“When you’re out in the woods and you’re self-reliant, you see the worst of people and you see the best of people and you get to know them on a deeper level—it’s much different than hanging out at a restaurant or a bar and being able to leave after a few hours.”
– Karen Inman
Stormtech Chief Financial Officer
For Stormtech CFO Karen Inman, time outdoors is time well spent. With the crowded schedule of a high-level executive and a 10-year-old son, she lives a busy life. But Karen remains active daily by doing yoga and running. And on weekends, Karen and her family take advantage of their free time to play outside. Whether through skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, weekend backpacking trips in the summer, or the occasional extended adventure to far -flung corners of the world, their lives are enriched by time together outdoors. For Karen, nature is not only a place to lose yourself, but also build deeper relationships with those you love.
Stormtech: Did you grow up with an emphasis on the outdoors?
Karen Inman: My parents used to do a lot of car camping. I always spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid—I was lucky because where I grew up in Durban, South Africa, there was still a lot of wilderness and where we lived backed onto green space. My brothers and I would spend our afternoons out there. When you’re constantly outside at a young age, you learn to appreciate nature. When I met my husband, we began backpacking and doing bigger trips outdoors.
What brought you to Stormtech?
I moved to Canada in 2000 and fell in love with it. I worked in the shipping industry, which was interesting with great people, but my work wasn’t necessarily aligned with who I was. I joined Stormtech two years ago now as I knew the quality of the Stormtech product and their culture and vision fit well with my lifestyle.
What is your main goal when you go outdoors?
To be with my friends and family and connect with them. Most of the outdoor activities that I enjoy doing are done with other people—hiking, canoeing and kayaking for instance—they allow time to connect. I like the adventure, but I would say I’m a soft adventurer. I don’t do anything too epic, although I know some people might consider it epic. Most weekends in summer, we go backpacking for an overnight hike or even just for the day, we canoe, things like that.
You recently went on a big canoeing trip to the Yukon. Do you feel like the social connection is heightened when out in the wilderness?
It’s the whole combination of things when you’re out there. You don’t have to go on a ten-day, self-supported trip to the Yukon to understand this—just getting out of the city for a day or two is enough. When you’re out in nature and you don’t have a bunch of technology around, the social interaction is magnified. It creates strong relationships. We have friends who live in the interior of BC and we only see them twice a year, and one of those times is on a week-long backpacking trip. Even when you only see someone twice a year, you have such a strong relationship and connection with them because you’re with them 24/7 and you have the time to interact at a level of depth that you might not get elsewhere. When you’re out in the woods and you’re self-reliant, you see the worst of people and you see the best of people and you get to know them on a deeper level—it’s much different than hanging out at a restaurant or a bar and being able to leave after a few hours.
What about with your family?
My husband and I have been together for 23 years and we’ve traveled the whole time. We only had our son after being together for 13 years, so we’d always spent a lot of time doing things just the two of us. You learn to appreciate each other and quickly figure out whether you’re going to get along when you’re traveling together, and it might be a difficult situation. Traveling definitely forms strong relationships.
Did it become more difficult to travel once you had your son?
Something that a lot of people don’t realize is that you can do almost anything with a 10-year-old. It’s more of a mental thing with kids. People ask me, how do you get your son to walk 10 kilometers per day with a backpack? Well he has endless energy. On our most recent backpacking trip on the BC coast, we’d get to camp, and all the adults would be exhausted and just want to sit down and relax and the kids would still be there on the beach, exploring.
The actual walking can be boring. You have to figure out how you can keep them entertained and engaged, but eventually they realize that walking is just part of the deal. You have to do it to get to the destination and the destination is always worth it. So, they learn. I think it teaches them a lot about resiliency and getting through the tougher parts of life. There will always be challenges in life and you need to be able to get through them to enjoy everything that life has to offer. On the coast, he got to see whales and all kinds of beach creatures, as well as spectacular scenery, which made the long days on the trail worthwhile.
Another aspect is the creativity it encourages. I’m always amazed with the games that kids come up with to keep themselves entertained. By removing them from their devices and their TV, you give them the opportunity to explore themselves and become comfortable with being on their own. They don’t always need to have entertainment at hand. I think time spent outdoors is a huge opportunity for kids to grow as people.
Now you’ve found a space where your work life allows you to think about your time outdoors and contribute to outdoor culture. How does that tie into working at Stormtech and living in Vancouver?
Something I’ve been hearing about more and more in recent years is aligning your personal life and your personal values with the company culture where you work. I think for a lot of people that’s becoming more important and it’s certainly the case for me. Living in BC, I’m able to enjoy the outdoors regularly, whether that’s going for a quick hike or a bigger adventure, there’s so much to do here. At Stormtech, I really enjoy coming to work every day where our company culture promotes a positive work environment, great team dynamics, and empowering employees to live and breathe the Stormtech ethos by getting outdoors. I also have the perk of quality apparel and bags to test out and support my adventures, which is a nice little bonus.