The Challengers Trophy, Gulf War 1 and Team Building

Well, it says here that:

Mark McClure took up the challenge and successfully completed the Challengers’ Trophy held in Mid Wales 29 May to 1 June 1991.

I’ve got the certificate in front of me. Honestly, I really do.

And the medal is hanging from the whiteboard on my wall: it means that much to me.

Has your career ever included working as part of a fantastic team with a group of people where you feel more than just a professional affiliation?

Ever wondered how that comes about and why it’s generally so fleeting?

Yes, it bugs the heck out of me too - mainly because I only experienced it twice in my career so far.

In 1991 and in 2004.

Cast your mind back to a world without the Internet as we know it - no YouTube, just clunky analog dialup modems and even clunkier PCs.

I must’ve spent half my working day trying to master a gazillion MS-DOS commands or battle with early windows 3.1.

Anyhow, life was good.

Companies were starting to discover networked PCs but struggling to make use of them.

And my little part in this communications revolution was to train the engineers and technical marketers in how to hook networking kit together.

That skill took me all over the world - even diverted over Iranian air space in Feb 1991 enroute for Sydney, while GW1 was being executed in Kuwait and Iraq.

Then safely home again (thanks Singapore Airlines!) but jet lagged, and off to a hill training session that very evening with the rest of the Challengers Trophy hopefuls.

We were being coached by the CFO, and like all bean counters (sorry folks!) he wasn’t taking any nonsense with people slacking off and not doing their bit.

So we did some crazy stuff. (This was a 200+ person tech incubator company, spun off from the large UK parent, BICC Cables).

Crazy like a group of us running along the canal towpath near our Apsley (UK) building carrying a bl%^ddy great telegraph pole. For Strength training or something like that said our R&D team leader, Tim.

Anyway, after much tough, wet and windy training I was selected to be on one of the teams we had entered.

And what an experience we had in mid-Wales over those 4 days; the highlight for me being an all night run over the Breacon beacons, where the stars in the sky were outshone by the twinkling of dozens of orienteering headlamps all across the moorland.

Pure magic.

In the 8 months or so that we spent training for this event our work still got done and life carried on.

But, to me, there was something special about the group of people who committed to prepare for this challenge.

I can’t quite put my finger on it but I know it was one of the happiest times of my life.

Strange that the company was succumbing to market competitors and would the following year become part of the Silicon valley giant, 3Com.

And to be honest I haven’t followed the Corporate Challenge experience since then; I thought it would have folded by now.

Silly me!

It’s embraced a much bigger corporate universe judging by this web site.  (2018-01-05: Link broken when I clicked.)

If any reader has been through the challenger experience since 1991 I’d love to hear your story, and what effect it has had on you and those you worked with.