Females in Motorsport recently spoke to Honor Patching, Partnership Strategy and Planning Co-ordinator at Formula E, to learn about her journey from intern to co-ordinator and her hopes for a diverse future.
In 2020, Honor graduated from university and found herself seeking employment during the COVID-19 pandemic. But a few months later, Honor became one of Formula E’s first ever interns, and joined the championship in March 2021.
“It was very much a happy accident,” she says. “I had my eyes opened to the fact that there are opportunities for people across this industry and opportunities across all levels."
“I didn’t even know my job existed.”
For Honor, motorsport was part of her childhood but a career in motorsport always seemed like nothing short of a dream.
“In my head I naively thought that if I wanted to work in the motorsport industry, I would have needed to have a glittering career, and come back to it before I retired,” she recalls.
As an intern, Honor was lucky enough to work with multiple teams and projects, whilst learning more about Formula E.
“The first three months was the initial education period and I started off on some easy, user-friendly, beginner tasks like prospecting and researching companies to see if they were a good match for Formula E,” Honor says.
After this, Honor was told the team wanted to bring her in permanently after her internship. As Honor’s internship continued, she was able to work with different teams and spent most of her first year working on sales materials.
“We look at that [sales materials] as a creative strategy, making sure the sales narrative is really strong and that all the collateral is presenting the brand how we want it to be presented,” Honor explains.
Fast-forward a year, Honor was still working with the sales teams but in a different capacity and with more senior people.
“In my first year as an intern, I was dipping my toes into things I’d do as an intern but then worked with our CCO,” she says. “That was one of the major benefits of working at Formula E - there was so much structure. I wouldn’t have gotten that exposure if I was working at another business.”
In her role, Honor has been lucky enough to work at multiple races across the Formula E calendar.
“My first race was in Mexico, two years ago,” she says. “I had no idea what I was walking into, at the famous Mexico circuit. It was a definite pinch me moment, for the good and the bad.”
For Honor, her first race was pivotal for her and her team as it was their first FIA Girls on Track event, which she helped with.
“It was a really cool moment and also scary but I had an amazing time,” Honor says. “The actual site looked amazing, it had all gone to plan in that respect but we got there and we totally underestimated how many Formula E staff we needed. There were four Formula E staff, local support staff, and one hundred and fifty girls.”
But, despite the initial challenges, Honor and her team pulled off an amazing event for the attendees.
“Everyone was making sure these girls had an amazing time,” she says. “The girls didn’t know how panicked we were and they loved it. We finished with a pit lane walk at the same time as our community engagement program. It was amazing, they all had an incredible time.”
Formula E took over the FIA Girls on Track partnership two seasons ago and their momentum isn’t slowing.
“Fast-forward to the programs we’ve had this year, including the career talks, so many of the teams are bought in,” Honor says. “We’ve had people across the paddock coming in and talking to the girls, the company and our partners have really got behind it.”
So as one of Formula E’s first interns, how did Honor find the process?
“It was a learning experience as much as they were for me,” she says. “I had and still have an amazing team. The expectation coming in was this is very much a learning experience.”
Honor’s internship and current role has allowed her to experience so much and learn a lot about the industry and herself.
“There has been a definite growth pattern,” she says. “Looking back, it’s been a graduation year. It’s gone on an upwards trajectory. I’m doing stuff now that I couldn’t have done a year ago because I didn’t have the exposure. It’s been a definite move up in the right direction.”
And, whilst there’s been some change across Formula E, there’s still a way to go in terms of diversity both on and off the track.
“From an employer perspective, they [Formula E] really care about it,” she says. “We’ve got great women in leadership and almost all Senior Partner Managers are women.”
Honor is proud to see the changes Formula E is making and is lucky enough to work with many female leaders.
“Formula E has no problem when it comes to integrating women into senior positions,” she says. “We have women at the VP and C-suite levels and there isn’t a ‘Welcome to the Old Boys Club’, which I found a surprise, considering I was coming into motorsport.”
“That sort of movement in the right direction, women involved in this sport at all levels is going in the right direction,” she says.
For Honor, working in motorsport satisfies not only her career wants, but her personal passions.
“I couldn’t do a job I don’t care about, as I find it really difficult to do something I’m not invested in,” she says. “Finding something that satisfies me, that interests me, and is something outside of my professional capacity and working in an industry where I want to be around it, has been a really fun experience.”
From a sporting perspective and as a championship, Formula E is going in the right direction.
“It’s great to see how the sport and Formula E, as a championship, has really got behind bringing more girls into the sport, but also as an employer, they very much encourage diversity,” she says.
With Season 10 approaching, Honor has some things she’d like to see change in the industry as a whole, particularly diversity.
“For the sport, we’re starting to see a bit of it now, more ethnic diversity with the drivers, I’d love to see women and more diversity from the teams when selecting their drivers,” she says. “I’d like to see a championship that very much advertises itself as diverse, agile and forward-thinking.”
But, Honor knows this isn’t a quick process.
“It’s happening and it’s not a change that can happen overnight,” she says. “You can’t run anything with people who are all the same. It’s so important to get different voices, and people from all walks of life to ensure we’re creating a sport that is accessible to everyone.”
And for her personal career journey, Honor has impressive goals she’d like to achieve from projects to confidence.
“I don’t want to be afraid to go into those rooms and contribute to a sport I love.”
All images are provided by and approved by Honor Patching.