PHOTOS | KATE DISHER-QUILL
Alana is a marketing executive for Aprilia and Moto Guzzi here in Australia. I got the chance to meet her at the Sydney launch of Moto Guzzi's El Dorado and was instantly impressed with her clear passion for the industry which, after chatting more, is rooted in a long love affair fostered by her upbringing. Alana is the real deal and thus I wanted to know more about her. I was lucky enough to steal some of her time between travelling the country on events to ask for her perspective on the industry and women's role in it.
HG: You clearly really passionate about motorcycling, where did it begin for you?
AB: You could say motorcycles are in my blood. My Father has always been an avid motorcyclist both on the road and the dirt and he wasted no time in getting me onto a motorcycle. As a toddler he used to sit me between himself and the fuel tank and take me on laps of the farm. At the age of four he surprised me with my very own motorcycle. Of course at the time I didn’t care about cornering or braking because I just wanted to go fast. As a result, I very quickly rode straight through the barb wire fence. I was hooked! (figuratively speaking) At the age five Dad took me to my very first Motorcycle Grand Prix at Eastern Creek to watch the riders I had spent many hours admiring on the television. It was here at the race track that my love affair with motorcycles really began. Even to this day I am never happier than when I am at a racetrack, when I can hear the revs of a motorcycle engine, smell the unique scent that is part burning rubber and part racing fuel.
HG: What led you to become a marketing executive for two of the biggest motorcycle manufacturers in the world?
AB: From the time people started asking me the big question “what do you want to be when you grow up” the answer was always something to do with motorcycles or a distant second choice was an Architect. Once I finished my HSC [High School] I gave myself twelve months to see if I could get into the motorcycle industry, if not I would go back and study Architecture. My first job was as a service adviser at Sydney City Motorcycles however after six months John Sample Automotive the importers of Aprilia and Moto Guzzi offered me a home. Working with Aprilia, a name synonymous with motorcycle racing, and Moto Guzzi, the oldest continuous European motorcycle manufacturers, was a dream come true. Over time I developed an interest and passion in the marketing aspect of the industry and before long I took on the marketing role. Around five years ago I decided to leave the industry, not because I didn’t love it, but I just felt like it was time to try something different and learn some new skills. I lasted four years before I missed my motorcycles so much that I decided it was time to return to it. When an opportunity arose at Aprilia and Moto Guzzi I felt like it was time to return home.
HG: You're so friendly, open and lovely. I expect this would disarm even the toughest of critics, that said, how do you perceive the industry has received you as an experienced female?
AB: Thank you for the compliment, but I just like treating people as I would like to be treated. Whilst the motorcycle industry has been predominately male dominated, there are a few women who have managed to break down the stereotypical barrier and I don’t believe that gender really plays a part any more. I feel it comes down to knowledge and passion. Two things that are gender exclusive regardless of the industry you are in.
HG: I know there is this secret (or maybe not so secret) code among other women in the industry who want to see more us come forward, do you have plans for this? Are you all chatting about how to make it happen? Or is it already happening and you're just helping it along?
AB: I always enjoy spending time with other women in this industry. I feel like we share a passion that is not understood by women generally. I am glad to see that there are more women who are entering the industry at different levels. I hope that in some way I can help it along by supporting women who ride and in turn remove some of the social stereotypical barriers that women are confronted by when they choose to want to ride a motorcycle.
HG: What's your ideal ride? Road or dirt?
AB: I have never ridden on the road, but I love riding on dirt. Between work and study riding anything has not been happening much lately. However, my study will be finished soon and my new year’s resolution is to spend a lot of more time riding. I do want to also do some road riding and my ideal ride would be the 1998 Aprilia RSV Mille, I remember seeing it as a little girl on a trip to Phillip Island for the GP and it won my heart. That bike was absolutely gorgeous, the lines, the colours and that sound!
HG: Have I forgotten to ask you anything?
AB: No I don’t think so. I would like to thank you and the other women who are out there celebrating women who ride and who are working in the industry. I’m fortunate to be able to work in an industry where I can indulge my passion and be excited about what I do every day. It makes it all the more worthwhile when I see more and more women out there enjoying motorcycling in all its forms.
*Since this interview was undertaken Alana has accepted a job as Marketing Specialist at Victory & Indian Motorcycles in Melbourne.
Heleana is a force of nature. The founder of In Venus Veritas and The Petrolette, and a co-founder of Rising Sun Workshop. Heleana shares her love of vintage cars, riding motorcycles, and (not-so-secretly) dreams of flying planes and piloting a riva aquariva (a la Sophia Loren) very fast through the canals of Venice. Supportive and connected, community is her lifeblood, and she is as real as they come.