Kristen Faulkner '11
May 17, 2022

“A Powerful Time” to Be in Women’s Sports

After redirecting from a career in finance, Kristen Faulkner ’11 is now a professional cyclist
by Nancy Hitchcock

Kristen Faulkner ’11 spent most of her career in male-dominated industries—software engineering, entrepreneurship, and venture capital—advocating for gender equality. Today, as a professional cyclist, she is appreciating this moment in time when top-tier female athletes are challenging equality—in salaries, prize money, and media coverage.

In this climate of change, Faulkner has participated in a few firsts. In 2021, she competed at the inaugural women’s version of Paris–Roubaix, a challenging one-day race on cobbled roads in northern France that is one of cycling’s oldest. “There’s just so much generational momentum that’s built up, and we are finally getting some of these opportunities that were not allowed to a lot of women before us,” says Faulkner. “Everyone who’s there racing feels this sense of community of women around them—of all the women that came before them. It’s a powerful time to be in the sport.”

Kristen Faulkner '11

Racing at the Tour de France in summer 2022 will be another first—the Tour de France Femmes for pro women will now be more on par with the men’s event, having expanded from one day to a multiday race. Faulkner is excited for the opportunity to participate.

This new career path was a bold leap for Faulkner, who had enjoyed her work as a venture capital investor after graduating from Harvard in 2016. Around that time, she started cycling as a hobby while living in New York City. When she joined her first professional team in 2020 and started racing in Europe, she faced the challenge of balancing a high-stress job and a professional sport. Soon, she had to choose. It wasn’t that she felt a push from her career so much as she felt a pull toward cycling.

Faulkner now lives in Girona, Spain, is a member of the Women’s WorldTour with Team BikeExchange-Jayco, and is competing in the top races in Europe from February to October. One highlight of her racing thus far was her first WorldTour win in summer 2021, which was a stage of the Ladies Tour of Norway. She placed third overall.

There’s a women’s rights movement of sorts happening right now in cycling. It is a pretty exciting time to be in the sport.

Kristen Faulkner '11

While balancing her demanding work as an investment associate at Threshold Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm, with the requirements of professional cycling, Faulkner drew on her experiences at PA, where she successfully balanced three varsity sports—rowing, swimming, and running—with rigorous academics. Faulkner, who is from Homer, Alaska, also notes that the life lessons she learned about empathy and how to communicate with people from around the globe have been particularly helpful to her. She mentions that “my dorm counselor, Ms. [Tasha] Hawthorne, taught me about standing up for myself as a woman, and the best teacher I ever had was Mr. [Peter] Neissa, my Spanish instructor.”

“Mr. Neissa believed in me as a student and inspired me to work really hard,” she recalls. “That experience made me realize the impact of a strong mentor. One thing that I was very intent about when I started cycling was finding mentors and coaches. Building that support network I could reach out to when I wanted advice or help made a world of difference. And I learned that by having a dedicated mentor when I was in high school.”

By drawing on lessons learned at Andover and elsewhere, Faulkner has made decisions that led to professional cycling which, she says, is “living the dream.”

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