Great things happen when we work together

Erik Hulm is one of those individuals who is often called upon to move projects forward. It’s what he does. He moves things forward. As implied in his title at RMBL, Director of Institutional Advancement, what he’s moving forward these days is RMBL.

He joined the staff in 2021 as a senior project manager. That was just when the Department of Energy’s SAIL (Surface Atmosphere Integrated Field Laboratory) campaign docked at RMBL to scale the heights and plumb the depths of atmosphere-through-bedrock research to understand mountainous water cycles using the East River Watershed as a model.

After a conversation with Ian Billick on the sidelines of a soccer field, it became clear that Erik was the right person to not only help with SAIL, but a host of other atmospheric projects coming into the valley to improve weather and water predictions in Colorado and beyond. Erik says, “It was like the Woodstock of atmospheric research.”

Not that he was out of his element. Coming from a 20-year career managing industrial-scale field projects, he was easily the right fit. He also had a grasp of the science, armed with a master’s degree in geology.

That role brought Erik’s other talents to the fore. His experience facilitating complex decisions and strategic direction made him a valuable asset for the reset of RMBL’s strategic plan to guide the organization into its second century. Erik says that it was exciting to play a central role in helping craft the strategy. As one who sees the big picture, he made sure that the plan was comprehensive and reflected the voice of all stakeholders. At the same time, he specifically advocated for reaffirming RMBL’s values. It was important to him that the organization didn’t lose sight of what it is and where it came from.

Erik takes values personally. As a geologist, he enjoyed a career looking into the Earth’s deep past and trying to unravel the information it held. But after many years in a multi-national corporation exploring for oil and gas it was time for a change. People need energy, he says, but when you start to think of the consequences of what it takes to deliver that energy, it can leave you conflicted.

“I’ve always wanted to make a meaningful contribution,” he says. “There’s a real purpose for working at RMBL.”

In this sense, coming to RMBL was not just a career transition but a life transition. He and his wife Melinda were looking to relocate. Being outdoor lovers and having lived several years in Scotland, they dreamed of seeing a bit of sun. You might be surprised how quickly Crested Butte pops up when you Google “sunshine, good schools, and great outdoor recreation.” The final nudge came when the two befriended another Crested Butte couple who happened to be living in Scotland at the same time. Over a few beers, they convinced Erik and Melinda to take a look. Erik feels fortunate to have found his way to RMBL.

To Erik, life is full of opportunities if you are willing to get on the bus. “When you’re a twig in a pond, opportunities rarely come floating by,” he says. “But if you put yourself out in the river, suddenly you’re intersecting many opportunities. If you open yourself to new experiences, good things come along.”

Now he says his journey is to help RMBL achieve the goals outlined in the strategic plan. It will take the efforts of a larger team to succeed. But making meaningful contributions to a bigger team is what Erik was built to do — especially when the team is a broad group of passionate, accomplished people who come together, bringing their strengths and enthusiasm to make it work.

Erik reminds us that there are still plenty of seats on the bus.

Erik Hulm joined RMBL as a Senior Project Manager in 2021. He is a geologist and manager with 20 years’ experience working complex exploration campaigns and data acquisition projects around the world. He earned his bachelor’s degree in earth science at the University of South Dakota and a master’s degree in geology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. After several years living overseas, Erik and his wife Melinda moved to Crested Butte in 2018 with their boys, Hugh and Eli, to enjoy all the benefits of living in a small mountain town.