Katie Light is the Early Careers Programme Coordinator at Williams Racing. She’s part of the Human Resources (HR) team and oversees all of Williams’ early careers programmes including their apprenticeships and graduate schemes.
“We have all these different programs and schemes for early careers,” Katie tells Females in Motorsport. “Essentially my role is coordinating all of those and making sure that every early-careers person is seen and heard whilst ensuring they know their hard work is valued and appreciated.”
Katie joined Williams Racing on their Business Graduate Programme, where she worked in three different departments within the company: Marketing and Commercial, Finance and HR.
“Many of the other graduates are quite analytical thinking, whereas I’m more people orientated,” she says. “I prefer relations and that side of it. The scheme is versatile in that it is tailored to that person and how they can fit in best in those departments.”
Katie studied Sport, Health and Exercise Science at university, writing her dissertation on well-being and psychological well-being, an important thing to consider when working in teams.
As part of her role, Katie visits local schools to encourage students to apply for careers in STEM and Formula 1. She works with children as young as five all the way up to 18 year old’s.
“We want to make every experience that we have meaningful for that young person,” she says.
“With the younger ones it’s more dynamic, these kids have so much energy when they’re at a young age so it’s about utilising it.
"We don’t want to stop that because that’s their strength and they’re going to be energised; and you want to use that to inspire that excitement for STEM and F1.”
Katie aims to encourage people from a range of different backgrounds to apply for jobs at Williams Racing.
“Here at Williams we value individual differences we respect people from all walks of life,” she says. “It’s a good thing - we don’t want everyone thinking the same. If everyone went to the same university, studied the same things, came from the same area, we’re not going to advance and will fall behind in the competition.”
Although Katie entered the company on a graduate scheme, she’s a strong advocate for apprenticeships, especially for students who are more practical or whom the education system isn’t best suited to.
“Apprenticeships are definitely the way forward for some people and I’m a huge advocate of that,” she says. “These kids might not understand what an apprenticeship is. You talk to them and they say: oh it’s just like school, I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to carry on with school so why am I going to do that?
“It’s not like school; it’s explaining and helping them understand that actually some of them are practical - it’s what they’re enjoying and that’s what’s the most important.”
When students enter the workplace straight from school or university, it can be a shock to adapt to the working world and Katie’s role involves helping them settle in when they join Williams.
“Some of them haven’t been in a workplace before, so even if they went to university, it’s not quite real life - a great time, but it is not real life,” she says. “You graduate and are then faced with coming into the workplace but some aren’t equipped for that transition. So both Todd [Todd Hooker - Senior Resourcing Advisor] and I are that touchpoint for them. We’re a friendly face they can come to.”
Katie’s role requires versatility as she works to both support employees and reaches out to potential new ones. She has to be able to communicate with everyone, from school children to senior employees.
“Especially in my role, I’m interacting with anyone from five year old’s to our engineers and seniors members of staff, all the way up to top level, the people who’re in charge of the team,” she says. “It’s how you speak each person; it’s going to be different every time and it’s how you change that - it’s what I love about psychology and personalities, the way that people interact with each other.”
When it comes to those starting out in their careers, she thinks that there are two qualities that are essential to making it in F1: determination and resilience.
“You’re not going get it right the first time,” she says. “You might trip up, especially at a young age but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just learning from that and going ‘cool, I didn’t do that perfectly, let’s do it differently next time’. It’s all a learning journey.”
In conjunction with Williams Racing, Females in Motorsport will be offering five one-to-one CV review sessions with Katie and Todd from their HR department.
This is open to women around the world regardless of location and age. All we ask is a passion for motorsport, in particular Formula 1.
If you would like to be considered for this opportunity, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org stating why you would benefit from this opportunity in no more than 250 words.
Please include your full name, contact details and CV and answer to the question attached as a PDF, Word Doc or similar.
The closing date for the competition is Friday 5th August at 20:00 UK time. Entries received after that deadline will be discounted.
You must not have worked in Formula 1 or motorsport in the past or currently.