldn’t have gone too badly. I remember taking the tour of the factory and museum very early on and I think it was in that moment that I really opened my eyes and realized where I was working.

 

My first weeks were spent desperately trying to find a place to call home. I’d booked into the local hotel for the first fortnight, after which I relied on mates’ sofas until I could find myself a flat, which I eventually did, sharing with a couple of old friends close to the football stadium. This meant that getting to work each day would involve taking the notorious #13 bus, never have so many crazy people come together in one place…

 

Anyway, the first days at work went well, I was introduced to many people, some of whom I already ‘knew’ but only from having seen them on TV of course. Tardozzi, Domenicali, Minoli, the list went on... It was a little intimidating, especially because I hadn’t worked in the industry before and, as everyone that works in motorcycling knows, it’s a very small, close-knit world so if you make a bad impression word will quickly get around. In addition, I was young, female and non-Italian. I could see from the get-go that it was definitely going to be an uphill climb if I wanted to make myself heard in this traditionally male-dominated world.

 

These couple of years on the first rung of the motorcycle ladder were spent updating Ducati’s racing web pages for all of the championships it was taking part in, from MotoGP to SBK, BSB and American Superbikes. This was very much a full-time job – if the Superbikes were racing in Australia then I’d head to the office at 1am to update things live-time during the night. If the guys at the tracks were having internet trouble and couldn’t send me the news – and it would happen more often than you’d think – then I’d be stuck there playing a waiting game until their systems were back up and running…. Needless to say that nights spent alone in an office above the factory, with only the security guard for company, didn’t make for a particularly glamorous job although being able to tell those I met in the pub that I was ‘working at Ducati’ rather than having to offer up the more predictable ‘I teach English’ did go some way to making up for that.

 

In a country as concerned as it is with status, and in a field where it's ALL about who you know, my position definitely gave me something of a step-up on the ladder. Although I didn’t get to travel during these years, I learned so much and the job definitely had its perks. I even got to meet Troy Bayliss in the Ducati bar – little did I know I’d be working with him just a couple of years down the line. But doing this kind of work, so closely linked to the racing world but without the actual racing element, I soon realized that what I really wanted to be doing was the press officer’s job, at the tracks, with the riders, right there in the mix. But I also knew that it was a tough, almost impossible, area to break in to as there are only a handful of people working those roles in motorsport and, once they're in, they don’t tend to move on or give up their places very quickly. I could see that nothing was about to become available in Ducati and so when I heard that a motorcycle apparel company was looking for a media officer at their Northern Italian base, I decided to apply. Suffice to say, things were about to change big time."

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