For Chad Brown, being chief financial officer at Trek Bicycles is more than a job. He owns bicycles of all kinds and styles, rides for fun and sport, and earned his way through college working at a bike shop. Now at a global company that wants to get people on bikes as much as it wants to sell them, Chad is eager to bring others along for the ride.
“I love that my professional and personal passions meld,” he says.
The Cedarburg, Wisconsin, native caught the cycling bug during the mountain biking craze of the 1990s and got a job at age 16 in a local bike shop. He loved bikes but also was interested in business. In his junior year at WSB, a career advisor asked him what his dream job was.
“I said, ‘I’d like to work at Trek one day,’” he says. “Even 20-some years ago I knew.”
It would take a while for that dream to come true. An internship at GE Healthcare turned into a full-time job as a financial analyst. While temporarily transferred to Madison in 2002, Chad decided to train for the city’s Ironman triathlon. Trek’s vice president of human resources, Mark Joslyn, was part of Chad’s training group, and during a 120-mile bike ride, Chad mentioned that he’d love to work for the company one day. In the meantime, he continued his career at GE Healthcare until a call came from Trek in 2010 with an opportunity. Chad didn’t hesitate to take it.
It’s not just about the bikes, Chad says. Trek’s emphasis on teamwork invigorates him, and it’s a skill he honed at WSB.
“When I think about my time at the School of Business and all those group projects, you had to work in teams and learn to come to a consensus because at some point the project was due,” he says. “Then I come to a company like Trek and realize you don’t get anything done without a team.”
“I see all the good things that the University of Wisconsin has done for the world and I can come to Trek and try to do the same thing,” he says. “I’ve never felt that I’m just here for a paycheck.
“I have to pinch myself that I get to do this every day. There’s no better feeling.”