Straight roads are for fast cars, turns are for fast drivers. ~Colin Mcrae
Like so many other little boys his age, Colin first wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up. But after reading race car biographies when he was young, Colin quickly aspired to be a race car driver. A year after high school graduation, he made the decision to realize his dream of racing cars and went to England to attend race driving school. The thought of developing a career wasn't on his mind - he was consumed by his obsession to race and everything revolved around how he could fund his passion.
Racing is an expensive hobby, and Colin had to take short breaks to work and save up money to continue. After working numerous unsatisfactory jobs and racing in between, it began to become clear that racing was not a sustainable option for him in the longterm. He completed his BA in English and Political Science, but still couldn't shake the need to race and purchased a race car.
To continue funding racing, he went to work for Toronto Hydro. At the beginning, his focus was still on having a job to fund his hobby, but over the duration of his tenure there, he began to think about what he could actually do to support himself in the longterm. He had successfully raced a car, winning his class championship in Ontario, but the cost and time commitments eventually became too much. It was also during this time that he completed his MBA part time and started down a more corporate path.
Colin is able to look back and take comfort knowing that he at least had a go at pursuing his passion. Racing proved a very valuable experience as he had to learn a whole variety of different things - mechanical prep of cars, how to be disciplined and concentrate in order to be successful, and self-sufficiency since in racing you have to rely on yourself. Racing is an individual sport, so your performance is entirely up to you.
The majority of his career spanned numerous industries, from insurance to retail at Canadian Tire to banking at BMO to automotive at Volskwagen and finally to automotive software. Along the way, he also worked for a tech startup on the side, and acted as his own general contractor and built a family cottage.
For Colin, all of these varied experiences have resulted in unique skills acquired, specific knowledge, and new ideas and perspectives. He has always been a learner, and through car racing he had to master a diverse range of skills and employ them - exactly what he had to do throughout his career while switching industries and jobs, and finding ways to apply what he's learned while acquiring new knowledge and skills. Adaptability is the key to suvival - his whole career was about the ability to adapt.
"I've always believed that career success is where preparation meets opportunity. If you have skills and knowledge and someone opens a door to you then you’re able to step through it. Most people don't have knock-it-out-of-the-park careers - they're anomalies, but success is really being able to provide for self and family, meet life’s obligations, live in a level of comfort without fear of what tomorrow may bring - not living hand to mouth. If you can work the opportunity to do things you're passionate about into that, then that's success."
Colin is currently semi-retired at this point, working the occasional contract. But he looks back in satisfaction. He started his corporate career late, which may have limited his progression somewhat, but he doesn't regret it. Pursuing his passion for racing gave him important memories, and he says that not a day goes by that he doesn't think about. He believes, if they have the opportunity to explore what they're truly passionate about, that it is important for people to seize it because you never know. And even if it doesn't turn into a full-time career, the experience and skills that result are more than worth it.