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Women in Leadership: Racing ahead

Rhian Morgan

Rhian Morgan talks to racing driver and businesswoman Rebecca Jackson about the parallels between racing and the business world

She is known as Rebecca Racer to her fans. A championship-winning racing driver, you may have seen Ms Jackson presenting motoring shows, discussing sport on Sky News, or maybe you have read her articles in the Sunday Times or The Telegraph. If not, you may have heard of her in a business capacity, as she runs her own prestige dealership, or as the face and ambassador of many brands, and of charities, too.

Rebecca has a business degree, as well as an interest in motorsport. So what does she think are the parallels between racing and commerce?

“When I started racing, I didn’t realise there were so many parallels, but there are,” explained Rebecca. “I was at the Autosport Show in the first year of Project Le Mans – my four-year plan is to compete in the most prestigious 24-hour endurance race in the world - and many business deals were being done for medical support, championships and more. Business and racing are also about people and rates of return on advertising spend. There are so many parallels and I have learnt that now.”

So how did Rebecca achieve success? A self-starter, she set up a car sales business in 2007, and then embarked on a racing career after being inspired by her parents, who are also in the motoring business; her dad is a precision engineer for Formula 1, while her mum is a driving instructor. With those genes, she was soon on track for success, with five podiums in her second season of competing in the Porsche 924 Championship.

She told me: “My parents offer, and always have, emotional support in bucket loads. It helped me believe I could be anything I wanted to be, with hard work and determination.”

Business-wise, she has just been named one of Twitter’s top 10 motoring writers, and was awarded the title of Michelin Inspirational Woman in 2012, 2013 and again in 2014; inspiring young women to fulfil their dreams and achieve their goals.

This is especially true in the testosterone-fuelled world of petrol heads, where Rebecca competes, and regularly wins races, against men. Not easy when women are often seen as the sexy distractions on the racetrack, not the competitors. So how is it being a woman in such a male-dominated industry?

“I love racing, it’s my passion and I’m not shy of male-dominated environments because I have worked in so many over the years,” added Rebecca. “The key to success in a ‘man’s world’ is to realise you have to earn respect and be comfortable with a bit of micky taking. If they don’t take the micky ever, you are probably not accepted and if you don’t show ability then how will you be respected as a fellow competitor? They treat me as a fellow competitor because I have a cabinet full of trophies and love a bit of banter.

“As for sexy distractions, I kicked a football in the paddock one evening at the last race weekend even though I was wearing stiletto heels. I see no reason why we should lose our femininity just because men surround us. On the same count, if you do not want to be glamorous then that is your decision. However, don’t do it ‘to fit in’: we are women and should be proud of the fact!”

To find out more information on Rebecca Jackson, visit www.rebeccaracer.com

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