Hike Club forms construction connections through cardio
The Metro Vancouver group meets every Sunday to network and enjoy nature.
Jesse Unke, centre left, takes a selfie members of the Hike Club. – Jesse Unke
- A growing group of construction professionals has been hitting the trails every week in Metro Vancouver.
- Organizers say it has been a great way to encourage non-traditional networking.
- It also encourages healthy ways to destress after work and get advice from other professionals.
The Whole Story:
Every Sunday morning, a group gathers in North Vancouver, B.C. to trek through the mountains, discuss the industry’s biggest topics and connect with others in the construction sector. The group is growing fast, now with more than 120 active members that form a rotating crew of 15-20 hikers each weekend.
“It was just me and Shervin and it got me into doing the Grouse Grind. We had been doing that consistently for years,” said Unke.
A lot has changed since then. Shervin went into the mining sector and is now president and CEO of Red Paramount Iron as well as the founder and principal mining engineer for Mineit Consulting. Unke has lent his talents to the construction sector, working at several major firms before becoming the president and CEO of Maven Consulting.
Unke also recently added the role of “father” to his list of responsibilities, which has changed his schedule and priorities. Rather than being able to go out for a beer in the evenings to network with colleagues and clients, Unke began inviting people to join him on the trails.
“Now that I have a baby at home, things have changed,” said Unke. “I want to be home for dinner time, story time, bath time, so I started saying ‘come get a workout with me’. People started joining me and we made a LinkedIn group.”
The hikes start with a group photo at the bottom as well as a topic of discussion for the journey up.
“It’s a great way to build your network. At the bottom we go around so people can say what organization they are with, how they got tied to the hike club, and then we have a topic of discussion that is figured out ahead of time. It can be how to deal with risk management, your approach to retaining staff,” said Unke.
The group then can chat about the topic on the way up and share ideas.
“It has been great because it has allowed me to stay in touch with folks, meet new people and get a workout at the same time,” said Unke. “I have nothing against getting a beer, but with a young baby, I want to be home in the evenings.”
Unke noted that regular exercise has been a critical part of maintaining his physical and mental health in a stressful industry.
“It’s just as much physical as it is mental. You get some fresh air, clear your head. I do some of my best thinking while hiking and since it’s a Sunday, I am thinking about the coming week. It’s an energizing way to end one week and begin another,” said Unke. “It’s an outlet to get rid of stress, clear the head, challenge myself to reach certain milestones in fitness as well as with pursuing a project or client in my professional goals.”
Unke added that the social distancing required during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic showed him how important face-to-face networking is.
“Trying to network over Teams and Zoom was awkward and painful,” he said. “When doing in person, this can be more informal, you read body language, things are more organic. Networking in engineering and construction is important because the construction is about relationships. You want to work with people you can trust and rely on.”
Unke stressed that while the group is mostly made up of construction and engineering professionals, all are welcome and encouraged to join the LinkedIn group.