Columbia's directors of toughness at work in Alaska.


TOUGH LUCK: Now that Lauren Steele’s and Zach Doleac’s reigns as Columbia Sportswear’s directors of toughness are over, the company is looking for two new recruits to put its performance gear to the test.

This year’s winners will be visiting far-flung corners of the globe for nine months instead of six — to wear-test Columbia products in all kinds of extreme weather conditions. Steele and Doleac mountain biked, snowshoed, hiked and skied their way all over the world, after being selected from a field of thousands. With the Oregon-based brand picking up the bill, the duo shared all of their adventures via social media.

Applicants vying to start their own Columbia-financed excursions will have their work cut out for them. Company executives have promised that any and all contenders will be taken out of their comfort zone just in the interview process. They will have to prove their mettle, and enthusiasm in some challenging landscapes to earn the coveted job. Sign-ups are now under way for this season’s first U.S. interview, which will be held Sept. 15 in the wilderness of Mount Hood, just outside of Columbia’s Portland, Ore., headquarters.

The job description for the $39,000 gig includes “testers, world travelers, glacier climbers, brand ambassadors, social media gurus, nature photographers and spelunkers all in one.” Applicants are also advised to “Say goodbye to life as you know it.”

Just to be in-the-running, participants will have to hike, scramble and sweat to find the interview location — described by the company as “The Toughest Interview (to Get To).” Additional recruitment sites will be held at a yet-to-be-disclosed East Coast location, as well as ones in Canada and the U.K. And Steele wound up summiting Ecuador’s Cayambe volcano and trekking near the Arctic coast of Manitoba among others remote journeys during their far-from-average workdays. Through it all, they had one intrepid executive to answer to — Columbia’s 92-year-old pitch woman, Gert Boyle, is better known in the company’s ads as “One Tough Mother.”

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