From dog-sitter to sports marketer: Johannes’s EF journey
True or false: EF Education First owns professional cycling teams.
If you answered true, congratulations, you are correct!
True or False: Johannes, the Senior Marketing Manager for EF Pro Cycling, found EF through his dog-sitting job while he was in college.
Johannes's EF journey is anything but traditional, and like a wheel on a bicycle, it has many full-circle moments.
Travel has always been part of Johannes's life—he was born and raised in Switzerland, lived in Korea, went to college in Colorado, and currently lives in Utah.
"Home for me is wherever my house is at the moment! When I was young, traveling was how I saw my family," Johannes reflects. "Now, it's fun to travel to see new places. And there is no better way to see a place than from a bike."
While majoring in political science and economics at Colorado College in the US and competing for the swim team, Johannes was unsure what he wanted to do after graduating. He knew he wanted to work in sports.
"My dad was an athlete, and I always played sports, so I always knew I wanted to work in sports. If you had asked me what my dream job was, I would have said a job where I get to travel, work in sports, and work with cool people." Spoiler alert: he says he gets the trifecta at EF.
Johannes became a huge cycling fan when he discovered a YouTube channel called Global Cycling Network. "I love cycling because you meet so many super passionate people. Also, from the outside, cycling looks like an individual sport, but the team aspect of it is so essential. The first thing any winner will say is, 'This wouldn't be possible without my teammates.'"
Johannes worked for the Colorado Classic cycling race between his junior and senior years. At the race, he met "this guy Matt," the Marketing and Communication Director for EF Pro Cycling. Matt asked Johannes to dog-sit his German Shorthaired Pointer named Bird. Johannes said yes, and once he graduated a year later, Johannes asked Matt if he had any openings on his team. After starting as a contractor at EF, he moved to Boston to intern in the EF Boston office before becoming a full-time marketing manager for the pro cycling team.
Today, as senior marketing manager, Johannes says his goal is to humanize the riders through storytelling. "My job is to tell stories. Sometimes in sports, especially when athletes do such incredible things, fans see them as superheroes. At the end of the day, we are all human. Even the best rider in the world is a person at home. Telling those stories is my job."
EF's men's pro cycling team has 32 riders and 21 nationalities, and there are 11 languages spoken on the team. The women's team has 16 riders and 10 nationalities, with seven languages spoken. Johannes thinks this sets EF apart from the other pro teams. "What is unique about our current cyclists is the philosophy EF brought to the team. EF's core belief is that the world is a better place when people try to understand one another, and our cycling team is a diverse group of elite riders from all over the world. Each team member brings their own culture and experiences. Seeing everyone come together and learn from one another is amazing."
Johannes is working his third Tour de France this summer. The iconic event, which he describes as "a big traveling circus," gives Johannes a unique perspective on his journey. "Last year, the Tour de France route went right in front of the house I grew up in. I was standing there working for the team, and it was such a full-circle moment. It felt surreal that I was there watching the race a few years ago and wishing I knew the riders' names –– now I am working for a team!"
The men's cycling team was recently featured in the new Netflix series Tour de France: Unchained. The series provides an in-depth look at the sport of cycling in hopes of making it more widely understood. Johannes worked directly with the production team and thinks the series is an exciting opportunity for the sport. "People who have never watched cycling will get a good look at what the sport is like from the inside, and hardcore fans will get a look into what goes on behind the scenes."
Johannes followed his instincts and found a role at EF where he is pushed outside of his comfort zone daily ––and he would encourage others to find the same. "If your gut is telling you something is right, and you truly believe you will make the most out of the opportunity –– you should do it. It is not always fun or comfortable. I was a contractor and moved to Boston without knowing a single person, which was kind of scary. But it turned out to be the best experience of my life."