Jenna Betts: “Passion is the biggest thing; it’s going to keep you going”
It’s never too late to work in motorsport. No matter the industry you currently work in or the experience you do or don’t have, motorsport is always an achievable goal when you work hard for it, and the payoff is unbeatable.
Jenna Betts, 38, had a decade-long career before making the decision to leave her top position in the cosmetics industry and start as a Graphic Designer for Formula E. Promoted to Senior Graphic Designer in November 2022, Jenna now hopes to help inspire and mentor the next generation of women in motorsport.
“With the things I’ve done and achieved and knowing how special and incredible that feels, I want to then take someone under my wing and let them do the same, see them blossom and get excited, see them realise what they can do and realise that it isn’t a man’s world anymore,” Jenna tells Females in Motorsport. “Motorsport, graphic design or the world in general.”
In 2018 Jenna stepped down as Head of Creative at a fashion company wanting to find a new challenge in her career. Taking the leap into the motorsport industry she now does everything from the creative direction of driver photography, designing event accreditation and packaging, and leading the design execution on location at various E-Prix across the globe.
“I thought taking a step back would enrich my skills and my career, and also give me a chance in an industry that I love,” says Jenna. “I didn’t mind taking a step back to try something new and do something different and I’m glad that I did because I learnt so much and the experience of motorsport is ridiculous.”
Although she had no prior experience in motorsport Jenna’s transferable skills from other industries have proven just as valuable for her position. Vast experience in motorsport is not necessary to achieve the goal of working in the top positions in the industry, and often experience elsewhere can help bring new ideas into the fold.
The rise of a younger generation of motorsport fans has not only transformed the audience watching the sport but has also started to transform those working in it. Young professionals, both in industry and those hopeful to join, are bringing in fresh perspectives and using their power to help progress the diversity and inclusivity of motorsport for everyone.
“It’s not important that you have experience in motorsport, it’s design and if you’ve had experience in different industries it can be transferable and it might bring something new and fresh,” says Jenna. “That’s what motorsport is looking for at the minute. A lot of freshness, a lot of vibrancy and a lot of youth has been brought into motorsport.
“Traits from different industries, different backgrounds, different types of people and different experiences is a good thing at the moment, so I wouldn’t be discouraged by the fact you might not think you have the experience within it [motorsport].”
Alongside any experience and necessary qualifications, showing that you are hardworking and have a passion for both the job and the sport can go a long way in the application process. Interviewers are not only trying to figure out if you are suitable for the job but also if you are suitable for the team and the industry because once you are in the hard work doesn’t stop.
“When you look at junior designers coming in, it’s just the interest. It’s the passion. Research a bit, it’s always nice when you can have a conversation about the job. Not particularly just for the sport, but in what we do and the things we produce,” says Jenna.
“If something needs to be done you have to muck in. The industry is so fast paced that the deadline can’t. You then have to jump on it,” she says. “Motorsport is really hard but as hard as it is to get into it and work in it, it is so rewarding, and the payoff is worth it.”
Jenna’s advice for those wanting to work in graphic design and/or motorsport is to try lots of different things and figure out what you enjoy. Whether you specialise or not it is all beneficial for your career and keeping your passion alive is the key to having success in the industry.
“Delve into a lot of different things, see what inspires you, see what you love, and if you’re not good at something or you don’t like it, don't sweat it,” she says. "Passion is the biggest thing, because passion keeps you going when things get hard.”
Whilst she recognises the strides the motorsport industry and Formula E are taking to better inclusion and diversity; Jenna also doesn’t want to sugar-coat the hard work and dedication that is needed to make yourself heard as a woman in motorsport.
A strong will and thick skin are needed for anyone working in such a faced paced and public facing industry and working against the current of decades of male dominance makes it harder still for those who do not fit the traditional image of motorsport. Jenna hopes to bolster her position to inspire and help bring up the next generation of female graphic designers in Formula E and the wider motorsport industry.
“It isn’t easy, you really have to work hard as a woman to be noticed, but if you do you are taken seriously and it brings up other females,” says Jenna. “I hope that juniors see that of me and think this is what she can achieve. In my position it is standing up in meetings and putting my ideas forward, being strong, having an opinion and that inspires others to do the same.
“My focus has gone from wanting to see my work at the race, to empowering other young women to experience the same sense of pride.”
Just remember to never count yourself out of a career in motorsport. As long as you are hardworking and have passion anything is possible, and there are so many women in motorsport ready to inspire the next generation.