Gemma Dyer - Technical Product Trainer, Rab
I met Gemma on an atmospheric day at Stanage Edge in the Peak District, UK. Emerging through the cloud I find her perched in the boot of her car surrounded by an array of old and new gear. Today she’s here to film a new climbing pack for an online learning package, “We’re going to go through and explain all the features and their benefits.”
Gemma is Training Coordinator at Rab and Lowe Alpine, a role that’s all about education. "The trainer’s role is to see store staff and train them on the benefits and the features of the products that they stock from us." It’s perfect for Gemma, as she explains “I’m a total gear geek, I’m like a magpie. Anything new and shiny or exciting technology, whether it be climbing gear, paddles or clothing - I like that, why does that work, tell me more about it!”
“I’m a bit of a jack of all trades. My main sport is whitewater kayaking, I’m a four star river leader and level 2 coach. I recently got into climbing and winter mountaineering, I do a bit of mountain biking as well. I do anything that involves me being outside and happy, be it paddling in the French Alpine sunshine, or on a murky day like today.
I do need a really good technical understanding of the products. I speak with designers and garment technologists and find out why they’ve made a product the way they have. Testing is a big part of it, I’ve used a lot of gear over the time that I’ve been out and active, and I do know what works.
I’ve always been interested in anything outdoorsy, and I’ve always been interested in gear. I remember being with my parents at the age of 7 or 8 in the Lake District, and them being in their old Aleutian fleeces, which are really chunky things! When I was 12 I went down to my local kayaking club in Bewdley which is on the Severn, and then I joined what was Wyre Forest Canoe Club. I was chucked down rapids locally, then in north Wales, and progressed to things in the French Alps. I’m looking to do more in the way of sea kayaking now, I’m planning an expedition in Norway later in the year. I like the idea of adventure, having all your stuff in the kayak and going off for days at a time."
"I studied Physical Education and Sports Studies. When I came out of university I wanted to be able to afford nice gear, so I got a job at Cotswold Outdoor and worked there for a quite a long time. I made the move to teaching and taught for a number of years. I really enjoyed it but there was always something missing. I thought if I could pursue a job in the outdoors it would be really beneficial to me.
I’ve been working for Rab and Lowe Alpine for two years. I joined at a time when they wanted an additional trainer, and the job has progressed into what it is today. We’ve got to adapt and evolve to make sure that we’re still giving the best level of service, and have flexibility in the ways that we train. As an ex teacher I digest all of the information about products and their features and distill it for the people that I’m talking to, or turn it into a pdf and videos."
"My role is generally coordinating events. We were just at a big event for for the last few days training 700 members of staff, setting up stands and training aids - actual touchy feely things that the staff can use to learn how the technology works in the products. I go in and do evening events, staff sessions in store, teaching them about the products they stock, who they’re designed for, and the best way to give really good service to customers. So not only do customers go back to the store because they get an amazing level of service from them, they buy our products because the staff know all about them.
The best thing about the job is that it’s different every day. Earlier in the week we were at a large scale event training 700 members of staff, today we’re out at Stanage. I get to meet incredible people who are really interested in the gear, they want to know what’s so good about it, they’re excited by it!"
This interview is part of our series about women in the outdoor industry... to read more see Ronnie Legg, Senior Clothing Designer.